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  • jasoncalacanis 00:17:25 on 2019-01-24 Permalink
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    Resolving co-founder conflicts 


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    Got a lot of feedback on my post on “How to find a co-founder” yesterday, including founders asking me how they can resolve conflicts with their co-founders.

    [ Click to Tweet (can edit before sending): https://ctt.ac/Gzath ]

    This is one of the hardest questions for me to answer because conflicts are so situational, often personal and if they are hard to resolve they are often complex with multiple resolution paths.

    Before we talk about the conflict at hand, we need to look at the founders themselves and ask, are these emotionally mature founders who are self-aware? Most of the founders I work with are highly-driven, highly-skilled, persuasive and passionate individuals, but often they are young and emotionally inexperienced. Sometimes they are older but not very self-aware.

    Most conflicts I see are a subset of all startup conflicts: the problems co-founders can’t resolve and they bring to a trusted 3rd party, in this case, an investor.

    These conflicts are often not as hard to resolve as they seem, and are driven by the co-founders being under massive pressure and having not done the work to connect deeply with each other.

    Let’s create a scenario. Two founders are debating if they should fire their director of sales, Joe. Joe is a great culture fit and is super positive, but his performance is below average. He misses targets and after two PiPs (performance improvement plans), he hasn’t improved.

    Co-founder John, the product visionary, believes that since they have money in the bank and since Joe is loved by everyone, they should keep working with him. Perhaps there is another role in the company, and Joe was their first hire. Joe recruited three of the best people in the company and he hosts the weekly happy hour. It would be a shock to lose him.

    Co-founder Joanne, the CEO, and operations killer, believes that Joe had his shot, had two PiPs over nine months, and since Joanne has to manage Joe, it’s her call and she believes it’s a waste of time to keep average people around. Besides, Joe can’t even come in on time and is the first to leave, with his jacket on at 5:29 PM. With a gentle transition out — for example, a three-month consulting agreement — we can manage the culture issues.

    Things have devolved to the point at which I’ve been brought in as the angel investor. This is what I would do:

    1. “Joanne and John, let’s take a walk and have lunch.”
    2. “Why don’t you each explain to me your positions?”
    3. “I think I understand the situation… it feels like there are many solutions to this problem. Why do you think it’s come to a head? Are there other uncomfortable issues we need to put out on the table now since we’re hashing everything out so that we can get back to work?”

    In these situations, what I’ve seen is that the issue at hand is almost never the actual issue. All kinds of issues can come pouring out during these sessions, and that’s a good thing. The more you talk about the issues, the less power they have over you.

    I set up this scenario as a coin toss on purpose.

    Was your initial reaction to try to solve the problem?

    Did your mind immediately take John or Joanne’s side?

    In this situation, if the company were Slack or Uber, you could obviously do a coin toss and the company would do just fine taking Joanne or John’s side. What matters here is that the two co-founders take the time to hear each other out and have the emotional maturity — and agility — to say to each other, “this is a coin toss, I trust you and I’m fine with whatever decision we make; let’s just agree to monitor the situation and stay focused on what matters: our customers.”

    If only life were this simple. I’ve seen founders who are dealing with children or serious mental issues (anxiety, depression, bipolar, etc.), as well as founders who simply lacked any self-awareness. Sometimes folks have substance problems, other times their marriages are breaking down or their parent is dying of cancer.   

    Business is very personal, despite what they say in the movies, and co-founder conflicts often require taking that long walk or having that long family-style meal. It might also require calling your investor and admitting that you can’t resolve this conflict, or that the conflict is the smoke and that the fire is a highly personal issue.

    If you have a great investor, they’ve seen it all and they will help you. That’s why we’re here, to help you when things are hard to resolve… send the text, set up the walk and talk and don’t let things fester.

    The post Resolving co-founder conflicts appeared first on Jason Calacanis.

     
  • jasoncalacanis 00:22:32 on 2019-01-23 Permalink
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    How to find a co-founder for your startup 


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    If you’re a first-time founder, you probably want to have a co-founder or two to lean on.

    The second most frequent question I get from new founders, after “will you give me $250,000?” is, “do you know a technical co-founder?”

    [ Click to Tweet (can edit before sending): https://ctt.ac/178_d ]

    If you can’t find a co-founder for your startup, you’ve disqualified yourself as a fundable entrepreneur, because who in their right mind would back someone who can’t convince just once talented person to join them on a crazy journey?

    Finding a co-founder isn’t easy, but it’s not the hardest thing you’ll do as a founder, and recruiting for your startup is going to be a lifelong practice.

    It. Never. Ends.

    I’m 30 years into my career in technology and I’m still spending a significant portion of my time building my teams.

    That being said, there is a simple three-step process to recruiting a co-founder:

    1. Identify what skills you don’t have & that your startup needs.
    2. Find people you know with those skills.
    3. Have coffee with those people & let them know how enormous you think this opportunity is and that you can’t do it without them. Ask them for their feedback on the idea, and tell them they would be crazy not to join you on this adventure because this problem needs to be solved (alternatively, “this product needs to exist in the world”).  

    When I give this advice to folks they give me the following excuses:

    1. “But I don’t know anyone”
    2. “But I don’t have any money to pay them and they have kids and a mortgage and won’t leave Google to do this!”
    3. “I’m not good at networking.”

    If you throw up these kinds of roadblocks for yourself you’re simply too weak — at this time — to found a company. You should go work for someone who isn’t as meek and milktoast as you are. Someone who is so passionate about their idea that they will find 100 people who are qualified, and relentlessly explain to them to come on the journey until they’re told, “stop asking me to do this with you — I’m out and you’re annoying as heck!”

    This is what it takes to find a co-founder and if you have any complaints about this being unfair or unjust or too hard, well, guess what: startups are really f@#$#@ing hard and life is not fair.

    Either do the work or don’t, but don’t complain about how hard it is to change the world. If you’re not up for this simple task, then go work for someone who is and take notes.

    Comments are open, but if you complain in the comments I reserve the right to savage you.

    The post How to find a co-founder for your startup appeared first on Jason Calacanis.

     
  • jasoncalacanis 20:56:12 on 2019-01-20 Permalink
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    Spreading the Gospel of Angel Investing (Hong Kong next week) 


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    As many of you know from reading (or listening) to my book, I’ve taken on the challenge of educating and inspiring rich people to angel invest in startups.

    [ Click to Tweet (can edit before sending): https://ctt.ac/1Qe3j ]

    Rich people are sitting on large hoards of zombie capital, be it bonds, index funds or cash, that sit passively in the cloud, allowing the rich to stay rich, beating inflation and sometimes a bit better.

    Sure, some of these bonds and index funds are backing interesting projects, but the truth is, this capital doesn’t change the world in the way startups do. I’m trying to inspire 10,000 rich people to become half- to full-time angel investors, moving a small percentage of their zombie capital, on an individual basis, into startups.

    If 10,000 individuals worth $10m each put 5% of their net worth — $500,000 — into angel investing over the next five years, that’s a billion dollars into seed stage startups.

    In order to do this, my friend Mike Savino and I, along with the LAUNCH team, created Angel.University, a half- to full-day course on the basics of angel investing. We’ve done them a half dozen times already, including in Sydney and now Hong Kong.

    [ Angel Summit will take place on Friday the 25th in Hong Kong at the Startup Impact Summit: https://whub.io/startup-impact-summit and is put on by WHUB ]

    The likely scenario I’ve seen in angel investing is that people who do it as a career and who do it with discipline, which most do not, will likely lose half of their money, or double it, with an outside chance of doing much better.

    However, most folks don’t angel invest with discipline. They meet their first startup, dump $250,000 of their $500,000 angel investing capital into it, and watch it burn.

    The truth is, you want to start very slow, investing tiny amounts of capital, say $5,000, into each of your first 30 investments in year one and two, tracking which ones hit revenue, significant user growth and/or follow on investment from known investors. Then you need to double or triple — or 10x — your investment in those breakouts.

    Of course, the advent of syndicates allows for the participation in angel investing without the massive, time-consuming search for deals and the extensive due diligence required to avoid costly mistakes.

    That’s where the book, the course, and the podcast come in, which all urge new angel investors to take their time, study the craft and take the work seriously.

    Right now our syndicate at Jasonssyndicate.com has ~2,900 members, making it the largest syndicate in the world (by far). We think we can get to 10,000 over the next five years by adding three or four people a day.

    If we can hit 10,000 members we will be able to syndicate a qualified startup deal every week, perhaps even two deals a week eventually.  

    And who knows, in another year or two, we will likely see the definition of accredited investors in the United States expanded to include people taking a course or having related work experience, qualifying them to do startup investing.

    PS – Anyone interesting I should meet in Hong Kong? Email me jason AT calacanis.com

     
  • jasoncalacanis 21:46:09 on 2019-01-19 Permalink
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    Will an Amazon.com come out of the crypto collapse? 


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    Yesterday I had Anthony Pompliano on my podcast to discuss crypto. He runs a crypto fund, and we’ve had a great time debating ICO scams, Bitcoin Zero and token-based equity on Twitter for the past couple of months.

    [ Click to Tweet (can edit before sending): https://ctt.ac/3i4oO ]

    He was a fantastic guest, and despite our Twitter debates, it turns out that we agree on about 90% of what’s happening in crypto right now.

    The big question I tried to figure out on the podcast, and that I’ve been trying to figure out personally as an investor is, will a killer use case and $100b startup come out of the crypto and ICO crater of 2018 — which saw most ICOs and imaginary digital currencies lose 90-99% of their value.

    In other words, will an Amazon.com, led by a visionary founder, come out of this global, anonymous gaggle of grifters and cryptodipshits.com.

    We also talked about why so many people think Ripple/XRP is a scam (and why Anthony won’t hold the #3 crypto project), wash trading and how much crypto folks should own.  

    https://youtu.be/v7fSARKYCKA

    We also had my old friend Mick Liubinskas on the podcast, he’s a consultant to startups I met over a decade ago in Sydney. He just launched a cool book called, She’s Building a Robot. Please go buy 10 copies of his book, it’s something we need to see more of in the world: content that inspires girls to get into tech — as opposed to much of media which shames them about being geeks and praises them for being part of the Industrial Princess Complex.

    Show notes:

    0:48 – Jason introduces Mick Liubinskas. The two talk about the Australian startup environment and Mick’s book “She’s Building a Robot.”

    5:40 – Jason introduces Anthony Pompliano. The two talk about what Anthony is working on and the current situation of bitcoin.

    10:34 – Mick shares his thoughts on the rise and fall of bitcoin.

    14:07 – Jason thanks sponsor LinkedIn. Claim a $50 credit toward your first job posting: linkedin.com/twist.

    16:18 – Why hasn’t there been a killer use case for crypto after so many crypto ICOs?

    24:22 – Jason thanks sponsor Kruze Consulting. Visit kruzeconsulting.com/twist to receive a free tax consultation and tax credit white paper.

    26:08 – Backstory of bitcoin and cryptocurrency, ideal crypto use cases to come, and crypto bans around the world.

    35:58 – Thoughts and speculation on what the outcome of bitcoin will be in the United States.

    40:59 – Jason thanks sponsor Capterra. Visit capterra.com/twist to find the right business software for you.

    42:59 – Ripple: how it works, the issues around it, and why some people consider it a scam.

    55:23 – Crypto as an alternative for venture capital, and crowdfunding platforms Kickstarter vs. Indiegogo.

    58:04 – Problems with accreditation laws in the United States and Australia, and smart investment strategies.

    1:05:33 – Global Black Swan rankings: higher education, aliens, China, and impeachment.

    1:18:44 – Anthony talks about how his index fund works, gives bitcoin advice and shares thoughts on Masayoshi Son.

     
  • jasoncalacanis 20:25:56 on 2019-01-19 Permalink
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    Founders: Watch the FYRE doc and learn what not to do 


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    At Fyre Festival, guests get cheese and bread instead of ...
    Founders: Watch the FYRE doc and learn what not to do

    Last night I watched the schadenfreudeful documentary FYRE on Netflix, which chronicles a sociopathic grifter named Billy McFarland and his greedy celebrity partner Ja Rule, as they bilk investors and music-festival-going Instagrammers out of their money.

    [ Click to Tweet (can edit before sending): https://ctt.ac/nUR97 ]

    The movie is a commentary on the power of social media models like Kylie Jenner, combined with a criminal disguising himself as a visionary founder.

    FYRE has flashes of the familiar startup and entrepreneurial struggle, with insane deadlines and a cash crunch being resolved with a combination of brilliant, world-class marketing and bold fundraising driven by RFID bracelets being loaded with cash and angel investors pouring money into an event that the founder knows is a multilayered fraud.

    McFarland’s enablers detail their journey from true believers in the original vision of Fyre, a completely reasonable concept to build a marketplace for booking talent, to the utter chaos of the weeks and days and hours leading up until all hell broke loose — and millennials were fed cold cheese sandwiches while fighting for shelter in leftover emergency tents.

    When everything collapses, you’re left with everyone around the far-from-mastermind criminal, McFarland, leaving pain and suffering in the worker bees who tried their hardest to make his vision reality.

    If you’re a founder, the important takeaway is that while grinding and hacking your way to success is what it’s all about, doing illegal things while selling your stock to investors is securities fraud.

    Our justice system in America might be inconsistent and slow, but it takes particular pride in its ability to take down people who commit crimes in combination with a cap table (see Theranos, the Zenefits settlement, ICO actions, etc.).

    When I started daily blogging for Calacanis.com, one of my first posts was one imploring founders to read biographies, which are an amazing way to unpack how success happens — and it’s often messy and far from a straight line.

    Documentary and dramatic films about founders are also a great way to unlock entrepreneurial lessons — what are your favorite startup films?

    Founder? Startup? Comments are open!

    Note: I’ve only watched the Netflix FYRE doc, I understand there is ANOTHER doc on Hulu. Will watch that one next.

     
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