Startup & Innovation

January 21, 2021

The 5 stages of CTO & the CTO Career Chasm

Unsurprisingly, there are different types of CTOs for the various stages of a startup. What makes a CTO strong in one stage might turn into a weakness two stages later, and vice versa. I’ve been a CTO for the last [...]

June 08, 2020

Interviewing: Ask them to show, not tell!

Picture this. You are taking a Calculus test in High School. Instead of a written assessment, it’s a different type of evaluation. It’s an oral test. Huh? And, instead of asking to solve Calculus problems, the test is about how [...]

May 16, 2020

11 Reasons Why WFH Is Not All Unicorn amp; Rainbows

(Originally published on GeekWire) In the midst of the ongoing pandemic, there is an awakening among CEOs that employees are capable of doing work and being productive from home. This week, Twitter announced that employees can work from home indefinitely, [...]

February 12, 2020

Not all problems/opportunities are created equal

It’s easy for builders to get down on a tactical level and lose sight of the big picture and, sometimes, lose sight of something’s original purpose. As far as I observed, this is a symptom that affects most employees in [...]

September 09, 2019

What does it take to succeed at a tech startup?

Let’s level set first. This post is not about what it takes for a startup to be successful. There is plenty of (good and bad) advice about it already. It’s also not about what it takes for you to make [...]

September 03, 2018

The most important thing I learned about Startups

Almost 13 years ago I met a VC to pitch my first* startup. It was as unsophisticated as a pitch can be and I was a rookie. He was impressed enough by what I’ve built that I’ve got invited back [...]

May 11, 2018

How fast can you hire?

Five years ago, when Amazon started its hyper-growth employee count, I wonder how fast a company could hire new employees without causing more harm than good. No matter what kind of business you have, hiring too fast can hinder growth. [...]

July 04, 2017

Don’t quit your job to do an AR/VR Startup yet

Every few years a new building block of technology starts to take shape and with it comes a wave of enthusiasm, not only from early-adopters but early-builders. Early-builders are the entrepreneurs and developers who just can’t resist the appeal of [...]

May 24, 2017

How to be the worst CTO that you can be

You are the smartest person on the team and, likely, the founder. If not the founder, you are the one that was brought in to build the tech. You have total control of the infrastructure, the code, the engineers, and [...]

May 16, 2017

What if you had unlimited capital to build a business?

The Lean Startup methodology taught us to build something small, measure, learn, re-plan, and repeat the whole process until you find product-market fit. That’s a great process, and it serves to find something that works. But what are we losing [...]

May 04, 2017

quot;I need a free developer for my brilliant ideaquot;

If you’re part of an online group about startups, entrepreneurship, founders, or CxOs on Google Groups, Facebook, Slack, Meetup, or any platform, I bet you’ve seen a post like this come by: “Hi, I have a brilliant idea, and I’m [...]

January 22, 2017

Sorry. You have no unfair advantage amp; no differentiator (with cheat-sheet)

Point 1: In the last decade, I started noticing how some TV ads were so generic, particularly for banks and insurance companies. It plays out like this: They feature happy people, eating, playing, studying, or working, in a cozy home, [...]

November 16, 2016

You are screwing up your Beta Email List

I see this anti-pattern so often that I just need to write about it in the hope of helping fellow entrepreneurs do it right. The story goes like this: You are building a new product but not ready to have [...]

September 07, 2016

My first Demo Day in London: Entrepreneur First (#ef6)

Yesterday I had the opportunity of attending Entrepreneur First’s Demo Day here in London. It was my first exposure to such an event here. I found it to be very different from Demo Days in the US. First and foremost, [...]

June 08, 2016

Ideas Are Cheap: 31 for the Taking

Over the last 30-days, I tweeted a new startup idea every morning. I could keep it going for another 30 days, but it’s a good time to stop and reflect on them. I kept them vague — how much can you explain [...]

June 06, 2016

Lessons learned from a Startup Studio.

Startup studios are a relatively new type of business. You might have heard of them before as “venture builders” or “startup factories.” There are only a dozen or so of them in the world, including the original one, IdeaLab, and [...]

May 24, 2016

Struggling to hire the perfect VP of X at your Startup

Entrepreneurs dream of a better product, better world, or a better business than something that existed before. In this ideological view, when the CEO sets out to recruit a new VP of Marketing, a new CTO, or a new Head [...]

May 23, 2016

Converting a (meh) pitch into an (engaging) story

If there is one common thread I see on first-time (even second-time) entrepreneurs, they get too excited about their idea, know too much about it, and tell an incomplete or confusing story about what they are doing and why. They [...]

May 19, 2016

Some fantastic companies at TechStars Seattle and one Unicorn in the making.

Yesterday was TechStars Seattle Demo Day and over the last seven years of TechStars Seattle, I can say this is the best batch of all. In case, you don’t know what TechStars or Demo Day is, your time will be [...]

May 03, 2016

Exploration vs. Execution

Every once in a while, you hear a story that you connect with a previous story, and it brings a new level of clarity to a topic — A collision of ideas. Yesterday it happened to me when thinking about the early [...]

February 13, 2016

We need more startup marketing minds (a.k.a. Full-Stack Marketers)

Three years ago I was at a dinner and an entrepreneur was telling me and the VP of Marketing of a successful startup how there weren’t enough marketing folks in Seattle. This VP of Marketing disagreed and said there are [...]

January 22, 2016

The least amount of time, money, and resources to prove your business.

There are many entrepreneurial patterns, some good, some not. One pattern I see a lot is this belief that things will work and you jump one or two steps ahead of where you should be. (See my previous post on [...]

January 18, 2016

Flirting amp; Dating Startups Ideas

Working at a Startup Studio has given me a new appreciation on how to select an idea, build a startup and make it successful. Actually, not so much what makes a startup successful, but what makes good people pick bad [...]

January 14, 2016

The need for advisors amp; mentors

We live in a world of infinite options. From the type of beer at the supermarket to the career decisions you can make. It seems to be an even bigger problem for entrepreneurs and founders. For the past three years, [...]

July 27, 2015

Anti-Customer Development

Let me go out on a limb and assume if the title of this post got you here you know what Customer Development is. So, I’m proposing that with your Customer Development you also do an Anti-Customer Development. My definition [...]

July 21, 2015

The Three Types of Startup Advisors You’ll Find: The Dad-type, the Mom-type, and the Grandpa-type.

If you are doing a startup, just starting as a side-project or profitable and on its way to unicorndom, as a founder you are bound to encounter many advisors on your journey. These interactions come in unstructured and structured ways: [...]

July 17, 2015

You can’t speed up time: On testing startup hypothesis

The amazing rise and prominence of Y Combinator, TechStars and 500 Startups has bestowed upon us the idea that startups have a very specific timeframe to figure out their product, raise money, launch, build a brand, etc. You combine that [...]

July 14, 2015

Hiring the best tech talent: Purpose, Product, and Compensation

We live in a very peculiar time in history in which the demand for tech skills are so high that companies are going above and beyond to convince talent to join their mission. These are primarily software engineers, but also [...]

April 03, 2015

Seven Principles for a world of technology for all

Bill Gates letter to Microsoft employees in commemoration of Microsoft’s 40th anniversary is brief, but it hints at what’s to come. If you look at the progression of technology in ten year blocks (2015, 2005, 1995, 1985, 1975) you get [...]

March 26, 2015

Three Unusual Sources of Startup Ideas

I believe that any startup idea, even if it’s an obviously bad one, can be pivoted into a bigger and better idea, so getting started is probably the most important step in making an idea into a successful execution. Sometimes [...]

March 16, 2015

Grab people’s attention by the symptom, not by the cure.

We might think highly of what we’ve created. We might think we have a great, unique, and revolutionary solution for a problem. We want the world to know about it. We speak in witty form, touting our approach, and… No [...]

March 02, 2015

Playing in the right business zone

If you are a product manager, by title or role, you are probably familiar with the matrix describing where you should spend your resources. It states that features that are used by most users most of the time are worth [...]

February 03, 2015

The Unmet amp; Unspoken Needs of Customers

Identifying big opportunities is part science, part art. If someone pitched you in 1999 that we need to create a fully open micro-blogging platform that each person can post up to 140 characters for anyone to see, your reaction might [...]

January 27, 2015

Attention Cannibalization

If you come from a business or marketing background, revenue cannibalization is something you are familiar with. It’s the concept of a business launching a new product line that is creating revenue by taking revenue away from another product line [...]

September 28, 2013

10 Reasons Your Startup Will Fail

Great entrepreneurs are not risk-seekers. They are risk-mitigators. If you eliminate every possible risk for your startup, you succeed. Of course, you can’t eliminate all risk, but you can mitigate, control and eliminate a lot of them and let “luck” [...]

August 14, 2013

A day in the life of a startup CTO

I’ve thought it would be cool to write a blog post about the randomness and full-stackness of being a CTO at a small startup. So here is a summary of my day today, which started at 6:45 AM and it’s [...]

April 12, 2012

Why your first hire should be a designer and not a developer?

You kick off your startup and you start generating revenue or you raise seed money to get things going. You are in a position that you decide to hire the first employee of the company. If one of the founders [...]

August 01, 2011

Co-founder search: How did a business guy score me?

Maybe it’s just me noticing that now, but there is a lot more chat on the blogosphere, twittersphere, hackernewsphere, and on Google Groups about this specie called “Business Guy” who are looking for this other specie called “Tech Guys” to [...]

July 07, 2010

A thing or two about becoming a tech entrepreneur

Last year I organized the StartupDay conference, focusing on what someone like me would liked to have learned before I left Microsoft to do my own startup (and ultimately failing). You can’t learn everything in a single day, but what [...]

March 25, 2010

What If You Don’t Have Any Ideas?

It’s pretty amazing the number of people who say they’re not good with ideas for new products or businesses. Over the last week or so I had several conversations about this many times during lunches, dinners and other meetings. I [...]

July 17, 2009

Sampa: From Birth to Death

[If you don’t have time for the long version read the short version] Sampa was first conceived on my mind around 2001. The story is one of those “personal pains” kind of story. I’ve been building websites for family and [...]