The Tao of RealCo

I helped start RealCo earlier this year designed to help startups get to Series A over a 15-month program.

RealCo's program places a premium on measurable traction.

This is RealCo's Tao.

The Tao of RealCo

Make your business model as simple as possible.

Know how you’ll make money.

Traction cures many ills.

Results matter, not activity.

Make business-building as simple as possible, but no simpler. Many startups try to boil the ocean by solving problems that should be faced a year down the road.

Set achievable goals. No more than two.

Goals should match your next funding milestone and be definable, repeatable if needed and measurable. If you don’t know what those numbers are, go ask.

Create no more than two KPIs with your team to measure your goals. Talk about them at every meeting.

Most founders price their product way too low.

Giving something away for free just proves you can give something away for free.

Recurring revenue beats transactional revenue.

At first, you should “do things that don’t scale.” -- Paul Graham. Your first few customers will require lots of hand-holding and your product should always be not-yet-perfect.

Get customers using your product as early as possible.

Hyperfocus is your secret weapon. Once identified, narrow your target market, product, and offering as much as possible.

Big Companies who want to ‘partner’ are almost always just a distraction to super early start-ups.

Company-building is about risk reduction. Everything you do is an experiment to test your beliefs.

Try to remove external dependencies from your business building. They add risk and complexity.

Customers matter. Delighted customers tell their friends about you.

Use Net Promoter Score (NPS) to measure how happy your customers are.

You will have too many things to do. Work on your priorities. Say no.

Some of your activities like hiring or creating a sales process are not new. Think about your process and have one. The processes aren’t that much different. Just choose one.

You want your product to be antibiotics (a “must-have”) and not vitamins (a “nice-to-have”).

Position your product to be as closely tied to your customers' revenue as possible.

Your logo should be so good that get it tattoo'ed on your leg.

What customers do is a much bigger truth than what they say they will do.

Angel investors who experience the problem you're solving are much more likely to invest.

Companies that send monthly updates with real metrics outperform those that don’t.

Ask for help. People want to help you.

If you can’t explain your vision in less than sixty seconds, you need to practice more.

Defenses against competitors can be a brand, network effects or efficiencies of scale.

Your thinking should always be bigger.

Startups should have only one product until they're past Series A.

Michael Girdley