How To Be A Successful Startup … Go For Rapid Growth?

Paul Graham published an essay this past weekend titled “Startup = Growth” and while I recommend it to all, I couldn’t help but find myself disagreeing with his main point. Heresy I know, as I can only dream of having the amount of startup knowledge PG possesses, but I’m not gonna give him a free pass just because of who he is. I decided I should write a post about my issues, but before I was able to finish, Mark Suster beat me to it. His response, “Is going for rapid growth always good? Aren’t startups so much more?” highlighted many of the same issues I had with PG’s essay, but far more eloquently than I could have hoped to.  That being said, I felt compelled to finish what I started and add my two cents on the topic.

PG’s overarching theme is that a company is only truly a startup if it achieves massive, rapid growth, and as such, growth should be their only focus. I found this statement tough to swallow. While I agree that the term “startup” might be thrown around a bit too cavalier these days, this definition seems overly restrictive. I think a more fair statement would be if you want to be an ultra-disruptive and hugely successful startup, (AKA one that PG wants to invest in) you need rapid growth. Without it you probably won’t ever be a $500+ million company, but that doesn’t mean your company is not a startup or that it can’t be successful.

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Uncle Sam, Stop Preventing Progress

The entrepreneurship bug has taken hold in America… I LOVE IT! It’s tough talking to anyone these days without startups being mentioned; whether they just discovered a new one, they’re thinking about joining one, or they have an idea for one. Startups are in vogue, or as one recent blog post I saw on HN put it, Startup is the new Hipster. Yet all is not roses and butterflies in this new landscape dominated by “rock stars” and “ninjas”.

Recently Uber, the amazing town car and taxi service, has been in the news because of legislative threats in the cities they operate. Their service threatens the business of longtime taxi operators, who haven’t taken kindly to the recent competition. As a result, they’re using their friends in government to try to strong-arm Uber into shutting down. Luckily those attempts have failed so far, but it got me thinking about the future of super-disruptive startups in America, and how their biggest obstacle might very well be the government.

Recent attacks on Uber as well as legislature such as SOPA, ACTA and PIPA demonstrate that the American Government is more concerned with keeping the status quo and protecting their special interest groups, then fostering innovation and advancement. Of course there are outliers in government who are trying to facilitate change, but they’re in the minority. It is a sad commentary given that our country was itself a radical shift from what was considered the norm, a startup of sorts, less than 350 years ago. You could write a thesis on how our government has become so stale, and I’m sure someone has and I’d love to read it, but the more important question now is; how can we right the ship?

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Make Your Email More Efficient

I’m using my email more than ever these days, so making sure it provides maximum utility has become something I take very seriously. I have been trying different 3rd party add-ons to help with a variety of things: organization, reminders, information, automation and more. All of these add-ons are free, so I figured in lieu of donations the least I could do was give some positive press about the three that I’ve found to be most useful. So without further ado… if you are looking for ways to improve your email productivity and experience, I highly recommend checking out the following products.

       ● Rapportive: www.rapportive.com

“Rapportive shows you everything about your contacts right inside your inbox.”

Whenever you send or receive an email, Rapportive displays an array of personal information to the left of the email. This includes: a picture, their name, links to their social media accounts (which you can scroll over to see their most recent activity), as well as any personal notes you have added about them. Rapportive has helped me make my emails more personalized by having quick access to information about my recipients. Here is what it looks like when I send an email to myself:

My Rapportive

(Note to self: add my Quora to account)

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