Blitzscaling 08: Session Notes[Eric Schmidt on Structuring Teams and Scaling Google]

This is my sixth blog on the notes and my interpretations on the Blitzscaling sessions. In the fall of 2015, Reid Hoffman began taking session called Technology-Enabled Blitzscaling at Stanford University.Blitzscaling is what you do when you need to grow really, really quickly. It’s the science and art of rapidly building out a company to serve a large and usually global market, with the goal of becoming the first mover at scale. And its also about why organization culture is important for Blitzscaling Because when you’re growing an organization very fast, you have to make people accountable to each other on a horizontal or peer-to-peer basis, and not just vertically and top-down through the hierarchy.

Session 2 notes can be found here. Session 3 notes can be found here. Session 4 notes can be found here.Session 5 notes can be found here.Session 6 I haven’t covered. Session 7 notes can be found here

Who doesn’t know Eric Schmidt. He is the one who has contributed A LOT in making what Google is today. In session 8, he shared his insights on how to structure the teams and scaling Google.Here are the session notes and my interpretations on the insights shared.

  1. As a young manager, observe and do everything to learn various aspects.
  2.  The first 10 years of your career is too crucial & that’s where you learn all the s**t. Thus it’s important that you focus on getting right kind of learning.
  3. To make a better decision, keep asking yourself “What should be happening in your career/start-up in next 5 years”. I know this advice might sound like a theory to you or you probably have heard from yogis to practice living in the moment. But that doesn’t mean you should not try to foresee or plan where you what to go and how probably you can reach out there.
  4. Making faster decision is one single trait that CEO’s should focus on developing.
  5. How to handle issues and situations between founders and outsiders(probably older than founders) who are part of the company: – Outsiders should understand that it’s not his company. This means to avoid being the face of the company or getting media coverage. That’s what Eric did when he was leading Google and Larry Page, Sergey Brin. He focused on running the company & making it profitable leaving Larry & Sergey to be the face of it.
  6. The way you build great products is by building a small team, work really hard, push the team & get the product out which just barely work. Example:- Original iPod just barely worked initially. From there, Apple improved it before it was taken to mass market. As a founder, you have ti have a judgment when your product & start-up is ready to scale.  At qilo , we faced the same challenge. Where I want to speed up the scaling, Vipul(another co-founder) slowed the things down to make sure that product actually solves a problem, before we scale out and hire sales guys.
  7. Great products are built from self-use. As a founder, you know your product really works or not. And if you don’t know, get the data from your initial set of customers and analyize it. Making sure your product works before you take VC money and start expanding in all directions.
  8. Tips on hiring
    1. Hire experience over intelligence
    2. Hire best guys to get job done. Take your time to hire the right guys. And if things are not working with new hires even after doing multiple interventions, fire them fast.
    3. Sell your dream to prospective candidates. Hire those to whom it make sense. If you have to convince the guy, he/she is not the right hire.
    4. Hire ordinary people who have done extraordinary things.
    5. Hire people who can work better in teams. Give a person an exception to be an individual contributor if she is an exceptional talent.
  9. Next generation of successful programmers will be those who can write programs os that software themselves can learn how to solve a problem. This is also called as machine learning 🙂
  10. At finance side, hire CFO’s who have gone bankrupt because they have seen what should not be done to become bankrupt
  11. In every successful company, you got to have someone
    1. Who has very good product sense
    2. Has emotional intelligence for all the stakeholders
    3. Move fast
  12. All successful start-ups do one thing right:  Hire right people
  13. Strong values and beliefs take company to the next level of growth
  14. If you got a large team of programmers and s/w engineers to work on your product, then probably your s/w architecture is not right
  15. Advice to entrepreneurs who want to build a great company
    1. Have an incredible founding team & right founders to address right kind of problem
    2. You need to have some luck
    3. Passion, lots of hard work and hiring awesome people

Blitzscaling 07: Session Notes[Mariam Naficy on The Dot Com Days and Knowing When To Blitzscale]

This is my fifth blog on the notes and my interpretations on the Blitzscaling sessions. In the fall of 2015, Reid Hoffman began taking session called Technology-Enabled Blitzscaling at Stanford University.Blitzscaling is what you do when you need to grow really, really quickly. It’s the science and art of rapidly building out a company to serve a large and usually global market, with the goal of becoming the first mover at scale. And its also about why organization culture is important for Blitzscaling Because when you’re growing an organization very fast, you have to make people accountable to each other on a horizontal or peer-to-peer basis, and not just vertically and top-down through the hierarchy.

Session 2 notes can be found here. Session 3 notes can be found here. Session 4 notes can be found here.Session 5 notes can be found here.

Mariam Naficy is an American entrepreneur who is founder and CEO of Minted, an online design marketplace. In 1998, Naficy co-founded Eve.com, the first major online retailer of cosmetics. In session 07, she shares her journey and challenges while building marketplaces/ecommerce start-up.

  1. Always think long term when taking decisions from building product to hiring to raising money
  2. Get mindshare of the customer as soon as possible when you are into defining a new category
  3. It will always take more money & more time than what you think as founder to achieve all those things from launching MVP, to getting your first customer, to raising money
  4. Marketplaces are about people on both sides of the platform. Leverage the power of community to get competitive power for your marketplace start-up.And to leverage community power, more than focusing on money, focus on giving value or personal growth.
  5. Taking point 4 forward, the Internet and digital tools have and will keep enabling creative talent to earn more money & praises. Giving a platform to these creative people to earn money and build their reputation is how your marketplace will become successful.
  6. When your start-up is growing and you need people to handle operations at the larger level, your first preference should be people who joined you initially. They are the one’s who understand your core business in much better way than outside hire.
  7. You need capital to survive and grow your start-up, because you are bound to make mistakes. So focus on making money and not just raising money.
  8. To make employees more accountable and more skilled, make peer feedback work in your growing start-up.
  9. When your start-up is small, you will focus on getting the product right, getting numbers and customers. But as you become more growth-hungry and scaling up, you need not know everything that’s going on in your company. Don’t micromanage or get into every detail. Instead, delegate and focus on building ownership and accountability for your teams.
  10. To achieve focus on execution and on building ownership and accountability, get data/metrics on the table and review them every week. Here the key is to decide what kind of metrics is applicable for your business. For example:- At qilo, on technology end, we focus on (a) time taken to deliver new functionality or defect (b) Number of defects detected in delivered functionality in production. At sales end, we focus on (a) number of outbound prospects to reach every month(b) no of conversation going on with prospect & demo’s given (c) revenue numbers
  11. Keep reviewing your metrics till you get them right. Invest in technology that gives you dashboards about those metrics. Otherwise, it will impact the decision making and performance of your team’s.
  12.  To create a marketplace, make sure that you have much more diversity in your product line.
  13.  Advice for women entrepreneurs
    1. Start as early as possible as life will start putting trade off’s to you very soon.
    2. Get male mentor’s as much as female mentor’s
    3. Focus on earning revenue and VC’s will have no reasons to chase you as they also want to make money from you
  14. Reaching out to VC’s, best way is to reach out through reference by someone they already trust.
  15. In a marketplace, focus on supply and demand side at the same time. Focusing on supply side will more revenue and value from your platform and focusing on demand side will help you get customers.

Blitzscaling 04: Session Notes[Ann Miura-Ko on Thunder Lizard Theory and Achieving Product Market Fit]

This is my third blog on the notes and my interpretations on the Blitzscaling session. In the fall of 2015, Reid Hoffman began taking session called Technology-Enabled Blitzscaling at Stanford University.Blitzscaling is what you do when you need to grow really, really quickly. It’s the science and art of rapidly building out a company to serve a large and usually global market, with the goal of becoming the first mover at scale. And its also about why organization culture is important for blitzscaling. Because when you’re growing an organization very fast, you have to make people accountable to each other on a horizontal or peer-to-peer basis, and not just vertically and top-down through the hierarchy.

  1. In session 04, Ann Miura talks about Thunderlizards companies who are able to scale massively & avoid competitions to dominate the market.
  2. A start-up is able to become a thunderlizard if they can attain following powers. Details about all these powers are given below:-
    • Category Power:- means changing rules of the market and game
    • Company Power:- means creating high-performance culture
    • Product Power:- means achieving product/market fit
    • Proprietary power:- means attaining IP’s or access to scare resources
  3. Propriety Power :  – Your start-up will achieve proprietary power by
    • Obtaining Intellectual Property, example pharam companies discover drug and get IP for that
    • Access to scare supply, example DE BEERS
    • Creating on high switching cost, example Oracle DB
    •  Network effect, example Linkedin
    • Authentic teams, example qilo 🙂
  4. Every great start-up has one fundamental assumption which if turns out true they become really big. Veeva Systems(a cloud computing company focused on pharmaceutical and life sciences) had the assumption that they will be able to scale up well if they build their system on top of force.com. What’s your basic assumption?
  5. Product Power :- You will achieve product power if you have:-
    • Achieved the product market fit. If you are asking about product market fit, than probably you have not found that.A great article on this is here
    • Define a new market category, example SalesForce for cloud base CRM
  6. It’s sometimes seen that some entrepreneurs have proprietary power, but they fail to convert that into product power and concept just end up being a college project.
  7. Company Power : – You will achieve company power if  you have:-
    • Discovered scalable business model
    • Understood and able to create an organization culture that is unique to you.
    • Lowered your company debt and technical debt by defining proper
      • Processes for people operations/HR
      • Tech & operations processes
      • Compensation and Benefits processes
      • Career development path for your employees
      • Communication channels within the organization. Here is a great article to understand company and technical debt
  8. Most of the successful founders are able to think about how to attain company power early in their start-up stage. As an example, Google was able to attain company power very early when they have a small team.
  9.  Founder(s) who become successful CEO understands company power. And those who don’t understand this are replaced by VC’s or have to get a CEO from outside(off course if start-ups survives)
  10.  You achieve Category Power by:-
    1. Defining new space by changing rules of the market and game, example AWS, Netflix, Apple
    2. Change the buying criteria of customers
  11. Catgeory power is achieved by looking externally whereas company power is achieved by looking internally
  12. Speed of decision making matters alot
  13. Founders who are on the path of creating a  thunderlizard company knows clearly why they are the best founding team for the idea they are executing.
  14. Even if you have created a technology solution, the biggest challenge is to find market for that solution. So if you have raised the seed capital or bootstrapping, always remain capital efficient so that you can survive longer.
  15. For marketplace start-up, most important is supply side of the platform and how much loyal will supply side remain with the marketplace. Demand side will not come back if supply side is not there.
  16. For solofounders, journey of start-up will be very tough as it become very lonely
  17. Steve Blank process of customer discovery is both a science and art. Most founders get the science, but fail to get the art.
  18. Start-up with multiple founders should leverage their diversity. VC’s want to see the balance of Yin/Yang in founding team.
  19. Founders should agree to largers vision where they want to go to avoid break-ups down the line
  20. In initial years, avoid recruiting agencies to hire people. Best talent is found internally
  21. Pivoting doesn’t mean changing your product button color, it’s about throwing what you are doing for something else. For example:- Slack was a gaming company pivoted towards enterprise collaboration software .

 

Blitzscaling 02: Session Notes[What Makes The Best Founders By Sam Altman]

You need lots of mentoring and guidance when you are start(ing)-up or taking your start-up to next level of growth. And the best way to learn and get mentored is to read lots of books or listen to someone who has already done that. Recently I came across an awesome content on how to take your start-up from 0 to 1 to n.

In the fall of 2015, Reid Hoffman began taking session called Technology-Enabled Blitzscaling at Stanford University along with John Lilly (a partner at Greylock and formerly the CEO of Mozilla), Allen Blue (cofounder of LinkedIn), and Chris Yeh (cofounder of Allied Talent).Blitzscaling is what you do when you need to grow really, really quickly. It’s the science and art of rapidly building out a company to serve a large and usually global market, with the goal of becoming the first mover at scale.

And I got more excited as entire session is also about why organization culture is important for blitzscaling. Because when you’re growing an organization very fast, you have to make people accountable to each other on a horizontal or peer-to-peer basis, and not just vertically and top-down through the hierarchy.

Session 1 is about Introduction to class. And Session 2 was with Sam Altman about “What Makes The Best Founders”.

Session 2 notes are extended with my inputs for better understanding. All these are common advice which most of us have heard again and again but often ignore.

  1. Getting things done quickly is one trait differs successful founders from those who have gone back to do job.
  2. YC prefer startup’s with 2 or more founders
  3. Issue with solofounders :- There are too many things to do at fast pace that doing it alone is tough . Second reason is start-up journey is too tough to travel alone
  4. Founding teams break-up if they don’t have an agreement on what kind of company they want to build
  5. Best start-up hire least
  6. Next successful start-up companies will never be building next Uber, Facebook, Linkedin, AirBnB(Ya I know Peter Theil also said this originally)
  7. Launch quickly and focus that users get addict to your product
  8. Whatever you are building, get 10% better every week
  9. If your users are telling you that your product sucks and new users are NOT coming, it’s time your startup is entering into the dead zone
  10.  Pivoting is not about bragging how many times you went wrong. Failure should not shake you up , but at the end failure is a failure.
  11. Pivotes work when
    1. When you leave existing thing and build something you are passionate about
    2. When you are building something which is not working & got insights which doing this that people might need.Slack started as Gaming company pivoted to a messaging company
  12.  Want to learn how start-up works, get a job in start-up that’s about to grow
  13. From product perspective, focus on LOVE not LIKE
  14. Founders’ should spend 10% to 20% of their time in solving organizational and technical debt problems. Manjor focus will always be on sales and growth.
  15. Many start-up focus on everything like getting the best logo, website, Lawyer, VC but fail to build a product which users love and get hooked to.
  16. Distractors while growing/doing start-up
    1. Focus on getting PR to show you are super hero
    2. Going to networking events
    3. Focusing on raising money than building product which actually solves a problem
  17. One mistake which every successful founder does is “Waiting too long to fire poor performers”
  18. Future belong to start-ups solving clean energy and affordable health
  19. Physical and Mental intensity required to work on start-up is HUGE, thus starting early to do start-up makes more sense.
  20. How to fire your friend from your start-up:- Remain human, treat them with respect, help them find a job

Session 1:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3RrVmv5WwA

Session 2:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxKXJWf-WMg

In the subsequent weeks, I will be sharing notes for all the session. So keep watching this blog for more…………