Linden Tibbets: There’s no real learning without risk

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fnMentoring with Linden Tibbets, Founder + CEO of IFTTT


FN Mentoring is a vital part of what makes Founders Network such a powerful community of founders helping founders. FN Mentoring sessions are an unique opportunity for members to take part in one-of-a-kind sessions with leading tech and investing experts on product development, fundraising, growth, recruiting, and much more.

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The Role of Vision and Design in Launching, Funding, and Scaling your Startup – Linden Tibetts (@ltibbets), co-founder and CEO of IFTTT, stopped by the Founders Network headquarters and shared his experiences and illuminating perspectives from working at the intersection of design, software development and entertainment in this wide ranging discussion.

Here are some of the highlights from this mentoring session —

Be Values-Driven:

Figure out what is important to you, what you really want to accomplish — and why — and use those values as your guiding principles. No matter what stage your company might be at, those core values can serve as an invaluable reality check, even (or especially) when the direction forward isn’t always clear.

As data-driven as so many of our decisions can be, all of the data in the world won’t create value unless you know how to make the right decisions with it: don’t be afraid to trust your gut sometimes. (For a fascinating study on the role of data and intuition, check out Harvard Business Review: “Big Data and the Role of Intuition”).

Be Prepared to Struggle:

Looking for investors can be a long, uphill battle in fine-tuning your message and articulating your vision to the rest of the world. Be flexible in your approach. If something isn’t working, think about why it’s not working. Don’t think of every opportunity that doesn’t work as a failure – instead, think of it is an opportunity to bring you closer to what will work.

Remember that there is no real learning without risk – when you think of your obstacles as a learning process, studies have shown that the approach you bring to it can mean all of the difference between success and failure. The importance of mindset is an example of what Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, a world-leading expert in the study of achievement and success, calls the “growth mindset” (Inc: “How Adopting A ‘Growth Mindset’ Can Boost Your Success.”

Be Sure to Ask For Help, and Make Sure It’s The Help You Need:

It is tremendously important to seek input from others who’ve gone through a similar experience, recently. Think carefully about how the experience of your advisors should match your needs; perhaps it goes without saying, but it can be very useful to have different advisors at different life stages of your company.

Again, be flexible in your approach. Sometimes, a preconceived notion of needing a certain kind of advisor or certain kind of investor can be limiting; those kind of blinders can lead us down the wrong path, or get us mired in a rut.

Be Willing to Practice. A Lot:

As it turns out, the secret to finding the right kind of people you need is not that secret – practice, practice, practice. Pitching your ideas and making others as excited about your vision as you are is hard. Talk to people, hundreds of times, in hundreds of different iterations until you get it right. It’s the one of the best ways to refine your story to say what you want, in a way that truly connects with your audience.

And remember: no amount of public speaking skill can substitute for being authentic, and really believing in what you are saying. That genuine passion and sense of authenticity will communicate itself to your listeners, both verbally and nonverbally, and should come directly from those things that you value the most about your venture.


If you are an FN member, you can listen to the full conversation here.


About Linden: Linden Tibbets is the co-founder and CEO of IFTTT, which he created in 2010. Prior to IFTTT, Linden worked at IDEO as a communications designer. He earned a BS in Computer Engineering from Santa Clara University and held development positions at Wave Systems and Electronic Arts before working at IDEO.

About IFTTT:

IFTTT is a service that lets you create powerful connections with simple statements called “recipes.” IFTTT’s customer base has created over 16M Recipes that run 20M times per day. There are currently 400 companies on the IFTTT channel platform working on their channels, and they are expecting to see an explosion of new Channels created and launched in 2015. After closing their Series B round this past August, IFTTT has raised $40M to date.

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