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A couple of my good friends are starting some companies right now. I spent a little time writing out some of my own learnings from the early days of Lattice to share with them. Thought I’d post for anyone to read:
Your first 10 hires set the stage for your company’s talent bar and culture - Spend a lot of time with them pre-hire. Get them to work with you for a day or even a week. - You’re looking for diamonds in the rough. Known quantities are starting companies or joining sure things.
Don’t outsource your early sales. - You don't do early sales to get revenue, you do it to get product feedback and inch your way toward product market fit.
Don’t delegate out product decisions. - It’s okay to be very micro-managey as the founder in the early days, especially with the product. The product is literally all your startup has to offer to the world. Don’t feel bad about being a bit of maniac here.
Outside of building the product, talking to customers, and hiring, delegate everything else you can.
Make friends with at least 10 customers or industry people. - Not like email friends. Text with them, go for walks, get well past the surface level stuff. - You can partially skip this step if yourself are the customer.
Job number 1 is get product market fit. A heuristic for everything you do can be “does this activity help me get product market fit?”
You’ll know you have PMF is when strangers buy your product, when they’re passionate, when 20%+ of demos convert, etc. Qualitatively, it’ll feel like chasing a boulder down a hill, not pushing one up. Still hard, but decidedly different. If you aren't sure you don't have it yet.
Job number 2 is build the company. - When it’s time to transition, really transition. - Exec recruiters are your friends. - This blog post by Ali Rowghani was incredibly important for me:
Job number one 1.5 is what I call “handing off the plates”. By the time you’re starting to get customers (and all their demands) and have 10-15 employees (and all their activities) you’re gonna be really deep in a bunch of random shit.
You’re spinning a bunch of plates. Your job now is to hire people who you can hand the plates off to, without letting others break too much, until you’re in Job number 2.
Don’t spend much time talking to investors except when you’re fundraising. It’s their job to build a relationship with you and keep tabs on your business. Your job is entirely different. Don’t let them pressure you into helping them do their job at the expense of yours.
Prioritize taking care of your mentality. Eat well, sleep enough, exercise. Don't worry much about what other people are doing. Fall in love with the process. It's really hard but it's also extremely special and you may only get to to it once in your career.
That's probably enough rambling. Obviously, this is all personal to what I learned from Lattice, and what I’d either repeat or do differently the second time around. Probably best to ignore liberally.

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Jack Altman

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