October 6, 2015

The Family Stage Of A Start Up

I am currently taking a course, Stanford University’s CS183C —  Technology-enabled Blitzscaling . The first 2 weeks covers the family stage of a start up which you can watch about in this video. Click Here to Watch Session 1 Video.

We were given a homework assignment and thought I would share this essay with  you. At the end of this essay, I have included more helpful links to the first 4 sessions of the class which covers the family stage.


Throughout all the ventures I have attempted to build, the battle between scaling for speed or documenting to reduce debt has been difficult to assess. After absorbing and analyzing the first 2 weeks of information which covers the family stage, I have the answer. Scaling for speed is king! There are a few topics that I could relate to and some came as a surprise.

With my current venture, Brax, the suggestion to focus on users that love your product and the feedback loop is very familiar to me. We are working hard to ensure we are in touch with them consistently, asking about not just their perceived needs, but also their lives. We have also created a systematic loop in which we ask them questions that help us validate assumptions.

The next item discussed that resonated with me was biases and fallacies. I study them often ensuring the assumptions and decisions we make as a company and that I make as a founder are accurate. My love for economics and rational decision making has inspired this interest and it is motivating that I can apply it to my current career. That being said, I must admit I was a bit surprised to find that some guest lectures found these biases to be a positive trait in the founders, especially in the family stage.

The biases and fallacies that are hardwired in our mind initially served a meaningful purpose, especially as hunter-gatherers. After hearing what some of the lectures discussed and diving into Thinking, Fast and Slow — By Daniel Kahneman, it does make sense that these could serve as tools during scaling. I will be sure to have the right balance of these for success as I build any company and scale with my staff.

I also found the HR tips surprising. Including not hiring and quickly firing which I was eager to hear more about. I know now how crucial the first few members of my staff will be. I will take my time to hire them and ensure they have great aptitude to be generalists that share the vision. Also if someone is brought on and does not seem to be a good fit, I will be sure to inform them of this. As Sam suggested, it is wise to be empathetic and assist with their transition and have them contribute to the terms in how they will depart. This also means finding a suitable co-founder is crucial, because a separation can likely cause a company to flop.

With that in mind it is now obvious how impactful the relationship of the founders is for the success of a company. I knew this was important to me as I have had many partners and now choose my mates more delicately, but I did not think it was such a weighted variable in the scaling or even the funding process.


Session 1

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3RrVmv5WwA
Presentation: http://www.slideshare.net/greylockpartners/stanford-cs183c-blitzscaling-lecture-1
Chris Mccan Medium Essay Notes: https://medium.com/notes-essays-cs183c-technology-enabled-blitzscalin/reid-hoffman-john-lilly-and-allen-blue-s-cs183c-technology-enabled-blitzscaling-class-1-notes-a93b119a51b9
Chris Yeh Notes: https://medium.com/cs183c-blitzscaling-class-collection/cs183c-session-1-introduction-to-blitzscaling-f66fcaddb3d1
Additonal Medium Notes: https://medium.com/@violetpinecone/scaleoverflow-c7bb7e8832fc
Session 2
Guest Speaker: Sam Altman
Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxKXJWf-WMg&list=PLnsTB8Q5VgnVzh1S-VMCXiuwJglk5AV–&index=2
Chris Mccan Medium Essay Notes: https://medium.com/notes-essays-cs183c-technology-enabled-blitzscalin/reid-hoffman-john-lilly-chris-yeh-and-allen-blue-s-cs183c-technology-enabled-blitzscaling-95e04dba024c
Chris Yeh Notes:: https://medium.com/cs183c-blitzscaling-class-collection/cs183c-session-2-sam-altman-52eb78844caa

Session 3
Guest Speaker: Michael Dearing
Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vCdfa_aeI8
Chris Mccann Medium Notes: https://medium.com/notes-essays-cs183c-technology-enabled-blitzscalin/class-3-notes-essay-reid-hoffman-john-lilly-chris-yeh-and-allen-blue-s-cs183c-technology-35e5514ec814
Extra Questions Answered by Michael Dearing
Chris Yeh Notes:

Session 4
Guest Speaker: Ann Miura-Ko
Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgI89BLbeu8
Chris Mccann Medium Notes: https://medium.com/notes-essays-cs183c-technology-enabled-blitzscalin/class-4-notes-essay-reid-hoffman-john-lilly-chris-yeh-and-allen-blue-s-cs183c-technology-428defb04850
Chris Yeh Notes: https://medium.com/cs183c-blitzscaling-class-collection/cs183c-session-4-ann-miura-ko-98617f03b580