Execution and Scaling Risks

Managing Risks Part 3 ex·e·cu·tion – Noun 1. the carrying out or putting into effect of a plan, order, or course of action. The Right Things at the Right Time in the Right Way “How do you know it’s the right time to scale?” is a question we get all the time and...

Business Model Risks

Achieving Product/Market Fit is a critical milestone for every new product. Many companies never reach this stage. The stage where companies seek a path to sustainable growth and long-term profitability. Product/Market Fit is to be celebrated, but it is not a guarantee of success. Once you have proved Product/Market Fit, the heavy lifting begins.

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In this, the second part of a multi-part series on managing risk in high-growth technology companies, we’ll explore the steps after Product/Market fit to test various business models and…

Is 2016 the Year of Just Staying Alive?

The discussion about a bubble have continued for over a year and with the early 2016 drop in worldwide stock prices and economic sentiment, many folks are weighing in on what it means to venture fundraising and how companies should react. Here is a brief summary of three recent articles on the topic.

In Dear Startup: Here’s How to Stay Alive by Heidi Roizen in her Adventures in Entrepreneurship! blog tells entrepreneurs the game has changed, tough times are here, and it’s time to hunker down and extend your runway.

“When a market turns, we tend to see the signs earlier than the entrepreneurs working on the front lines. This market? I’d say it has turned. It is going to be hard (or impossible) for many of today’s startups to raise funds. And I think it will get worse before it gets better”, Roizen states.

Here is Roizen’s list of behaviors for staying alive when funding goes dark:

Exponential Value of Internal Compensation

Getting the most from scarce resources is the key to success for every startup. This often comes down to how to get the best people to do the right things at the right time. Unfortunately, with limited cash, a need to spread ownership thinly, and a huge list of things to get done, early stage companies are challenged with getting the right skills in the right quantities.

First of all, let’s examine the resources available to recruit and motivate people and then explore a few different ways to apply these scarce assets.

Managing Risk – Defining Product and Market Risks

Risk and risk tolerance are important concepts for entrepreneurs and investors. Many people believe early-stage investors, venture capitalists, and successful company founders are people willing to accept a high degree of risk. I’ve found this to be far from the truth and, in fact, most often value is created by those intensely focused on identifying and efficiently managing risk.

In this five-part series on managing risk in high-growth technology companies, we’ll cover:

  1. Defining risks around Product/Market Fit
  2. Business Model Risks
  3. Execution and Scaling Risks
  4. Identifying and quantifying risks
  5. Risks management strategies
  6. Prioritizing and optimizing risk exposure

Knowing When You’re Ready to Scale

It was near the end of the third day of our annual planning meeting. Matt joined the meeting late, listened for a few minutes as we tightened up the language around our big objectives for the year. As he took control of the meeting, Matt described the opportunity in front of us and asked each of us to go to the board and write what we thought our revenue goal for the year should be. We’d just grown annual revenue from $8.6 million to just over $20 million. Our bottom-up planning approach suggested adding $15 million on top of the $11 million added last year would be challenging, but doable. Doubling was possible, at least according to the arithmetic, but in a professional services business that’s adding a lot of people and a lot of additional billing hours. “What should our target be? Can we double again? Are we ready to really scale this thing?”, I wondered.

What's in a number?

$1 billion. Yes, that’s a big number, but it’s not as valuable as $1 billion was in 1999 or even last year, so why the special name for private companies reaching this valuation? Brad Feld suggests the push for a billion dollar valuation may not be the best way to create long term value and may very well leave the employees and investors with much less