The art of building billion dollar startups — sharing insights from his own experience with Bebo ($850M sale to AOL), Tango ($1B+ valuation) and NBCi ($6B IPO), Jim highlights some key takeaways to keep in mind for ensuring longterm success:
Consumer growth — Whether it is your first customer or your one-millionth consumer, being mindful of your customer base, and staying true to a customer-centric mindset is one of the most important components for the long term success of your business. Focus on consumer growth, and then the revenue model.
Vision — Do you have a clear guiding principle? Does it solve a real need? Be realistic in your appraisal about what value you can bring. Do your homework and be sure to learn about past successes (and even failures) from recent examples that can help guide your vision and approach. A key to powerful growth can be solving a problem or filling a core need that consumers did not even fully know that they had. Sometimes the hardest questions that are worth asking early on in the process include an honest approach to your fit in the existing market.
Culture — Needless to say, startups can be a lonely business and it’s better to not go it alone. It’s crucial to work with others that can complement your existing skill set and experience; both in the short term and for longer term growth. Cultural fit can be an often-overlooked, yet crucial element of success. All startups already have a culture, whether they realize it or not.
Growth hacking — There is no silver bullet for growth hacking. Be methodical: experiment and test; find what works, and continue to refine your approach. It can be human nature to focus overly much on churn and lost customers — but remember to focus on what resonates most with your most engaged users. Know your audience, know what kinds of engagement metrics equate to success for you. Sometimes this is a process that is more art than science: make sure your language and branding evokes the right kind of emotional connection for your product and audience.
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Background: Jim Scheinman is the founder and CEO of Maven Ventures; he has achieved 3 ‘Unicorn’ ($1B+) exits/valuations over the past 20 years and serves as a highly engaged investor and mentor for all companies in the Maven portfolio. Jim’s top successes as a founder/executive and angel investor include Bebo ($850M sale to AOL), Tango ($1B+ valuation) and NBCi ($6B IPO), plus several other exits including the recent acquisition of Check by Intuit for $360M. He is one of the leading growth experts in Silicon Valley, a TED speaker, and a frequent presenter and judge at many startup conferences and events.
Company: Maven Ventures is an incubator and Micro VC fund focused exclusively on consumer internet and mobile startups with hyper-growth potential. In addition to Jim’s expertise, Maven calls on over 20 growth mentors to host events and office hours for portfolio companies. Mentor operational experience includes Facebook, Twitter, Google, Bebo, YouTube, Yahoo, Zynga, LinkedIn, eBay, Paypal, Netflix, Quora & Airbnb. The Maven Ventures Growth Labs incubator program runs 6-9 months in Palo Alto. Outside of the incubator, they also invest in Seed and Series A. Follow the latest from Maven on Twitter at @mavenvc. Interested founders can apply through AngelList or an intro through our founder and mentor networks.