Friday, May 16, 2008

TIECON08 - Mike Speiser's keynote on startup execution

I am blogging live from TIECON08 in Santa Clara listening to Mike Speiser

I admire Mike Speiser because I relate to his approach of defining the startup process with an Engg approach. I heard him from a TIECON07 panel last year as an entrepreneur and am amazed that now as a a VC, he has the same advice, with the same passion and clarity.

He founded Bix, raised $7M, spent $700 when he sold to Yahoo, now he is joining Sutter Hill Ventures.

I am going to upload a video of part of his presentation, will do better justice to his passionate advice for entrepreneurs! (will update here once it is ready)

Update: Mike's presentation(pdf) with his notes are at his blog here.

My summary: I've taken 3 key points and as I sit listening to Mike, I remember many entrepreneurs I know who are in early stages building out their startup either from my blog readers or my mentorees from MIT VMS program and everyone of his advice is so true and profound.

1. Iterate, Iterate and find your real product

This is not about speed but about finding the real product-market match that creates revenues. He was making a subtle reference to this other point. The key is not about building technology for the sake of technology or a product thats productizing of your technology by a product manager, but finding a product that generates real revenues with market validation for it.

2. Do not do marketing before your product is ready

As a marketing person and entrepreneur, I find the need to add a clarification here.

Marketing for new entrepreneurs, especially engineers includes everything other than engineering design and development.

I think Mike refers to spending time/focus/money to reach users/customers with outbound marketing efforts like a launch event, PR, speaking engagements, conference exhibits etc.

This does not mean you build a product in vacuum, but you as the entrepreneur need to spend time understanding your customer, reaching them and listening to their feedback to adapt your product to iterate to what really generates money directly or scaling excitement of consumers that can be monetized.

This implies for Web businesses (or facebook app based businesses) that you need to build metrics by which you understand your real user behavior and you have to be super aggressive in reaching variety of customers who would pay.

You iterate here as much as the product and be ready for the chaos of change and hire the early team that can survive, appreciate your approach and help you succeed in adapting to customers.

3. Recruit the best VC

is another gem of wisdom here. Focus on building product, finding market validation that scales, then go find the best VC.

Do not select a VC only based on giving out less equity but find the best VC who can help you scale your business, aligned with your long-term vision.


Shuba Swaminathan said...

Great points Sudha, you're the voice of reason as usual! Your advice proved itself out over and over again for me. Looking forward to the video having missed TieCon.

mspeiser said...

Thank you for your kind words and post. The presentation with speaker notes is at Take care, Mike

Sudha (Su) Jamthe said...


Glad to hear from you. Was just recalling your startup experience this week.

Mike's presentation had a lot more content than what I could capture in 1 blog post. The video turned out to be huge so I am trying to get it edited to be able to get it under 100MB to post to youtube.

Anonymous said...

Perfect post. That was exactly what I was looking for.

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