Hustle Con 2015

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What I learned: Hustle con 2015

Transcript of Hustle Con 2015

What I learned:Hustle con 2015

Hello!I am Jen Q.

Here’s what I learned from Hustle Con in April 2015. Hustle Con is a conference designed for

non-technical start-up founders.

You can find me at:@the_hip_hapa

So you don’t have tech skills: What do you need instead?

A degree of the con’s 17 presenters:*

65% have degrees in

economics, finance, or business

24% have political

science degrees

1.5 avg degrees per

person (range 0 to 3)

*excludes Sat health workshop presenters

Independent wealth and connections help too. Like, a LOT. You can grow connections through old-fashioned networking and accelerators like Y Combinator. Money… well, that’s a little harder. You may need a “day job” for a while.

A note on gender: only 17% of presenters were female.

ALL female founders had graduate degrees: Only 2 of the male founders went to grad school.

Schools females attended included Duke, MIT, Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, and Carleton.

Okay, enough demographicsWhat did they SAY?

✖ Get a technical cofounder

✖ Focus on your product’s identity. It should be clear and easy to explain.

✖ Create a core set of values for your product, and your team. The words “purpose”, “clarity”, and “focus” were used a lot.

MONEYSummary: it may not come fast.

“I owed $500,000 and maxed out 11 credit cards. 20 people worked for me for free for 2 years, and I was sued

by 5 of them.” -Tim Westergren, Pandora founder

“I sold my car to fund my move to the Bay Area, got a $500 studio in El Cerrito in the home of a retired dentist.

And then the bottom dropped out of the economy.” - Arram Sabeti, ZeroCater founder

MONEY, Part 2To get funding, you’ll have to pitch. A LOT.Dealing with rejection is tough. Get used to it. Westergren pitched Pandora 340 times.

Funding is not the goalpostFunding you raise is not a predictor of how much your company will be worth. Ebay raised $11M and is now valued at $420B

It doesn’t count until it’s in the bankAdam Draper of Boost VC warned of yes-men who’ll say yes to funding in pitch meetings… and then never send you a check.

“The product you launch with will almost certainly NOT be the product that

finds market fit.”-Walker Williams, founder of TeeSpring

Killer Insight #1

TEAMYour team is paramount. Qualifications are fine, but it’s better to find the right personality fit with the right attitude. “Our biggest SEO successes were team members.” - Tim Chen, NerdWalletArum Kang, founder of Coffee Meets Bagel warned against hiring contractors: They don’t have accountability or stake in your company.

So instead of making money, what should I focus on?

TIMEThis is your most precious resource. Founder time = freakin’ solid gold. So automate as much as possible. Assemble a good team. Be agile. Don’t solve problems until they exist. Most importantly: don’t get burnt out.

how to get your first users


Matt Brimer, founder of General Assembly says you gotta meet people in real life before they’ll become first users. Do 1 on 1 coffees. Dance. Talk. Pitch early and often.


Give karma, get karma. “Be as useful as possible.” Introduce people to each other. Give advice. But don’t give away your product for free.


Your first users will ideally become your champions. First 100 people on Matt Brimer’s email list, he had met in person.

Be open

But balance your membership. Get the balance between being “clubby” and full of randos.


“It will take a significant amount of time and effort to bring in your first users and that’s okay,” - Walker Williams, TeeSpring


Small is good. It means you’re nimble. You can pivot on a dime. Grow at scale, don’t worry about growth hacking. Just worry about the next step, not step 10.

Getting press/seoHeidi Zak, founder of Third Love

● PR firms are good at fashion OR tech OR consumer: they will not do all 3 well. Even if they say they do. They can’t.

● Ask around before hiring a PR firm. Ask former clients how they liked their experience with a firm.

● Feel free to say NO to press if you’re not ready: just ask for a rain-check later.

Tim Chen, founder of NerdWallet

- Talking to journalists is really hard. They’re busy.- SEO is a slog and will take years of work- LifeHacker mention only garnered $5,000 in revenue- If you want to reach journalists, hire a former journalist

Killer Insight #2

“The biggest existential risk to your start-up is you

quitting.” -Arram Sabeti, founder of ZeroCater

tech tips

SEO: Learn how the Google Algorithm works(because it’s always changing)

From james beshara of Tilt: Use braintree, stripe, companies that will take care of some of the regulatory issues for you.

find out the rules, then break them to work in your favor

Get some tech skills: Anyone can cut and paste from stackoverflow

Talk to your users! They will tell you what you’re doing wrong and what features you need.

Try out Twilio, use boomerang for gmail to track emails, mailtrack. and check out the new stuff on product hunt.

Killer Insight #3

“When you’re small it’s a knife fight: learn what your competitors are up to and

crush their output.” -Tim Chen, founder of NerdWallet

distillJessica Scorpio of Getaround: Killing features is a good way to focus your business. MAKE BOLD CHOICES.

to-do list

+ Find a technical co-founder+ Create a solid proof-of-concept that is a pain-killer for users, not a

vitamin.+ Validate the concept and change as necessary+ Congeal a distinct brand, set of principles that define the product+ Assemble a kick-ass team of smart people I really like spending

time with and can talk openly with+ Get a small version of product up and working as soon as possible+ Recruit users IRL, listen to them, change the product, make users

into champions and evangelists+ Start creating content around product+ Prepare for the rollercoaster that is “pursuing funding”+ Pitch continuously until funding is secured (if needed)+ Talk to users+ Investigate press and outreach if ready+ Start solving problems as the product grows and changes+ Talk to users+ Determine if there are any tools that can get rid of regulatory

hurdles for you+ Empower the team, keep them motivated, invest in them+ Talk to users+ Keep on hustlin’

Thanks!Any questions?

You can find me at:@the_hip_hapa

[email protected]


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