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Do More Faster: Techstars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup

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Do More Faster: Techstars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup

Brad Feld, David G. Cohen

ISBN: 978-0-470-94879-8 October 2010 352 Pages

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Description

Practical advice from some of today's top early stage investors and entrepreneurs

TechStars is a mentorship-driven startup accelerator with operations in three U.S. cities. Once a year in each city, it funds about ten Internet startups with a small amount of capital and surrounds them with around fifty top Internet entrepreneurs and investors. Historically, about seventy-five percent of the companies that go through TechStars raise a meaningful amount of angel or venture capital. Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup is a collection of advice that comes from individuals who have passed through, or are part of, this proven program. Each vignette is an exploration of information often heard during the TechStars program and provides practical insights into early stage entrepreneurship.

  • Contains seven sections, each focusing on a major theme within the TechStars program, including idea and vision, fundraising, legal and structure, and work/life balance
  • Created by two highly regarded experts in the world of early stage investing
  • Essays in each section come from the experienced author team as well as TechStar mentors, entrepreneurs, and founders of companies

While you'll ultimately have to make your own decisions about what's right for your business, Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup can get your entrepreneurial endeavor headed in the right direction.

Foreword ix

Preface xiii

About TechStars xv

Theme 1: Idea and Vision 1

Trust Me, Your Idea Is Worthless 3

Start With Your Passion 7

Look for the Pain 11

Get Feedback Early 15

Usage Is Like Oxygen for Ideas 19

Forget the Kitchen Sink 23

Find That One Thing They Love 27

Don’t Plan. Prototype! 29

You Never Need Another Original Idea 35

Get It Out There 37

Avoid Tunnel Vision 41

Focus 45

Iterate Again 49

Fail Fast 53

Pull the Plug When You KnowIt’s Time 57

Theme 2: People 61

Don’t Go It Alone 63

Avoid Co-Founder Conflict 67

Hire People Better than You 71

Hire Slowly, Fire Quickly 75

If You Can Quit, You Should 79

Build a Balanced Team 83

Startups Seek Friends 87

Engage Great Mentors 91

Define Your Culture 95

Two Strikes and You Are Out 101

Karma Matters 105

Be Open to Randomness 109

Theme 3: Execution 113

Do More Faster 115

Assume that You’re Wrong 119

Make Decisions Quickly 123

It’s Just Data 127

Use Your Head, then Trust Your Gut 129

Progress Equals Validated Learning 133

The Plural of Anecdote Is Not Data 137

Don’t Suck at E-Mail 141

Use What’s Free 145

Be Tiny Until You Shouldn’t Be 147

Don’t Celebrate the Wrong Things 151

Be Specific 157

Learn from Your Failures 159

Quality over Quantity 161

Have a Bias Toward Action 165

Do or Do Not, There Is No Try 169

Theme 4: Product 171

Don’t Wait Until You Are Proud of Your Product 173

Find Your Whitespace 177

Focus on What Matters 181

Obsess over Metrics 183

Avoid Distractions 185

Know Your Customer 189

Beware the Big Companies 193

Throw Things Away 197

Pivot 201

Theme 5: Fundraising 203

You Don’t Have to Raise Money 205

There’s More than One Way to Raise Money 209

Don’t Forget about Bootstrapping 213

Beware of Angel Investors Who Aren’t 215

Seed Investors Care about Three Things 219

Practice Like You Play 223

If You Want Money, Ask for Advice 227

Show, Don’t Tell 231

Turn the Knife after You Stick It in 233

Don’t Overoptimize on Valuations 235

Get Help with Your Term Sheet 237

Focus on the First One-Third 241

Theme 6: Legal and Structure 243

Form the Company Early 245

Choose the Right Company Structure 249

Default to Delaware 253

Lawyers Don’t Have to Be Expensive 257

Vesting Is Good for You 261

Your Brother-in-Law Is Probably Not the Right

Corporate Lawyer 265

To 83(b) or Not to 83(b), There Is No Question 269

Theme 7: Work–Life Balance 273

Discover Work–Life Balance 275

Practice Your Passion 279

Follow Your Heart 283

Turn Work into Play 287

Get Out from behind Your Computer 291

Stay Healthy 295

Get Away from It All 299

The Evolution of TechStars 303

What Motivated Me to Start TechStars? 305

Why TechStars Started in Boulder 309

How TechStars Came to Boston 313

How TechStars Came to Seattle 317

So You Want to Start TechStars in Your City? 321

Appendix: The TechStars Companies 323

About the Authors 329

Acknowledgments 331

Index 333