Prove me wrong

Written by Seulbin on .

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A startup founder asked for my advise a few months ago. He had an idea for a venture but wasn’t sure if it was a good idea, so he was considering a second option. We had a quick discussion where he gave me the pros and cons of each of the options, and mentioned repeatedly that he thought the first option was the right one for him. I thought differently.

Doing too much

Written by Seulbin on .

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Startup founders have one chance to make their startups work; while the entire startup concept is statistical (more than 90% of startups fail, etc) for the startup founder there is success or failure, zero or one.

Do it your way

Written by Seulbin on .

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When I was a young startup founder and my startup first starting selling in the US, I did all the US sales from Israel. Every single sale, from $100 to $100,000 was done virtually: via email, webinar, and phone and never in person. Since I didn’t want to tell my American customers that we were still a small, Israeli-based startup, I preferred to give them the impression that we are an established US company based in Virginia.

You give up too easily

Written by Seulbin on .

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How important is your startup to you? Is it important enough that you are willing to be embarrassed in order to help it succeed?

Most of you are saying “yes” right now. So I’ll ask you an obvious follow-up question: when was the last time you embarrassed yourself for your startup?

Invisible obstacles

Written by Seulbin on .

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Last week I went with a friend to a Japanese restaurant in Gangnam. A typical Japanese bar, serving good beer and nice snacks. It was night time in Gangnam and as you can imagine the streets were full of people – but the restaurant was empty except for the two of us.

Giving up a share

Written by Seulbin on .

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Steve Ballmer was employee number 30 at Microsoft. He came at a time when Microsoft was full of technical people and Bill Gates needed a sales person with some business experience. Ballmer was a Harvard graduate, and did not think too much about the computer business; Bill Gates needed to give him a special incentive to join, and the incentive was a profit sharing plan: Gates offered Ballmer a certain percentage of Microsoft’s profits in exchange for joining the company. Steve Ballmer accepted the offer, which turned out to be one of the best deals in history ever done by an individual: after a few years the profits of Microsoft were so high, it needed to “buy out” Ballmer’s contract. They did it by giving him 8% share of the company: higher than anyone at the company at the time, except for the two founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen. The profit sharing contract was great for Ballmer, but changing over to a big share package wasn’t too bad for him either: he sold about half of his shares in 2003, for close to a Billion dollars in cash. But that’s not all: the remainder 4% is worth about 20 Billion dollars today. What a deal!