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Hard startups, importance of founder-led sales, Netflix for written content
this is Jakob Greenfeld, author of the Business Brainstorms newsletter - every week I write this email to share the most interesting trends, frameworks, opportunities, and ideas with you.
Let's dive in!
“I wish I could pay per newspaper article, with only one click. Maybe: First half of article is free, second half is $1. Currently, the process is akin to a gym membership signup. It feels like I'm being tricked into signing up to a recurring hard-to-cancel forever subscription.” - Lex Friedman
Micropayments for content have been tried by thousands of startups. They don’t work.
But I’m genuinly surprised no one has succeeded in creating a proper Netflix-for-written-content style offer.
Medium tried but failed, mainly because there was no curation process or algorithm to surface the best content.
“I think we're at the point where there's sufficient room + appetite for an aggressively editorialized version of Product Hunt. Feels like it's shifted a little too far towards being a marketing channel as opposed to being an actual to learn about new products” - Justin Duke
“I see so many entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley doing a software startup or sort of chasing the latest greatest thing. But not enough of the talent in North America goes into heavy industry,” he said. “And the crazy thing is the opportunity in heavy industry is tremendous. So I’d just really like to encourage entrepreneurs to think about things that don’t involve, you know, that end up on a phone, basically.” - Elon Musk
On that note, I’m enjoying the Hard Startups newsletter by Kenneth Cassel.
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👨🎓 The importance of founder-led sales
Below are two charts by Lenny Rachitsky. The first one illustrates how long it took “24 today’s top B2B startups to get to (1) a live product, (2) their first customer, and (3) their first feeling of PMF.” The second shows the first 10 hires across 20 top B2B startups.
A key lesson hidden in this data is the importance of Founder-led sales. You can’t just hire a salesperson to figure out sales for you. Top B2B companies first found PMF, then started building a sales team.
It’s also a lesson I’m hearing from many agency owners. A key mistake is handing off sales too early.
Feedback loops become much slower once you remove yourself from the sales process. You can no longer pick up subtle signals during a sales call or spontaneously steer the conversation in a specific direction when you feel like there might be something there.
When you’re on sales calls yourself, you can rapidly test different ways of pitching your offer. Experiments are much slower with someone else carrying them out. Plus, you’re never really sure if the idea or execution failed.
You also quickly forget how much you’ve tried that did not work. With someone else doing sales calls, everything needs to be documented, which makes all failures painfully apparent.
🧪 Everyone gets the employees they expect
Quick follow-up on my Theory Y vs. Theory X note: In the simplest terms it all boils down to the observation that everyone gets the employees they expect. It really is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
If you think your employees are toddlers who need constant supervision, they will forget how to think for themselves and indeed need constant supervision.
But if you treat everyone as adults capable of thinking and making good decisions for themselves, you’ll have a team of people indeed doing just that.
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Have a great week,