Takeaways from Cofounders of Pana

Pana’s website and social media where you can find more info. Follow their blog!

Devon’s former former company Varsity’s NVC pitch. Results from that NVC 2014.

Devon’s former company Native’s pitch.

Insights on the name:

“Not a very sexy story, just found it on BrandBucket and bought it when we could, but it turns out it means good friend in spanish”

On finding a business partner:

Sam and Devon crossed each other’s paths while working out Galvanize Sam started asking for help and then started helping on Devon’s project.

“One of the reasons we’re working together is because we were working in the same space.”’

When you find a cofounder, you’ll probably spend more time with them than anyone else in your life, almost as if you two were married.

Devon and Sam even talked about sending each other early morning/late night thoughts about the company. Find someone who is as obsessed as you are about the business.

On how important being technical is:

Being technical is not necessary, Sam jokingly mentioned that he’s written about eight lines of code.

Come up with creative ways to use other people’s products and learn how to build it better. Use tools like zapier and IFTTT to link outside apps to your next idea.

On failing:

“I fail every single day at the things I’m supposed to be good at”

When you no longer fail at something is when you hire someone else to do that for you to fail and learn for themselves, so you can go on and fail at something new.

Everyday do something different, you don’t have to know anything about the subject you want to pursue. Immerse yourself in it and learn everything you can.

On investors:

They invest in you if they

1. Like you

2. Trust you

Lines Not Dots post which covers having a sustained relationship with your investor.

“Investors aren’t going to jump in bed with a team after the first meeting” Build a relationship over time. The best thing you can gain sometimes isn’t funding. Sometimes the networks of the people you meet with can provide you tons of value.

On business plans:

Not very important, the best way to figure out your business is to fill out a Lean Canvas and see where the holes are. Then go talk to potential customers. It is okay to not know in the beginning, as long as you know that you don’t know.

On growth:

Use Slack for optimizing communication.

Hire people who are:

  • humble
  • talented
  • hustle
  • you enjoy being around
  • have the best culture match
  • you naturally gravitate towards
  • loving

full list of Pana’s values

“Feedback is hard because people are mean” You have to stay close to your customers to have their voices be heard, they shape your business.

More focus is better than more people. This quarter the Pana team focused on product and next quarter they will focus on growth. Getting everyone on focused towards a central goal is crucial, instead of having a mini-marketing department and a mini-sales department that don’t communicate, try to get everyone working towards a well defined focus.

Rule of 3 and 10. Audio through iTunes or web version or text.

On passion:

“Passion is what you are insanely curious about and can’t wait to share with someone. You want to learn everything there is to know about it.”

On Key Performance Indicators

Pana focuses on lowering agent minutes per trip, using AI to try to bring that down, they also watch their Net Promoter Score and their month over month revenue.

On being CEO

It’s more like being Chief Janitorial Officer, Devon says he deals with the unglamorous, like payroll and keeping accounts in check.

On customers

Sometimes it’s hard to say no to potential customers, but you have to identify your ideal customer and stick with them.

In Pana’s case, they chose business professionals over the travelers with $800 choosing between Cabo and Hawaii.

On time management

There are some things you’re going to have to get rid of. You might not get to spend as much time going out with friends, with your significant other, or spending time on luxuries. Organize yourself using sticky notes in a Kanban type flow, and work.

Did I miss something? Do you have a different take on one of these insights? Let me know.

-Victor Rojas

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