This is the second in a two-part series on zombie startups. The first piece on how to tell if you are zombie startup is here.
If you have determined from my first post that you may be running a zombie startup (which — to your credit — is a hard, emotional realization to come to), let’s talk about how to come back from the dead.
There are critical decisions that will keep you from undead obsolescence — choices that range from small course-corrections within your market to hard pivots out of your market.
Small course-corrections help companies with early zombie symptoms. These are helpful for subject matter experts who know the space. For these companies, speed and execution are the main limiters to exploring the space. If these course-corrections are done as early as possible, they’ll also have the most impact. …
Some say startups are like jumping out of a plane and making a parachute before you hit the ground. I think it’s more like a zombie survival game where you start in a pitch dark room unsure of the myriad dangers that surround you. You find resources and people to help you survive with the goal of navigating out.
Your startup may get killed abruptly, but sometimes, you also may find yourself doing the same thing over and over again. You’re not quite winning at the game — which is to grow. But you’re not quite losing either — you’re doing small variations on the same idea or effectively doing consulting for revenue. Sadly, if someone called this a lifestyle business, you’d get pissed because it’s still a struggle using up all your brainpower. …
I’m shutting down Esper, an enterprise machine learning (ML) startup that I founded 4 years ago. We raised roughly $4M of venture capital and were used by clients at Dropbox, Salesforce, Stanford, Kohl’s, and BBVA Compass. At this point, it’s customary to provide a platitude like “it’s been an incredible journey,” but that would belie the difficulty of the decision.
A founder’s greatest strength is their resolve — their ability to “rage against the dying of the light.” Yet at the same time, their greatest weakness is that they sometimes just don’t know when to quit.
Sure, a good founder knows to divert resources away from something that isn’t working, but what happens when that something is the startup itself? …
It’s widely known that two of the world’s most valuable companies had their first offices in garages rented from friend’s homes in the Bay Area. Seriously, read this wonderful article about Google’s first garage office — it’s the dream! Unfortunately, if those companies were to start today in Palo Alto (the heart of Silicon Valley), they would probably be evicted.
Below is one of the many letters going out to homes in Palo Alto.
So, this post has been sitting in my drafts for quite a few months, but I’ve given this advice for the past year and it seems to be helpful (butterbeer helps). Especially given the multiple open letters bandied about — A VC letter to millenials on the mistake of majoring in the liberal arts, open letters from millenials to CEOs, and open letters to millenials from other millenials, I thought it’d be helpful to give my career musings to muggles entering the magical world of startups (a startup millenial CEO letter to other millenials).
Every muggle is interested in the magical world of startups — unicorns exist here, magical food apparates here (Soylent or other magical delivery vehicle), and there are places where you can become a coding wizard in just a few months! If you want to venture into Startup Alley, here are some random musings that I think will help anyone in their career — whether it’s Ministry of Magic or becoming the next Weasley to invent Wizard Wheezes. …
I’ve been sent posts regarding Zirtual “pausing its service” and have been asked to comment. I have been using virtual assistants since 2008, was an early customer of Zirtual and have known Maren, Collin, and other employees since 2012. Needless to say, I’ve been obsessed with this space for a long time.
My heart goes out to Zirtual (especially their 400+ employees, all their customers, and all their staff) — investors were taken by surprise and based on the rumors, it seems that there may have been poor oversight over their finances.
It’s gonna be hard for customers to deal with this loss of service. As people search for their next assistant, virtual or otherwise, I think there are some important points that every customer should be aware of (relating back to what I assume (based on speculation) are Zirtual’s…