As CEO and founder of a company that makes an app that helps people apply to jobs from their mobile phones, I am happy to report that we’ve sucked a lot since launching in 2009. We’ve pivoted four times, a fact the press won’t let me forget. I’ll spare you the details, but it involved multiple layoffs, a founder split, brief homelessness, extended brokenness, multiple bridge rounds, a broken engagement, and other personal and professional obstacles. Along the way, we iterated our way to product-market fit, have solid growth in both users and engagement, and recently raised more funding. But getting here has been brutal.
I don’t want your sympathy or any awards (unless it’s for the Nuclear Cockroach Startup Award…that exists, right?). I just wanted to share a few thoughts, which some of the entrepreneurs I mentor through the NewMe Accelerator and the Code2040 program have found useful.
I love mentoring and sharing these lessons because it can help people avoid a lot of pain. Alas, I am imperfect at applying my own advice. I still fuck up all the time. Every time I walk out of a mentoring session, I ask myself: what did I just tell her that I am hypocritically not doing?
While these lessons cost my co-founder and me about $2 million, you get them for the low, low price of $0.00. They are based on my experience running a software product company. If you are inventing the next laser device, microchip, or genetic therapy regime, you might as well print this and make it into a paper airplane…you’ll get more out of it that way. Same goes if you are developing games. I know next to nothing about them.
That said, here we go:
What does Cross-10 mean? Cross 10 transactions…make 10 “things” happen. What it means to you depends on your company. Are you starting a marketplace to sell gummy bears? Then Cross-10 means to have 10 different people sell gummy bears to 10 different buyers. Are you starting a tutoring platform? Have 10 different tutors conduct a session with 10 different students. You get the drift…the meaning of Cross-10 will depend on what transactions/interactions you need to cross. Most companies I come across have an obvious Cross-10, but with some you have to think a bit. Just make sure people are parting with either their time or their money in the process (see Free Beer Problem below).