What’s the best way to create your strategy?

Zach Abramowitz (CEO & cofounder @replyalldotme)
Is your company truly disruptive? Try this simple litmus test

Disruptive companies should be able to answer this question: Five years from now, people will not know how they managed without [company x] because before [company x] existed people did __________, and now that [company x] exists people do _________.

What’s the best way to create your strategy?

Ben Horowitz (Co-Founder & Partner @ Andreessen Horowitz)
Programming Your Culture – Ben’s Blog

The primary thing that any technology startup must do is build a product that’s at least 10 times better at doing something than the current prevailing way of doing that thing. Two or three times better will not be good enough to get people to switch to the new thing fast enough or in large enough volume to matter. The second thing that any technology startup must do is to take the market. If it’s possible to do something 10X better, it’s also po… (read more)

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
The Carlota Perez Framework – AVC

[Carlota Perez] found was that there are two phases of every technological revolution, the installation phase when the technology comes into the market and the infrastructure is built (rails for the railroads, assembly lines for the cars, server and network infrastructure for the internet) and the deployment phase when the technology is broadly adopted by society (the development of the western part of the US in the railroad era, the creation of … (read more)

Ben Horowitz (Co-Founder & Partner @ Andreessen Horowitz)
The Case for the Fat Startup – Ben’s Blog

As a result, the top two priorities are always to: (1) Find the product that 1,000 enterprise or 50 million consumers want to buy and grab those customers before your competitors do. (2) Raise enough cash and spend it intelligently so that you don’t go broke along the way.

Bubba Murarka (Partner @ Draper Fisher Jurvetson (DFJ))
Part 1 of 2: Should you build for the Apple Watch platform? — Medium

Over the years I’ve been using a framework to evaluate new platforms: Technology enablement — Can something be done that wasn’t possible or easy to do before? Distribution — How does the platform help you gain new users and engage existing users? Business model — Does the platform provider have a clear business model that you can align with to sustainably share in the value created?

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Return and Ridicule – AVC

I saw Bill Gurley say that you can only make money by being right about something that most people think is wrong. His logic was that you can’t make money by being wrong. And you can’t make money by being right about something everyone else knows. So you have to be right about something that most people think is wrong. I really like that framework.

Jeff Bezos (Founder & CEO of Amazon)
The Institutional Yes

I very rarely get asked “What’s not going to change in the next five to ten years?” At Amazon we’re always trying to figure that out, because you can really spin up flywheels around those things. All the energy you invest in them today will still be paying you dividends ten years from now.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Why the Facebook threat to most media businesses will only get worse | A Founder’s Notebook

The litmus test for the survival of a media business is: “If someone is interested in [the area we cover], why do they have to read our content?” If you can’t answer that question, you’ll lose to Facebook, because it has become the daily content aggregator for most people.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
MBA Mondays: One More Thing On Sustainability Before We Move On – AVC

Do not use Wall Street tools to evaluate investment decisions in your companies. Use the tools that animals use. Survival instincts. What will it take to ensure that your company is around in ten years, fifty years, 100 years? That’s how to think if you want to stay in business forever.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Winner Takes Most – AVC

We strongly believe in network effects at USV and look for them as the primary form of defensibility in the investments we make. We don’t always get things right and we certainly don’t always end up investing in the company that wins the market. Lately, we’ve been wondering if there is an end to this pattern on the Internet and mobile. We think it is possible that an open data platform, in which users ultimately control their data and the network… (read more)

Peter Thiel (Co-Founder & Partner at Founders Fund)
Peter Thiel’s CS183: Startup – Class 3 Notes Essay

Great companies do three things. First, they create value. Second, they are lasting or permanent in a meaningful way. Finally, they capture at least some of the value they create.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Using exhaustive lists to get unstuck | A Founder’s Notebook

Making an exhaustive list requires you to write things down; that in itself increases clarity.

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
Startup Playbook

A related trap is thinking about problems too far in the future i. e. How are we going to do this at massive scale? The answer is to figure it out when you get there. Far more startups die while debating this question than die because they didn’t think about it enough. A good rule of thumb is to only think about how things will work at 10x your current scale.

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: Exhaustive lists as a reliable tool for unstucking yourself

When in doubt, or when it’s just not good enough, make an exhaustive list. Every successful product in this category that you’ve ever used, and why. Every reason your current project might not work. Every reason you can think of to use what you’ve made.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
What Is Strategy? – AVC

Don’t think you are going to win in business with a better product, more capital, or a bigger team. You can’t just throw resources at a market and expect to win. The winner in a market most often has the best strategy and exectutes it well.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
How To Be In Business Forever: Week Two – AVC

Businesses don’t operate in a vacuum. They operate in a dynamic ever changing market that is going to make things difficult for you, especially if you want to be in business forever.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
No Battle Plan Survives The First Enemy Fire – AVC

I always encourage entrepreneurs to get on with the business of putting their product in the market. All the planning and designing and strategizing and grand plans of taking over the world are no match for reality.
The real world is messy. Stuff happens that you could never imagine. And then you are reacting to all of that and your grand plans are in tatters. That’s reality. It happens to everyone.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
What If Web And Mobile Apps Are Like TV Shows? – AVC

Network effects are powerful in both directions. They can help you grow exponentially. But when they are going against you, they work just as fast. Myspace’s decline was mind blowingly quick. RIM’s has been as well. Who is next?

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Utilities vs Networks – AVC

Networks beat utilities in the age when everyone is connected to everyone else. This is a big opportunity for startups.

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: Crowd pleaser is not the only option

Crowd pleaser is not the only option. You could choose crowd changer. Changing is far is more difficult and more important than pleasing the crowd. Crowd disturber. Crowd inspirer. Crowd connector. Crowd calmer. And for that matter, you can skip the crowd and just go for: She mattered to me.

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: Ten questions for work that matters

Ten questions for work that matters
What are you doing that’s difficult?
What are you doing that people believe only you can do?
Who are you connecting?
What do people say when they talk about you?
What are you afraid of?
What’s the scarce resource?
Who are you trying to change?
What does the change look like?
Would we miss your work if you stopped making it?
What do you stand for?
What contribution are you making?
Hints: Any question … (read more)

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: Half measures

If you’re hungry, half a meal is better than no meal.
But if you need light, half a lightbulb is actually worse than none at all.
If you’re hoping for an 8% return on your investment, 4% is a lot better than zero.
And half a home run is worse than nothing.
We make two common mistakes:
Refusing half when it’s a whole lot better than nothing, and,
Accepting half when we’d be better off waiting for what we really need.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Fast Followers, Copy Cats, and Ripoffs – AVC

I think it is best to understand that all great innovations will be copied, expect it to happen, and understand that the best response is to go out and out-execute the copycat. Getting stuck in time and money losing litigation may be emotionally satisfying for a while but it often doesn’t end well for anyone.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
How Would An Entrepreneur Attack Your Business? – AVC

This is a question I like to ask our more developed portfolio companies who have built large markets/networks/user bases. I ask them “if you were a startup and you wanted to compete with our company, how would you go about it?”

Jonah Peretti (Founder & CEO at BuzzFeed)
Is History Repeating Itself? — Medium

1) Technology. Technology has replaced geographic- and spectrum-based distribution monopolies as a competitive advantage for publishers… This [our tech platform] is a massive investment that is very difficult to replicate, and it creates a virtuous cycle where a growing number of talented people use increasingly powerful tools to do their job. 2) Scale. At the start of the golden age of publishing, a circulation of 1 million readers was considere… (read more)

Zach Abramowitz (CEO & cofounder @replyalldotme)
Is your company truly disruptive? Try this simple litmus test

Disruptive companies should be able to answer this question: Five years from now, people will not know how they managed without [company x] because before [company x] existed people did __________, and now that [company x] exists people do _________.

April Dunford (Sales and Marketing at DataMirror (acquired by IBM), Janna Systems (acquired by Siebel Systems), Sitraka (acquired by Quest software), Watcom (acquired by Sybase))
Clarifying your strategy using a simple template | A Founder’s Notebook

What is it? The shortest possible statement that describes what you are. The key here is to keep it really short and use plain English words. Target Segment – The specific target market you are targeting in the short term. The trick here is to focus on who you will sell to over the next 6 months. Market Category – The market that you compete in. It’s important because often startups have a choice of multiple categories that they could compete in … (read more)

Y Combinator (a startup accelerator based in Mountain View, CA.)
Apply to Y Combinator

Product-market fit: 1. What’s new about what you’re making? 2. How do you know people need what you’re making? 3. What substitutes do people resort to because it doesn’t exist yet (or they don’t know about it)? Competitive advantage: 1. Why did you pick this idea to work on? 2. Do you have domain expertise in this area? 3. What do you understand about your business that other companies in it just don’t get?

Jeff Bezos (Founder & CEO of Amazon)
Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) | Twitter

We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient.

Jeff Bezos (Founder & CEO of Amazon)
Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) | Twitter

There are two kinds of companies: Those that work to try to charge more and those that work to charge less. We will be the second.