Deep Dive Seminar for Entrepreneurs! Day Three


Deep Dive Day 3

Andrew Filev, Wrike

Customer discovery very likely to be driven by the founders:

  • if not the founders -> different dynamics
  • customer asks - why are you not a founder?
  • customer asks: i want this. you - OK, i will ask founders
  • where is engineer/PO? we are loosing time!! it's important when founder has to have personal contact with the customer

1st and 2nd product category: product is the key!!

  • typical founder in this case - product guy, who talks to the customers
  • product / engineering background is also good for marketing - really crucial to build a replicable & scalable process in customer acquisition and conversion funnel

starting biz:

  • leap of faith = hypothesis
  • select the key hypothesis -> plan to validate hypothesis is the key!!
  • randy komisar @STVP and his book: Getting to Plan B.
  • calculate all the math before you build a product
  • have the right founders mix (technical - business)

different roles/tasks in marketing:

  • VP Online Marketing - more analytical, calculating conversions
  • VP communications - blog, Social Media, etc
  • PR functions (working with WSJ, Gartner, etc) can be oursourced

key things in hiring and retaining ees:

  • continuous learning - feedback, ideas and concepts change all the time
  • hire only when you can hire the best expert
  • always improve
  • high requirements for hiring
  • but everybody does shit => or things happen

Philipp Korn, TriNet and Laurie Lumenti, Silicon Valley Bank


  • Trinet - payroll & HR service provider
  • less the five people - don't need HR, more than 250 - build internal HR
  • SVB - financial and accounting services to VC-backed companies

 Sondra Card - HR


  • 1st year founders - product development, product strategy, engineering
  • first 6 months - engineering leadership, product strategy is important
  • CAD tool case study - helped to hire 12 engineers, had product manager to talk to customers
  • better luck in hiring people who already have been in startup environment before - having prior startup experience is good!
  • roles matrix 

 Phil Libin, CEO Evernote

qualities to build meaningfull and enduring tech biz:

  • mastery
  • infatuation = in love with your idea, obsessive

economy drivers:

  • scarcity - older times
  • love - now! => make product that increases perceived value over time!!!

evernote - excellent case of positioning a company in a new market

  • don't focus on competitors ;)
  • we are not about a note taking - we are about memory
  • competition in reality is not that important ;)
  • TIVO case: fail as miserably as TIVO failed!

retaining and converting customers case study:

  • cohort = class
  • important - being long term greedy
  • build a company to maximize value in the long term

remove any friction:

  • signup its free
  • no data lock in, export anytime. if you decide - leave and take anything with you. all your data - yours

some metrics:

  • $0.4 arpu
  • $0.06 cost per user
  • user NPV = $26
  • 2.9% converted to premium now (keep it less then 5% :)

company re-structuring and culture

  • put all your creative energy on building an amazing product
  • focus! "interesting" is the enemy of correct
  • excellence, technical brilliance is a major (+) of russian engineers
  • two ways to fill in the gaps: structure -> team or team -> structure
  • no sales people @evernote ;) sales people kill culture :)
  • product team owned by Phil. Dave CTO (architecture, data centers, support), Phil Product (engineering, QA)
  • 30->10 people as Phil joined evernote) Simplify & Focus!!!

Vivek Mehra's comments (Partner, August Capital)

  • from the VC's prospective, team is the most important
  • 3 founders is the best
  • if we, as VCs, know more than entrepreneur, something is wrong with the company
  • entrepreneur shall know answers to all questions
  • how we invest: we do a lot of due diligence (at least 1.5 month)
  • there are only a few major terms that is best to agree first between the founders and VCs before going to lawyers to finalize (among them, pre-money, post-money, capital raised, liquidation preferences, vesting for founders, option pool)
  • investor shouldn't tell you how to run your business. his role is to bring strategic value, expert view from the outside, something founders cannot always see
  • valuation is done by VCs - entrepreneurs shouldn't provide this info; sort of "let the market decide - now you, investors, do your homework"  :) 

Corporate Members



What They Say About Us

"The wonderful thing about entrepreneurs is that their passion for starting new companies transcends languages and geographic boundaries."

Ron Conway, Founder and Managing Partner of the Angel Investors LP funds, early stage investor in Google and PayPal

"Networking is very important for start-ups. The challenge for them is often not money: it is mentoring and finding people who can give good advice from experience."

Esther Dyson, Founder, EDventure Holdings

"This conference is clearly a labor of love for a group of dedicated professionals who care deeply about the Eastern European entrepreneurs. From the value-packed educational panels, to the star-studded key note speakers' line up, to an amazing quantity of venture capitalists – this is a not to be missed event for any high tech entrepreneur,"

Richard Guha, President of the Marketing Executives Network and Managing Partner at MaxBrandEquity

"As Stanford MBA students, we were exposed to a lot of VC firms both from the Valley and abroad. It is at Stanford that we met Anna Dvornikova, an absolutely amazing business leader and (by our big luck) our friend, who was the center of the Russian Silicon Valley professional community, and was doing a huge work to connect Russia and the Valley. Anna helped us a lot with kick-starting Wikimart, put us to our first-ever conference, introduced us to most of Russian VCs. And all that happened in a very short time span! It was the beginning of a six-month journey that despite the particularly tough times resulted in an extraordinarily group of investors backing our start-up."

Maxim Faldin and Kamil Kurmakayev,
co-CEOs, Wikimart