Jeff Morris Jr.

Best quotes by Jeff Morris Jr.

Founder at ChapterOne, an early-stage product fund. Building Product Club this summer. Before VP Product, Revenue at Tinder.

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1

When interviewing at startups, you should ask hard questions: * What’s your path to profitability? * How much fundraising is required to get there? * How much will employees get diluted? * What’s your burn? * How much runway is left? You are interviewing the company too.

2

I wish I knew when I started my career: 1. Equity: ask for price/share & total number of outstanding shares 2. Team: you will be more proud of the friendships you build than any product you ship 3. Career: find the best company, not the best title What do you wish you knew?

3

Managers should be called coaches. Reframing the role will change the mindset of every employee who is given the special responsibility of developing their teammates careers. Being a “manager” is an outdated concept that was created many generations ago. Aspire to be a coach.

4

When looking for a startup to join, search for companies who are “succeeding despite themselves”: 1. Product funnels aren’t optimized 2. Marketing channels still being tested 3. Operations are messy If customers love the product despite this, they have early product market fit.

5

Many of the best product people I know are historians of our industry. They can tell you about features built by companies big & small many years ago. Their intuition is guided by years of studying failure and success. The sooner you become a historian, the better you’ll be.

6

Product has been glorified. What they don't tell you: 1. Your job is to say "no" to distracting ideas. People will often be frustrated with you. 2. When things break, you're accountable. Get ready to bite the bullet. 3. Designing new products is a small part of what you'll do.

7

Startups are a crazy balance between: 1. Unscalable work: 1:1 conversations w/ customers, personal emails, phone calls, etc. 2. Preparing to scale: knowing you must automate unscalable work to grow, even when you're winning. Knowing how to transition from #1 to #2 is an art.

8

Your startup probably won’t work. Pick a problem you’d be proud to tell friends about 10 years from now, even if it fails. The worst failure happens when founders spend years grinding on a problem they don’t care about & finally admit this to themselves when things fall apart.

9

Most startup pitches underweight on distribution strategy. You can build the best product - but if you distribute through the same channels as everyone else, you aren’t being creative enough. Create a distribution strategy that surprises the people you pitch. You’ll stand out.

10

I spoke to a tech company with offices in New York & San Francisco who recently opened an office in Montana. A handful of senior executives voluntarily moved to Montana when they heard about the new location. They wanted a better quality of life. This will happen more often.

11

The best consumer product people I know often come from random walks of life. They are not CS grads from top universities. They didn’t start their careers as Google PM’s. They have unique backgrounds (education, career path, hometown) that make them view the world differently.

12

In sports, many great athletes spend their careers on the wrong team & their talents go to waste. I’ve seen the same thing happen to many of my most talented friends in tech. They pick the wrong teams & their skills are never seen by the world. You have to pick the right team.

13

Companies who didn't hire me when I was trying to "break into" tech: 1. Google 2. Facebook 3. Twitter 4. Airbnb 5. The list goes on... Own your failures & stay focused. When a company gives you a chance, prove everyone else wrong. Still motivates me every single day.

14

Underrated for hiring talented people: Build a company that sparks “dinner party interest” for employees when they talk about the startup. We all want our friends and family to be interested in what we do. The stronger the dinner table reaction, the easier recruiting will be.

15

Beware of product people who use data as a crutch for a lack of taste. Beware of product people who use taste as a crutch for a lack of data.

16

My favorite framework for new business ideas: "Find a market that thrives on its lack of transparency and make it transparent." My favorite entrepreneurs all have their own frameworks to develop new ideas. When you adopt a framework, the creative process becomes much easier.

17

We are all media companies. Some people just realize it more than others.

18

Product is: 1. Coming up with 100 ideas and realizing that 99 are terrible, but 1 is promising enough to pursue. 2. Going down rabbit holes for a living and never getting bored. 3. Finding out that "someone already tried that" and convincing yourself that you can do better.

19

The hardest part about product has nothing to do with designing UX/UI or motivating engineers. Those skills can be learned through hard work. The hardest part is having a unique point of view about the world & being able to articulate those ideas to customers in a simple way.

20

GTM strategy: Build a good product.

21

The most powerful sign of product market fit: A product that makes money while you sleep. You don’t need sales people or partnerships to sell products that reach this elusive point. True product market fit makes money while you sleep.

22

If you work in tech long enough, you'll have plenty of missed chances. People are amazed when I tell them I applied to be employee #10 at Uber & employee #15 at Airbnb. Focus on the next one. I joined Tinder after a few heartbreaks (no pun intended). You'll get your win too.

23

The risk/reward of being a "founding team member" vs. a "founder" is fascinating to me. So many people join startups as early employees & take on founder level risk, without founder level rewards. If you join a startup as an early employee, make sure your equity is generous.

24

As a startup, knowing when to scale the product & org is the most important decision. When you identify early signs of PMF, your instinct is to scale cause you've worked so damn hard for this moment. Make sure the PMF is real. Once you scale, it's almost impossible to go back.

25

One signal of a great team: Any given team member can leave the company at any moment — and you’ll still be just as successful. If your team relies too much on one person, you need to build a better mentorship culture. Too many startups learn this lesson the hard way.

26

I hear about a team building "Superhuman for X" almost everyday. A new category of companies is being built in a space which I call luxury software. We have luxury goods in our physical lives: cars, fashion, homes. Luxury software will be built for every tool we use at work.

27

Tech companies should do a better job engaging their Alumni Network. The level of pride employees might have after departing a company could feel more like graduating college. Few companies engage their alumni. A powerful & underutilized asset for hiring, referrals & goodwill.

28

We want innovation, but we’re quick to criticize those who try and fail. Most crypto projects built today will go to 0. Most VR apps will be “too soon” for consumers. Most AI use cases will be commoditized over time. Innovation is hard. Don’t be a jerk when good people fail.

29

The best part about our industry is meeting people you want to collaborate with for the rest of your career. This happens very rarely — maybe 1-2 people at every company you join. When you find these people, keep them close & invest as much time in the relationship as you can.

30

The most important lesson I’ve learned for developing new products: You don’t have to be the first person to come up with a product idea. In fact, that will rarely be the case. But you can almost always make an existing idea better. And that’s when you get the big wins.

31

Incredibly tough to find founders who are strong at both product and distribution. Left brain: distribution Right brain: product Most often, I see great product minds who do not understand distribution. This generally catches up with them as they raise their Series A.

32

The art of naming companies is not talked about enough. I often see pitches that would feel entirely different if the company just picked a better name. A few words of advice: 1. Simple is always better 2. Create an emotional response 3. Try not to sound like a tech company

33

I just received an investor update from a stealth co. who recently closed a round. The CEO thanked an "MVP investor" who is helping write code for the company. The MVP investor is now tied for the most # of commits. Remember that next time investors say they are value add.

34

The future of consumer products will start with trust: 1. Do customers trust the company/employees who built the product? 2. Do customers trust other users on the platform? 3. Do customers trust that the platform protects their data? Trust will be the most important feature.

35

I see startup founders become obsessed with competitors. 99% of the time, neither startup has product market fit and the competitor becomes a crutch for why things aren't working. "If we build that feature they released, things will get better." Worst use of your time.

36

When an investor asks about your monetization strategy, saying “we aren’t thinking about that right now” is a weak answer. Focusing on growth instead of revenue is an outdated mindset. You are starting a business and asking for money. Explain how you will return that money.

37

The best product people I know are truth seekers. They overcome their own ego, politics within their organization, and personal biases — and they build what customers actually want. Truth is the hardest thing to achieve when building products. Seek truth.

38

Mediocre managers treat you like a report. Good managers treat you like a teammate. Amazing managers treat you like a partner. Find the last one.

39

Asking an investor to sign an NDA before sending a seed stage deck is like asking someone to sign a prenup before a first date. Not the best way to start a relationship.

40

What "product people" don't tell you about building products: 1. The confidence and conviction required to build new products can be overwhelming. 2. We have many sleepless nights & moments of self doubt. 3. The most successful PM's persevere & push their ideas to production.

41

When an investor gives you product advice, ask yourself: 1. Have they ever built a product? 2. Is the feedback motivated by their desire for returns or what's best for your customers? 3. Are they actively using your product? Many investors give feedback without doing the work.

42

The future of work is... - Hiring the best person for the job, not the person who lives in your city. - Talent arbitrage, as many candidates who have 'done it' at previous companies now want to live outside SF/NYC/LA/SEA/BOS. - A financially sustainable way to build a startup.

43

In a world of OKRs, there are some product improvements that will never make your list of “things to work on” but you know will make your customers happy. * Animations in fun moments * Reducing copy * Better control over push notifications Make time for these projects too.

44

When people tweet about a billion dollar business idea someone else should build — it’s probably not a billion dollar business idea. Otherwise they would be building it.

45

Waitlists are the new MVP: Make sure your product is worth the wait. I see founders copy Robinhood waitlist mechanics — then realize that waitlists only drive growth when customers are insanely excited to use your product. Focus on your core product. Then ask people to wait.

46

Behind every product, there’s a long list of heroes who rarely get public recognition they deserve: 1. Engineers who stayed at the office after everyone left. 2. Designers who gave critiques at the perfect moment. 3. Office staff who create amazing energy at work everyday.

47

The best venture capitalists I know are amazing listeners. They do not check their phones during meetings or make you feel like they’re busy. They are fully present throughout the entire conversation and often take notes like a student. They make you feel valued & heard.

48

I often receive notes asking for the best resources to learn how to build product. Product is an art learned over time, like playing an instrument or becoming a writer. The best way to get better at product is to practice the art. Read less articles. Build more products.

49

“Everything in mobile has already been built.” Try to operate your life on a phone without a computer for an extended period of time. You will discover many mobile products that still need to be built.

50

Pre-seed companies are experiments. Raising $250-$500k at a reasonable valuation from a very small group of investors gives the the founder optionality. If the experiment fails, easy to move on with your life & try another idea. The days of large pre-seeds are done for now.

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