What seed-stage CEOs need to be successful, how to not look foolish in your investor pitch and early access to my new Brain Trust.

Happy Saturday.

I’m at 34,000 feet somewhere over Nebraska on the way to Phoenix today. The Airstream’s been parked ~40 miles south in a little town called Casa Grande, AZ this week where it’s received a HUGE electrical upgrade (read: lots of solar, 600ah of lithium batteries and a tricked out hybrid inverter). Follow me on Snapchat to get a quick tour later today: resultsjunkies.

Tomorrow afternoon I pull into Las Vegas where I’ll be parking right next door to Tony Hsieh — who happens to live in an Airstream as well. I hope to see you there: Las Vegas Tech Tour. (Keep an eye out for the pet alpaca… or was it a pet llama? Come find out.)

One other request: If you love this newsletter, share it with a friend. If you hate this newsletter, share it with an enemy. Please?

1. If I held open office hours via Google Hangouts, would you join? [Link]

I tweeted that question out and got hundreds of responses over the course of 24 hours — 88% of people said they would join. So, I’ve created the Results Junkies Brain Trust.

I’m looking for 10 people to join me as “founding members” and we’ll get started this week. For now, we’ll keep it simple: a weekly Google Hangout where we’ll talk about our businesses and give each other no-BS tactics for getting to the next level. Each week, I’ll also pull in a fellow investor and/or the founder of my latest investments to join us as well. You can learn more (and signup instantly) here: Results Junkies Brain Trust.

2. “The Facebook of India is Facebook, the Google of India is Google, and the Twitter of India is Twitter.” [Link] [Tweet]

I’ve had the privilege of investing in companies across a number of countries over the past few years and I’ve made two observations in the process:

  1. The world isn’t divided by N geographic or political boundaries. Rather, it’s divided by five major languages (in no order of importance: English, Mandarin, Arabic, Spanish and Hindi). Companies that do well in one culture may or may not do well in others — it’s hard to tell in advance.
  2. It’s incredibly hard for companies to “jump” across those cultural lines without acquiring a company locally. There’s just no other way to quickly learn the cultural nuances.

3. “The point is we are at the cusp of technological innovation that is beyond our imagination.” [Link] [Tweet]

The rate of the rate of change (in this case, progress) is only increasing. It’s hard for us to recognize this in our day to day lives but consider the fact that I’m writing this email as I sit ~6 miles in the sky in a metal tube that’s flying 500+ miles per hour. Ten years ago, we were all sitting in these tubes watching shitty moves on curved CRT monitors that hung from the ceiling of the airplane.

It’s a great time to be alive.

4. “94% of companies never hit $1 million in revenue in a calendar year, ever.” [Link] [Tweet]

First things first: you don’t need to hit $1M in revenue to be successful.

The minute you sell one thing to one person you don’t know, you’re in business. At that point, focus on selling to the next 10 customers. Then the next 100 customers. You get the idea.

Sales will keep your company alive long enough for you to win — however you define a “win.” It’s your company, after all.

5. “It’s from late 2011. When raising $600,000 was a monumental task.” [Link] [Tweet]

I had the privilege of investing in Intercom’s earliest round while I was at 500 Startups. (Intercom recently raised $50M — so, they’re doing pretty well.) It’s been a long time now so my memory might be a bit faded: I’m sure this is the deck Eoghan shared with us but that’s not what I remember about him.

Eoghan had his shit together, he knew what he was building and he had a small — but growing — list of customers. He subtly changed the conversation from “will this product work?” to “hmm, how big could this thing be?” In a world where nearly everyone else is pitching ideas and smoke, how could you not want to invest in him?

6. “At seed stage, CEO’s have to be able to sell to be successful.” [Link] [Tweet]

Everyone should have a sales job at least once in their lives. Whether you choose to start a company or work at someone else’s company, you’ll always be in sales.

7. “It’s snobbish & dangerous. It relies on the idea that there are businesses that are inherently better than others.” [Link] [Tweet]

I’m glad to see more people sharing the idea that VC-funded companies aren’t the only way to be successful. As you know, an extremely tiny percentage of companies in any country (probably <1% but I’m too lazy to look it up at the moment) are venture backed.

Again, just focus on selling one thing to one person you don’t know. Then repeat it as much as necessary to keep your company alive.

8. “You ever notice how the first slide in any pitch deck these days is ‘[industry] IS BROKEN?'” [Link] [Tweet]

Whenever a founder uses this line with me, my nearly-instant response is usually: “yeah, but that ‘broken’ business appears to be making $XXXXX in revenue.”

There’s nothing wrong with having a chip on your shoulder and / or wanting to make an industry better. But, broadly claiming that everyone else is too dumb or stupid usually reflects more poorly on you than the industry you’re trying to disrupt.

9. “Tesla saw 276,000 people sign-up to buy its newest all-electric Model 3 sedan — in two days.” [Link] [Tweet]

The best selling cars in America (the Honda Accord and the Nissan Altima) both sell about 300,000 units per year. Tesla’s new model — that doesn’t even exist yet — sold that many units in two days.

How is this not a bigger story?

10. “Email copy from great companies.” [Link] [Tweet]

Two thoughts on this:

  1. How is this website not getting taken down? It’s a gold mine.
  2. I wish this had been around earlier. One of my habits has been to signup for nearly every newsletter I can find and then tag them in Gmail. Later on, usually when I’m thinking about drip techniques to test on my own newsletter, I look back the other newsletters to see how they spread out their content over time. (This is the kind of stuff I hope we’ll all share more often with each other via the Brain Trust.)


You can get the full stream of the things I read, it’s all on Twitter — follow me: @paulsingh. Sometimes I write stuff too. You can always find me in the Brain Trust, apply to join.

Have a great weekend!