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Evolution of a Startup: Lessons Learned

I was recently approached by a friend in the venture capital industry who asked me to write about my experience as an entrepreneur and transplant to Silicon Valley.  Here's the resulting transcript of our discussion.  I'm publishing it in the hopes that it helps other entrepreneurs, as well as those who haven't yet taken the leap but want to.

Can you tell me about the fundraising cycles your company has gone through?

We began in Washington D.C. in 2008 in a townhouse on Capitol Hill. It was a terrible time to fundraise due to the financial crisis, so we self-funded a mobile consulting firm called PointAbout which built mobile apps for large brands, including Disney, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Newsweek, Cars.com and many others.  That firm quickly grew to over 30 employees (and a much nicer space in DC -- although still a townhouse!)

The Thrill of the Start

On CodeCombat Blog

The first few weeks of any startup are tentative at best, and any sane founder will wonder more than a few times what the heck they were thinking to quit their job. During those first formative weeks, tasks and priorities are set, working habits are established, and a certain amount of structure forms around the nascent product and team. These are heady and dangerous times. There are no customers, employees, funders, or advisors to steer the ship, correct course, or check the founder’s assumptions. Everything happens quickly, and experienced founders realize that missteps during this period are the most costly. The critical all-consuming goal is to get something out into the world as quickly as possible while still respecting user expectations.

One thing we learned from our first startup: before there is a beta product, a startup needs a blog like a fish needs a bicycle. So don’t expect many updates until we actually have people start using Code Combat.

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