How to Know if Your Idea’s the Right One — A Founder’s Guide for Successful Early-Stage Customer Discovery
First Round Review
by First Round Staff
4M ago
So you’ve got a startup idea swirling around in your head. As an initial step, you might grab a coffee with a trusted friend and ask, “So what do you think?” and poke around for some early research into the competitive landscape. But as “The Mom Test” has taught us, this sort of casual idea validation with friends and family is not nearly enough to build an enduring business that can go the difference — more rigorous customer discovery is required.  Yet all too often, founders and product leaders fail to make this leap. Some neglect the research process entirely in the early days, instea ..read more
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GOAT’s Path to Product-Market Fit — How a Fake Sneaker Sparked a $4B Idea
First Round Review
by Second Square
5M ago
No founder’s journey to product-market fit is straightforward — all you have to do is peel back the layers. Even company-building voyages that appear, on the surface, to be relatively linear turn out to be riddled with challenges, from painful pivots to rejections to long stretches of uncertainty.  However, few paths are as winding — and fascinating — as Eddy Lu’s. Today, he’s the co-founder and CEO of GOAT, a global platform for sneakers and luxury apparel that boasts over 350 brands, a million sellers, and 50 million members across 170 countries. But Lu’s journey to getting w ..read more
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From Flagship Back to Fledgling: Lessons on Going Multi-Product From an Early Stripe PM
First Round Review
by Second Square
5M ago
“It’s not about building the best product. Being the best means nothing.” For product builders striving for perfection, these words might not seem particularly motivating, but for Tara Seshan, this advice is a phrase she returns to whenever she’s considering where to place a new product bet. Before her most recent role as Head of Product at Watershed, Seshan spent a nearly seven-year stretch at Stripe. She joined the company at the sub-200-person mark in 2015, back when “there was still very little adult supervision” as she puts it.  Seshan spent a year of that tenure ..read more
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Add More Rigor to Your Reference Calls With These 25 Questions
First Round Review
by Second Square
5M ago
There’s heaps of advice out there on how to prepare for interviewing a candidate — tips for structuring the process, thoughts on the right set of questions to ask, and advice on distilling down the feedback across the hiring panel. It is an undoubtedly essential process to get right. But, oddly, when it comes time to pick up the phone to call up references, far too many hiring managers treat this as a check-the-box activity, farming the process out to their recruiting partner — or perhaps even skipping over it entirely when they’re in a rush.  There are plenty of well-reasoned ..read more
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How to Build an Iconic Brand Without Breaking the Bank — This Founder's Formula for Early Marketing
First Round Review
by Second Square
5M ago
Branding can be brushed off as an unnecessary upfront cost, a problem for your future founder self that’s easy to de-prioritize when you’re leading a cash-strapped startup. But investing in thoughtful branding from day one pays dividends — especially in the increasingly competitive (and expensive) battle to acquire customers. Just ask the founders of Studs, Anna Harman and Lisa Bubbers, who stormed onto the startup scene in 2019 to transform the tired ear-piercing experience. Ear piercing was hardly a novel concept, but options were limited to tattoo parlors and mall ..read more
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The Secret to Running Effective Growth Sprints — Follow This Process to Learn Faster
First Round Review
by Second Square
5M ago
This article is written by Matt Lerner, co-founder at SYSTM, a company that helps startups “find their big growth levers” (and pull them). Previously, he was an investor at 500 Startups and ran B2B growth teams at PayPal. He previously shared an excellent guide to finding language/market fit here on The Review. Today, he’s generously sharing a chapter from his new book “Growth Levers and How to Find Them,” penned for, as he puts it, ​​“impatient founders and their teams.” For more of his insights, check out his 2-minute newsletter. Every great startup m ..read more
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Pilot’s Path to Product-Market Fit — Three-Peat Founders on Picking the Right Team and the Right Market
First Round Review
by Second Square
5M ago
For a founding team to achieve startup success together just once in their lifetime is impressive. Twice is remarkable. Thrice? Practically unheard of. That’s part of what makes the story of Jessica McKellar, Waseem Daher and Jeff Arnold so unique. Not only did they build successful startups together three times over (with one acquired by Oracle and another by Dropbox), but they did it while maintaining a deep mutual respect that most founding teams can only dream of. “Jeff, Waseem and I have complete trust in each other to do what is right for the business,” says McK ..read more
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Look Back to Leap Ahead: 7 Questions for Your End of Year Reflection
First Round Review
by Second Square
5M ago
As the year draws to a close, you may find yourself in a reflective mood. There’s plenty to take stock of as you look back on how 2023 went. There’s the quantitative stats — if your startup hit its revenue goals and if your team delivered on its quarterly numbers, how your team grew (or shrank), or personal metrics like how many books you read or miles you racked up on Strava.  But there are the fuzzier achievements to unpack — the things you got right, the mistakes you learned the most from, the relationships you deepened, and the “aha” moments you’re taking with you into the coming yea ..read more
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How to Take Bigger, Bolder Product Bets — Lessons from Slack’s Chief Product Officer
First Round Review
by Migrator Added Author
5M ago
It was the middle of 2020, and it became clear to Slack’s Chief Product Officer Noah Desai Weiss that the product’s first-day user experience needed a complete overhaul. Up until this point, the product team had tinkered with hundreds of little experiments to the core platform’s UI — all trying to inch towards optimizing the onboarding funnel for new teams signing up. But amidst all of the experimenting, Slack’s growth had plateaued. “It was sort of like climbing a mountain range,” Weiss says. “We had reached the top of a small hill, but we knew that there were other bigger hills just out of ..read more
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New Engineering Managers Have a High Failure Rate — This Figma Leader is on a Mission to Fix It
First Round Review
by Migrator Added Author
5M ago
Eng folks — does this sound familiar? A high-performing engineer on the team moves into a management role (often with a not-so-gentle nudge from leadership). After all, the team is growing quickly, and someone needs to take the helm. Who better than someone who’s already proven their technical chops? But, by Marcel Weekes’ estimation, at least half the time those newly-minted engineering managers will leave their post, retreating back to the IC sphere. “If this was the failure rate of a service, we would do a postmortem on it and be concerned that the failure rate was so high. But in this cas ..read more
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