JumpPost

5 tips for your first day at a new startup

Posted on November 8, 2010. Filed under: JumpPost, startups, venture capital | Tags: , , |

First days at work can be weird.  I remember my first day at General Catalyst.  I got there super early because nobody told me what time to arrive, sat at my desk attempting to look busy and re-reading every page of the company website which I had already read 5 times, and sort of waited for someone to give me something to do.  I remember thinking to myself, “my job for the next few weeks is just to build relationships with all these new people.”  As much as I wanted to have an impact on day 1, find the next Google right our of the gate, and come up the curve faster than anyone before me, the reality is there is a period of acclimation and integration that precedes any truly meaningful contributions you can make to a new company.

Here’s a list of the top 5 things to do when you are starting someplace new.

1) Listen: Listen intently to everything anyone shares with you.  You’ll have plenty of time to speak and show your talents, but the beginning is all about absorption of the culture, knowledge, and people that have to date defined the environment that you are entering into.

2) ASK QUESTIONS: Keep a note pad, write down every single question that comes up over the course of your days, and then corner somebody when they have a minute and get all your questions answered.  No question is too stupid, admit everything you don’t know (even if you feel like you should know it already).  Don’t waste time pretending to understand things you don’t.  Nobody cares what you know the day you arrive, only how fast you pick up what you need to know.

3) Your work can wait: If anybody asks you to hang out and grab a beer or see a movie, even if you have a ton of work to get done, always say yes. Your work can wait, it’s super important to build relationships and get to know the people you’ll be working with every day.

4) Be yourself: It’s hard to let your guard down and be yourself on day one, but the sooner you can feel comfortable in your own skin, the better off your going to be.  You have an opportunity and a responsibility to impact the culture of your company in a positive way.  Allow the great aspects of your personality to shine, even if they are not represented or visible in the people around you.

5) TRY: The only thing you need to worry about in the first few months of a new job is putting everything you possibly can into it.  This is a time to make sacrifices in all other realms of life until you have come up the curve and are contributing at a level that you are proud of.  By definition, you are going to be inefficient at the onset of a new job.  The best way to combat inefficiency is through effort and hard work.  Long term, tunnel vision and an imbalanced work/life situation will catch up with you, but short term I think it makes sense to let your family and friends know that you are going to be MIA for a few months while you’re finding your groove.

I guess this is on my mind because we have two new team members starting today at hyperpublic.  Welcome Eric and Jonathan.  Can’t tell you how excited we are to have you both on board.

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A picture speaks a thousand words

Posted on October 23, 2010. Filed under: JumpPost, startups | Tags: , |

I had a meeting on Friday with a super smarty.  We were talking about hyperpublic and I was trying to explain what I wanted it to become.  She sent me a note today saying that she spent all day walking around the city and couldn’t stop picturing small tag bubbles above people’s heads.  Here’s a doodle she drew around one element of our vision, which I love…

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Living in a State of “Anonymity PLUS”

Posted on October 12, 2010. Filed under: JumpPost, startups, venture capital | Tags: , , , |

As I sit here on this train, bound for the Meadowlands where I will undoubtedly watch the Jets destroy Randy Moss and the Vikings, it occurs to me that although unnamed, I am not anonymous in this crowd.  Miriam Webster offers the following 3 definitions of anonymous, none of which (save the most literal “not named”) describe my state on this train.

Anonymity would imply that I am unidentifiable, when that is not, in fact, the case.  The people who surround me here actually have access to enough data that they are able to categorize and classify me.  Despite the stigma around that concept, I am not concerned in the slightest.  Why? Because I control the data I am sharing with the people on this train.  In fact, because I control the inputs that define their impression or perception of me, I am actually excited for them to consume this “metadata on top of my physical presence.”

I wear a long sleeve green Rugby shirt in support of the Jets, which when paired with a time stamp (1 hour before game time) and location (on a train headed westward from Manhattan), identifies me as a Jets fan.  I am proud of this facet of my identity and wish to communicate it to all who will observe.  Why?

1)   I guess I seek the camaraderie. Other Jets fans in my presence will recognize me as one of their own

2)   I want to display that I welcome conversation and interaction with those who share my affiliation or interest

3)   I want to further the facet of my identity that I am showing, spread it if you will.  If I am able to convert others or strengthen/support the interest which I make visible, there is a reflective property where I actually strengthen my own identity (basic missionary theory)

4)   I see myself publicly tagged as “Jets” and it affirms my concept of myself and my level of commitment to what it represents.  The fact I make it visible to all reminds me that it is core to my identity

Clothes are but one example of a tool people use to communicate and control their public identity.  The woman to my left smiles upon eye contact, publicly sharing a “tag” of friendly (the most frequent tag on hyperpublic.com to date, btw), while the drunk to my right sits face cringed, communicating “misery” or “inapproachable.”  We were given the capacity to publicly display emotions through facial and body gestures, a sort of biological tagging system which non-verbally influences the level and type of engagement we have with our surrounding population.  These signals are completely public, the fact that we share them with everyone is an almost biological recognition that there is, indeed, potential value waiting to be extracted from those with who we share a physical, but not yet social relationship.

Our everyday, real world lives, do not exist within the bounds of true anonymity, yet the majority of internet products that attempt to digitally replicate or enhance real world life, feel an obligation to preserve the veneer of this false ideal for their users.  I believe we move through physical space in a state of “Anonymity PLUS.”  This is a state where we are aware that we are visible to an unfiltered public eye, and thus control and define the data which it is to our advantage and pleasure to broadcast widely.

Hyperpublic is an experiment in recreating that state of “Anonymity PLUS”.  There are no names unless you chose to tag yourself by one.  There is no such thing as private data here, but there is also no data here that you have not actively decided to push to the public.  There is undoubtedly value to be had by sharing that data which you want to be seen by all (think about the value of appearing at the top of Google results for example, how would you wish to define yourself to all who Google you). Our goal is simply to maximize that value by giving your public tags as broad a reach as we possible can.  You choose your green Rugby shirt when you get dressed in the morning, why not choose to display all the data you wish to communicate publicly?

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If you’re building for $1B, is “Focus” a Farce?

Posted on September 14, 2010. Filed under: JumpPost, startups, venture capital | Tags: , , |

The word “focus” has been coming up a ton in my meetings lately. Like many product minded entrepreneurs, I have a ton of ideas about what Jumppost can become, and what we need to build to get there. As I begin to communicate those ideas to experienced folks around the table, I am getting repeated words of advice to “focus.” Today I met with one of our portfolio companies who’s product DNA was the main reason for our investment in them, and again I watched a conversation emerge around the balance between possibilities and focus on a single direction. I can think of at least 5 other examples where product minded founders are drawn toward rapid testing and iteration around a general direction as opposed to deep build around a more focused mission.

Conventional wisdom and the “smart money” seems to say that singular focus is the path to success in the startup game. When I started my first company, I eschewed conventional wisdom in the name of intuition, which was a strategy that worked occasionally, but more oft failed. I am now smart enough to know that I am not smarter than the composite operational advice of seasoned and accomplished entrepreneurs. As such, I have the word “FOCUS” written in digital permanent marker at the top of my to Google to do list.

That said, I find myself wondering if changes in the product development lifecycle are not giving birth to a new type of non-bootstrapped operation/execution that is more forgiving of experimentation at the expense of focus (think extension of the lean startup methodology). If it only takes two weeks to push a product that used to take 2 months to develop, does that not change the risk/reward around more loosely focused experimentation (especially in consumer applications where you are so heavily rewarded for tapping an unlikely/semi-predictable viral vein)?

I think it largely depends on what type of outcome you are shooting for. Is there an operator out there who is focused on highly experimental signal detection over linear progress that will discover the next viral consumer app? David Karp at Tumblr was building 4 other things when he decided to “focus” on just one. Facebook launched 3-4 distinct applications in the course of 4 months before running with the now behemoth. Twitter was a side project, etc. etc. etc.

If you are really shooting for the high risk, huge numbers, consumer app, how much resource/data is required to know if what your building is it or not? And if the answer to that is discoverable in short amounts of time through a team with low burn and efficient development cycles, is a deliberate “unfocussed approach” a more likely road to outsized numbers and a mega-viral product? (I don’t know the answer to this, but some of the smartest young founders I meet are intuitively drawn toward an approach that is inconsistent with the experience of previous generations of entrepreneurs. So either young founders always make this mistake and you can’t actively execute with an eye toward step function signals and virality, or a new style of early stage execution is emerging within consumer focused startups).

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NYT says Tech is Changing our Brains, but What About our Language?

Posted on August 26, 2010. Filed under: JumpPost, startups, venture capital | Tags: , , , |

Our language is changing.  Words like “OMG,” “LOL” and “TTYL” that were spawned within a digital environment out of constraints translating verbal thoughts into online communication (the primary constraint being effort of typing), have somehow managed to cross the chasm from internet vernacular into physical world verbal communication.  They have taken on a meaning that is distinct from the longer string of words which they were created to represent, and we have recognized them as enhancements in our person-to-person communication.  They describe a concept, or feeling, or action that is more applicable to a given use case than any combination of letters and sounds that existed prior to their creation, and thus they have penetrated our lexicon.

The words “Text” and “cloud” have existed for centuries, but have taken alternate meanings in light of our relationship and engagement with technologies like SMS and Data.  The phrase “text me” (or the use of text as a verb) alone, occurs in a frequency that I’m guessing has supplanted any other definition as the primary use of the word if we are measuring by volume utterance across contexts.  “Cloud” on the other hand, as a reference to hosted data storage has penetrated small circles of tech-savvy consumers, but it may be 3, 5, or 10 years before general population’s concept of “the cloud” grows to the point where this usage will truly enhance our day to day experience in a way that is competitive with the value derived from describing a puffy white object that holds rain in the sky.

What I find fascinating, is that while our relationship with the internet and technology more broadly is redefining how we communicate with each other in it’s absence (changing our offline language structures), I do not see the same language change in our non-verbal communication patterns.  Where did the “thumbs up” come from and how did it grow to represent approval or “good job.”  How did a forefinger and a thumb come to signal “ok?”  Was that a crossover from sign language which developed an application that was worthy of general population usage (like OMG, or LOL)?  That would be an instance of a language created through a set of constraints (hearing impairment) penetrating a non-constrained environment.  What about a wink or a smile, or any of the other physical gestures that countless online companies have tried to recreate on the web (Facebook poke, digital gifting, etc…)?  We spend an increasing volume of our time with head tilted downward, eyes on screen, two thumbs on mobile device.  Is there really not a set of non-verbal gestures that recognizes or applies to the fact that at any given moment 20-30% of the people we are surrounded by are engaged in this physical position and action?  What about prompts for people to take this position when they are not in it?

The reason I ask how these physical gestures came into prominence, is because I see a new set of constraints in our communication for which adaptation of our physical non-verbal communication would strongly enhance our experience.  Specifically, there is a set of use cases around real time mobile communications with people in physical proximity that requires multi-person synchronous or asynchronous engagement with an application or technology.  The best way I can think of to open up that use case is to graft these applications to physical world non-verbal gestures (either existent or new).  And what I don’t know is whether this type of communication is so slow to adapt that we shouldn’t even bother exploring it??  Anyone studied this?  Isn’t linguistics a major in college?  I’ll take you to good dinner if you can educate me here.  And if you happen to be Product/UX minded, we can even splurge on dessert.

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How Many People Are You Consuming in a Day?

Posted on August 25, 2010. Filed under: JumpPost, startups, venture capital | Tags: , , , |

When thinking about product, I often find myself going down the path of trying to replicate/enhance offline behavior through software.  Lately, I have been absolutely obsessed with the concept of productizing or at least enhancing offline, non-verbal communication.  I’ve been thinking a lot about what people consume on a local level.  It’s a question that is very important to our future at Jumppost and a question that is becoming increasingly interesting to investors and entrepreneurs as location based technologies change our capacity to segment users and build user experience by specific geographic parameters.

It is not surprising to me that much of the innovation we’ve seen in the last 12-24 months in the local space has been focused around the interaction between consumers and local merchants (restaurants, dry cleaners, etc.).  If we map local consumption patterns, I would say that local goods and services are the second most frequent object of consumption in a consumer’s local experience.  What I buy when I walk out my door definitely defines my local experience, and the things I consume in the largest volume have a great impact on my perception of my neighborhood, and as an extension, my perception of myself as a member of the community in which I live.

The only object(s) I see myself consuming that has a greater influence on my local experience, and as a derivative, my local identity, is the population that surrounds me.  Although a very lightweight form of consumption, I have been trying to quantify the volume of people that I consume in a given day.  I will call consumption any visual intake, and then value the volume of consumption by my level of engagement or interaction with each person I consume.  I’ve been asking folks lately how many people they think they pass by or see in a given day in New York, and the answers are all over the place.  Some people say 50, or 100, some say 500, and I personally would posit that the number is closer to 10,000.  Of those 10,000, I think I probably consciously register 1000-2000, maybe I make eye contact with 500, and have some richer form of communication whether verbal or non-verbal (i.e. hold a door, smile, etc.) with 100-200.

What would a product look like that attempted to replicate or enhance the experience of human consumption at the 10,000 person level?  I see elements of the answer in concepts like Chatroulette and Hot or Not, which take seemingly random consumption of other human beings, and then in both cases, push that lightweight (10,000 person) consumption down the funnel toward more active communication.  But then I wonder if the product that will capture/reflect/enhance my consumption of local inhabitants needs to push our extremely lightweight relationship down the funnel into some more meaningful communication, or perhaps it is enough to simply overlay that consumption with some richer dataset.  What if every person you consumed at the local level had a sign on their chest with a nametag?  What would change?  Would people say hi and push themselves down the communication funnel?  Not sure.  Maybe it’s not a nametag that people want.  Maybe I’d prefer to see an image of everyone’s spouse/partner on their shirt?  Or a floating sign with their occupation above their head?  Would that enrich my local experience and consumption of the people that surround me in a way that would improve the quality of my local experience?  Probably.  I don’t have a ton of answers here yet, but super interested in wrapping with anyone who wants to think about this with me.

P.S. If you have a second to drop your estimate of the number of people you think you 1) consume, 2) communicate with, and 3) make eye contact with in a given day, please drop your answers and the name of your city in the comments.

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Product Genius

Posted on June 8, 2010. Filed under: JumpPost, startups, venture capital |

Product Genius / Designer

Craigslist is big.  JumpPost is getting bigger.  We’re fascinated by the economics around local supply and demand.  We get off on the 2nd degree of our social graphs.  We believe syndication of content will be followed by syndication of commerce.  Elegant viral mechanisms are rewarded with firm handshakes.  Cupcakes distributed to anyone who designs a flow that increases sharing.  If my mom gets your design, you get a gold star.  If my hipster girlfriend thinks it’s cool, despite the fact that we make money, you get a gold star.  We’re just 9 months old, growing, generating cash, working in NYC out of killer loft space on W 13th between 9th and Washington, and having a ton of fun.  All we want to do is delight consumers.

Here’s the setup.  Doug rocks the Ruby on Rails, works across the stack, but let’s just say he’s no front end Picasso. Jordan loves product, but thinks in mechanisms not UI. We build and iterate quickly, and we believe that product and culture drive the company. We need help.

Enter new guy/girl:

– Fundamentally understands the way users interact with web based products

– Thinks visually, and creates beautiful, simple, engaging web products

– Breathes visual design and has the skills and discipline to rapidly create mockups and prototypes

– Doesn’t blink at HTML/CSS, and in our dream world has a command over Javascript, AJAX , JQuery, and cross-browser design (we know, if you can do all this, you can work wherever you want)

– Loves challenges, thrives independently, but is excited by collaboration

Bonus Round:

– Experience with Facebook Connect, Facebook Application Design

– Savvy on concepts of distributed UX, Widgets, Cross platform UX

What you win if you are the right fit for the job:

– The chance to work with a group of extremely ambitious, respectful, appreciative, and generally awesome young entrepreneurs here in New York.

– Ownership over your own projects and potentially the entire product if you rock

– Meaningful equity, competitive salary, and a complete willingness for you to impact our culture and company in whatever way you are capable

Check out our product http://jumppost.com/ (there’s more coming), check out our blogs (https://jordancooper.wordpress.com/, http://blog.dougpetkanics.com/, and then email jordan@jumppost.com with your resume/online presence and a line or two introducing yourself.  If you were super early at Etsy, Kayak, Craigslist, Twitter, Facebook, Google, etc…that’d be swell.  If we have to pay a recruiter to find you…so be it

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Lost In Translation

Posted on April 21, 2010. Filed under: JumpPost, startups, venture capital | Tags: , , |

JumpPost is getting some nice love from the press.  Here’s a sample of our coverage.

WPIX Eveneing News: http://jumppo.st/c3CZbQ (VIDEO)

New York Times: http://jumppo.st/cJ7lSS

NY Post: http://jumppo.st/bNbCp3

Gothamist: http://jumppo.st/aktNeD

Curbed: http://jumppo.st/aKa9AU

Generally speaking, I think the press is doing a great job of communicating our value proposition and story.  We are supremely grateful for the attention and kind words.

One point of clarification: The NY Post said we are now raising $1 Million.  That’s not true.  I told Jennifer (who is awesome) that when we are ready to raise, we will likely shoot for north of $1 Million. We aren’t quite there yet.  The time element of our fundraising goals was lost in translation.  I only clarify because whenever I read in the press that a company is raising money, I interpret that to mean “the company has been in the market and is having a tough time raising money” (Foursquare type rounds excluded)

Not the case with JumpPost.  We have not pitched a single investor for outside capital in our 7 months of existence.  When we do, I probably won’t advertise it in the newspaper 🙂

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Why am I trying to build a “pre-market” for home rentals?

Posted on March 29, 2010. Filed under: JumpPost, startups | Tags: , , , |

Think about any market where inventory isn’t priced perfectly.  The early bird (in this case anyone using JumpPost) who gets to choose before the broader market sees the goods will capture the best deals.  The chump who buys a used car that’s been sitting on the lot for 6 months (the market has seen and passed on it) is obviously not getting the best deal in the market.  In contrast, the used car dealer’s cousin (who gets to see the new stuff coming into the garage before it ever get’s out to the lot) is probably going to do all right.  In a perfectly priced market, there is no such thing as a deal, in which case it does not matter when you gain access to the inventory, but luckily for JumpPost, home rentals exist in an imperfect market.

In home rentals, if you have 10 apartments coming into the market, each unique and priced individually, 1 of those apartments will be an extraordinary deal (the value vastly exceeds the price paid), 3 of those apartments will be good deals (the value exceeds the price paid), 3 of those apartments will be market deals (the value is commensurate with the price paid), and 3 will be bad deals (the value is lower than the price paid).  The numbers in each bucket, are a bit arbitrary, but you get the point.

Currently, if you search on Craigslist or really anywhere else for that matter, 95% of the rental inventory advertised is available to move in immediately or within 30 days.  What this means, is that everyone in the market is competing for the same inventory at the same time.  You’re ability to find an “extraordinary” or even “good” deal is mitigated by the volume of people who are also picking over the same opportunities.  All the good stuff goes immediately, you only have time to view 5 or 6 places before you’re on the street with a suitcase, and invariably you become the asshole who is paying $500 a month more than your best friend who is living in a nicer place than you.  Read: the people getting the “bad” deals are accepting them when they are under pressure from a) competitive renters in the market and b) time pressure due to their own expiring lease.

Now, imagine if you were able to get a sneak preview of everything that was coming onto the market, and there was a magic company that could get you in to view that inventory 30-90 days before the masses of Craigslist started picking through it.  That would be worth something, no?

You bet.  Jumppost strives to be that magic company.  Admittedly, we aren’t magic until we have a TON of apartments for you to browse and discover in our “pre-market.”  We are working on that, but Rome wasn’t built in a day.  If you believe in the mission (and unless you’re a rental broker you should), you are in a perfect position to help us build this “pre-market.”  By creating a post in JumpPost, you are giving your fellow consumers a “heads up” that the place you’re leaving is going to be coming onto the market soon.  You could do this because you’re nice and believe in helping your friends and friends of friends, or you could do this because JumpPost helps you to earn serious money for giving consumers the “heads up.”  Either way…do it.  And if you aren’t in a position to do it, get you’re personal referral code here, post it in twitter/facebook/your blog/email/whatever, and help us move this market for the better.

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Stress = |Expectation – Actuality|

Posted on March 10, 2010. Filed under: JumpPost, startups, venture capital | Tags: , , , |

It’s 1:14 AM on the morning of my company’s launch.  I am sitting at my desk, in a giant empty office…more or less waiting…everyone has gone home for the night, there is no panicking, no last minute hiccups…a couple loose ends to tie up with our lawyers, but oddly enough…we are ready.  This is what’s boring about working with Doug Petkanics… he is painfully reliable.  30 days ago we designed a product development roadmap that predicted we would launch our company today, and sure enough…we are launching our company…today.  Not 1 day late, not 1 hour late…right on freaking schedule.

I often write about the ups and downs, the unpredictability of startup execution, and stupid Doug Petkanics is screwing up my whole shtick.  Prior to bringing Doug on, an early member of JumpPost, Mike Weaver, defined stress to me as “the result of any disconnect between expectation and actuality.”  He said it is in these moments where an event occurs contrary to expectation, that stress is born.  Finally, Mike argued that in order to live a stress free life, we must shed all expectation, and simply live in the moment.  I thought about this for a minute, and then rejected his argument in favor of another that also seemed consistent with his definition of stress.  I said “in order to live a stress free life, you just need to be accurate when defining your expectations. ”

Doug seems to have mastered the alternate theory I put forth, and it is reflected in his consistently cool demeanor under pressure.  I’m not sure I’ve ever worked with someone with such a firm grasp of their own capabilities, but day in and day out, he perfectly calibrates our collective expectations.

Our value proposition is going to hit ~250,000 in boxes in the next 24 hours…should be an interesting first day live for JumpPost.com 🙂

Update: well, not quite 250K…about a 1000 people clicked through to a shared listing we had in NYC’s Thrillist…it’s a start 🙂

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“Minimum Viable Lawyering”

Posted on February 26, 2010. Filed under: JumpPost, startups, venture capital | Tags: , , , |

So today I was talking to a new lawyer at my law firm, Cooley Godward, about a terms of use for JumpPost and things started to go down the road of a custom contract.  I said to him “Eric, are you familiar with the concept of a minimum viable product?”  He said yes, to which I replied “That is what I am releasing on Monday.  I want the ‘Minimum Viable Terms of Use’ that will support my minimum viable product.  When we get to the point where it makes sense to have something more elegant, we’ll refine it.”

For founders, working with lawyers can be extremely challenging…if done properly, there is a tremendous amount of value in the time you spend with your lawyers…if done improperly there is a tremendous cost.

When I first started to engage with counsel (in my last company), I was constantly worried about the ticking clock (“this guy is $600 an hour, we’ve been on the phone for 30 minutes…I just spent 1% of my monthly burn in the blink of an eye”).  Unfortunately this mindset causes founders to try to speed through calls, avoid asking important questions, and generally fosters a dynamic that is “watchful” as opposed to “collaborative.”  Although the legal line item can often be the largest expense in an early stage startup’s budget, I have found that getting comfortable with this expense and being conscious of it, as opposed to fearful, will maximize value and minimize waste.

Before we get into how to manage cost, let me start by saying that one of the most important things you can do when working with a law firm is invest in building a real relationship with your lawyer.  Don’t worry about the clock, just worry about getting to a point of real trust and mutual respect.  It will pay for itself 10x.

Then, once you have gotten to know your lawyer, don’t incur costs until they are absolutely necessary.  You may have a “legal roadmap” that requires an incorporation, option pool creation, terms of use, privacy policy, proprietary contractual agreement with a vendor, etc…and the cost of all of those efforts may total $50K.  Most founders just want to check every box on their plan, so they dump all the work on their lawyers desk and say “go.”  A month later they get a $50K check and then have to explain to their investors why their first months burn is so high.  What I’ve learned is that you can line up these expenses with your operating plan, and only ask your lawyer to begin working on them when they become a stop gap to further execution.  So, day 1 you need them to incorporate (free to $1K depending on the firm), but hold off on that option pool until you have a better sense of your hiring timeline.  Why spend a $1 today, when you could wait until tomorrow.  When building my first company, I said “go” to a $20K customized legal contract in the first two months of operation.  I knew we wouldn’t need that contract until our product was live 6 months later, but I wanted it “in place.”  That contract never got used once.

So the lesson is, don’t invest in a whole lot of legal infrastructure ahead of need, but rather approach your legal strategy the same way as you would your product strategy.  Only spend what you have to when you have to.  Get something out the door, acquire new data, and then iterate on what you have in place.

Note: There is an element of “protecting against future occurrence” when it comes to the law that sometimes commands more of an up front investment than is consistent with lean product development philosophy, but this is where having a lawyer you categorically trust is extremely important.  Pat Mitchell at Cooley understands my lean startup philosophy and only advises me to spend when it is critical.  Make sure your lawyer is giving you the advice that’s best for your company, not his/her near term cash flows.

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This Makes JumpPost Happy

Posted on January 21, 2010. Filed under: JumpPost | Tags: |

I’ve decided to leave my apartment when the lease expires on March 31.  I sent an inquiry about an apartment I found on NakedApartments (I swear this is a real exchange and I really am looking for  a new rental).  Listing broker responds with the below:

Jordan,

Glad you contacted me. It’s good that you’re thinking ahead to your 4/1 move-in date. Anything that you see listed now is likely to be rented by the end of the week. I don’t want to waste you time by showing you a place that you’re not in a position to rent. Here’s what I’d suggest: Go to my company’s website, Rapidnyc.com. You’ll see that we have over 4,000 listings, many with low or no fees. You can browse apartments all over Brooklyn and get an idea of what’s out there. Then contact me again in March and I’ll find you an apartment in one day.

If you have questions, or would just like to discuss your apartment search, “make contact” with me so we can talk on the phone. I’d be happy to chat with you about what you’re looking for.

best,
Irene Antoniazzi
Rapid Realty

Wouldn’t it be sweet if I didn’t have to wait until 30 days before I am out on the street to start looking for a new place?????  Yea…That’d be sweet….would also be sweet if I didn’t have to pay Irene 8-15% of a years rent…

Soon…very soon…

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The Practice of Patience (Founder’s Tip)

Posted on January 11, 2010. Filed under: JumpPost, startups | Tags: , , |

The past couple of days at JumpPost have been an exercise in patience.  This is not a trait that comes naturally to me, nor is it one that I’d imagine most entrepreneur’s are born with.  Sort of by definition, we are a group who wants change to happen faster than it would evolve without our efforts.  I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes (stolen from Fabrice Grinda) by Joel Barker:

“Vision without action is merely a dream.  Action without vision just passes the time.  Vision with action can change the world.”

So what happens when you are long on vision, and stirring to create action, but there is some external force on which your desired action is dependant?  Frequently in a startup, the most important thing in the world to you and your company, is number 15 on the to-do list of an external party (whether that party be a bus dev partner, service provider, investor, or even employee).  There are two responses that a founder can engage in when waiting on external action:

1) application of pressure: you want your answer/data/deliverable and you want it now.  Email/call/hound the external party until you get it.  My experience has been this strategy can yield fruit as a last resort, but more often than not, it will just move you down the list form 15 to 20 (or maybe even remove you from the last all together).

2) Acceptance: the world does not revolve around you and your startup.  Start pushing other balls forward while you wait for this one to unfold.  Nothing wrong with staying in front of this external party, but do it in a way that respects their right to prioritize their own efforts and actions.  This might mean that you let a time sensitive opportunity pass you by, or that you need to delay a number of other actions that are dependent on the outcome of this external event, but building a company is a marathon, not a sprint (note: I do like to sprint some miles when the opportunity presents itself).  In the long run, preservation of important relationships and a healthy working dynamic between you and the parties with whom you interact will yield fruit…so don’t freak out when things take longer than you want them to.

It takes practice to sit down at your computer, stare at the bright red “high importance” item on your to do list, and then to compartmentalize and look beyond it so that it does not distract you from knocking out the 10 “medium importance” items that are sitting behind it.  I’ve written before about the importance of momentum…and one of the biggest killers of momentum, at least personally, is waiting on something that you do not control…The practice I have developed over the past couple of years is a practice in acceptance.  Very few events in the life of a startup are apocalyptic (though they may seem such in the moment)…some things fall your way, some don’t, so staring at this “high importance” item and then saying “have I done everything I can possibly do to make this item break my way? Yes? Okay, what else can I accomplish today?” is a dialog with yourself that is worth developing.

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Newsflash: Your Startup Is Not In The Playbook

Posted on January 6, 2010. Filed under: JumpPost, startups, Uncategorized, venture capital | Tags: , , , , , |

A former investor of mine, Fabrice Grinda, recently wrote a blog post enumerating the reasons why businesses that are started with two co-founders are more likely to exit big than are those with a single founder at the helm. That line of thinking seems to be the common sentiment at least in the venture world, and one which having seen more than a thousand founder/cofounder setups while on the venture side, I think I would tend to agree with.  When I started thinking about leaving General Catalyst to start my first business, I mapped out a progression of events necessary to take the plunge and build a company.  The planned progression of events went something like: 1) idea, 2) diligence, 3) cofounder, 4) quit job, 5)raise capital, 6) build product, 7) achieve seed stage milestones, 8 ) raise more capital and scale.

This play book is sort of a standard one that I had heard many entrepreneurs and investors tout, and not having been through it before, I largely executed according to plan (minus 7 & 8 that is).  What I’ve learned, however, is that someone else’s play book is only a guide, and to execute against it without flexibility and recognition of your own context/data is a mistake.  Nothing in startup world happens exactly as you expect it to.  Sometimes a recognition that you need to write your own play book can prevent what I’ll call “inorganic progress.”

“Organic progress”, to me, is when the events in an operating plan occur as the result of successful completion of tasks/goals/learning on which that new event is dependent.  In other words, progress that occurs naturally or without force.  An example of organic progress would be when a management team builds a product, puts it out to consumers, people buy this product, and THEN they design a customer service program to support their newfound customers.

“Inorganic progress”, then, would be occurrence of an event ahead of completion of the tasks/goals/learning on which that event is dependent.  Or, forced progress.  The company builds a product, puts it out to consumers, and then designs a customer service program in anticipation of its first customers…although it may seem that management is getting ahead (or making progress) by finishing their customer service design quickly, they are doing so without the data/learning of customer feedback, and thus an event (the customer service design) occurs before it’s antecedent (inorganically).

It has been my experience that when progress is forced, although potentially forward moving from an aesthetic sense, this is progress in a wrong direction.  The customer service design, when created through inorganic progress, will not address the needs of the company’s customers, thereby creating an operational inefficiency that would not have arisen had management allowed this piece of progress to develop organically.

As it turned out in our last company, steps 1-4 were in line with the concept of organic progress.  My immediate instinct when starting JumpPost was to replicate a known play book: 1) idea, 2) diligence, 3) co-founder, 4) give up job opportunity in venture capital (replaced quit job), 5) raise capital.  What I realized when I began executing on this play book, however, was that I had a previously non-existent understanding of the difference between organic and inorganic progress.  Steps 1 & 2 were the same, but as I began to work on 3, I realized that recruiting A level talent, and especially a cofounder, could be a 6 month cycle.  A number of people I am close with expressed an interest in cofounding the company, and had I been executing to “plan,” I would have taken one of them on before moving forward to step 4, but this didn’t seem “natural.”  Why? Because I was missing two antecedents to this decision.  The antecedents, in this case, being 1) an understanding of what domain expertise would become most important to our company, and 2) an understanding of what caliber of talent I could expect to bring on board pre vs. post venture financing.

So…I sort of tabled the old play book, continued to meet with interesting people, but began executing the subsequent steps before completing step 3 (cofounder)…As soon as I moved past step 3, another deviation from the play book arose.  The play book would have said I needed to raise capital in order to develop the JumpPost product (especially without a technical cofounder), but again it didn’t seem natural…what I realized was that I wasn’t ready to commit to investors a single vision for the Company without the data of product/market fit behind us.  So I read a lot about a new play book, rooted in the philosophy of customer development, and then began recruiting a team to build something ahead of financing.  Now, we will begin to acquire the data needed to complete step 5 (fundraising) organically.

I ran into Chris Dixon on the street in our neighborhood a few weeks ago, and after chatting for a bit about this blog, he asked about JumpPost.  His first question was “how are things going? still searching for a technical cofounder?”  From an investor’s perspective (and Dixon is another example of a guy who has seen a thousand startup teams, and subscribes to the “cofounder law” for many of the reasons Fabrice articulated), acquisition of a cofounder (step 3) was a data point that would indicate where I was in the progress of a conventional startup play book.  Although my answer to his question was, “yea, I guess so,” the reality was I was well beyond this step in the play book, but only because I decided a while ago that I would design a new play book, drawing on conventional wisdom for sure, but not without a few of my own creative plays mixed in.

So all this talk of organic and inorganic progress is just to say that while I recognize Fabrice’s points about the benefits of a cofounder, I will not take on a “cofounder” until it organically presents itself.  As JumpPost progresses, I view every early hire, part time contributor, and even advisor as a founding member of our company and I rely on them all as a sort of “aggregate cofounder.”  The interesting part is we are going to hit step 6 (product) and have a real good shot of hitting step 7 (achieve seed stage milestones) of the old play book, before executing on steps 3 (cofounder) and 5 (raise seed round).  It just happens that this was the most organic and natural path of progress given all the events/goals/learning that we have experienced to date.

So, I guess my advice to entrepreneur’s considering Fabrice’s (and common wisdom’s) suggestion that “2 [founders] > 1”  would be, “yes, a cofounder does represent a huge amount of value when starting a business…BUT there are many ways to skin a cat, just make sure you don’t do it inorganically.”

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Entrepreneurial DNA Transcends Context

Posted on December 26, 2009. Filed under: JumpPost, startups | Tags: , |

I got a text on at 10:05PM on Christmas night from a number I did not recognize.  The body of the text simply stated, “Merry Christmas.”  In typical fashion when I don’t know the sender of the message (but obviously I should), I wrote back “thanks.  I got a new phone, who is this?”  Which is a nice way of saying, “I obviously didn’t take the time to transfer your number from my last phone to this one, you must not be that important to me.”  I waited a few minutes, and then the following reply came through “Anthony the guy who sold u the chocolate when we was playing soccer.”

I racked my brain for who this guy could be.  I do play soccer frequently, but I hate chocolate, would never by it for myself, and certainly did not remember buying chocolate from anyone with whom I play soccer.  I started thinking back as to whether or not I had bought a present for anyone, or given anyone chocolate recently, but I thought I would have remembered wrapping up a game of soccer and then transacting with one of the players in my game.  Still, I couldn’t place him, so I wrote back “wrong number bro” assuming that would be the end of it.  A minute later I get back “no its not u live in park slope. U don’t remember?”

When he indicated that I lived in Park Slope, I immediately realized who it was.  About 4 months ago, I was walking back from Prospect Park after a soccer game, dribbling my ball down the street in my neighborhood.  A young African guy wheeling a black suitcase approached me, unzipped the suitcase, and revealed a hodge podge of trinkets, batteries, and candy.  He asked me to buy something, to which I gave my standard response in these situations “no thanks man.”  I kept walking for a few steps, and I heard “hey wait, man…hold up for a minute”  I typically do not like to be “sold” by anyone, but I turned around as he ran toward me.  He looked down at my soccer ball and said, “are you any good?”  He left his suitcase on the street and gestured for the ball.  I kicked it to him and he immediately transitioned from a salesman into a soccer player, much like the guys in my pick up game in Prospect Park.  Despite his brightly shined dress shoes, he moved the ball with an ease which would have placed him in the top 10% of my regular game, and we spent about 15 minutes kicking the ball around, talking about soccer, and finally I asked him why he didn’t come by and play with us in the park.  He sort of looked back at the suitcase he had abandoned and I watched as he visibly returned to a different reality. Quickly our game was over…he explained that he would like to, but didn’t have the time to play (despite his talent).  I learned that he was a student by day, but that every day after school he walks around with this suitcase and tries to sell the contents in an effort to help support his family.  He then asked for my number, and said, “but I’ll call you, and we’ll go play sometime.”

As we prepared to part ways, he said, “so, are you going to buy some chocolate or what?”  Hating chocolate, but wanting to support this hard working young guy, I said, “fine, we’ll have a contest.  If you can juggle this ball more times than me, I’ll buy your chocolate.”  Sure enough, dress clothes and all, he crushed me, and I bought a couple Snickers bars, which I promptly though away.

I remember how impressed I was with him, that he was able to move past the challenges of a guerilla sales effort, find a common ground on which to establish a relationship, and then without sacrificing his integrity, convert that relationship into a sale.  I thought to myself, that this is a bright and resourceful young man, who I would bet will transcend the cards he has been dealt in life.  I told him if he ever wanted to talk about work or his career, he should give me a call, and then we parted ways.

His text on Christmas night confirmed my suspicion that he was, in fact, a special kid.  After recognizing where we had met, I asked why he never called me to go play, and again he explained that he has been busy with work.  He ended by texting “But amma come save my number and my name is Anthony ok”  His maintenance of our relationship (without the aid of a CRM tool, none the less) and his direct call to action, almost “demanding” that I save his contact info and remember who he is (especially when coupled with the work ethic he has shown in his after school job), is demonstrative of an ambition and relentlessness that breeds success.

I should be so lucky as to hire a team at JumpPost that is naturally wired with the character traits that Anthony possesses.  Happy Holidays to all.

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The 3 Most Important Words in a Founder’s Vocabulary

Posted on December 14, 2009. Filed under: JumpPost, startups, Uncategorized, venture capital | Tags: , , , |

I have always been amazed by people’s unwillingness to utter the words “I don’t know.”  These three words have been, by far, the most important words in the course of my professional development.  I remember working for a Hedge Fund when I was a sophomore in College, and being tasked with maintenance of a model that one of my bosses had developed to track financial performance of distressed public companies.  I had “sold” my way into this internship leaning heavily on my previous “experience” interning at a Broker/Dealer in high school, but the truth of the matter was, I had no fucking idea what the numbers in this model meant.  My high school internship had consisted of running tickets on a trading floor and picking up breakfast for a bunch of Boiler Room brokers.  While I did get a taste for the “excitement of the markets,” I received absolutely no background in accounting, could not read a financial statement, and was ill equipped to be updating and “analyzing” the data in this model.

I spent about 2 weeks faking my way through this task (while working hard to add value in other places where I was more confident), and then I realized how inefficient it was for me to be performing it with my limited knowledge.  I remember coming clean with my then boss, and saying, “I don’t know what any of these numbers mean.”  I expected him to be extremely disappointed, but instead he sat down with me, spent a few hours explaining the basics, and I became infinitely more dangerous and valuable to the Company.  I internalized that lesson early, and now I apply it on a regular basis.

Admitting that you don’t know something is by far the fastest way to learn it.  When I got to General Catalyst Partners, I literally did not know the difference between an application and an operating system.  I had to learn a whole new language, and the way I did it was by writing down every single word and concept I didn’t know, most of which were extremely basic and revealed my complete lack of experience, and then I would corner people in their offices and ask them to explain the items on my list.  For about three months I was the kid who didn’t know anything, and then for the next two years I was able to speak intelligently across just about every industry and market to which we paid attention.  I remember watching the learning curve of one of the guys who joined our team after me, and it was so much slower than it should have been.  I realized the reason was because he never asked for anyone’s help.  Never admitted when he didn’t know something, but instead sort of nodded his way through conversations about subjects he hadn’t learned.  Had he sucked it up and admitted what he didn’t know up front, his learning curve would have been much steeper.

Especially as a non-tech founder (and as a tech investor) I am constantly dealing in realms where my domain expertise is a fraction of the folks’ with whom I work.  SEO is a great example of an area where I lack the necessary domain expertise to be dangerous.  I could either keep on referencing SEO as a strategy we are going to implement at JumpPost, without understanding how it works, or admit that I get conceptually why Search Engine Optimization is important, but to be honest, I have an extremely cursory understanding of how it works.  As soon as I admit that, while potentially unimpressive to the investor with whom I am speaking, or the potential hire with whom I am recruiting, I am now able to sit back and listen as they explain the three pieces of “low hanging fruit” we can achieve while knowing nothing about SEO, as well as the three more complex concepts around the relationship between SEO and Product architecture that I can now implement during the build of our product.  The alternative, of course, being that I could gloss over this “blind spot,” notice in 6 months that we are stinking it up on organic search traffic, and then admit that we don’t really understand SEO, at which point I’ll have to explain to said investor why I just wasted $XX of his investment building a non-SEO friendly product that now needs to be rebuilt/augmented at an additional expense to the Company.

When you expose a “blind spot” in your skill set/knowledge base, those who are in a position to teach don’t feel any need to impress you with their knowledge.  Rather they speak to you like they would a first grader, which is exactly where you need to start when you are learning a new language.  Imagine trying to learn Italian by sitting in an a 3rd year Italian course.  It would be nearly impossible and you would immediately raise your hand and say “I think I’m in the wrong class, where’s Italian 1?”  If you’re a non-tech founder, for example, not raising your hand when designing a product with your lead developer and saying “Where’s PHP 101?” is simply stupid.  Your job may not be to write the code, but if you don’t understand the basics behind every layer of your product, how can you recruit intelligently, weight the effort of your design against internal resources, and contribute ideas to the development process in a method that is easily digestible to the rest of the team.  Even in areas where you don’t need to become an expert in your Company, taking the time to learn the basic principles behind everyone’s efforts is essential for effective communication both within your Company and with parties outside of it.

Beyond product, this practice applies to marketing, fundraising, business development, and every other effort that you are pushing forward in your Company.  I remember negotiating a business development agreement with Citigroup in my last company.  I identified a natural partner for our business, got in front of the right people to pitch it, and got their verbal commitment to move forward with a deal.  We sort of lingered in that realm of “ok, so we want to work together” for a couple of weeks, and then I realized that I didn’t know how to turn that sentiment into action.  I remember calling Brad Handler, who is the founder of Exclusive Resorts (and at the time a very important potential investor and business development prospect himself) and telling him “listen, I have this deal with Citigroup that is within reach, but I don’t know what to do now.”  He taught me how to write and deliver an LOI (Letter of Intent), described the process of turning that LOI into an Agreement, and coached me on how to get the deal across the finish line.  Now, in the course of acquiring this knowledge, I exposed our inexperience to one of the most valuable companies for the future of our business, but I only had to do that once, and every business development effort I encountered from that point forward I came at from a position of strength.

So the moral of the story is, don’t fake it.  When you don’t know something, admit it confidently, learn it, and move forward.

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“Drop In” to the Zone

Posted on December 11, 2009. Filed under: JumpPost, startups | Tags: , , |

When people ask me how I’m doing these days, my regular response is “awesome.  I’m in the zone.”  I’ve been in the zone many times before, but typically this state only lasts for a few days or maybe weeks at atime, before it diminishes and reverts back to what I’ll call my baseline mental productivity.  The strange thing is, this “zone” has lasted for about 2 months, and it’s going strong.  What I’m learning, is that it is possible to actively perpetuate a certain mental state through conscious effort and replication of context.

First, let’s explore for a second, the concept of “the zone.”  It’s pretty hard to define, but for me it’s an energy and state of mind in which you are able to move through all facets of life without friction.  Imagine, driving through Manhattan, guided largely by your intuition, where every light you approach turns green at just the right second.  Athletes might talk about being in a state where no movement is conscious, but rather there is a perfect alignment between your instinct and the context in which you’re acting.

I’ve written before about positive feedback loops.  The zone, in many ways, is a constant positive feedback loop.  In times like this, productivity is extremely high, thought is particularly sharp, social interaction is particularly rich, and energy is extremely high.

Slipping into the zone is not easy, but it is possible to practice entrance into this state.  If you have ever attempted to surf, the experience is very similar.  You spend a ton of energy paddling as hard as you can to get into the wave’s path, and then as the swell forms behind you, you must pop up at exactly the right moment.  A second too late and the wave passes you by.  A second to early and the front of your board plows into the sea.  But, if you are able to drop in just right, you immediately switch from a state of frenetic exertion, to extreme calm, and yet you move at 10x the speed of when you’re paddling to high hell.

Much like surfing, I have found that there are certain practices you can develop to “drop in” to the zone more frequently and for longer periods of time.  A lot of it is maintaining a state of mind and attitude that is conducive to allowing the calm of the wave to carry you.  Simply remembering what the zone feels like is enough to open your mind to this calm.  To that end, replication of context that exists when you are in this state can be an effective way to “remind” yourself what you are trying to achieve.  Music is one of the most effective triggers for me to replicate a context.  If I am listening to a band during a period of particularly high functioning, I will continue to listen to that band and that band alone until I burn it out.  Similarly, if I wake up at a certain time of day, I will keep waking up at the same time of day, replicate the same routine, eat the same breakfast, etc…This may sound a little crazy, but constantly drawing analogies between the day you are in, and yesterday where you were unstoppable, makes it much easier to believe and function as though you are unstoppable today.

I know not everybody functions in this manner, but for those who know what I am talking about, and I think many entrepreneurs are similar in this way, I have a theory that 80% of what you accomplish in a year is likely achieved in “zone like” periods.  Being conscious enough of this state, to know when you are in it, and working extraordinarily hard during these periods to maximize output and take advantage is key.  When you’re not in the zone, looking at the friction in your life, and figuring out why you keep missing the wave is essential (although difficult).

P.S. I just asked my friend George Bell to describe his zone, and he talked about things slowing down to a point where you can move through an environment (professional, athletic, or otherwise) seamlessly.  I’d be interested to hear everyone else’s descriptions of their own “zones.”

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“Open Sourced” Job Spec

Posted on November 27, 2009. Filed under: JumpPost, startups, Uncategorized, venture capital | Tags: , , , |

On November 5th, almost exactly 3 weeks ago, 253 people read my first blog post.  On November 25, 2 days ago, 4,730 people showed up.  While I am excited by the growth, I am still searching for better ways to harness the collective knowledge within this new community.    Despite more than 5,000 people reading the last post, only 8 decided to comment and continue the line of thinking.  Less than 2/10 of a percent participation is not very good.

Today, I want to experiment with a new concept.  I’d like to take a page from the open source software movement, and apply that spirit to the creation of a VP of Marketing Job Spec.  For those not familiar, the theory behind open source software development is that much of the coding effort required to carry out development of a project overlaps with the effort required to build other similar (or not so similar) products.  By openly sharing a body of code with everyone in a given community, all members within it are able to leverage what has already been accomplished/created, instead of reinventing the wheel from scratch.  So if I’m building an e-commerce site and I want to include a shopping cart function, I could spend hours developing my own from scratch, or I could just plug in an open source module that another developer wrote, knowing that his code will do the trick.  With the time I saved, maybe I will figure out how to build a feature on top of his code that reduces drop off, and then, if I’m cool, I’ll publish the code behind my enhancement back to the community (open source developers, if I butchered this, please chime in).

So now that I have all of you smart people reading this blog, I figured we could draw on some of your collective knowledge in an effort to create the ideal Job Spec.  Whatever we create here, will hopefully be the result of years of experience and lessons learned by those who have hired well (and not so well).  My hope is that the document we create will enhance our hiring at JumpPost, but also that it will serve as a template from which any startup recruiting a VP of Marketing can build.

I will start with a brief description of what JumpPost is, and then work into what I think we need:

JumpPost is somewhere between an online classifieds site and a low cost online real estate broker.  So, if Craigslist and Redfin had a baby, it might look something like JumpPost.  From a customer acquisition perspective, we are focused on general population consumers who are psyched about saving/making money during a change of residence.  We’re not interested in reaching home owners (at least for now), and folks who live in cities are more exciting than suburbanites and rural dwellers.  It’s a pretty wide net we can cast, and some of our value propositions are unique (read: won’t be competitive to acquire certain types of users), while others are highly competitive.  In a VP of Marketing, we are looking for someone who has a play book for building a liquid online community through a series of paid and non-paid customer acquisition strategies.

I’d like to collect contributions to three lenses through which we can identify a star VP of Marketing:

1) General Personality traits: What type of person makes a great online/consumer marketer? ideas that might be right or wrong include:

– data driven thinker

– addiction to analytics

– detail oriented

– quantitative bent

– understanding of relationship between product development and marketing efforts

– what else?  What personality traits do the best marketers you know exhibit?  Any surprising ones? Any huge red flags that your bad marketing hires displayed?

2) Specific marketing skills and experience requirements:

A) What unique skills should this person possess? ideas include:

– fluency in Google Analytics

– proficiency with SEM keyword tools/models (i.e. Clickable)

– what else? (I actually don’t know what are best in class skills here)

B) What experiences and backgrounds best prepare someone for this type of gig? Ideas include:

– comes from an analogous market acquiring similar demo of user (in our case: online travel, online classifieds, online real estate, online jobs, marketplaces, etc…)

– managed SEM campaign of $XX million budget with XX level of success (what are the metrics to judge success here? What’s a good baseline to measure outperformance vs. underperformance?)

– designed and executed successful referral program alla Gilt.com, Jetsetter.com, etc…(again, what’s a good baseline for measuring outperformance vs. underperformance?)

–  fluency acquiring customers from within larger platforms like Facebook, Twitter, etc…

– took an online consumer facing site from xx users to yy users in xx months (what’s best in class here, and how do we separate out the candidate’s contribution to that growth from all other efforts that played a hand?)

3) General traits and skills necessary for an early stage startup team member: What are the must haves and red flags when determining if a hire for any early role will be able to hack it in the beginning stages of  a company’s development? Ideas include:

– previous experience growing a company from alpha product to exit

– effusive and clear communicator

– “roll up your sleeves” attitude, no job is too small (not going to try to hire service providers to do all the work)

– comfort with a lack of structure and ability to create and execute own initiatives

– what else?  what are the best predictors that an early hire will be a star team member?

So, my suggestions are in no way exhaustive.  Please, those who have successfully and unsuccessfully hired an online VP of Marketing, rip this apart and share your experience in the comments of this post.  Where am I right on? What is way off?  Let’s try to fill these three buckets and I’ll publish a composite spec for all to build off of going forward.

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    About

    I’m a NYC based investor and entrepreneur. I've started a few companies and a venture capital firm. You can email me at Jordan.Cooper@gmail.com (p.s. i don’t use spell check…deal with it)

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