SJ27 – We Survived Snowzilla!

In this week’s episode, we tackled some big problems for brand-new startups, including how to get the right team to be in your corner, and figuring out what’s the real MVP.


After 27 episodes, it’s time to grow up a little bit. We’ve started adding special content for our podcast listeners, so if you’re not subscribed, it’s your time to shine. Do it!

Links and Highlights:

Quick hit: Are live sports and esports getting closer together? When will the cars be replaced with holograms?

Formula E announces 300kph ‘RoboRace’ championship

  • “It will be a testament to the cars’ software teams and hardware teams to create these vehicles that will compete at 300kph and have the computer driving the car.”
  • (First-person drone racing is a separate league, folks.)
  • “Eventually there will be the ‘you must have a human driver’ league and the unlimited league.”
  • “First, computers are driving, and then they’re taking over our basketball teams. Where does it end, Teague?”
  • “When driver-less cars become a thing, and none of us ever have to pay attention, the irony will be that we spend our time watching driver-less racing.”

It’s Quora Day!

How do you teach early-stage startups to use the Lean Startup methodology? (09:48)

  • “It’s pretty obvious that they haven’t solved customer-problem fit yet, but they believe they have.”
  • Unless you’ve done the proper research, you may created a solution and now you have to back it in to a problem. That’s not how Lean works.
  • “Almost anyone who’s been an entrepreneur has had this exact experience, where you’re like, omg, this is amazing, we built a cool tool, we’ve launched it, and… nothing, because you don’t know who you’re solving a problem for, you haven’t articulated the problem in a way that makes sense to them.”
  • The bigger challenge may be when people have something that sounds logical, but they haven’t actually validated anything by talking to people who would actually buy it.
  • Mike Tyson said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the fact.” The way to really help a start-up in this situation is to have them get punched in the face as quickly as possible.

Is there such a thing as an MVP for a luxury fashion startup? (22:15)

  • “I hate the term MVP, because it gets mis-used so often. What are we actually saying? Are we talking about a small run of a physical product, designing a website that can sell this stuff… What’s the actual experiment we’re running?”
  • “Branding is something that is more difficult to experiment with because there are fewer signals and it’s harder to separate out cause and effect. You can do five different things to try to build your brand, but you can’t necessarily separate out the effect of each of those things on building the brand.”
  • “A ‘minimally-loved product’ might be a better thing to try to reach. What is the thing you’re going to build that people will actually really enjoy? And then build the brand around that.”
  • The problem you’re solving might be an emotional problem. Do customers what to be seen as youthful, as adventurous? What’s the emotional need that this luxury brand is trying to fulfill? You can’t invent a brand that’s a luxury brand overnight, you have to grow it, like a tree.

What is the best way to organize technology startup company in terms of projects? (32:35)

Teague gives a broad overview of organizational design in 10 minutes, which is SUPER impressive.

  • “From a design perspective, you want to make sure you have separation of certain characteristics. You don’t want to have any function that is tasked with efficiency reporting to any function that is tasked with effectiveness or vice versa, because you’ll end up having them lead together.”
  • “You don’t want to have short-term focused groups reporting to the same folks as long-term strategic initiatives, because almost always the long-term will be in service to the short-term.”
  • “In any good growing culture, you’re going to hit walls and snags. That’s not the problem. It’s addressing them and fixing them, and if you don’t, that’s the problem.”

As an entrepreneur how do you know when you have the right team in your corner? (40:02)

  • “I know I have the right team when I stop worrying about the team.”
  • “You run into a lot of problems where you have a team where everyone thinks the same thing. Diversity leads to better decisions, and you want those decisions to surface to the manager level. and discussions are happening in a way that you get involved in them and can see both sides of it… Hiring for diversity is a great way to make sure you have people with ‘strong beliefs, loosely held.’”
  • In companies where the benchmark for cultural fit is “We know it when we see it,” it can be damaging because people end up hiring people who look like them.
  • “We talk about how culture is top-down, it’s in-out… You are as responsible to your team as they are to you, and you may have the right team in place and not know it because you were so wrapped up in your own crap that you missed the signs. When you’re a founder of a startup, it’s incumbent on you to recognize these things in advance.”

Live question from Mr. Wonderful: Who is your dream client?

Jason’s dream client is anyone who wants to give him “a lot of money and very little work to do for it.” (Just kidding. We think.)

Time to work together: Let’s get Gary Vaynerchuk on the show!



This episode previously aired on 1/28 at 3 pm ET/12 pm PT

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