From the outside, the success of Silicon Valley looks like a miraculous byproduct of a collection of engineering geniuses.

This is only partially true. While the products are brilliant, it is the healthy sales culture that creates the real success.

Unlike other business disciplines, sales combines principles, scientific analysis, and the intangible elements of customer interaction. Critical to the endeavor is the nebulous art of good storytelling. In speaking to other entrepreneurs, I discovered that the new generation of fast-growing Silicon Valley companies were not about the best products, but the best sales culture.

All major companies, from Oracle, to Salesforce, to Facebook, devised unique and sustainable direct sales cultures in their early days. Google was the big winner…


Creating a healthy corporate culture is the ultimate chemistry experiment.

It is a combination of unintended elements and intended elements, and it starts with the idealism of cofounder values. From there, it evolves and solidifies in the trenches of daily interactions.

In the early days of a startup, corporate culture takes the back seat to product development, fundraising, and generally keeping the ship afloat. While decidedly less urgent, it is just as, if not more, important. As a company grows, corporate culture might be the single greatest influencer of future success.

In Silicon Valley, companies develop street credibility based on their culture. You hear people in cafes and restaurants arguing…


Building a business is as much about architecting the right business plan as it is about aligning members of your team.

With three cofounders from different parts of the world and different cultures, we knew early on that vocalizing our personal goals would be a necessary component of unifying our leadership and strengthening our company.

In July 2014, we headed to San Francisco and did just that. One year after we met as summer students at Draper University, we gathered again in person to talk about our future.

We were deep in the trenches of wrapping up our minimum viable product (MVP) and navigating the disappointment of a key investor pulling his support. This investor was overreacting because of an unfounded…


Startups and poker have more than a little in common. To succeed in both, you need to get comfortable taking risks every day.

The highs and lows of startup life are a given, but how you handle those fluctuations determines whether you will succeed. By developing a stoic game face, you can learn to survive the lows and maximize the highs. You can calculate risk at every step and hone your ability to filter out the throwaway ideas, so you can act on the unicorns that occasionally come your way.

People respond to risk in different ways, and while some are motivated by the thrill of the unknown, others are paralyzed by the fear of failure.

For the conservative types who calculate every…


You must prepare for all outcomes and have a plan for every contingency.

Never get overly attached to your startup.

The best way to do this is by adopting the perspective that your startup is always for sale. Although difficult, this enables you to release your white-knuckle grip on your business and effectively prepare for any eventual outcome.

For me, I always saw Loopd as a quick journey from idea, to product, to ultimate exit.

At 21 years old, I was inspired by the idea of people creating friendships and sharing contact information naturally. I pursued this idea with all of the ignorance and excitement of a startup rookie, but never dreamed of…


Throughout Silicon Valley, “Software as a Service” (also known as SaaS) is the business model de jour.

For startups, business models are moving targets, and the questions are endless. What is the best way to generate perpetual income? Are your products for sale, for rent, or both? Should your business model include short-term contracts? Long-term contracts? Or perpetual licenses? How do you support all of them simultaneously?

Because Loopd was a primarily a wearables company with upfront engineering and manufacturing costs, the SaaS subscription scenario was risky and unattractive. Many companies use this subscription model to lure customers in with a “freemium” offer that evolves into recurring regular payments.

In May 2016, we were raising our third…


Companies in Silicon Valley are one of two things: disrupters or enablers.

In early 2015, we were preparing to launch at SXSW and had an identity crisis. While writing a press release, we needed to give a description of our vision for Loopd, and we drew a blank. We understood our product, we knew where we started, but we had stumbled across an unexpected, immediate need to reevaluate our mission.

Disrupters make vertical plays and solve pervasive problems in specific industries. Enablers, on the other hand, create powerful global tools that solve a common problem across many industries.

While their purposes differ, the end goal is the same: scale to the point…


There is a common attitude among founders. It can best be described as pride mixed with individualism topped off with a healthy dose of myopic vision.

Founders, myself included, launch companies because of valid disappointment with the offerings we see. We’ve looked at the marketplace, proclaimed that all other companies and products “suck,” and vow to do better.

This battle cry resounds at pitch days throughout Silicon Valley, from Draper University to 500 Startups to TechCrunch Disrupt. It is pervasive, partly accurate, but mostly dangerous. With a combative “take-no-prisoners” perspective, founders are often more likely to be loners alienated from potential partners and beneficial relationships.

Trust me; I learned the hard way.

In the early days of Loopd, we debated the value of working with more…


Good advisors are the key to success, but choosing them is a challenge.

I quickly discovered that, in Silicon Valley, there is no shortage of people who want to be mentors. They are fellow entrepreneurs, angel and institutional investors, venture capitalists, corporate executives, lawyers, consultants, engineers, accountants, and academics — to name only a few.

Every pitch day, incubator, meetup, workshop, or after-hour party is a potential introduction to a key relationship. Friends and family make connections, and even distant acquaintances can offer beneficial networking opportunities.

When you are launching a new business, everyone wants to be your friend. They can’t resist the allure of the next big idea and being connected to…


When my cofounders and I decided to jump off a cliff and pursue our startup, we needed a plan.

I met my co-founders Sambhav Galada and Allen Houng at Draper University, a startup school founded by the famous venture capitalist Tim Draper in San Mateo, California. We spent six weeks in the summer of 2013 learning how to turn ideas into valuable ventures. What was my idea? I wanted to use digital wearables to promote physical connections between people, sort of a combination of handshakes and electronic business cards. Sambhav and Allen shared the same vision of digital wearables that could bring people together, and we agreed this was our new path.

Our first test was Pitch Day at…

Brian Friedman

VP of Digital Innovation at Aventri. CEO and Founder of LOOPD. Author of Takeaways. http://takeawaysbook.com/

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