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By Joseph Flaherty

An architect talks to three masons working side-by-side and asks about their work.

🧱 “I’m laying brick…” says the first.

🏗️ “I’m putting up a wall,” answers the second.

⛪️ “I’m building a cathedral!” Exclaims the third. This parable of POV can be applied to startups:

This allegory is typically deployed when trying to make an unpleasant task sound more palatable. The cathedral response is supposed to be the “right” answer, but the story’s moral is really a reminder that you need to be able to think/talk at multiple levels of abstraction.

Whether you are pitching VCs…

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By David Frankel

Over the last five years, Google/Apple/Facebook/Amazon (GAFA) have gone from being inspirations to … competitive sharks that can easily gobble up the market share and margin of the smaller startups surrounding them.

Here’s some advice for founders in the era of Big Tech…

🐸 Don’t get complacent

The primary danger that Google, Facebook, et al. pose to startups is in getting entrepreneurs hooked on *seemingly* cheap growth. The targeted advertising these platforms provide produces a quick revenue boost that can scale surprisingly well.

Unfortunately, the good times don’t necessarily last. Startups see diminishing returns, competition arrives, CAC can rise to unsustainable…

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By Joseph Flaherty

Clubhouse, and conferences generally, are a great leveling tool where an entry-level engineer can ask unfiltered questions of a captain of industry.

This is an opportunity that should not be wasted — or hoarded!

Here are a few simple tips that will raise your question asking game:

❓ Start questions with an “H” or “W,” not “I”
🚫 No two-part questions
📏 Know your limits
📌 Formulate crisp queries
🕳️ Avoid “talking point” traps
🙃 Be Provocative

Let me expand:

Start questions with an “H” or “W,” not “I”

Ask questions that other people will benefit from.

Questions that start with who, what, when, where, why…

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By Brent Willess, Associate

One surprising thing I’ve learned in my first year in VC is how “We’re not raising right now” is a powerful phrase an entrepreneur can say to an investor. A big reason is that it tends to uncover other aspects of the business, for example:

“We got creative with marketing”

Startups that can self-fund also tend to be more creative about their go-to-market strategies. Expensive paid advertising is seen as a last resort and clever, low-cost alternatives are sought out and uncovered.

“We have strong margins”

The freedom to forego fundraising usually comes from profitability derived from predictable revenue and stronger than average margins. …

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By David Frankel, Managing Partner

Offering internal recruiting bonuses is a fast way to scale talent at a startup. This is expedient and powerful. But as for any sales comp, incentives are key.

Should bonuses be paid in full at the hire?

Or split, with a balance paid at a retention cliff?

My preference is that the bonus should be split, with 50% at hire, and 50% reserved for a milestone, typically the one-year anniversary. Some argue that retention is the job of direct managers and the executive team, and that’s a very fair point.

Still, if you’ll forgive a…

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By Amanda Herson

I don’t have anything to add to the GameStop stock talk.

However, I did spend a decade growing a retail chain to 300+ stores and watched many competitors close shop. Here’s how to spot the Five S’s of a retail death spiral:

🏬 Store
📦 Stock
🛎️ Staff
🛒 Systems
🌐 Strategy

🏬 Stores

As retail chains start to struggle, one of their first moves is to give up their most expensive leases. …

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We were early investors in Uber, Airtable, The Trade Desk, Cruise, PillPack, Desktop Metal, HotelTonight, Whoop, Formlabs and over 300 other great startups. Now, we’d like to be early backers of your career.

About Founder Collective

Founder Collective is a seed-stage venture capital firm built by entrepreneurs. Our mission is to be the most aligned fund for founders at the seed stage. This informs everything we do. We keep our fund size small — approximately $280M over four funds. The GPs are the biggest LPs in the fund — we’re principals, not agents. We’re not lifecycle investors — we invest at the beginning…

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A few thoughts and questions to ask before you raise that big growth round

By Micah Rosenbloom, Managing Partner

We’re in the fortunate position of having several portfolio companies in the position to raise $30–50M+ growth rounds.

This is a great option to have! But it’s riskier than most founders assume, so here are a few bits of advice for those in a similar situation.

🍻 Resist peer pressure to raise

You’ll find *a lot* of encouragement to raise a big round if it is remotely possible — your investors want the mark, and your employees will love the paper wealth. Still, it’s the highest-risk path of least resistance you’ll ever walk down.

❓ Ask why you are raising

If you can predictably turn $1 in…

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And other lessons learned across 300+ retail stores and scaling the largest outdoor ecommerce business in Africa.

By Amanda Herson

I grew up on Africa’s southern tip in Cape Town, as the 4th generation in an outdoor retail family business. My father taught us that to sell gear you needed to understand the customers’ needs. He always said, “start with the head, focus on the hands and end with the feet.” I learned that retail, much like every entrepreneurial venture, is mostly about the heart and an obsession with the customer.

After university, I spent time managing and launching Bath & Body Works and Victoria’s Secret brands in the US. I was then fortunate to work with…

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Both can become big businesses, but high-level decisions made in the earliest days of your startup will reverberate for decades.

By David Frankel, Managing Partner

Are you better off owning a gold mine or operating a toll road?

Both can be lucrative businesses.

Each has dramatic drawbacks.

Specific personalities are required to make either work.

A quick overview of the pros and cons for each model follow, but first a story:

I invested in a company that developed SaaS tools for the mining industry. Monthly contracts ranged into the six figures, but the mining companies were happy to pay since improved productivity could create hundreds of millions of dollars in value.

Despite hefty revenues and healthy margins, the startup’s founders…

Founder Collective

Our mission is to be the most aligned VC for founders at seed. #ProudInvestor in @Uber @TheTradeDeskinc @Buzzfeed @Cruise @Diaandco @PillPack @SeatGeek & more.

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