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5 out of 5 stars
Actually Useful Advice and Lessons Learned
I have notifications on for every episode while I navigate my own startup through the ambiguity of finding product-market fit. Compared to this podcast, everything else seems to be more garbage than not. This is the highest caliber startup content you can find. It’s genuinely true when they say they skip the talking points to get to the heart of actually how to do this stuff. I wish there were 1,000 episodes because I would binge that rather than sleep.
5 out of 5 stars
Love this show!
Encouraging, inspiring, and engaging! In Depth gives incredibly tangible advice for founders and startup leaders. I can’t believe this content is free!
5 out of 5 stars
Brett gets below the surface and uncovers true insights from each guest. I always walk away with new tactics to try, or a new appreciation for functions that i don’t work with as often. It’s a must listen in my rotation
5 out of 5 stars
As someone who has worked in startups for years, I appreciate the insights and tactics In Depth provides. I love hearing from their guests and Brett always asks great questions.
5 out of 5 stars
Insightful and practical
Love this podcast - wonderful to listen to and a lot of takeaways!
5 out of 5 stars
Really enjoyed this. Brett asks the best questions and Molly shared great tips from her career. I’m going to rethink how we can help people lead without being direct managers. Highly recommend.
5 out of 5 stars
Wow. First round has one of the best newsletters out there and this podcast is living up to that reputation. Keep up the great work.
5 out of 5 stars
Excited for this
If your other content initiatives are any precedent, this podcast will be 🔥 Excited to listen. -Damir @ Index
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- Last upload date
- March 23, 2023
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- March 24, 2023 7:49 AM
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- First Round
- How Vanta’s founder bet big on startup security and found product-market fit — Christina CacioppoTodd Jackson is back on the mic to guest host another product-focused episode this week with Christina Cacioppo, the co-founder and CEO of Vanta. Vanta is the leading automated security and compliance platform, with thousands of businesses relying on the product to get compliant (and to stay that way). After toying with some initial ideas, like a voice assistant for biologists, Christina started building Vanta to solve a problem that didn’t really exist at the time. The company started out in 2018 by trying to get SOC-2 security compliance for startups — but at the time, startups didn’t even really need to have SOC-2s. But Christina and her team saw the writing on the wall and that security was going to shoot up on the priority list for even the earliest-stage companies, and kept building even when plenty of smart people told them it was a bad idea. It’s a gamble that paid off. After going through Y Combinator, the team nabbed some truly incredible early customers, including Segment, Front and Lattice. Christina tells us exactly how she went from zero selling experience to pulling off big-time deals. She also pulls back the curtain on some of Vanta’s more unconventional moves, like waiting until they acquired hundreds of customers to build a proper website and instead relying almost exclusively on word-of-mouth to grow the business. Christina also shares her thinking behind the fundraising strategy, in which Vanta operated at cash flow break-even for years before going out to raise its Series A.0 comments0
- Lessons from Notion on building a thriving decentralized community — Ben LangOur guest today is Ben Lang, Head of Community at Notion. Since joining the company in 2019, Ben has had his hand in several high-impact projects at Notion that has grown its tight-knit community of passionate Notion evangelists into millions of users today. But before he was doing this as a full-time job, Ben was already spreading his love for Notion in his free time as a voracious product user. After discovering the tool on Product Hunt, he became obsessed. He got on the company’s radar after launching his own Notion template gallery on Product Hunt and joined as one of the first 15 employees. In our conversation today, we focus on the nuts and bolts of building a global community that drives user growth. Ben shares tactical advice on: Tackling community organically from the bottom-up, and why you shouldn’t go top-down What companies are best suited to a centralized vs. decentralized community approach Partnering with YouTubers and other creators His advice to founders on finding your own first community hire You can follow Ben on Twitter at @benln. You can email us questions directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Twitter @firstround and @brettberson.1 comments1
- In Depth Mar 9 · 56m From a narrow ICP to a wide-open market – Lessons from Webflow’s Bryant Chou on using customer empathy to get product-market fitTodd Jackson is back on the mic to guest host another product-focused episode this week. He chats with Bryant Chou, co-founder and founding CTO of Webflow, a no-code visual web design platform built with freelance designers and developers in mind. Today, Webflow is valued at over $4 billion and has millions of users all over the world. More than 200,000 freelancers, agencies, small businesses and enterprises use Webflow to help design and power their websites at businesses large and small. But Webflow didn’t always market to such a wide customer base. In our conversation today, Bryant rewinds the clock to Webflow’s early days — when it was just a co-founder team of three building a better tool to design a website. We explore why the Webflow co-founding team had such a strong conviction that designers were their ICP, and why they took much longer to launch than other folks in their Y Combinator cohort. Bryant also explains how Webflow wrangled their viral launch on Hacker News into a sustainable revenue and shares his root cause analysis framework for collecting customer feedback. On the surface, Webflow’s path to product-market fit seems incredibly smooth. But as Bryant tells it, there were plenty of bumps in the road — and he’s got tons of advice for early-stage founders that are finding their footing.1 comments1
- How to lead with transparency amidst adversity — Don Faul, CEO of CrossFit and former Google, Facebook & Pinterest execOur guest today is Don Faul, CEO of CrossFit. Don has a fascinating background where he’s been able to find success in environments as different as a combat zone and a corporate board room. After spending 8 years as a platoon commander in the U.S. Marine Corps, Don had stints at some of the most vaunted companies in tech, including Google, Facebook and Pinterest, the latter of which he served as the Head of Operations. It’s a really unique set of leadership experiences spanning very different cultures. In today’s conversation, he answers some burning questions like if micromanagement is always a bad thing, how to create a long-term company vision that genuinely gets people fired up about the future, and what folks tend to get wrong in their all-hands meetings. We also discuss what it takes to lead in this current environment, and how leadership looks different when things feel like they’re going off the rails, which plenty of startup folks are feeling right now. Don unpacks his biggest lessons on how to embrace transparency when things aren’t going well, and candidly shares his own experience of having to wind down a company. Read the article Don penned for First Round Review: The Pivotal Stories Every Startup Leader Should be Able to Tell. You can follow Don on Twitter @donfaul You can email us questions directly at email@example.com or follow us on Twitter @ twitter.com/firstround and twitter.com/brettberson1 comments1
- From kickoffs to retros and Slack channels — Stripe's documentation best practices with Brie WolfsonOur guest today is Brie Wolfson. Brie spent nearly 5 years at Stripe, where she worked on bizops and launched Stripe Press, followed by a stint at Figma where she worked on education. She then started her consultancy, named The Kool-Aid Factory, to share her lessons on building team cultures. And now she’s operating as a first-time founder building Constellate, a new productivity and communications tool for teams. In today’s conversation, we’re focused on company culture. A decade or so ago, companies like Google and Amazon dominated the cultural zeitgeist, with founders wanting to emulate their secret sauce. Today, there’s a newer guard of companies that startups want to model themselves after, with Stripe at the very top of the list. Brie peels back the layers into not just the cultural pillars that drove Stripe’s meteoric rise, but also how these showed up in day-to-day work. We also zoom out beyond Stripe to talk about her work teaming up with companies with The Kool-Aid Factory, seeing culture and company-building up close. Brie shares advice on codifying your operating principles, establishing meaningful rituals, and growing this kernel of culture as the company scales. Read the full essay Brie recommended during the interview: Reality has a surprising amount of detail and the article she penned for First Round Review: Ditch Your To-Do List and Use These Docs to Make More Impact. You can follow Brie on Twitter @zebriez You can email us questions directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Twitter @ twitter.com/firstround and twitter.com/brettberson0 comments0
- Why comms deserves its own spot on the exec team — Aaron Zamost’s lessons from SquareOur guest today is Aaron Zamost. After a comms career at Google, Aaron joined Square in 2011 to lead corporate communications. He went on to join the exec team, reporting directly to Jack Dorsey and leading the comms strategy for Square’s IPO in 2015. In an interesting move, he also took on leading the people organization as well, running both orgs up until he left in late 2020. In addition to lecturing at UC Berkeley's School of Law, Aaron now runs Background Partners, a communications consulting firm. In today’s conversation, we dive deep into what founders need to know about both external and internal comms. Aaron shares more on: Why comms deserves its own spot on the exec team and why most founders shouldn’t hire PR agencies. The jobs-to-be-done of the comms function in the early days of a startup — and why it’s not a good customer acquisition strategy. A 3-question framework for simplifying your company message early on. How to prep for interviews and deal with difficult lines of questioning. How to think about commenting on events in the news, or message layoffs to the team. Given how much the media landscape has changed in recent years, and how many founders are grappling with internal comms issues these days, Aaron’s advice makes for a valuable listen. We also recommend checking out his two excellent Medium posts: -What’s Your Hour in ‘Silicon Valley Time’? No, you don’t need to hire an agency You can follow Aaron on Twitter at @zamosta. You can email us questions directly at email@example.com or follow us on Twitter @firstround and @brettberson.0 comments0
- What founders need to know about acquisitions: Shopify’s Daniel Debow on M&A lessons from selling three startupsOur guest today is Daniel Debow, a VP of Product for Demand at Shopify. Daniel is a three-time founder and a seasoned M&A pro. Daniel oversaw the process of all three of his companies’ acquisitions and has helped continue to grow them at scale inside larger corporations. His most recent startup, Helpful, was acquired by Shopify in 2019. Before that, he co-founded Rypple which was acquired by Salesforce in 2011. His first startup, Workbrain, was acquired by Infor in 2007. In our conversation today, we focus on all the moving parts of running an M&A process as a startup . Daniel shares tactical advice on: What conditions founders should look out for at potential acquirers, as well as what established companies can do to create a more “founder-friendly” environment How to spot clear buying signals and weed out companies that are just “tire kicking” How to build meaningful relationships with executives of all types, not just corp dev teams. Techniques for including your investors in the M&A process, as well as messaging tips when opening up about the process to the wider team. You can follow Daniel on Twitter at @ddebow. You can email us questions directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Twitter @firstround and @brettberson.0 comments0
- How to build your culture like a product — Lessons from Anna Binder, Asana’s Head of PeopleOur guest is Anna Binder, Head of People at Asana. We go back to the earliest days when Anna first took on the role, starting with how she prioritized the initial things to tackle as a new People exec and combing through a slew of opinions that bubbled up from other folks at the company. Next, she shares her tactical playbook for creating a culture of feedback for not just low-performers, but high-performers, too. Anna also unpacks her methodology of conscious leadership, and how the best leaders always interrogate how the opposite might be true. She shares her insights from working on Asana’s executive team for nearly 7 years, and how to build habits to make sure this group is a healthy nucleus at the center of the company. We end with a rapid-fire round, with some quick hits tackling onboarding, all-hands meetings, and mentors. You can follow Anna on Twitter @annaebinder. You can email us questions directly at email@example.com or follow us on Twitter @ twitter.com/firstround and twitter.com/brettberson1 comments1
- In Depth Jan 12 · 1h 1m How to scale your career alongside your startup: Mike Boufford’s lessons after 10 years at GreenhouseFor our first episode of 2023, our guest is Mike Boufford, CTO of Greenhouse, an applicant tracking system and recruiting platform. Mike has a unique career as an engineering leader. He wrote the first line of code at Greenhouse in May 2012, and he’s still there — over a decade later. This isn’t the typical path of non-co-founding engineers, who usually get layered or leave to start their own ventures. In our conversation today, we focus on how founders build an environment that makes early employees want to stay, and importantly, how leaders can build the career skills and self-awareness they need to succeed at a startup long-term. Mike shares more on: How his own motivation changed over time and how he managed his relationship with the company’s co-founders. The techniques he used to prepare himself for every next phase of growth and how his role would have to change in 18-24 months. Why he read two books on every other executive’s area of the business when he joined the leadership team. Mike also refers to his First Round Review article in the interview, which we definitely recommend reading: Why This Engineering Leader Thinks You Shouldn’t Aim for Zero Regrettable Attrition. You can follow Mike on Twitter at @mboufford. You can email us questions directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Twitter @firstround and @brettberson.1 comments1
- Founders: Here’s how to get your sales pitch in ship-shape — Peter KazanjyOur guest is Peter Kazanjy, co-founder of Atrium and author of “Founding Sales: The Early Stage Go-to-Market Handbook.” As an early-stage founder, there’s something comforting about the build stage. You’re tinkering with the nascent product, honing your MVP and dreaming up the possibilities of how much folks are going to love what you create. But once you get out of that comfort zone of quietly building and start trying to sell, things tend to get infinitely more complicated. In today’s conversation, Pete lays out the roadmap for getting founder-led sales right in the early days. From small exercises to build up your selling muscles, like his “turbo rapport” challenge to thornier topics like self-diagnosing if your selling narrative is working, he’s got tons of advice for breaking down the art of a sales call. Pete also shares tailored guidance for folks who are facing the additional hurdle of creating a new category (and trying to create a new budget), with the playbooks he used building Atrium. You can follow Peter on Twitter @Kazanjy. Check out his articles for First Round Review, including his lessons on building a customer advisory board. You can email us questions directly at email@example.com or follow us on Twitter @ twitter.com/firstround and twitter.com/brettberson0 comments0
- Deepak Rao on how X1 pivoted, launched, built a +600K-long waitlist and fundraised in tough timesTodd Jackson is back on the mic to guest host another product-market fit focused episode this week. He chats with Deepak Rao, co-founder and CEO of X1, a consumer fintech startup that’s building a credit card for a new generation. Just last week, X1 announced a $15 million funding round. But we’re here to rewind the clock and unpack how the startup got to this point. As you’ll hear in today’s conversation, the path required a dramatic pivot. Here’s a preview of what Deepak shares: The emotional journey of how the pandemic forced them to abandon the initial idea for a personal loan product. How the team validated demand for the new idea by focusing on the launch announcement and getting all of the branding exactly right — before building anything. The launch strategy that crashed X1’s website and built up a 600K long waitlist. . Why finding product-market fit is different for consumer companies, plus advice on fundraising in tough times. Whether you’re in the early innings of starting a company, going through a tough pivot yourself, or planning out your product’s launch there are tons of helpful tactics here. You can follow Deepak on Twitter at @drao1. You can email us questions directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Twitter @firstround and @tjack.0 comments0
- How to lower barriers to change when building and selling products — Jonah Berger’s advice for foundersOur guest today is Jonah Berger, a marketing professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and the bestselling author of “Contagious” and “Invisible Influence.” Today we’re chatting about his follow-up book, “The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind.” Founders start companies to change industries and behaviors, but change is hard. Going back to chemistry, Jonah notes that catalysts don't just create change by pushing harder or exerting more energy — they remove or lower the barriers to change. (In the book Jonah offers a helpful framework about 5 specific barriers to change, called REDUCE — which stands for reactance, endowment, distance, uncertainty, and corroborating evidence.) We focus on how founders and leaders can do that in the context of building and selling products. Jonah shares his thoughts on: Whether you truly need to build a 10X better product and why a startup’s biggest competitor is actually inertia. The role of urgency in selling or getting someone to adopt a product. How to apply the freemium approach in different contexts, like with physical products. Techniques for negotiating price, as well as the role that identity and category creation play in persuasion and product adoption. You can follow Jonah on Twitter at @j1berger. You can email us questions directly at email@example.com or follow us on Twitter @firstround and @brettberson.0 comments0
- How Retool reached $2M in ARR before launch by focusing on developers — David HsuTodd Jackson is back on the mic to guest host another product-focused episode this week. He chats with David Hsu, founder and CEO of Retool, a low-code platform for developers building custom internal tools. Today, Retool is valued at over $3 billion and has some of the biggest companies in the world building apps on its platform. But in this conversation, David rewinds the clock to Retool’s early days. He discusses why plenty of smart folks thought the idea for Retool would fail and that the product’s developer focus would sink the company. We explore why David had such strong conviction in his target customer, even in the face of doubters, and his early lessons on finding language-market fit. David also explains how Retool nabbed its earliest customers (which includes Brex, DoorDash and a Fortune 500 BigCo) and shares his playbook for creating incredibly tight feedback cycles with these early evangelists. On the surface, Retool’s path to product-market fit seems incredibly smooth. But as David tells it, there were plenty of bumps in the road — and he’s got tons of advice for early-stage founders that are finding their footing.0 comments0
- How to approach GTM with an engineering lens — Rich Rao’s advice from Google & MetaOur guest is Rich Rao, the VP of the Small Business Group at Meta, where he manages the global revenue and operations for properties including Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. He also spent 10 years at Google, where he held a bunch of different go-to-market roles at the company, eventually becoming the GM for the Devices and Education verticals. In today’s conversation, Rich shares how his engineering background influences his approach to GTM, from his architecture method to the concept of refactoring. We also wind back the clock to his earliest days at Google on the team that was building and selling Gmail for your domain. There are a ton of early startup mental models that Rich shares from this period in the company’s history, including why they ended up ditching free trials and his biggest pricing lessons. You can email us questions directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Twitter @ twitter.com/firstround and twitter.com/brettberson.1 comments1
- In Depth Oct 27 · 50m What startups can learn from enterprise corporate messaging — Sara Varni’s lessons from Salesforce & TwilioOur guest is Sara Varni, CMO of Attentive, a conversational commerce platform. Before joining Attentive, Sara was Twilio’s CMO and spent 10 years as a senior marketing leader at Salesforce. In today’s conversation, we talk about what startups can learn from enterprise marketing playbooks, particularly around creating and honing a corporate message. Sara takes us behind the scenes at how companies like Twilio and Salesforce craft a corporate message from the ground up, and tweak it as the company grows. She also shares specific advice for marketers with sights on the CMO seat, including how to form collaborative, not combative relationships with sales counterparts. You can follow Sara on Twitter at @SaraVarniBright You can email us questions directly at email@example.com or follow us on Twitter @ twitter.com/firstround and twitter.com/brettberson1 comments1
- Finding product-market fit twice — Alma’s Harry Ritter on pivots and staying close to customersTodd Jackson’s back on the mic this week. (As a reminder, he’s guest hosting a few product-focused episodes this season — all about finding product-market fit.) Today, Todd chats with Harry Ritter, founder of Alma, a membership-based network that helps independent mental health care providers accept insurance and build thriving private practices. In our conversation, we go deep into Alma’s early days, and how they navigated the journey of finding traction and scaling. As you’ll hear in the episode, the Alma team essentially had to find product-market fit twice as they went from physical, co-working office spaces pre-pandemic, to quickly building out their virtual care capabilities. Here’s a preview of what Todd and Harry cover: Approaching team building as a solo founder Refining the idea and getting more insights from your customers through structured interviews, using the technique doctors are trained on Rallying your team through a pivot Staying competitor aware — not competitor obsessed The difference between building a marketplace versus a platform. Whether you’re in the early stages of starting a company or going through a tough pivot, there are tons of helpful tactics here. You can follow Harry on Twitter at @harryritter1. You can email us questions directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Twitter @firstround and @tjack.0 comments0
- Why everything we’ve been taught about quitting is wrong — Annie DukeOur guest is Annie Duke, a retired pro poker player and First Round’s Special Partner focused on Decision Science. She’s also the author of the bestselling book, “Thinking in Bets.” In today’s conversation, we’re talking about her follow-up to that book, titled “Quit: The Power of Knowing When to Walk Away,” which was just released this week. Quitting is not a popular topic in startup circles and history is marked by success stories of founders who refused to quit, even when just about every signal was telling them to do so. But Annie offers a counterintuitive approach. She dives into all the misconceptions about quitting, and makes the case that it can actually be a superpower, rather than a weakness. Annie explores the psychology behind why it’s so hard to walk away, and tactically what folks can do to get a clearer picture of the decisions ahead of them, rather than being clouded by biases. She also offers specific advice for advice-givers who are trying to nudge someone to change course, with tested tips for getting your message across gently, yet firmly. And after the episode be sure to check out “Quit: The Power of Knowing When to Walk Away.” You can follow Annie on Twitter at @AnnieDuke. You can email us questions directly at email@example.com or follow us on Twitter @ twitter.com/firstround and twitter.com/brettberson0 comments0
- How to scale your co-founder relationship alongside your startup — Manu Sharma & Brian Rieger of LabelboxOur guests are Manu Sharma and Brian Rieger, co-founders of Labelbox. In this interview, we take a microscope to their co-founder DNA, exploring the ins and outs of how they’ve made the relationship work over the years. We discuss: How Manu and Brian came together as co-founders and landed on the idea for Labelbox. How they intentionally aligned their skillsets, values and responsibilities before writing a line of code. Their rituals for spending valuable time together as the company grows, including thought-starter questions for deep discussions and sharing an executive coach. How they run the executive team at scale and sketch out decision rights. Manu and Brian both have extremely valuable advice to other founders, either those in the early stages of looking for a co-founder, or folks who want to add a little magic to an existing co-founding relationship. You can follow Manu at @manuaero and Brian at @RiegerB on Twitter. You can email us questions directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Twitter @ twitter.com/firstround and twitter.com/brettberson0 comments0
- A crash course on founder-led customer success — Sydney Strader’s lessons from Catalyst & InVisionToday’s episode is with Sydney Strader, VP of Customer Success at Catalyst. Prior to joining Catalyst, Sydney was the VP of Customer Success at InVision. In our conversation we focus on founder-led customer success, an area of early company building that’s often overlooked. Here’s a preview of her tactical advice: How to structure early customer check-ins, plus a framework to help surface more specific feedback. The most impactful questions that founders and customer success managers should ask all their customers. Why everyone at the company owns the net revenue retention metric — not just the customer success function. How to make your first customer success hire, from the ideal profile to structuring the interview process and setting comp. You can follow Sydney on Twitter at @sydneystrader. You can email us questions directly at email@example.com or follow us on Twitter @firstround and @brettberson.0 comments0
- The founder’s guide to making your first few hires — Steven Bartel on recruiting at Gem & DropboxToday’s episode is with Steven Bartel, co-founder and CEO of Gem. Before building the talent acquisition platform, Steven was an early engineer at Dropbox, where he spent 5 years working on analytics, Dropbox Paper, and hiring as the company grew from 25 to 1500 people. This experience from Dropbox, combined with his lessons from building out Gem’s own team and talking to his customer base of recruiters makes Steven the perfect person to talk to about early-stage recruiting. In our conversation we focus on how to make those fourth, fifth, or tenth hires — those really early days when your startup has zero brand recognition or recruiting help. Here’s a preview of his tactical advice: A trick for sourcing second-degree network connections The power of sending a “break-up” message in your candidate outreach. How Gem brought candidates on to work with them in very structured trial periods before making a full-time offer. Advice for working on your recruiting pitch and nurturing passive talent The similarities between early-stage hiring and founder-led sales You can email us questions directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Twitter @firstround and @brettberson0 comments0
- In Depth Sep 8 · 52m From product roadmapping to sprint planning: How to ship software at scale — Snir KodeshToday’s episode is with Snir Kodesh, Head of Engineering at Retool, which is a development platform for building custom business tools. Before joining Retool, Snir spent six years as a Senior Director of Engineering at Lyft. In our conversation, we cover some of the biggest differences between leading engineering teams for a consumer product versus an enterprise platform — and the things that are consistent across both orgs. First, Snir pulls back the curtain on the software development cycle, starting with setting the product roadmap while balancing a diverse set of customer needs. He outlines who’s in the room to represent product, engineering and design, and what those meetings actually look and sound like. Next, he dives into how engineering actually starts taking that product roadmap and making a plan of action using the “try, do, consider” framework. He makes the case for leaning on QBRs instead of OKRs, why scope creep gets a bad rap, and his advice for getting better at estimating how long a feature will actually take to complete. Finally, we zoom out and cover his essential advice for engineering leaders — especially folks who are scaling quickly from leading a small team to a much bigger one. You can follow Snir on Twitter at @snirkodesh You can email us questions directly at email@example.com or follow us on Twitter @ twitter.com/firstround and twitter.com/brettberson0 comments0
- The 5 phases of Figma’s community-led growth — Claire ButlerToday’s episode is with Claire Butler, Senior Director of Marketing at Figma, and one of the company’s first 10 employees. In today’s conversation, she sketches out Figma’s five phases of community-led growth — and shares tons of advice along the way for startups who also are looking to build an organic growth engine. In the first phase, Claire covers the biggest lessons from Figma’s years of stealth mode — and how you can start planting the seeds for a community when you don’t have a fully-formed product. She also unpacks the decision to eventually emerge from stealth, after years of quietly building. In the second phase, Claire opens up the pages of Figma’s launch playbook — from taking over design Twitter, to marketing to folks who tend to bristle at traditional SaaS marketing. In the third phase, she shares how Figma leveraged the community to get folks to try the product, even if they weren’t going to switch over right away to designing in Figma full-time. In this phase of community-building, Figma built out its evangelist strategy and Claire shares tons of tips for generating excitement around your nascent product. In the final two phases, Figma needed to connect the individual users that loved the product with a larger enterprise strategy. They didn’t layer in a sales team until four years after the product launched, and didn’t add a paid product tier until another two years after that. Claire explores the ins and outs of these GTM trade-offs. You can follow Claire on Twitter at @clairetbutler You can email us questions directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Twitter @ twitter.com/firstround and twitter.com/brettberson0 comments0
- Airtable’s path to product-market fit — co-founder Andrew Ofstad on building horizontal productsTodd Jackson’s filling in as host again this week. (As a reminder, he’s hosting a few product-focused episodes this season — all about finding product-market fit.) Today, Todd chats with Andrew Ofstad, co-founder of Airtable. In our conversation, we go deep into Airtable’s early days, and how they navigated the journey of finding traction and scaling. Here’s a preview of what Todd and Andrew cover: How the founders came together, their vision for the product, and what the initial prototypes looked like. Airtable’s alpha, beta, and launch timelines, as well as their early traction. The challenges of creating a horizontal product that can do many things, including identifying initial use cases and figuring out how to describe what they were building. How to approach pricing and competition, as well as their early go-to-market strategy. What the next 3 years will look like for Airtable, and how they’ve navigated scaling while staying true to their vision. Whether you’re a founder validating your own idea, or a product leader looking for growth advice, there are tons of tactics here that go much deeper than the typical founding stories you hear. You can follow Andrew on Twitter at @aofstad. You can email us questions directly at email@example.com or follow us on Twitter @firstround and @tjack.0 comments0
- Operations vs. Algorithms: Advice for scaling startups, from Opendoor CTO Ian WongToday’s episode is with Ian Wong, co-founder and CTO of Opendoor. Before founding Opendoor, Ian was Square’s first data scientist, where he developed machine learning models and infrastructure for fraud detection. In today’s conversation, we cover his essential advice for how to integrate data science into your startup. As Ian puts it, in the early innings it might make sense for your startup to be operations heavy. But as you start to scale, data science becomes a critical component for running a business with longevity in mind. We dive into how both Square and Opendoor approached this transition. Along those lines, we discuss some of the early considerations for your fledgling data science team, including the type of folks to hire for the early team, like whether to look for generalists or specialists, and how to set up your interview loops. Ian also dives into his lessons on structuring the data science function so that it’s deeply integrated with the rest of the technical org. Next, we dive into some of his biggest lessons as a first-time founder and CTO, including his practice with Opendoor’s leadership team of doing pre-mortems to predict why something might not work. He also encourages founders to run through a bi-yearly exercise of re-writing their job rec. You can follow Ian on Twitter at @ihat You can email us questions directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Twitter @ twitter.com/firstround and twitter.com/brettberson0 comments0
- Want to go totally asynchronous? Repeat founder Sidharth Kakkar on building a remote team & autonomous cultureToday’s episode is with Sidharth Kakkar, founder and CEO of Subscript, a subscription intelligence platform that empowers B2B SaaS leaders to better understand their revenue. (Read more about the company in this Techcrunch article.) Previously, he was the founder, CEO of Freckle, an education platform that grew to serve 10 million students and was acquired by Renaissance Learning in 2019. As a repeat founder, Sidharth picked up a ton of valuable lessons, particularly when it comes to company culture and management. Right from the start, he knew he wanted to build Subscript to be global, distributed, and asynchronous. That’s why there are no internal company meetings. Everyone also operates autonomously, deciding what to work on for themselves. We dive into both the philosophy behind this unique approach and the nitty gritty details of how exactly it works in practice. Here’s a preview: How to share company updates asynchronously every week. Advice on how to approach goal-setting and performance feedback, while minimizing micromanagement. Tips for improving transparency and documentation, plus details on Subscript’s running product/market fit journal. Thoughts on how to assess asynchronous communication skills when hiring. How this culture impacts a founder’s role and schedule. There’s tons of food for thought in here, whether you’re a founder thinking about shaping your company culture, or a manager looking for some fresh ideas. You can follow Sidharth on Twitter at @sikakkar. You can email us questions directly at email@example.com or follow us on Twitter @firstround and @brettberson.0 comments0
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