By Brent Willess

Pixar’s 24 feature films are incredible combinations of art and technology, but they also contain good lessons for startup founders.

Here is a tip from each, from Toy Story to Luca.

🤠 Toy Story: Embrace limitations

Embrace limitations The choice of toys as the main characters for Pixar’s first feature wasn’t accidental. The smooth, textureless surfaces were easier to animate with primitive tools. This constraint led to an outpouring of creativity.

🐜 A Bug’s Life: Don’t reinvent the wheel

Tasked with making a follow-up picture under incredible time pressure, the brain trust at Pixar leaned on a story that they knew would work — Aesop’s ant and grasshopper fable that…

By Brent Willess

Seven lessons I learned in six years at Uber:

🕸️ Decentralized talent is a superpower

🏦 Everyone needs to be an owner

🎯 Design for what matters

🚀 Moonshots take time

🍦 Build marketing into the product

🚨 Disrupt yourself–or someone else will

📈 Use data when making bets

🕸️ Decentralized talent is a superpower

Uber treated every city as its own startup, and this attracted entrepreneurial/people who were trusted to solve hard/idiosyncratic problems.

This meant Uber was able to move as fast and make changes faster than a centralized team could.

You need to centralize eventually, but timing is key. Too soon…

By Brittany Brody

As a lawyer, I reviewed client emails and was amazed by the self-incriminating content people sent with no self-awareness.

Imagine the potential for career-ending faux pas when TikTok, Slack, and Snap are added to the mix?

How should new grads navigate this minefield?

The Millenial/Gen Z cohorts are at particular risk. We are the first generations raised with smart devices and encouraged to live openly online from a young age. The distinction between personal and private are blurry, but in the law, the lines become quite sharp.

As a new class of graduates enters the workforce, and…

By David Frankel

VCs evaluate startup pitches along four dimensions:

⚙️ Business/Team: Are the founders/model/metrics strong?

📣 Pitch: Is the story compelling?

💵 Deal: Are the terms attractive?

👂Audience: Does the VC know/like this space?

So, how can founders improve their odds?

The best scenario is strength in all aspects.

VCs would love a steady stream of thriving businesses led by world-class teams, that slot into their understanding of the startup world, that are pitched impeccably with friendly deal terms.

By Brittany Brody

Your startup has a contract with a giant corporation.

At some point, they decide they don’t want to honor it.

You–rightfully–want to sue for breach of contract and call your lawyer!

Should you?

Here’s my view from both practicing law and working with founders.

This scenario plays out at startups all the time and it’s often when founders realize legal docs have no intrinsic value — they’re just words on a page. You can’t throw a piece of paper in someone’s face to get them to pay or stop them from infringing on a patent.

For legal…

By Brittany Brody

My cat has been asked to endorse hundreds of products — everything from pet CBD to robotic litter boxes.

Such is the life of a talent manager of a feline with 60K+ followers!

Here are some lessons I’ve learned about influencer marketing from my furry friend.

✂️ Keep it simple

Remember, the influencer has a busy life and many commitments to balance. Absent a direct ask and meaningful compensation, they likely don’t have the bandwidth or interest to become an expert in your brand and use valuable platform space to endorse it.

💰 Pay up

Reviewing a product/creating content takes more time than…

By Hillary Bush

The current higher education “bundle” is comprised of three value drivers:

📕 Content

🍻 Community

📜 Certification

I think EdTech startups can succeed if they do two well, or absolutely crush one of these.

Let’s look at some examples:

📕 Content — MasterClass

It’s unlikely someone will hire you because you took Werner Herzog’s MasterClass, but filmmakers, writers, and professionals have long benefited from watching videos of master practitioners. Lynda and Gnomon have been doing this since the 1990s.

By partnering with unbelievable instructors and producing HBO-level content, MasterClass both over-delivered and redefined what an online class can be. …

By David Frankel

Do you want to build a really significant business?

If the answer is yes, you need to say no.

🚫 Just say no

A successful startup needs to balance a never-ending stream of requests from customers and internal stakeholders with a desire to push innovative new ideas, all while needing to pay down technical debt. The only viable management solution is to say no — a lot.

🆘 Resist Shiny Object Syndrome

Successful startups will have no shortage of exciting opportunities. Geographic expansion. New product categories. Again, you have to say no and focus manically on your key KPI, whether it’s revenue growth or user acquisition.

🤕 If it isn’t painful, it isn’t strategy

By David Frankel

You can’t build a $5B startup without a bias towards action.

Patience is a virtue but it’s one rarely associated with entrepreneurship.

Olo CEO Noah Glass recently shared some lessons about how *not* doing things, or sequencing them strategically, helped deliver success.

⚛️ “For the first eight years, there were 12 of us.”

In a world where startups try to ramp headcount as quickly as possible, Noah deliberately kept the team tight for nearly a decade. You need less (money/people/products) than you think to build a great business.

🎲 Luck takes time

Olo was a superlative solution, but adoption was slow at the start.

Then Uber came on to the scene and…

By Micah Rosenbloom

“Product Manager” might be the most fluid title in tech.

It can mean anything from a spreadsheet-obsessed APM at Google to a savant who can create new user paradigms from scratch.

But what makes for a good product leader at a *startup?*

Product Managers like to think of themselves as “CEOs of the product,” but not all CEOs make effective entrepreneurs.

Here’s what I look for in product folks who want to lead a <10 person startup.

👁️ Point of view

The most impressive product founders have a strong point of view that cascades from the demo, to the deck, even…

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