Because Were Family

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Let me be clear: there is only one CEO.

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Let me be clear about another thing: ideas have no value. Never put yourself in a position where you think that having an idea gives you the right to anything other than the warm, fuzzy feeling of having had an idea. The CEO is the person who you agree has the ultimate responsibility, the person who is making the final decision. It should be clear within your team who is best suited for that role.

People like the title of CEO, and they like the perks, and they like the idea that everything that goes well for the company will be attributed to them.

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But there are downsides to being CEO as well. You can go online and find articles about alternative management structures, no managers, flattened hierarchies, all of that. And maybe those are good things in a big, established company that needs to shake itself awake. But in a startup, which is a small group of people working on a problem, the downside of democracy is huge.


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All good startups are tyrannical. Startups are a place for execution and focus. Incredible design, strategy and problem-solving come from one person having the courage to impose something on their company over the long term. Cofounding a company with someone is even more intense than living with them. When something happens in the middle of the night, you deal with it together, when you travel, you travel together.

You cannot imagine the amount of time that you spend with your cofounder. And once, one of them told me something that stuck. But sometimes, with some people, we reach a point where our emotional debt is used up. And the only way out is to file for Chapter 11 and never talk about that debt ever again. That situation should never happen with your cofounders. If you have an emotional debt with your cofounder, it needs to be immediately dealt with and in the open.

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Bad things will happen. Those issues have to be solved as quickly as possible, and most importantly, you have to be ok with the fact that they happened. It means that you have to be able to evaluate mistakes, determine how important they are and sometimes unimportant mistakes can cost a lot of money , and deal with them immediately, without using up all of your emotional debt.

And a quick piece of advice: if you do get to the point of a cofounder divorce, just run away. The amount of time and emotional effort that you will spend in fighting about what happened, who is to blame, who is right and who is wrong, is so much more than if you simply decided to run away and start building something new. Write a check if you have to, but run away. Work with as many people as you can, build your friendships and relationships, and honestly evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. Keep developing your trust in them, keep your communication transparent, and keep your goals aligned.

Pursue what you are doing at whatever cost. But do not confuse determination with being obstinate: obstinacy consists in endlessly doing the same thing, thinking you will succeed one day - but that never works. That kind of flexibility will help you figure out what works, evolving along the way. Be brave Your goal must be to maximize the upside you can get, not to minimize the downside. Most of the things you do will fail and it will hurt, and you have to be ok with that.

Courage helps you to never give up. Everything in your life should be driven by what you think and not by what the others think of you: do not run after social status and recognition. Be creative Divergent thinking is the capacity to imagine the usage of something for something else. What makes an entrepreneur exceptional always comes down to the ability to think that something impossible may be possible.

Imagination, like courage, is something you can train. Be a good friend Friendship is the core element that makes a co-founding team. Building a team is not about skills nor about being complementary, it is about human qualities and mental comfort.

You must know which rules are important and which are not. Take spam, for example. Do not hesitate to spam but do it the right way: spam is unsolicited emailing, but you should target people who will be happy to receive it, and be ready to answer any reply and apologize sincerely if needed. Being smart has become a commodity: anyone can learn anything at anytime with hard work and the Internet. Advice for smart people: always be stupider than the market you want to conquer.

Beware of golden rules No one can be the best at all of the 6 qualities above, so build a team that complements itself. Build your own story. Find someone you genuinely trust and admire. Do not let yourself think you are a democracy Democracy cannot work for startups because startups need execution more than anything else and execution dies with debates.

A startup needs someone who can make a very bold decision when no one else agrees. But there is only one person who has the last word and makes the decision. Be comfortable with chaos Be fine with the fact that you are totally late with whatever is happening. Do not forget that cash is king Forgetting that cash is king is a startup killer.

It is your job as a founder to always look after your cash position and make it increase. Cash is the only metric that makes a startup alive, especially in Europe where there is less VC money available. Most startups cannot survive an early divorce between founders. If needed, divorce clean and quick, do not look back, put your ego aside and focus your energy on building something new instead of fighting about the past. That kind of bootstrapping is absolutely difficult.

In terms of development, having a company that shows growing revenues makes everyone happy. Whoever is more willing to walk away from the table is usually going to end up winning. Those articles are also why we get the same question, over and over. Why do entrepreneurs ask that question?

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Someone has an idea, they fundraise, they use that money to become a successful company. We know that virtually every successful company arrives at the point where fundraising makes sense. We also know that good companies raise funds with leverage on their side, leverage that comes from real growth and actual customers.


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Good companies come from good entrepreneurs. Good entrepreneurs can start with nothing, and build something incredible. What can you do to be a good entrepreneur? When your business is still looking for product-market fit, still looking for that tipping point that shows you that things are working, be as cheap as possible. Or at the very least, forget that you have it. Every young entrepreneur is going to make mistakes, and you can either pay to make mistakes, or you can make them for free. Not having money forces you to use your imagination to solve problems.

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You will find hacks and tricks that, if you had money, you would not even look for. No one needs money to start.

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Money should be a tool, not a necessity. One day you might need it to grow, or you might need it to speed up your timeline. Not having money can even help you at the beginning. But those people who agree to come and help you are so convinced by you and your project that that energy brings the project forward in ways that are impossible to quantify. And there are some principles of finance that can help you. That being the case, pay with risk.