Alex's Tech Thoughts

Inflection Points

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I’ve been thinking about inflection points. For those that aren’t familiar with this term in startup-world, it means when your startup has hit a point that leads to accelerated growth. This typically happens when either a new feature is released or tweaks fix an existing feature. Or it may be events out of your control (otherwise known as luck).

The big question for every startup to ask themselves is, “What can I do to get to a stage of hyper growth? How can we hit our inflection point?” There are obviously different paths for different companies to take.

For Youtube it was a few viral videos including Keyboard Cat, but maybe videos like Lazy Sunday, being huge accelerators. For Facebook, it was letting third party platforms build games on top of it (i.e. Zynga). For Twitter it was a mix of developers building third party applications plus celeb tweeters/events (like Charlie Sheen, Michael Jackson’s death, the Arab Spring, etc.) For Instagram it was Justin Bieber joining the service.

Inflection points can turn hot startups into companies. What are some of your favorite inflection points that you’ve heard about, read, or even experienced?

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startups inflection points growth scaling
Individual Rockstars

But its…its easy … to, to talk about… It’s easy to sum it up when you’re just talking about practice. We’re sitting in here, and I’m supposed to be the franchise player, and we in here talking about practice. I mean, listen, we’re talking about practice, not a game, not a game, not a game, we talking about practice. Not a game. Not, not … Not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game like it’s my last. Not the game, but we’re talking about practice, man. I mean, how silly is that? 

- Allen Iverson explaining why he is the ultimate Individual Rockstar.

Having individual rockstars at your company is a very troubling scenario. While you want the best people in the best roles, you also want to build a team. Individual rockstars are typically not team players. They are selfish and have egos. You want to build a team that will celebrate the wins and losses together. You want to build a team that is made up of multiple rockstars. You want to build a team that is the best at what they do, not one or two people who shine above the rest (and have bad attitudes).

Alternatively, if you are the only rockstar at your company then you should probably join a company that has more rockstars. When there is a consolidation of talent, all the rockstars join a few big companies. Examples of teams with multiple rockstars are companies like Singleplatform, Path, foursquare, etc.

I use the word “rockstar” in this post, but the word rockstar can be swapped out for any word that describes someone who is very good at their job.

Bottom line: When you hit a critical point in building a company you need to make sure that the culture and individuals (i.e. team) at the company are all very good at what they do (i.e. rockstar status) AND are team players (selfishness and ego can bring your company down in a heartbeat). Just like in basketball, when you have a few team players caring about padding their stats more than winning the game, you are not going to go far in the league.

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Warby Parker: The Human Referral Effect

Here is my latest Forbes piece: http://onforb.es/QiQSlR

Let me know your thoughts!

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warby parker startups referrals scaling disruption
Scaling Up, Without Screwing Up: A Conversation With Skillshare’s CEO

Here is my latest Forbes piece: http://onforb.es/HibKHI

Let me know your thoughts!

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Forbes Disruption Scaling entrepreneurship
Social Media Is Scalable, People Are Not

Yesterday I sat down with Mark Davis, formerly of DFJ (and now the CEO of a super stealth company), to catch up. In our meeting, Mark said something that I found very interesting and want to share it with you here.

"Social media is scalable, people are not"

Mark said this while we were discussing growing one’s digital identity and physically attending networking events. Mark said that for the first year and half of his NY tech experience he would go to an average of four events a week. Now he attends one or maybe two a week. Mark uses his twitter and blog as a means of connecting with people in the tech space more effectively, which he says is more scalable than going to events and shaking hands with a few people here and there.

The two quick take-aways for me were the following:

1) Putting together a solid digital identity (Twitter, Blog, Etc…) will help you succeed in the tech space. If you maintain and contribute quality content to this identity, it will surely grow with time.

2) Learn to use web tools that will help you manage your time more effectively. Spending a few minutes putting together a blog post or tweet will reach people instantly and can, at times, be more effective than other means of networking.

Check out Mark’s Blog: www.mpd.me

Follow Mark on Twitter: @markpeterdavis

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