Suhail Doshi

Best quotes by Suhail Doshi

Founder MightyApp + Mixpanel. Pizzatarian, programmer, & music maker.

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1

In year one you likely don’t need: - A fancy office - A full-time assistant - An office / ops mgr - 2000+ sqft of office space - Fancy furniture - Lots of employees (> 10) - Perfect design What you do need: A product people love in spite of its flaws. The rest will come.

2

FanDuel raised $416M at a $1.3B valuation & got acquired for $465M. The founders will get nothing after nearly 10 years--can't really beat pref stack. Maybe they took something off the table but still a farcry from the goal. Let this be a reminder: raise what your company needs.

3

Startup vanity: Valuation, Press, Funding, # of Employees, Offices, Meetings w/ famous people, Meeting to give lots of advice Success: Revenue, Users, Word of mouth, Retention, Servers on fire, Emails asking for features, Meetings w/ users

4

Founders: we need the best engineers to work on our hardest problems! Engineers: I want to work on AI, interesting hardware problems, and scaling! Reality: hey, so can you make a landing page, make forgot about password, and fix these 3 bugs customers are complaining about?

5

The highest honor while building a startup is when people put your product in their resume as a skill.

6

One of the less talked about realities of achieving something great is the sheer amount of time you have to be alone, toiling until the thing you’re creating is great. Much of one’s perseverance is believing you’re not wasting your time despite feeling lonely w/ many distractions

7

I am pretty sure the biggest difference between a startup and a large company is the anxiousness one feels if they haven’t shipped something meaningful in a week. In a large company it is totally acceptable for an 6+ mo project to not ship. That cannot happen in a startup.

8

Problems remote work has that need to be solved: - Loneliness - Pairing quickly on problems - Whiteboard brainstorm sessions - Team comrade - Quick drive-by conversations (sometimes bad too) There's so much opportunity for this next revolution. It's not just about presence.

9

Startups vs 1K+ company: Two co-founders: “Hey, what you do think of doing X? Sounds good but maybe tweak it by doing Y?” Bigger co: Write internal doc Send doc to mailing list Everyone from mktg to legal chimes in VP reviews Features get added Re-org occurs Ships 1 yr later

10

Making great products isn't about adding more, more, more. It's often about discovering a single great problem and working to refine, refine, refine.

11

You can make someone a 20% better engineer but you can't make someone genuinely care about the product you're making. That's why I'd rather work with someone worse technically that wants the product they get to help build.

12

My algorithm to pick investors: 1. Do they listen? 2. Have they gone to great lengths w/ other founders? 3. Are they an expert at something you suck at? 4. Did they make you think differently? 5. Did they respect your time? 6. Do they make you dream bigger? 7. Are they kind?

13

One reason you cannot easily part-time do a startup is that so many of the best, clever ideas occur somewhat spontaneously. You sort of look at all the possible angles over a span of 12-18 months and one day, while looking at a tree, the proverbial apple bonks you on head.

14

Good teammates: (1) challenge your over optimism (2) don’t bicker about work style differences (3) prioritize getting work done (4) care about the goal over themselves (5) don’t want to waste time (6) kill their ego (7) debate to make a great product not to personally win

15

Speed is a near universal value in most startups: speed to ship, speed of initial ux, speed of the app loading, speed of decision making, speed of hiring or firing, speed of customer support. Speed is your best defense while you have no moat.

16

The first 12 mo of a startup can be compressed to: 1. Is there demand & does anyone want this? 2. Is it useful & will they keep using it? 3. How do I get more people to keep using it? Interspersed w/ periods of irrational conviction & temp sadness despite nothing having changed

17

Idea skepticism in a nutshell: (1) Yeah but have you heard of X company that's doing it? (2) What if Google/Amazon does it? (3) I wouldn't personally use it (4) Here's a history of everyone that failed (you will too) (5) It's a crowded space already Don't let it demoralize you.

18

How to keep the momentum while working hard: - Don't burn out - Pick fun projects - Don't be a single point of failure - Spread your knowledge - Delegate - Fire yourself from boring jobs - Pair on projects, don't get stuck - Take staycations - Solve the little problems first

19

My algorithm for deciding how much to raise was simple: - $225000 fully loaded cost per hire (SF) - times 6 people (max # I'll need for now) - times 2 years of runway (time I need to succeed) - times 1.3x for a buffer (because I'll get something wrong) Raise just what you need.

20

Founders are artists

21

My favorite question to ask investors at the end of a pitch is: "What do you suspect the reason we will fail will be?" Benefits: (1) You get *some* feedback (don't be defensive) (2) You can learn if they know something you don't (3) Counter-interview - are they smart too?

22

There's no upside in hating on someone's idea. You come off as non-believer or ruin their confidence. Instead, just ask the questions that make you hesitate & let them come to their own conclusion. If you're right, you helped them think it through. If you're wrong, you'll learn.

23

Unpopular opinion: ruthlessly copying your competitors best features is often the fastest quick win you can give yourself. It costs you your ego. You already have data that it's valuable. And it'll make every customer you regretted losing happy. You can't do it for forever tho

24

One of the earliest signs your product is getting better for users is that your job steadily shifts from building all day to doing customer support all day.

25

Company culture isn't defined by writing them up in a document & then onboarding new employees by preaching the gospel. It's defined by every decision you make & the bar you uphold while you operate. Being explicit merely clarifies them.

26

If you fear starting a company because you’re worried you’ll waste your time or you’ll fail, don’t start a company. Start a project. It’s mostly the same thing for 12 months until you have employees, make money, and have users that rely on you every day.

27

Post product-market fit product strategy: - Double down on what works - Deprecate non-core features to reduce surface area - If it’s valuable, measure & optimize it - Remove your ego & copy great ideas if they help your users - Don’t get distracted by building net-new products

28

People underestimate how much grit it takes for founders to steadily build the most monotonous features in order to make an okay product great. Especially difficult when there are so many more interesting/intellectually challenging v1 ideas to distract you.

29

Critical lesson I learned about building products: stating explicit non-goals are nearly as important as stating your actual goals. Products are all susceptible to bigger-ism. Moving fast is far easier when it's clear what you're not doing.

30

If you’re an investor & want to make a mark on founders that will make them remember you (positively) forever: help them manage their psychology. Bring them up when they’re down, bring them back to the ground when they’re too high. That’s what I remember mine for the most.

31

The single best productivity hack I am aware of is just writing a list of things to do tomorrow the night before, not checking your email first thing when you wake up, and doing the list. Repeat.

32

After you raise your 1st round of funding, your job as CEO will mostly encompass: (1) interviewing candidates, (2) 1:1s to keep the peace, & (3) looking at spreadsheets to guide strategy. Don't forget that you'll need to intentionally carve out space for what you're great at too.

33

I’ve learned to never underestimate the power of 100 little improvements that could be potentially boring to build & unsexy compared to one, large net-new risky feature. Over a long run, those 100 little things make companies appear far more innovative & make a huge impact.

34

The world can really give you back what you put out there. Don't be afraid. Take the step to share your work, art, ideas, writing, and inventions. You have no idea who will discover it and how it might change your or their life.

35

Gates said something along the lines of, “That’s a crock of shit. This isn’t a platform. A platform is when the economic value of everybody that uses it, exceeds the value of the company that creates it. Then it’s a platform.” Gates is King.

36

Two important vectors to build momentum in a startup are listening to users & shipping speed. To listen well, you'll need to constantly talk to users & be picky about who to serve. To ship quickly, you have to scope just enough & have good instincts about how to solve the problem

37

The right teammates: give you energy, create natural social accountability, increase your optimism, enhance your focus, support your learning. The wrong teammates: create fear, reduce safety, fatigue, chastise your inexperience, micro-manage, demotivate. Find the right team.

38

I cannot urge early stage startups enough to make a model of their unit economics. It is so telling what will likely cause great, early pain in your startup in the first 5 years. It’ll keep you honest & let you test the accuracy of your intuition. Buffer for the unknown.

39

Me: Ok, I am going to put this software through the wringer to find reproducible bugs to fix. Bugs: Nah, not coming out. Taking a nap. <later> Me with users: Ok, thanks for signing up. Now, just click the icon & it should "just work." Bugs: WHAT'S UP FAM. HOW WE DOING TODAY!

40

Beware of investors who confidently tell you that your idea is unlikely to succeed because of 10 year old empirical observation. Old data is bad data too. Disruptive but previously impossible ideas are worth revisiting.

41

Every startup has a few seemingly impossible walls they hit: it could be churn, a deep technological limitation, a seasonality problem, no market upmarket, rising user acquisition costs, a new giant competitor, political regulation, or worse. It’s your boss battle to win.

42

The most fun part about learning something new is the exponential pace at which you learn. The worst part about learning something new is the moment you learn just enough to understand how far you are from being great at that thing & have to choose whether to keep going or not.

43

How to be a good VC to your founders: (1) Get out of their way & give them space. (2) When they need you, be available asap. (3) Make intros to people who are experts at what they aren't experts at. (4) Don't be overconfident just because you've seen it 100 times. Be patient.

44

The best way I've thought of to make a startup more formidable and narrowly focused is to tell them what I'd do if I were their faux competitor. The ruthless perspective of a competitor often helps sharpen what's important & what's not. So, ask your smart friend what they'd do.

45

Going on vacation as CEO & not looking at your email is the chaos monkey tool to determine how well your company can operate.

46

The best way to control your own destiny as a company is often to make just enough revenue that you can always dial down expenses fast enough (<= 6 mo) to be break even if you get shitty terms or get into bad circumstances.

47

Startups are basically a competition to figure out how to solve problems in less than a month that popular belief suggests will take an enormous set of resources or time. Death looms so one must earn momentum & traction in order to keep solving the next set of hard problems.

48

I get little satisfaction stomping on someone's startup idea. It's so easy to. Somewhere deep, hidden in their abstract description is a distinct yet narrow problem worth solving that's significant. It's more fun to attempt finding it, together.

49

Effective employee on boarding isn’t about swag, stickers, & company value pamphlets on their desk the 1st day. Sure, it makes them feel like you got your shit together. But, how you help them understand their goals & how co values are interwoven in operating are more important.

50

I’ve been doing a lot of interviewing of engineers lately & the biggest defining difference between great ones and decent ones has mostly been whether there’s a natural, innate curiosity of how things work. Then, a desire to dive down the rabbit hole to seek the true answer.

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