One of our top sessions from our recent Annual at Home event was from Github’s COO, Erica Brescia. For those unfamiliar with her background, Brescia started off as the founder and COO of Bitnami, a 75 person startup. Just over a year ago, she sold to VMware and the company has since doubled in size.
In her session, Erica shares her hard-earned leadership lessons– from selling her company to what she’s learned at Github, we’ll share her most essential leadership principles for any stage of business.
#1Build a Support Staff Early
The truth is, founders are frugal. You want to lead by example and get everything done with your own two hands. But that “do it all” mindset, is actually harming your ability to execute. In fact, every task you do that is not actively building your business is distractive of the work truly adding to reaching your goals. Time Continue reading "5 Leadership Lessons Everyone Needs Right Now From Github COO Erica Brescia"
Q: What are the signs that an entrepreneur will always be small time?
“Always” is a bit extreme.
But let me share what I’ve learned are signs an entrepreneur likely won’t be going for it / won’t build something big. And so, these also probably are start-ups you shouldn’t join, IF you want to be part of something that could be big:
Talks a lot about selling the company for “say $20m-$30m”. This is a very logical thing to think about. But selling your company for $20m-$30m isn’t consistent with raising VC capital or going big.
A lot of immature language from the CEO, especially on social media. This I’ve found to be a big flag in B2B/SaaS. You have to carry yourself as the CEO you want to be in 2–3 years, and act with that level of professionalism. Inclusing on social media, etc. CEOs that act immature Continue reading "7 Signs a CEO Isn’t Really Going For It"
Money matters. Money is part of why we do this, maybe more in the early days than later. It’s not just about building software and the journey. It’s about turning your shares from $0.00001 into … something.
So when should you sell your company — if ever? Especially, if things get a little tougher, selling may seem like a valid option, if you do have options.
You’ll know when the market has passed you by, when you’re no longer competitive, when you just can’t recruit the right team to win anymore.
But … be careful to not let exhaustion and emotion cloud your thoughts here. Especially if you have happy customers and are growing:
First, and more importantly, bear in mind good acquisition offers are rare.
Here’s my list of the best golden advice I was given as a first-time — and second-time — CEO:
Manage People — In General, and Earlier. The earlier in your career you can learn how to manage people, the faster you can excel in learning to scale. Managing people isn’t always fun. But embrace it if you want to be a CEO, a founder, and/or be a part of something bigger.
Listen to “Audibles” and Act on Them. Your best bosses, VPs, mentors and others will give you “audibles” — quick bits of micro-advice during pitches, customer meetings, interviews, etc. While you are in the process of working 🙂 They’ll see where you could improve in real-time. Take this real-time feedback and leverage it and act on it immediately. If someone else great is in the room with you, these audibles can make the difference between a positive outcome
Being a CEO changes you. Not at first. The first year or two are a lot like “before”, just more intense. Now it’s all on your back, and your shoulders. But over time, your brain does get rewired. You get focused.
And as part of that change, you will lose friends on many levels if you build a successful start-up.
One tough part of that is if you co-found a company with friends, it’s likely one of them won’t go the distance. And it’s likely that will end up souring the relationship, at least partially. Doing a start-up with a great friend can be very powerful. Just bear in mind, it can also make the break-up a lot tougher.
You’ll also start to have less in common with some of your old friends who aren’t on the super intense founder journey. It’s just so much
SaaStr has now passed 10,000+ pieces of content, and we’ve somewhat gone on a journey from the early days of a SaaS company, through the growth phases, to the Unstoppable phase, and now has time has gone on, even to the Decacorn phase 🙂 We’re not quite done with that journey but if you’ll forgive me going back in time, I wanted to address an interesting question at Day 1: Who Should Be CEO?
I’ve been reminded of this question in several meetings lately where founders are doing pretty well, getting to and past Initial Traction, but with hindsight it’s interesting that the founder that took the CEO gig perhaps was better suited to a different role, say CTO or SVP of Sales or President or COO or SVP Product.
Sometimes when you start a company it’s 100% obvious who the CEO should be. But sometimes whether it’s egos, or Continue reading "Day 1: Who Should Be CEO? A Checklist."
If you squint as you read TechCrunch, you’ll notice a pattern in a bunch of articles about Hot Startups. “Bob worked at Pinterest for 8 months before he …” or “after a stint as senior something engineer at Facebook [12 months], Bill joined …” etc. etc. It’s the one-year job culture.
The rise of the engineer with highly portable job skills, and essentially zero percent unemployment for any top 20% developer, is in many ways a great thing. While not so great for employers, this one-year-job culture is seemingly a win for engineers — it has empowered especially younger engineers in many new ways, created an implicit safety net which enables risk taking (not a huge deal to quit if you’ll only be unemployed for negative 7 days), led to salary growth, etc. Even talent auctions to the highest bidder. And doing something new every year, especially when you are Continue reading "Why If You Quit Every Year You Won’t Ever Make Any Real Money"
Ep. 353: Keith Rabois (Paypal, Linkedin, Square) and SaaStr Founder Jason Lemkin talk about the landscape of SaaS & Cloud fundraising and valuation in 2020.
This episode is sponsored by Lightmatter.
SaaStr’s Founder’s Favorites Seriesfeatures one of SaaStr’s best of the best sessions that you might have missed.
This episode is an excerpt from Keith and Jason’s session at SaaStr Summit: The New New in Venture. You can see the full video here, and read the podcast transcript below.
Ep. 354: Whether you’ve just raised your first round or are in hypergrowth mode, here are the 10 things SaaStr CEO and Founder, Jason Lemkin, wishes his board and investors had told him.
When I catch up with founders on the march from $1m to $10m in ARR, the number one topic has always shifted to recruiting. Where do i find a great VP of Sales, Marketing, Engineering, Product, Customer Success, etc.?
Sometimes, it seems like simply building a management team is all you have time for. But it’s not. It can’t be. It has to just be the start of a journey together.
Once you finally build out your first management team, the last thing you want to do is lose it. Or more subtly, for your team not to perform as well as they could.
The question I always ask founders here is: Do you do regular, scheduled 1-on-1s with your VPs and direct reports? I’d guess 90%
They say CEO is a lonely job, and I guess in some ways true, but in many ways it’s quite the opposite. If you do it right as a founder, there’s nothing more rewarding than getting to work on Monday. Checking in with the team. Being on a journey together.
But what is hard is getting help seeing the forest through the trees. Here are the Top 10 things I wish I’d been told.
So I’m telling you:
1. Power laws are real. $1m MRR is when it gets great. No, it doesn’t get any easier then, per se. It never gets truly easier. But you won’t fail after $10m ARR or so if your customers love you. It is different. And you can build something that will trust last once you get there.
2. Just go find the VP you need. You can miss a quarter