CEO at numberFire. Terrible singer.

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The Consumer Hedge

Building a business is tough, whether you’re starting a brick-and-mortar store or an Internet startup. It’s stressful, it’s incredibly high-risk and frankly, the odds of you succeeding are much lower than your odds of failure. You have to go into it with the strong belief that the ultimate reward is in fact the journey itself, and not the proto-mythical Zuckerbergian success story.

Most people associate the word “startup” with a consumer-focused Internet company, because those are the companies that capture the attention of the public and become a part of the zeitgeist. As such, there’s a lot more focus and attention on that sector - both on the consumer level and on the investor level - as they are the riskiest but also the ones who have the potential to have the biggest success.

Everyone even remotely knowledgeable of the private equity world will...

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More by Nik

My History As A Math Hustler

In my younger and more impetuous days of youth, I liked to show off. Like any six year old and to a lesser extent 2pac, I wanted all eyes on me. (Heh.) This is a story about one of my favorite ways of getting that attention, and how it’s led me down the path I’ve taken since.

I’m an old man these days - gray hairs sneaking in and all - but this story happens in the late 1980s, when I was the ripe age of six and Kid N' Play still had a career. Back in those ancient, prehistoric times, supermarket checkout counters didn’t have a fancy and elaborate LCD screen; instead, they simply had a one-line display that showed the name of the item scanned and the price. It was always a bit of a surprise when the cashier hit the total button and the final total was revealed to all.

The supermarket that dominated Pittsburgh was and still is Giant Eagle, but we did most of...

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My feelings on 95% of the Internet, brilliantly summarized

“I despise sites like yours. You’re a content aggregator. You aren’t contributing anything new or original to the Internet. You’re just adding to the cacophony of noise by collecting lists of things that other people created, putting them under one umbrella and making ad revenue from idiots with short attention spans who love reading lists.”


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Achieve The Right Goals

I’m going to talk about something obvious, but it’s also something that I see popping up again and again.

(I should make the caveat first that as a first-time entrepreneur - at least in the venture-backed, not-a-lemonade-stand sense - I don’t claim to be an expert on this. This is merely by observations as an outsider that is, in some sense, slowly becoming an insider.)

When entrepreneurs start their businesses, in their head they’ve likely got a number of different benchmarks that represent levels of success. It’s an important exercise. Whether it’s users or a product-sufficiency, these benchmarks allow the entrepreneur and team a way to simultaneously keep focused on a smaller, actionable goals while also looking and moving towards a big picture. The best ones I’ve seen are achievable in a short-term plan with supreme focus and dedication,...

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Size and Quality

On Quora, I read a lot of answers from Yishan Wong, whom you might better know as the CEO of Reddit. If you’re familiar with Quora, you know that depending on the topic, a user has a little tagline that typically indicates that person’s credentials to answer a question in that space. Yishan often has a tagline that reads “Quantity has a quality all of it’s own”, an interesting take that spurred to do some philosophical thinking in the shower this morning.

As an aside, if you’re running a startup and you’re not thinking about your company while you shower, it’s time to go.

The concept of quantity is a fundamental component to running a successful startup. Every investor you’ll ever talk to is concerned with quantities: how many users you have, your growth rates, and so forth - as they should be. Quantity is a very simple way to...

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The Composition of Greatness

I’ve thought a lot recently about the composition of teams and how predictive certain features or personality archetypes are in determining the future success of a company. I know that one of the investors in our seed round, Correlation Ventures, does a lot of work in this space and it’s endlessly fascinating to me. While obviously I don’t have the luxury of seeing multiple sets of teams come into my office every day, I think that just being around the community and seeing how teams work together has given me a fairly good insight into the kind of factors that determine success or failure.

I’ve generally boiled them down to three general concepts. If you as a founder have these characteristics or if they are culturally indicative of your team, I think you’ve got a great shot at making long as you have a great product, of course.

1. Zack Morris


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