It was 2008, pre-crisis. My startup was the world leader in mobile travel apps, and Sequoia were interested. Interested enough to go through successful partner meetings, market due diligence and a green light at a partnership meeting. Then they asked for the Cap Table.

A few days later I was called to a meeting with the partner, where he said very simply “I’m sorry, we are not going to invest. We looked at your cap table and enquired about the angel investors. We can’t make money here.

I shrugged and moved on.

I ended up raising that C Round the…

As a startup CEO, you’re probably looking forward to your next board meeting with a similar level of anticipation that is often reserved for dentist appointments. Who doesn’t like getting naked in front of a committee whose sole power is firing you, and spending 2 hours in what is basically an audit followed by a session of unsolicited advice? And while the former is almost exactly true (read your bylaws) and the latter is too often the case, board meetings are an opportunity to get into the habit of keeping your company in order. But doing them right requires:

  • Understanding…

…Dedicated to the memory of the late David Ladd, my best and favorite board-member ever.

“Today is a great day. I am going to a startup board meeting”… said no one ever.

And yet if you are an investor or a founder, this is part of your life, and a key way you make an impact on companies you’re involved with. Let’s spend five minutes discussing what this means and how to do it properly.

This post is the first one in a series about startup board meetings,

The Basics — That Almost Everyone Gets Wrong

You may have been appointed to the board to represent your VC…

It was early 2009, and we were seated in a conference room at a Tel Aviv office tower. Leaders from Israel’s cellular carriers and top mobile startups were seated around the table. Bo Ilsoe, a corporate venture capitalist at the world’s #1 cellphone company was giving a strategic briefing (Nokia, if you’re that young). It was less than 2 years after the iPhone’s launch, but the picture was already quite clear, and for Nokia, quite grim. Apple, with less than 10% market share, was projected to collect 90% of the profit in the global smartphone market.

Sure enough, within the…

Last week, we had the good fortune of having two Masters of Sales join our meeting to shed some light on best practices in Sales:

  • Pete Kazanjy, Founder & CEO of sales performance analytics co. Atrium, and the author of Founding Sales the startup sales handbook.
  • Alon Zaibert, Founder of Emotional Relevance and the travel industry’s leading sales coach.

Our beloved lead-generator-in-chief Shani Shoham, Founder and CEO of 21 Labs and advisor to moderated.

This post will attempt to summarize the main points from the event…

Initial sales in a startup should be done by a founder.

There’s so many reasons why that’s true. For a detailed “why” and “how-to”…

You are a smart, scrappy entrepreneur. You are hustling, trying to get in front of customers, partners, investors. You are closing your first pilots, your first seed investments, your first distribution partnership. And you are staying organized, right? You probably have a spreadsheet somewhere, or a beautiful Coda shared doc. CRM? That’s for when you have salespeople, lots of them. Right? After all that’s how it worked in your previous company — the salespeople used Salesforce, the creators used Jira (or whatever). And you, as a founder, are a creator.

No you’re not. You’re a business leader. …

Follow the path on the left

If you read The 7 Pilots That Will Crash Your Startup, you know all about the pitfalls of a pilot-driven sales / business development process, and you’ve seen a list of tell-tale signals that a proposed pilot stinks. Of course, the bigger question is how to do it right — what is a strategy for successfully navigating B2B business relationships that ends in profitable, win-win customer relationships.

It’s About Alignment

What you want to get out of a given pilot depends on where you are in your product life-cycle. If you’re at an early stage of product development, you want an environment to…

Running A Pilot ? It Pays To Look Ahead (think too)

If you’re running a B2B startup with a high priced product (say >$100K Annual Contract Value) then “pilots” / “trials” / “Proof of Concept” are an essential stage in your sales pipeline. If you’re at an early stage and your product is a component in your customers’, signing these PoCs is often your stated goal and how you validate progress — Putting your 3D camera in Microsoft’s next gaming console, your LIDAR in BMW’s next car or your encryption algorithm in Cisco’s next routing product is pretty much your objective for the next 2 years, and the PoC is the…

You are a brilliant engineer and/or product manager. You saw an opportunity in a market, teamed up with your favorite co-founder(s) and hacked together an MVP. Through personal relationships, endless cold-calling or some elevator pitch at an industry event you managed to land your first customer.

Early success led to the second and third. You raised funding and turned the company into a business. You even hired business development or sales people. You have a great pipeline, the trend-line is up and to the right. Marketing? You have a website, you have beautiful PDFs you send customers. Your business development…

Image Courtesy of McKinsey & Co. Who Believe in Actually Doing S@$t

You’re going to investor meeting after investor meeting and find people aren’t buying. When you ask for peer feedback, you’re told that you’re simply not “selling hard enough” — your projections are too low, you talk too much of your risks and too little about the opportunity, you lack confidence.

You are about to launch your product and find reasons to delay, to put an extra touch on it, you know it’s supposed to be an MVP, but you’re going for “Minimum” with a capital M, not just a minimum viable product. So you wait.

It’s time to reach out…

Nadav Gur

I help startup CEOs be 10% better. Founder / CEO of WorldMate (acquired by CWT), Desti (acquired by Nokia). Did time at a VC, and a startup studio. Opinionated.

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