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Welcome To The Unicorn Club: Learning From Billion-Dollar Startups | TechCrunch

Welcome To The Unicorn Club: Learning From Billion-Dollar Startups | TechCrunch | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it

Many entrepreneurs, and the venture investors who back them, seek to build billion-dollar companies.

Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Impression study of the 39 billion dollar software companies that we're created in the US over the past 10 years. What they have in common, who their founders were and whether or not they pivoted to become successful: lots of great data points. 

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Samu Tuomisto's comment, November 6, 2013 3:44 PM
Trust on your vision? No pivot made in 90% of One-Billion Dollar Software Startup Companies.
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Serial entrepreneurship is constant learning. Here's what I found impacting.
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Here’s how likely your startup is to get acquired at any stage

Here’s how likely your startup is to get acquired at any stage | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
Let’s say you randomly selected 1,000 seed-stage startups based in the United States. How many of those would go on to raise a Series A?
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Interesting stats from TechCrunch. Even though I'm not sure many entrepreneurs really care about the odds of success. 

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Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, May 22, 6:22 PM

The dwindling curves of #startup success...

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The Utter Uselessness of Job Interviews

The Utter Uselessness of Job Interviews | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
We use them to try to “get to know” people. It doesn’t work.
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Recruiting is hard. And if you had any doubt about this, science has now proven it: by combining random interviews in a series of tests, researchers have found that interviews can not only be irrelevant to detect whether a candidate will perform in his/her job but it can also be counterproductive. 

 

Are you using any tests in your recruitment process?

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Growth hacking is bullshit

Growth hacking is bullshit | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
Growth is the lifeblood of startups. Growth is what differentiates Snapchat from hipster coffee shops. It’s the difference between revenue-less Instagram and The New York Times. It’s why investors…
Guillaume Decugis's insight:
Awesome read by Intercom head of growth that captures a lot of what I've been experiencing myself. Local and micro optimizations are not enough to build a long-term growing product.
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SaaS Pricing benchmarks by OpenView Labs

SaaS Pricing benchmarks by OpenView Labs | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
After surveying more than 1,000 software executives about their SaaS pricing habits, we've uncovered some alarming gaps. View the results here.
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

OpenView Labs' Kyle Poyar finds that these figures demonstrate a lack of maturity by a lot of SaaS companies in their pricing strategy. 

 

Their survey is really nice and will make you think about your own approach to pricing if you're in SaaS. 

 

My own thoughts while I took the quizz is that pricing is indeed a key element of the mix and is often not tested enough. But for some legitimate reasons too: it's quite hard to do solid A/B test on pricing when you're in early-stage phases as you'll probably won't have enough data to produce significant results quickly. And when you're beyond that phase, it can be perceived as harder to change. 

 

But at the end of the day, this is inspiring data and should inspire you to design some interesting pricing experiments. 

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Why VCs Should First be Startup CEOs

Why VCs Should First be Startup CEOs | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
Venture Capitalists who are serious about turning their firms into more than one-fund wonders may want to have their associates actually start and run a company for a year.
Guillaume Decugis's insight:
Nothing beats having been in the trenches according to Steve Blank. And because starting a company now requires less than a year and $500k, he suggests to make it part of the VC-partner training program.
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Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, January 4, 12:06 PM

Great idea. Get some experience in the field.

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What It’s Like to do YC Demo Day as a VC then as an Entrepreneur

What It’s Like to do YC Demo Day as a VC then as an Entrepreneur | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
Last year I participated in YC Demo Day as a VC. This year I’m participating as part of “the batch”.
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Where you also learn that asking the right questions as a VC is not that easy.

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Why I turned down $500K, Pissed off my investors, and Shut down my startup

Why I turned down $500K, Pissed off my investors, and Shut down my startup | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
I just did what no startup founder is ever supposed to do. I gave up. It wasn’t even one of those glorious “fail fast and fail forward” learning experiences. After seven months of hard work and two
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Cut your losses or pivot? Great question... And a really really hard one to find out. "Errare humanum est perseverare diabolicum."

 

In this post, Tom Romero details the product / market fit flaw of his product he analyzed and decided not to fix. should you be always analytical in that decision? Can you be? 

 

There are situations when you won't be able to analyze. For instance, when it's about pivoting to a totally different project - as we did pivoting form Goojet to Scoop.it - you don't have data or facts to analyze. You just have the motivation, the inspiration or the feeling that it's the right thing to do. Startup history - from Paypal to Slack and Instagram - shows us that some total reboots have succeeded to create unicorns. 

 

But Tom definitely has a point. To take our same example, we tried to fix Goojet multiple times before giving up and rebooting to a total pivot. Could we have cut our losses earlier by understanding Goojet - as a product and not as a team and company - could not be fixed? Most probably. 

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You can't A/B test your way to product/market fit

You can't A/B test your way to product/market fit | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it

At small-scale, intuition and research trumps statistical analysis.

Guillaume Decugis's insight:

A/B tests are statistically significant only with large numbers. You can play with Optimizely's tools (picture) or use this one by RJ Metrics or even this other one. Doing that, you'll rapidly convince yourself of a simple mathematic truth: it takes a lot of events to achieve 90% confidence - something early stage startups usually don't have. 

 

tom Tunguz makes some great points but the other mistake I've made (and see other do) is to believe you can A/B test a whole UX. A/B tests are good to determine the impact on a direct conversion: typically whether or not landing page A converts better than landing page B. But when you start to look at indirect events like retention or activity level, it becomes very hard to tell. What's worse: it even gets polluted when you have a lot of activity. 

 

So while A/B tests are great and should be used, they're not the way to find product / market fit - interviews and qualitative research are - and they're not the magic answer to everything even at a later stage when you're trying to optimize revenue, usage and retention.

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Cross border startups finally have a dedicated acceleration program: the Refiners

Discover The Refiners - Cross border accelerator in San Francisco for foreign startups to thrive in the Silicon Valley
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

It's so hard and time-consuming to understand everything about Silicon Valley while you relocate and run a startup with a part of your team back at home. Cross-boarder startups needed an acceleration program badly. Now they have one thanks to Geraldine Le Meur, Carlos Diaz and Pierre Gaubil. Well done, guys and go Refiners!

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Is the Tech Bubble Popping? Ping Pong Offers an Answer

Is the Tech Bubble Popping? Ping Pong Offers an Answer | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
Falling ping-pong table sales give a peek into the economics of Silicon Valley, where the right to play table tennis on the job is sacrosanct
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Big data correlations at work :-)

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Why and how startups should leverage content marketing

Content Marketing for Startups by Susan Su. What is content marketing? Content marketing is any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of medi
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Is content marketing for established companies only? 500 Startups' Susan Su says no and articulates how to embrace it from an early stage.

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Guillaume Decugis's curator insight, April 28, 2016 10:40 PM

Startups should be focused and there's a tendency in Silicon Valley to be "product-only" companies while in early stage. But building a product without customer feedback is a recipe for disaster so marketing is not a late stage activity. And as Susan Su from 500 startups articulates very clearly in this webinar, content now prevails over ads in many ways so that your best bet as a founding team to get your first users, collect feedback and iterate from your MVP might well be content marketing. 

 

The thing is content is complex and time consuming so entrepreneurs embracing it need to be efficient. This webinar gives a great list of recommendations on how to do that and be a lean content marketer.

prepareexcitable's comment, August 19, 2016 1:14 AM

This is so great!
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A Minimum Viable Product Is Not a Product, It's a Process

A Minimum Viable Product Is Not a Product, It's a Process | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it

An MVP is not just a product with half of the features chopped out, or a way to get the product out the door a little earlier. In fact, the MVP doesn’t have to be a product at all. And it’s not something you build only once, and then consider the job done.

Guillaume Decugis's insight:

JB from our engineering team shared this today and it's a must-read post for any entrepreneur and early-stage startup team member as finding product/market fit is one of the toughest things to do. 

 

Making assumptions about your market and customers is easy, proving them with the least amount of resources and time is hard.

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What entrepreneurs should do before writing a single line of code

What entrepreneurs should do before writing a single line of code | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it

"Why would you invest energy and resources into the development of a product, instead of doing research and coming up with a solid plan and strategy for going to market?"

Guillaume Decugis's insight:

There's a saying that goes: "don't sell the bear's fur before killing it". But there's one that I prefer and that applies to entrepreneurs: "why bother killing the bear if you haven't sold the bear's fur yet?"

 

When I became an entrepreneur 16 years ago, building technology was not as easy as it is today. No AWS, much less ready-made Saas software, etc... So we didn't have the temptation "to build it and they will come".

 

But today, as Bram Kanstein explains in this post, it's easy to forget about doing your research and rush to building a product. 

 

He makes an essential point about understanding the problem solved, current alternatives, etc... and his post is a great read. 

 

But I'll go even further: for a lot of entrepreneurs, finding and building a community and an audience first can be a very valuable exercize. If a successful product can only be built by researching and understanding very well a precise problem and need from a group of people, then identifying that group and making useful connexions within that group is a great first step. In other words:

 

- Don't [build a product] > [find the problem it solves ] > [find the target group that has the problem]

 

- Do [connect with a group that have things in common] > [understand their #1 challenge] > [build a product].

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Oliver Durrer's curator insight, March 16, 2016 4:20 PM

There's a saying that goes: "don't sell the bear's fur before killing it". But there's one that I prefer and that applies to entrepreneurs: "why bother killing the bear if you haven't sold the bear's fur yet?"

 

When I became an entrepreneur 16 years ago, building technology was not as easy as it is today. No AWS, much less ready-made Saas software, etc... So we didn't have the temptation "to build it and they will come".

 

But today, as Bram Kanstein explains in this post, it's easy to forget about doing your research and rush to building a product. 

 

He makes an essential point about understanding the problem solved, current alternatives, etc... and his post is a great read. 

 

But I'll go even further: for a lot of entrepreneurs, finding and building a community and an audience first can be a very valuable exercize. If a successful product can only be built by researching and understanding very well a precise problem and need from a group of people, then identifying that group and making useful connexions within that group is a great first step. In other words:

 

- Don't [build a product] > [find the problem it solves ] > [find the target group that has the problem]

 

- Do [connect with a group that have things in common] > [understand their #1 challenge] > [build a product].

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The no-BS guide to understanding Saas churn

The no-BS guide to understanding Saas churn | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
There are many ways to calculate churn & each tells a different story about your startup. Ask yourself these 3 questions about how you calculate churn.
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Thourough explanation on the various ways to calculate churn but that's the end of the post which is the most valuable to me: what is the churn you can avoid vs the one that's really unavoidable?

 

It's easy to think churn is unavoidable but unlike death and taxes, a lot of churn isn't certain. Some of it can't seem easy to avoid but analyzing it can inspire you new actions with positive outcome for you startup.

 

For instance, I've been through the realization that many very small businesses end up failing - one of the examples Steli mentions in his post. Realizing this made us consider moving up market which tend to be more stable but also have bigger budgets which is how we ended up creating our B2B version alongside our freemium plans

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Roman Temkin's curator insight, March 16, 2016 1:07 PM

Thourough explanation on the various ways to calculate churn but that's the end of the post which is the most valuable to me: what is the churn you can avoid vs the one that's really unavoidable?

 

It's easy to think churn is unavoidable but unlike death and taxes, a lot of churn isn't certain. Some of it can't seem easy to avoid but analyzing it can inspire you new actions with positive outcome for you startup.

 

For instance, I've been through the realization that many very small businesses end up failing - one of the examples Steli mentions in his post. Realizing this made us consider moving up market which tend to be more stable but also have bigger budgets which is how we ended up creating our B2B version alongside our freemium plans. 

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Why early-stage startups should focus on their super-fans (and not casual users)

Why early-stage startups should focus on their super-fans (and not casual users) | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
Advice to startup founders: Don't try to make everyone happy. You want to focus on the 1 percent most engaged users of your product and make them ecstatic.
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Couldn't agree more with what Jordan Stone explained at the Launch Festival as covered by my friend JD Lasica in this post.

 

Why should early stage startup do that?

 

Consider the following: what do you do as a customer of a product when you're reasonably happy vs when you're excited beyond expectations?

 

In the latter case, you'll do a lot more than use the product again: you'll go out of your way to tell your friends about it. You'll post on Facebook, you'll share the excitment. 

 

As a French guy who lives in the US, I have to send money back and forth regularly. Which means EUR/USD Fx transaction costs and wire fees that used to be up to 10%. Recently I discovered TransferWise, a peer-to-peer foreign exchange service that cuts these 10% to 1% or less. And provdes a super smooth experience. What did I do? I posted on Facebook with my community of European expats and of course this generated a lot of attention as they all have the same problem. I'm pretty sure a number of them will use the service. 

 

Would I have done that if I thought their service deserved a B or even an A-? 

 

No. 

 

That's why you should launch an MVP and then iterate based on your power users.

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Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, March 5, 2016 8:07 AM

Guillaume Decugis's comment:

"Couldn't agree more with what Jordan Stone explained at the Launch Festival as covered by my friend JD Lasica in this post.

 

Why should early stage startup do that?

 

Consider the following: what do you do as a customer of a product when you're reasonably happy vs when you're excited beyond expectations?

 

In the latter case, you'll do a lot more than use the product again: you'll go out of your way to tell your friends about it. You'll post on Facebook, you'll share the excitment. 

 

As a French guy who lives in the US, I have to send money back and forth regularly. Which means EUR/USD Fx transaction costs and wire fees that used to be up to 10%. Recently I discovered TransferWise, a peer-to-peer foreign exchange service that cuts these 10% to 1% or less. And provdes a super smooth experience. What did I do? I posted on Facebook with my community of European expats and of course this generated a lot of attention as they all have the same problem. I'm pretty sure a number of them will use the service. 

 

Would I have done that if I thought their service deserved a B or even an A-? 

 

No. 

 

That's why you should launch an MVP and then iterate based on your power users."

 

Powerful!

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Focus on your own shit

Focus on your own shit | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
My eyes crack open. 7am. Roll over. Grab my phone. Start scrolling… Wake up, check Product Hunt. Shit: someone just launched software really similar to my product (and we’re still in beta). Browse …
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

As a startup founder, it's easy to get distracted by competition. We're in a fast-moving world and yes, other people make stuff too.

 

But the reality is that competitions rarely kill startups. While lack of focus certainly does.

 

To quote Paul Graham: "If you make anything good, you're going to have competitors, so you may as well face that."

 

So should you keep your head buried in the sand and not pay attention to the outside world? 

 

Aboslutely not. 

 

My own method for dealing with competition is to focus on customer needs: understanding not just their short-term needs but also their long term ones as well as their challenges is the best way to stay relevant and not having to worry (too much) about competition.

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Should you relocate your startup overseas to Silicon Valley

Should you relocate your startup overseas to Silicon Valley | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
Think about it as running uphill versus running downhill. You expend the same amount of energy in both cases, but if you’re running downhill, you go much farther.
Guillaume Decugis's insight:
Great recap of what moving to Silicon Valley can mean to your startup. Note that Emil doesn't mention "raise money more easily" as one of the reasons for moving. But the wealth of talent and experience is impressive. And can indeed make you go faster - like gravity does.
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Jeffrey Yazwa's curator insight, March 11, 2016 2:20 AM
Great recap of what moving to Silicon Valley can mean to your startup. Note that Emil doesn't mention "raise money more easily" as one of the reasons for moving. But the wealth of talent and experience is impressive. And can indeed make you go faster - like gravity does.
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Series A Benchmark for SaaS Companies

Series A Benchmark for SaaS Companies | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
These businesses grow from 10k to 93k in MRR in their first year of commercialization and then to 413k of ending MRR in their second.
Guillaume Decugis's insight:
Though this is admittedly biased as measured on exceptional companies (27% of which were actually pre-revenue), the TL;DR version of this is:

- you need to show significant MRR traction;

- you need to show more now than was required last year.

Better get your growth model right then.
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The Key Drivers for SaaS Success

SaaS/subscription businesses are much more complex than traditional businesses, and SaaS performance cannot be measured in the same way as traditional business…
Guillaume Decugis's insight:
Great and crystal clear presentation on all the key metrics to master Saas growth - or really subscription-based revenue. Of course, this is all very nice when it's all numbers - the difficulty being to fix the numbers when they're not good.
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Cash Flow Break Even (CFBE) is no longer a dirty word in Silicon Valley

Cash Flow Break Even (CFBE) is no longer a dirty word in Silicon Valley | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
Leverage. It’s the key to negotiating. Classic negotiating books like Getting to Yes define the BATNA, the Best Alternative to Negotiated Agreement. If you were to walk away from a conversation, what’s the next best choice? The BATNA singlehandedly creates leverage in negotiating.
Guillaume Decugis's insight:
5 years ago, when we started Scoop.it, my current company, I quickly realized that shooting for profitability was a bad thing to say among my peers or venture capitalists. When money is available, prioritizing profitability certainly can mean under-optimizing growth. In a world where not even Anazon wants to be profitable (because it can still grow), being a profitable early stage startup somehow denoted lack of ambition. With he recent corrections in unicorn and public tech companies valuations, Tom Tunguz notes that the historical BATNA (negotiation leverage) founded had by having several term sheets from competing funds is quickly disappearing. Another way to create leverage for founders can then be to be CFBE. Not so unambitious anymore, then.
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Chained Probabilities in Startup Business Models

Chained Probabilities in Startup Business Models | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it

Tomasz Tunguz is a venture capitalist at Redpoint and writes about startups, fund raising, SaaS companies, and best practices for founders.

Guillaume Decugis's insight:

An interesting way to think about what it takes to make a startup successful. While the odds are slim that your venture will become the next Facebook, the domino effect theory shows how small wins can accumulate into bigger success.


What it means for entrepreneurs is that you shouldn't be afraid to start by doing things that don't scale. By being excellent at one thing and achieving outstanding results, you'll get a chance that this domino helps tumble the next, bigger one. But by embracing too much, you might just be hitting a wall.

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Data and Perspectives on the Startup Fundraising Market for 2016

Data and Perspectives on the Startup Fundraising Market for 2016 | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it

The late stage market may witness a different phenomenon. More than 40% of the dollars invested in Series B and later rounds originating from corporate venture capital, mutual funds, hedge funds and family offices. This money isn’t committed to startup investing.

Guillaume Decugis's insight:

There's certainly been some valuation adjustments for private unicorns but is a bubble bursting? The data put together by Tomas Tunguz shows how strong 2015 was, particularly for early stage companies. 

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Why nobody will steal your shitty start-up idea

Why nobody will steal your shitty start-up idea. - Personal Growth - Medium
Because nobody cares.
Guillaume Decugis's insight:
A fun recap of what many first-time entrepreneurs are irrationally scared about: talking about their startup idea.The thing is there's no better way to fail than keeping things secret. The momentum you get by feeding your initial thoughts with feedback and new ideas is just priceless. So. What are you working on these days?
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France, The New Startup Factory

France, The New Startup Factory | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it

Four French IPOs on the NASDAQ in just 24 months (Criteo, LDR, Cellectis, DBVTechnologies), American VCs investing in France (BlaBlaCar, La Ruche, Believe Digital, Scality, ShowRoomPrive), three new Unicorns (BlaBlaCar, Sigfox, Teads), US market M&As (by Microsoft, Zendesk, Salesforce, Facebook, Adobe), French venture capital industry ranking second in Europe, the forthcoming creation of the world’s largest incubator La Halle Freyssinet in Paris, success stories by French entrepreneurs in the US (Lending Club, Symphony, Tango, PeopleDoc, SmartRecruiter), an American CEO — Cisco’s John Chambers, — declaring that “France is the next big thing.” …

 

Sacrebleu! What is happening in France?

Guillaume Decugis's insight:

It's amazing how much things changed in the past 5 years for the French tech startup ecosystem. This is an energetic recap and shout-out by my friend Romain Serman who details very clearly how and why things changed. 

 

I'm of course very interested in this topic, having been successful with a first start-up in France before failing a second one and relocating to San Francisco for Scoop.it close to 5 years ago now. As I detailed here, I didn't relocate because I felt the French or European scene wasn't good nor because I found it hard to be an entrepreneur in France. But mainly for market reasons. 

 

5 years later, there are still many things that are not as efficient in France or Europe as they are in Silicon Valley, particularly the efficiency of late stage financing and the absence of an equivalent to NASDAQ. But as Romain articulates in this post, French entrepreneurs and VCs have understood how to work around these obstacles and with Silicon Valley.

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reza malekzadeh's curator insight, February 26, 2016 4:41 PM

Great read by our friend @RomainSerman!

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Things Investopedia Co-Founder Wishes He Knew Prior To Selling His Company

Things Investopedia Co-Founder Wishes He Knew Prior To Selling His Company | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it

"In summary, I wish I’d known the following things when I sold my business:

  • That the surest way to leave value on the table would be to not hire a banker. The decision-making process should be how to choose the right advisor, not whether or not to have one.
  • In our deal, we created the most value through competition and non-exclusivity.
  • I would not hire a banker who claimed his advantage was relationships or contacts. Instead, look for other differentiating factors like negotiating skills."
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Great points made here and #2 is probably the most important (hence #3 as well). When we sold Musiwave, we first received inbound informal interest for a €30-€40M range. We ended up selling at €100M + earnout: not because we had supernatural powers but because we moved the conversation from one interested party to 3 competiting companies. 

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Curated by Guillaume Decugis
Co-Founder & CEO @Scoopit. Entrepreneur (Musiwave, Goojet). Skier. Gamer. Blogging without blogging here: http://scoop.it/u/gdecugis
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