Startup is a podcast that carefully documents the hidden story about starting your own company, the part you usually don’t hear about.
Alex Blumberg highlights all the moments good or bad, including fears, failures, successes, and various lessons learned.
The show itself was is a huge success, skyrocketing to one of the most listened podcasts in iTunes in just a few weeks from launch, which is extremely rare. Also, this podcast helped him get his funding in just a few months: $1.5M.
I absolutely love it and I think it’s a must listen for all of you who want to start their own company.
Below you will find summarized the key learning points that I took away from his podcast. You can read it all in just 3 pages, and considering this show spans over 4h30min, I would say it’s a bargain :D. Si here it goes…
Storytelling is underused!
We live in a world in which nobody has time to listen anymore. We read status updates, fast forward, scan through articles, and cut to the chase. Unfortunately this is world also shapes our communications with our customers.
Because we are used to this communication style, our messages are shaped into these short, soulless status updates. Tailored to deliver the essence, but loosing the emotion and transparency.
This podcast is anything but that. The series packed with emotion and it’s addictive. I just became a big believer in story telling (as a communication strategy) and I think entrepreneurs should use it way more.
Think about all it advantages. A good story can bring people together, build a community, be viral, and make people take action. Oh and it’s free.
Transparency builds communities
Alex was not afraid to be transparent. He talked about how much equity he gave to his business partner, about having second thoughts on doing the whole thing, about the mistakes he made, how much money he was able to raise and how he hired his first employees. Sure, this made him a bit vulnerable, but at the same time he built trust among his listeners.
Transparency builds trust. And trust builds a community. And communities are important because they will support you in the long run, forgive you when you make mistakes and listen to what you have to say.
It’s about who you know
In his show Alex tells us about the time when he pitches his startup idea to one of the most influential VC’s in Silicon Valley: Chris Sacca, an early investor in Twitter, Kickstarter, Instagram and other 40+ companies. Chris was in Alex’s contacts so he was able to contact him directly.
Who is in your network and what do you do to expand it?
Build it and they will come
When Alex started contacting people to invest in his idea, many turned him down. But, as this Startup podcast gained an audience, he witnessed a miracle. In just a few months investors were now looking for him to give him money.
Why? Alex built a prototype, something that people can understand. He made it easier for investors to see the potential.
I am big believer in having a presentable concept. When starting something up, make sure you build a mockup or a prototype. Have something that you can show others and sparkle their imagination.
Mistakes happen. It’s how you deal with them.
Making mistakes is inevitable. It’s part of the learning process and shows that you went outside your comfort zone. However when you make one… man, it will feel like the sky is tumbling down and you just want to hide in a corner.
That’s what happened to Alex in podcast no.9. He was so nervous. You could hear his voice trembling a bit, trying to calm everybody down, and saying it will be ok. I could feel it through my headphones.
However, you should focus on how you can fix it, much like he did. Be open about it. It was a slip not an evil master plan.
In these situations is important to listen to the people you’ve wronged, understand their issued before replying. Also, try several times to make it right. In the thrill of the fight, people might not want to talk to you, but if you come and talk to them after a few days they will be a bit more open and rational about the issue.
There will always be naysayers
Expect a long, rocky road to your final destination and be ready to receive a lot of negative feedback. The key is to choose carefully who do you listen to and who not.
How to decide who’s right and who’s wrong? There’s no trick really. You have to rely on your instincts…
You will feel awkward. It’s OK.
The first time Alex pitched his idea to Chris… it was sooo awkward to listen to him. He is such a good storyteller but somehow he lost his focus when it came to his dream.
Been there, done that. It’s ok to feel awkward. Again this means you are stepping out your comfort zone. The key is to remember that behind every success story are moments like these. Embrace them, learn from them and better yourself.
Finding a business partner is a lot like finding a life partner. Who knew?
The part where Alex finds his business partner is cute, silly, sweet, awkward, emotional and full of insights. Like a romantic comedy.
I had no idea it’s so complicated.
The big takeaway is that you need to be completely honest with your partner. After all you will have “a baby” together. If there is no trust, things won’t move in the right direction.
Naming is so complicated
This I kind of knew. I’ve been through several naming exercises in my life. Never for an actual company, but it was still pretty difficult to come up with a name that isn’t used by anyone else, makes sense, you like and fits the company.
On the other hand, I had no idea you need to do so many legal checks on trademarks when naming a company. Crazy! But, there are specialized companies that can do this for you.
Pitching to VC? Be ready for this question.
Are you asking a VC for money? Then make sure you can tell them your exit strategy.
These people will give you money to make money. Most of the times looking for 10X the investment.
It ain’t easy
After a few episodes, Alex has this moment when realizes all the sacrifices he needs to make for achieving his dream. Since he started he spent less time with his family, he has less money and his stress level skyrocketed. You can just feel his doubt in his voice. It’s so real.
Building your own company requires a serious commitment. You won’t be able to afford the vacations you want or spend as much time you loved ones. Just so you know. Be ready for the long haul.
I believe that all of these key learning points can help you build your own startup. If you read them and have no idea how all these could apply to you, leave me a comment and I will gladly help you out.
I will try to update the post with new learning points, as new podcasts will come out. If you want to find out about the updates you can either bookmark this post or visit it from time to time or you can subscribe below to my monthly podcast.
Photo byRaoul Pop, used under CC