Venture capital is often referred to as an apprenticeship business because so much important learning comes from day-to-day experiences. Yet, as an article published by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) explains, you can shortcut the learning process by learning from experts: “Your learning curve can be shorter—and your results better—if you learn from pros who’ve already mastered key … ... read more
3 must-listen-to podcasts for investors and entrepreneurs
The popularity of podcasts has soared in a socially-distanced world. The growth is eye-popping. An estimated 116 million Americans–or 41% of the total population over the age of twelve–are now monthly podcast listeners, up from 37% last year. Additionally, the overall monthly podcast listening audience is now more diverse than ever: 43% of monthly podcast listeners are non-white, including 16% Latino and 13% African American.
Looking for your next great podcast? Here are three new must-listen-to podcasts for investors and entrepreneurs.
Part of Guy Roz’s How I Built Resilience series, this episode showcases Strava, a social fitness platform with more than 76 million users globally. Co-founders Michael Horvath and Mark Gainey speak of how uncertainty and the need for connection in a socially distanced world created a surge in users joining their virtual fitness community.
Here are a few key takeaways from the episode related to Strava’s business model.
Select your investors carefully
Strava has resisted advertising on their app, and they’ve been able to do this because they selected their investors—those that respected this advertising stance—thoughtfully.
Build your ecosystem thoughtfully
Strava identified a way to maintain a competitive edge by being at the center of its competition. In Strava’s case, this involved building an API that enabled others, including its competition, to easily plug into their platform.
Maintain patience, persistence, and perspective
Early on in the company’s lifespan, the founders coined their “three ps”—patience, persistence, and perspective. This focus has supported the upheaval that came with a global shutdown. Amid the pandemic, Horvath and Gainey put global conditions in perspective and persisted by adding 70 features to their offering. Their patience has paid off—they’ve seen between 1 and 3 million join the platform each month during the pandemic.
Harry Stebbings, host of The Twenty Minute VC, recently met with Todd McKinnon, co-founder and CEO of Okta, a secure identity platform that connects everyone from employees to customers. In this episode, Harry and Todd discuss key learnings spanning from the early days of Okta to today (when Okta’s workforce is now three thousand people strong). Here are some highlights:
Create a framework for decision making
Todd shares his framework for decision making and how he strives to optimize Okta’s outcome. He shares that he avoids the natural tendency to believe that decisions are irreversible. Instead, Todd adopts a long-term perspective. He recommends making informed decisions along the way and not focusing on the end outcome. He adds that you must be able to argue with yourself and have opposable arguments.
Keep your momentum
Todd believes that the most important quality that correlates to success is the ability to keep going. Entrepreneurs must be able to power through adversity and “believe even when you do not believe.” Todd highlights that the ability to suspend the belief that you might fail and keep charging forward is critical.
Build strong hiring practices
Todd emphasizes that strong hiring practices are key. He reminds founders that it’s important to be involved in significant early-day hires. However, once a startup begins to scale, being involved in hiring is challenging. Todd reflects that he regrets not leveraging recruiters sooner at Otka. He says, as soon as you are ready to hire while scaling, invest in the people to hire right.
Develop relationships with your board of directors
In developing relationships with their Board, Todd encourages founders to clearly articulate what needs to get done and ask for feedback. In speaking of his relationship with his Board, Todd shares a mistake he made early on when he saw the board as his bosses and expected answers, rather than feedback.
In this episode of Private Equity FunCast, hosts Devin Mathews and Jim Milbery chat with ParkerGale Capital principals Jimmy Holloran and Paul Stansik to discuss hiring. Hiring is a high-stakes process and deserves top attention and energy. They describe their four-tiered hiring system:
Know what you want and market the role
Clarify how you want a potential new hire to contribute and what you expect this person to accomplish. Avoid vague descriptions of duties. Ask yourself how the job description makes you feel – and how it will make the applicant feel.
Find your own candidates
Use a talent acquisition specialist who can help tell the story you want to tell. Proactive outreach and employee referrals are as essential to the process as passive applicants who are already looking for a role.
Follow a structured hiring process
This is critical for collecting good data and mitigating the potential for bias.
Recognize that your job is not done once you hire
Continue to iterate on your feedback loop. Make sure you understand what the experience was, and continues to be, for the candidate.
Podcast listeners have increased their consumption from an average of six podcasts per week to eight over the past year—and for good reason. There is a wealth of great content being produced on many different platforms. The three podcasts outlined here are a good way to fuel your brain with new content related to becoming a more effective investor or entrepreneur.