Matter Alum Panel Discussion
I’ve often heard it said that it is invaluable to seek the advice of founders who are ahead of you on the journey. Not ones in IPO-ville necessarily, but someone who is a stage or two ahead, and can share what they’ve learned. Last week, Matter’s Third Class had the privilege of hearing from the collective wisdom of founders from the 1st and 2nd classes of Matter. They’ve all been where we are now (three weeks to Demo Day), and had some thoughtful advice to share about life post-Matter.
Founders from Matter One included Jesse Shapins from Pop as well asDavid Brodsky and Chris Ballinger from Open Watch, now Kick Flip. From Matter Two, we spoke with Ryan Singel & Ben Autrey from Contextly, as well as Max Slavkin and Aaron Perry-Zucker from The Creative Action Network. Thank you, founders, for coming to spend time with us over lunch.
As I moderated the discussion / panel, I tried to make sure we hit all of the questions founders had raised in advance via email. They centered largely on fundraising, Demo Day and life after Matter. I’m especially indebted to Colin Multcher and Ben Werdmuller for taking great notes during the panel, and their subsequent contributions to this post. Thank you.
So here are some of the top insights these Matter alum shared with us:
- Demo day is just one point in the graph. Have a serious real plan for the next 6 months. With a formula. With the right KPIs for your company.
- Focus your efforts on the key “levers” you can pull to generate the highest impact given your product & team.
- Just. don’t. die. Keep swimming. Persevere. Stay calm under pressure, know that things probably aren’t going to go to plan, and expect a lot of rejection.
- On raising: VC funding is great, but real customer cash is great too. It may be even more important than VC money at your stage.
- Remember that investors are humans. They too, are wondering if you are someone they want a long-term working relationship with. Get feedback on your product from them. If people enjoy interacting with you, they’re more likely to want to keep doing it, as it improves the experience for everybody.
- Community & Communication. Communicate clearly about what you’re up to, responding well to other peoples’ needs, and being social. Everyone is in the same network, both inside and outside your team. (The Internet is people!) Be nice to them.
- Be as ready as you can, while understanding that you’ll never be as ready as you need to be. Know your market, your product and your context deeply, and be able to back it up with real skills that both give other people confidence that you understand your space. Then actually go and do it.
- After Matter, keep your rhythm and get a good space for your team to continue best practices. Environment matters. A lot. After Matter, have a plan for where you will work and the community you will surround yourself with. Most people ended up working back at their kitchen table, but agreed that this was probably not the most effective environment for them.