Process vs. Outcomes Especially in our world, we’re very…

Process vs. Outcomes

Especially in our world, we’re very focused on outcomes, and process is a much dreaded word.

It’s definitely wrong to start building processes to early (before you know what’s going on), but at some point, the only way to scale smartly is through better product and process, not more people working on the same thing.

We’re about 25 people (total) at AngelList – a fact that surprises many. More than two thirds of those are engineers. We try to stay small because it’s better to work in a small team, and because smart people want to be independent – which is not possible in a large organization with all it’s managers, politics and, yes, processes.

You have to distinguish between processes that are focused on the customer (that’s how we helped to raise more than $100m for startups last year), and ones that help you scale your organization. In a time constrained environment, the former takes precedence. Staying small is one way to tackle the latter.

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Ich habe mich eine Stunde lang mit Marcel Weiss über AngelList,…

Ich habe mich eine Stunde lang mit Marcel Weiss über AngelList, Startups, und Venture Capital unterhalten. Wem also auf einer Autofahrt sehr langweilig ist, der kann sich meine Stimme anhören und etwas über meine Sicht der Dinge erfahren.

Marcel schreibt seit Jahren Neunetz und ist einer der Blogger, die in Deutschland eine echte Meinung haben, sie darstellen, und gerne mal anecken. Er ist deswegen ein super sympathischer Typ, und die Stunde ging schnell vorbei.

Podcasts machen Spaß. Soviel ist sicher.

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Asynchronous communication is missing todos

Asynchronous communication like chat and email is key when you work with people who are coding or otherwise creative. It’s annoying to be tapped on the shoulder or constantly called, ‘hey’ed, or interrupted when you are trying to focus.

Read Github’s 15 rules on communication or our no email at AngelList posts to go deeper on the why and how.

Slack to the rescue

Now, most people (including us) use Slack nowadays, since it is good looking, makes nice sounds, and handles GIFs really well (an important feature for good chat). It can also hook into a ton of other services that broaden its usefulness, like Google Docs, Skype, and more.

Email as request and answer

I love using email. I am good at filtering and ignoring it, forwarding, and otherwise making it work in ways that help me get shit done.
Other people, including a lot of my colleagues, hate email with a passion. I agree that it is not useful for conversations, and fails terribly at ad hoc-, group-, and timely communication. However, it does have one massive advantage over chat: it is literally someone else’s to do list. That means, if you work with someone and expect an answer, there is a clear understanding that something is answered, solved, or reacted to or not.

What I’m missing from Slack

Chat, including Hipchat and Slack, have one disadvantage: You ask someone (either a person or group) for something (an answer, a solution, a file), and that question gets buried in other chat. In my personal situation, this happens because I am in a different location and time zone than most of my colleagues, and because we all use chat so much.

For example, I might be chatting to my colleague Amit in New York:

8pm NY time:

Amit: Hey Phil, can you give me the bank details to wire this money?

Amit: Also, how was dinner last night?

7 hours later, 8am in Berlin:

Phil: I checked out the place you told me about, it was great! Thanks for the recommendation.

Amit: Yeah, I know, isn’t it. I went there with Dave, the band was great. We should go together.

Phil: True – how about Thursday next week when I’m over?

And just like that I forget to give him what he asked me to do, as the chat is about different topics, broken up by time zone, and maybe I’m checking it at the wrong time.

Please build this

I would like Slack (or Wunderlist, or Trello, or anyone else) to build an integration that lets the user add todos to conversations.

How about:

Amit: Hey Phil, can you ??give @Amit the bank details to wire this money?

By using ??, a todo gets added to my Wunderlist inbox (or to a list that’s specific for this chatroom) and I can simply tick it off when I’m done. Amit will be notified, and everyone’s happy.

Companies like Spatch are building a protocol that might add this to email, but I hope that the hundreds of millions that Slack raised (or Benedikt’s design team) are enough to build something like this much quicker.

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How to prepare against Jetlag

I’ve been flying to SF regularly for 4 years now, and with much increased frequency this year. I hate being tired, and get really grumpy, so I’ve developed a pretty well working model of how to prevent and treat jet lag. It’s based on experience, and this great research, from which I learned that:

  • Your body is able to adjust its internal clock by about 1.5h per day going West and 1h going East (internal clock is not sleep rhythm but depth)
  • You can use melatonin to trigger sleep (larger doses) and to slowly adjust your circadian rhythm (small doses)
  • You can use bright light to trigger wake time (daylight or a daylight lamp)

Here’s a rough schedule for going westwards (i.e. EU to US).

Roughly 1 Week before taking off

  • Stop drinking coffee. Why? It messes up your internal clock and despite how well you metabolise coffee (I’m bad at it), it will have an impact. To avoid headaches, ween yourself off by reducing by 1cup/day from your normal levels. You want to be at zero caffeine (no tea or Mate, either) about 5 days before you take off.

3-4 days before you take off

  • Go to bed 1.5 hours later each day, and spend the last hours in bright light (e.g. fully cranked up laptop displays, lights on, etc.).
  • Don’t kickstart the mornings – sleep in, slowly wake up, exercise later in the day

On the flight

  • Try to take an early flight and sleep the first few hours, so you can get through the rest of the day.
  • Skip the first meal if possible.
  • Choose a window seat so you can sit in daylight for the second half of the flight.

Landing & first day

  • Eat a healthy meal when you arrive. Plane food sucks and bloats you, and light, healthy food will give you energy to make it through the day.
  • Exercise if you can, or spend some time at work to keep busy.
  • Go to bed as late as you can, I usually keel over at 10 o’clock when in SF.
  • Take some Magnesium and/or Melatonin to make sure you sleep through the night.
  • Sleep in a room as dark and quiet and possible.

Day 1-3 Depends on how much you preslept

  • Don’t worry about getting up early as long as you have at least 6 hours of sleep.
  • Spend time in bright (sun) light in the mornings to readjust your clock.
  • Go to bed later by the day until you’re on normal time (if it’s short stay, just get up and sleep early)
  • Follow your normal routines for exercise and food (lots and healthy)

Before you go back

  • Start going to bed earlier 3 days before you leave (eastwards you can only adjust about 1 hour/day)
  • You can take small doses of Melatonin (.5mg) in the late afternoon (I haven’t been that disciplined yet)
  • Make sure you’re very tired on your last day: go out (don’t drink too much), exercise, or just work hard

Return flight

  • Have a healthy meal before you fly so you can skip the bad plane food
  • Late afternoon is the best time to fly, as you can go to sleep quickly
  • Sleep as fast as you can (Melatonin or a sleeping aid is a must)

When landing

  • Eat a good meal as soon as you can to readjust clock, drink lots of water
  • Unpack your bags, run errands at home
  • Keep lights low so you become tired
  • Go to bed late, take Melatonin to sleep through the night

First days at home

  • Don’t book too many early things, give yourself time to readjust
  • In the mornings, expose yourself to bright/daylight
  • In the evenings, keep lights low.
  • Slowly use less Melatonin each day until you don’t need it to fall asleep (I start at 5mg, going down to 1mg over 3-4 days).

After 4 days back home

  • Welcome to your life.

I managed to return this Monday from SF, and be back on track by Wednesday. It works.

This schedule is obviously easier if you have a flexible work environment, but you can decide how much you want to prepare yourself, adjust to local rhythm at all, and how much you are prepared to suffer upon your return.

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AngelList für Anfänger

  1. Erstellt komplette Profile für eure Person und euer Unternehmen – und füllt diese mit hilfreichen Informationen. Ziel ist es, Investoren dazu zu bringen, auf „Follow“ zu klicken – und das passiert nicht, wenn sie auf eurer Profilseite neben dem Namen nur ein Logo zu Gesicht bekommen.
  2. Schöpft die Vernetzungsmöglichkeiten der Plattform voll aus, indem ihr vielen interessanten Leuten folgt.
  3. Gebt regelmäßige Updates! Je öfter euer Startup im Newsfeed der euch folgenden Investoren auftaucht, desto höher ist die Wahrscheinlichkeit, dass sie sich bei der nächsten Finanzierungsrunde positiv an euch erinnern.
  4. Nutzt AngelList zur Recherche geeigneter Business Angels: Wer interessiert sich für meine Themen? Wer hat schon einmal in meinem Geschäftsfeld investiert?
  5. Bindet die Plattform schon früh in die Investorensuche ein und nicht erst während einer Finanzierungsrunde. Besteht ein Kontakt zum Zeitpunkt des eigentlichen Pitches schon länger, ist die Chance, dass er Gehör findet, um einiges größer. Daher lohnt es sich, schon im Vorfeld der Fundraising-Phase die Fühler auszustrecken.

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Key ingredients for Incubators/Accelerators

Most commonly discussed in bold.

  • Positioning / Competition / Goals / Location
  • Why this / Value proposition to all stakeholders / Best alternatives
  • Financing / Business model / Sponsorship
  • Deal flow / Awareness / Applications
  • Selection / Criteria / Mechanisms
  • Deal / Negotiation / Investment
  • Onboarding / Induction
  • Program style / Depth vs length / Organisation
  • Coworking or not / Events / Mentoring style
  • Mentor acquisition / Mentor program / Mentor benefits / How to get top level
  • Top teams / How to identify winners / Process to improve bad teams
  • Demo Day format / Presentation / Community involvement
  • Investor connections / Follow on funding / Class funds / Relevance to international investors / Angels involved
  • Long term support / Community / Alumni network
  • Pro Rata investments / long term investment planning / How to double down

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Startups' little helper