MBA Mondays: Where To Go Next?

We just wrapped up a series on The Board Of Directors which was preceded by a series on The Management Team. I have come to like the series format for MBA Mondays because it allows me to plan out a series of up to ten posts in a row and then work on them one at a time. It is a lot easier than coming up with a new topic every week.

I have done a total of 114 MBA Monday posts including a number of series; Accounting, Budgeting, Employee Equity, Mergers and Acquisitions, Financing Your Company, The Management Team, and The Board Of Directors. Looking back at all of those posts, we've covered a lot. It's been rambling at times and highly structured at times. There is a lot there.

But the question for me is "where do we go next?" What topics interest all of you? I'd like to keep going in the series format, so ideally these topics would be meaty enough to justify a series and not just a post.

Please leave your suggestions in the comments.

#MBA Mondays

Comments (Archived):

  1. LIAD

    …when problems arise.

    1. fredwilson

      can you elaborate?

      1. LIAD

        A lot of an entrepreneurs time is spent dealing with non best-case scenarios. I think we should cover that end of the spectrum too.I like the idea of a series on “Best practice for when things go bad’1. Missed targets2. Discord amongst investors/employees3. Disagreements between founders4. Feature creep5. Bad hires6. Slowing growth7. Adverse changes in competitive landscape8. PR disaster9. Inability to raise funding10. Negative changes to macro environment

        1. fredwilson

          oh god. what an awesome idea for a series. can’t wait to write it. thanks!

          1. JimHirshfield

            “When Bad Things Happen to Good Entrepreneurs “

          2. William Mougayar

            I like that. Eg when 2nd 3rd time entrepreneur don’t get it right the next time. Why? Common mistakes or self-confidence that kills?

          3. Carl Rahn Griffith

            No comment, lol.Good idea.

          4. aarondelcohen

            Fred: this could be all of 2012 because it would be great to hear from Matt, Dennis, Avner etc on many of these.  I think MBA Mondays becomes so much more interesting when we hear from the portfolio (or any experienced) CEOs.  You become salon host, editor-in-chief as well as content creator.

        2. Laurent Boncenne

          I want to read this! Great suggestion LIAD =)

        3. Richard

          Great list : add partnership strategies dos and donts?

        4. Robert Thuston

          I want to know all these things.  Great addition.

  2. Dave Morgan

    How about doing a series on the different phases of start-ups?

  3. William Mougayar

    How does the CEO prepare for Board Meetings?Best Practices for reporting to the investors – what are they?

    1. fredwilson

      i should have done that in the board meeting series

      1. William Mougayar

        It’s not too late. Make this continustion about the entrepreneur vs other series was about the company’s operations.

    2. Avi Deitcher

      As honestly as possible. 🙂

  4. Rohan

    Topics I would be interested in – 1. Decision making – Making calls from an entrepreneurs point of view, a VC point of view etc. This may be no science and all art.. but still would be interested to know how you make important calls.2. Crisis management – Stories on how you’ve dealt with the biggest crises – again from VC and entrepreneur point of view3. Views/approaches to Leadership – Stories about influences, views and approaches – especially on keeping up faith when times are hard – again from both points of view.4. Self Management – How you manage your own crazy schedules/life and keep balance (or not)–All 4 would of course be greatly enhanced by diverse guest posts..

    1. fredwilson

      i think i can tackle 2 and 4.1 and 3 feel hard to me.

      1. Rohan

        I can see 3 being tough to do a series around. 1 would be very very interesting though. And it looks like the Heat did really good v the Knicks. 

        1. fredwilson

          killed us. it will be interesting to see if it was a knockout punch or just a hard punch.

          1. Rohan

            Our big game is tonight. Nervous.

          2. btrautsc

            Critical bounce back game 2 – Grizz feeling the same hangover after dropping a 25+ point lead in 9 minutes. Brutal. Which brings up a topic some may find interesting – which is how to manage sprint/ jog/ sprint/ walk – or more clearly – the pace of startups…We all figure out how to sprint, push everything to the limit & stay up all night, but I think on the whole thats a poor long term precedent…Creating a culture where pace mirrors company needs is really tough. The math/ data/ strategy is always super interesting & very helpful to help plug into our startup equations, but some of the “soft” subjects on culture, lifestyle, pace, environment are really tough to reach. 

          3. brian trautschold

            Also** meant to add in relation to the Grizz loss – Keeping the pedal down…I see that as crucial (but would love to hear your thoughts/ learn more) – specifically after a win, how to keep grinding and immediately refocus on the next target. 

          4. K_Berger

            I didn’t think the Knicks had a real chance. And now that Derrick Rose is out, I don’t see anyone stopping the Heat from winning the East.

          5. JLM

            Just kidding — but Knickerbockers are getting ready to have an autopsy at mid court.Wish it were not so.Never a good sign when the cheerleaders show up in the other teams’ colors, eh?

        2. Brandon Marker

          I feel like we get a little bit of 3 worked into most guest posts.

        3. Michael Elling

          1 would be interesting from the perspective of both successful and unsuccessful ventures. Ask the CEO to reflect on the hardest and most important decision that ultimately led to the success or failure of the business. Is there a pattern between success and failure at critical junctures?  450-650 million watching Manchester Derby!

      2. Avi Deitcher

        Do a series on 1 and 3 via guest posts. You should know enough entrepreneurs who have had to deal with it to get some good posts.

      3. Cam MacRae

        I think you could do at least part of 1 by describing normative decision analysis e.g. decision trees, expected values, sensitivity analysis / tornado diagrams  etc. and pad out the series with some guest posts per @deitcher:disqus ‘s suggestion.

        1. LE

          Way to academic. I would shudder at any startup entrepreneurial venture that gets burdened down in that type of thinking or considers it necessary. YMMV.

          1. Cam MacRae

            Ha! Too academic? This is MBA Mondays. It says it right there on the tin.That “kind of thinking” can be very important when you’re doing  something more significant than sharing cat pictures. Knowing when to stop can be just as important.I shudder to think how much of the $15m we burned in our first year might have been better deployed had we spent an afternoon sanity checking its allocation with something more sophisticated than gut feeling.

    2. jason wright

       I really like reading about how some successful people have conducted and organized their life basics to better enable them to get the things done that they think matter. Einstein and his wardrobe always comes to my mind. Love that story. 

    3. Jeff Glazer

      Rohan’s suggestions are all great. Many people in this forum are asking for war stories — I agree, they are great — but this series is about theory and text book-type learning as opposed to anecdotal lessons. I think that the way the series is structured currently – a series of lessons followed by a few case studies/war stories – fits the overarching theme of this series which is to learn.Self-management is a great topic (Matthew Blumberg does a great job on this), but I also think a series on Culture would be great. Culture is more than happy hour on Friday’s and being able to wear shorts to work – it is about an environment where accountability, metrics and communication are stressed (among other things). Transforming/creating the correct culture would be something that I would be very interested.Thanks-a first time contributor who loves this series

  5. Robert Holtz

    I’m not sure if this suggestion justifies a full series or just one in-depth post but I am super curious about your answer since it is a topic that seems to keep on changing:What are your current feelings about business plans?  Some VCs say they don’t even read them anymore.  Some professional advisors say write them but don’t expect anyone to read them.  Others still advise only to bother with the key parts (i.e. exec summary, the cap table, and something that resembles projections).It is clear that a candidate is not going to get very far if they don’t have a good deck and aren’t able to sum up their business in a single unifying statement… the proverbial elevator pitch. But what are your current thoughts on that Fred?One of the startups I’m involved in right now is not your everyday web 2.0 venture that has a clear-cut way of establishing traction.  It needs to put more energy than the typical venture does at defining and presenting the vision and the value proposition than most.  That has put particular focus on prototypes and at least the core elements of a traditional business plan. But are we way the hell off track with that, Fred?  I’m sure a lot of entrepreneurs are curious about this as well.  The advise on this issue on blogs, articles, and in books is literally all over the map.  Hope this helps you trail a new path for MBA Mondays and the info would be truly helpful.  Thanks for including AVCers in your process.  I think when all is said and done you should compile it into a book.  If you do, I’ll buy at least ten of them — no doubt.

    1. fredwilson

      in web/tech/mobile, they are over and done with. you can build a prototype more quickly than a business plan. i hate them. i don’t read them. they bother me.

      1. Robert Holtz

        So not even numbers?  Just concept and prototype?  What about Use of Proceeds at least?

        1. fredwilson

          use of proceeds is something we like to look atit is usually headcount, servers, bandwidth, and a shared office space

          1. Robert Holtz

            Thank you Fred.  That just saved us a world of hurt.Seriously, at some point of your choosing, you should compile these MBA Monday posts into a book.  Will try and think up another series-worthy suggestion for future installments.  Thanks again.

          2. fredwilson

            this is my feeling on business plansi can’t guarantee that others feel the same way

          3. Robert Holtz


          4. markslater

            anyone joining our company is asked to read one doc and we suggest several books. the first is the software development doc. ITs long – but gives the person a clear picture of why we did what we did and where we are intending to go. Why do we do this? hopefully to avoid needless product discussions frankly, and to provide for a macro view of our company.We then suggest – The intention econoomy (Doc searls) we live and breathe this stuff. Second, the lean start up (eric Reis) – its not the bible but there are some  core tennets that we live by. this stuff for me is way more important than a business plan. We dont have one. We have financial models sure – but a business plan – that format is way outdated in start-up world IMO.

      2. Avi Deitcher

        Seriously? Was it Patton or Eisenhower who said “plans are nothing but planning is everything?”Are you unique in the VC world this way, or are others of the same mindset?Call me old-fashioned, but even a fully functioning prototype doesn’t show you if the person can think about marketing, revenue sources, how to build a team, competition, etc. etc. I have always thought of the B-plan as a way to ensure consistent thought and think through the issues, rather than a rigid roadmap.

        1. fredwilson

          i am serious. i can get all of that other stuff from a conversation.

          1. Avi Deitcher

            I am not concerned about you getting it; I am concerned about them putting the intellectual horsepower in to think about all of those things. BTW, barely related, I saw Steve Blank’s post on your participation in the Lean Startup mini-course at CBS. Can you get him to run a similar one, but online, and for experienced working staff only? Been in the tech business, one way or another, for almost 20 years, and would still love to do that.

          2. fredwilson

            i will ask him

          3. Avi Deitcher


          4. LE

            Hah. Never believed in them. Great way to turf someone though. An assignment. Cuts down on the need to say “no”. 

        2. Robert Holtz

          No one is saying entrepreneurs shouldn’t HAVE a plan.  Here we are only talking of the stodgy old due diligence document not the ideas behind it.Yes, it was Eisenhower who said, “Plans are nothing; planning is everything” and that’s the exact distinction being made here.Fred is far from alone in being “anti-business plan.”  Those who share that stance assert that an entrepreneur should be able to present her vision on-the-fly and one-on-one and that the formality of such a document actually distances the potential investor(s) from making that assessment… Is the candidate informed about the risks and opportunities? Are they a zealot for the business? Do they have a sound and cohesive vision?  Increasingly, business plans are reused boilerplate that don’t really provide the answers to those core questions.Your reference to Eisenhower perfectly illustrates the key distinction.  We are speaking here strictly of the plan not the planning.  They may seem like one and the same thing but they are not.  It is critical not to mistake the map for the territory.

          1. Avi Deitcher

            Clarifies, thank you. Question of terminology. You are saying, “have the plan, make the plan, the exercise of doing so is invaluable for clarifying your thinking, but on’t be wedded to it.” And, yes, too many people have the plan but not the thought behind it. I have helped craft many a plan, and I can 100% tell the diff between those who outsourced the thought (pay me nicely, but they will get nowhere) and those who needed an outsider to help them clarify the thought, challenge them, structure them. I like the latter.Is that map line also an Eisenhower?

          2. Robert Holtz

            Yes — but, like Fred, I can also work with a client to help them suss out and develop a strategy without necessarily reducing it to a document.  I suppose that is a matter of personal process — what it takes to transform an ethereal idea into something concrete and tangible in one’s mind.To answer your question on the map line, the attribution has quite a lineage.  It is a reference to philosopher/mathematician Alfred Korzybski who said “The map is not the territory.”  This is known as “Korzybski’s Dictum” and is itself a derivation of Indian philosopher, Jiddu Krishnamurti’s aphorism, “The description is not the described.”  I first heard it used by the late-great Carl Sagan in reference to surrealist René Magritte’s famous painting, “La Trahison des Images” (The Treachery of Images).

    2. jason wright

      Build it and they will come…or not, but one gets to find out something important from having taken action. 

  6. Marcin

    Scaling the business internationally – both US startups enter Europe and Asia way sooner these days, as well as European startups scale internationally within 2-3 years. How to do it properly – direct/partnerships/JVs, hiring, technology, international funding/multiple VCs and international exits. Top it up with contribution from entrepreneurs that did it in the past, executives with experience in the field and investors that helped to fund and exit companies that managed to scale successfully cross-border. Spiced with a couple fail stories to know what to look out for 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      international expansion. great topic. great suggestion. thanks.

      1. Marcin

        Happy to contribute to the European part – my experience might not be broad enough for a full post but I did my share of trial and error so have a couple lessons for first timers. Especially with the very early and underfunded international growth (which many EU startups, particularly coming out of Eastern Europe are struggling with).

    2. John Best

      Great suggestion. I think the trepidation and mystique around hopping borders is a subject with lots of handy recent examples; Groupon immediately springs to mind, also Google and Facebook’s pushes eastwards.I talked to Ruth Amos (MD of stairsteady –… who span her company out of a school project about going global. Her advice was really simple:  “Do it, it’s easier than you think”.

    3. panterosa,

      I would love this. Especially to hear stories from different countries which are “representative” of others. Either expanding from or expanding to Europe and abroad.

  7. Robert Holtz

    How about the job of recruiting talent?  Finding/attracting the right key people, where to go to find good hires, getting headcount dialed in right at various stages of development, in-house versus outsourcing (when to do or not to do each), good hiring practices (i.e. interviewing, evaluating, selecting new hires among candidates), and also the evolving VC’s role (some, as you know, are not just advising in this area but actively functioning as a recruitment partner/talent agency).I’ve seen some entrepreneurs that seem to just collect people and headcount gets way the heck out of whack.  But I’ve also seen lean startups where putting a small investment into a little infrastructure and core competency would help them move along a lot faster and smarter. I think a lot of CEOs would love guidance on this since it really is such a make or break factor on so many levels and it is a huge part of where the money goes in any organization.

    1. William Mougayar

      Good one.

    2. fredwilson

      great suggestion!

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Would you survey your portfolio — or even this community — for what their critical concerns are around this set of topics, or just go based on what you’ve observed from your experiences?  Obviously, you’ve got a broad base to work with, either way.

      2. Chris Phenner

        For the ‘recruiting’ thread, share USV’s practices, and have a look at how SeatGeek is taking the same approach to vetting talent in advance.

    3. Luke Chamberlin

      I second this idea.

    4. awaldstein

      Thumbs up on this.There are at least two parts to this. How to this better and incorporate this ‘always on’ activity into your life and management style. And, new tech/new services/new approaches that are being developed. 

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Mark Suster has a mantra that has stuck with me “Always be recruiting.”  I recently shared this in a blog post:When you think of recruiting, think of creating a recruiting culture.  Recruiting is a form of marketing.  Just as you seek ways to include your marketing message into your communications as often as possible, do the same with your recruiting message.  Build recruiting into the fabric of how you do business.  To some extent, recruiting is the job of everyone working for a startup. 

        1. awaldstein

          Who said somewhere?You don’t choose employees, you need to work to make them choose you.That’s the truth of the situation.

          1. Donna Brewington White

            This is a critical insight. 

          2. pointsnfigures

            Attempting to build something that will go a long way to solving the human capital problem.  Don’t know if it will work or not-but we have to try. Working some kinks out before we broadcast it.Human capital in the start up is a huge problemOther thing I might like to see is a Sales presentation.  Techies forget, they or someone has to sell.

          3. Donna Brewington White

            That’s an ambitious undertaking @pointsnfigures:disqus — “solving the human capital problem.”   Would love to see what you’ve come up with.

          4. CJ

            Only in this particular industry.  Most industries the employer chooses you, only when you’re a superstar do you get to write your own ticket.

          5. awaldstein

            Superstars are few. Talented, creative people with drive are more but certainly far from the norm. And every company needs them. Can you give me some examples where talented people from programmers to marketers to sales people are not in demand and have to take what is offered them?Seems counterintuitive. 

          6. Philipsugar

            The quote was from me, and I would say in every industry it is true.To use my favorite low tech example, if you have a plumbing company you can either be the place people want to work or you can be the company that people have to choose because they need a job.Who do you think is more productive and easier to manage?Zappos customer service is probably the best example.  Alfred Lin (CFO) is one of my favorite guys to talk with.  Instead of worrying about call times they worry about happiness.  They paid people $2k if they want to quit after training.  We are talking about call center employees.  Tony absolutely great but Alfred is the finance guy that let that happen.

          7. CJ

            By superstars I mean talented people.  But at startups, in the current market, anyone with talent can chose his own poison.  In the rest of the market, specifically the Midwest, talent is just what gets you in the door and in the short stack of resumes.  Ultimately the company still chooses the employee from a stack of talented individuals.  Labor is plentiful, jobs not so much.

          8. Donna Brewington White

            Hey Malcolm!  Where you been?  Good to see you in the thread.

        2. karen_e

          I just held a cross-functional meeting between Marketing and HR. When building a new website, for example, the constituents we think about are current clients, aspirational clients, current employees, and future hires.

          1. Donna Brewington White

            This is really cool, Karen.  It makes perfect sense for marketing and HR to collaborate — especially from a recruiting and employer branding standpoint.  If I were doing recruiting internally, I would form a close relationship with the marketing team.  But then I tend to like hanging around marketers. 😉

    5. Donna Brewington White

      I’m glad that someone mentioned this.  Seems like there are several topics here including the overall planning and thought process involved in building a team (what roles or configuration of roles and when) as well as the strategies and tactical execution involved in the actual recruiting — which can be quite complex and multifaceted in itself — then decision making in the hiring process.  Then, there is building bench strength and a pipeline for future hiring needs which most startups don’t even have time to think about — which is another critical way in which an internal recruiting team at a VC firm could also provide support.  BTW, that last statement was in reference to your mention of the evolving VC role including “actively functioning as a recruitment partner/talent agency.” I’ve commented often on the idea of VC firms having in-house recruiting consultants or recruiting teams.  I am glad to see that this seems to be a growing development. I know this can seem self serving but I truly do believe this model has validity.

      1. Mark Essel

        Your expertise is in high demand all over Donna. Good time to be a strategic recruiter 😀

    6. Brandon Marker


    7. Andy

      This is an excellent suggestion. Also this will probably be one of the “more art than science” topics of the one’s the community has already discussed.

    8. Akshay Mishra

      Indeed! Hiring is probably the single most important aspect for a startup – bad hiring decisions can ruin a fledgling startup as easily as a bad R&D/operational/investment/financing decision.Would love insights on this – especially channels of hiring – contacts, recruiters, HR (if a bigger startup), local and foreign talent (legal issues).

      1. pointsnfigures

        It’s not ready for prime time yet.  Been interviewing entrepreneurs, VCs, Angels and surveying my own experiences.  I think we have something, but just like a start up, we won’t know until we actually go out and try it.  As a matter of fact, we are viewing the whole operation as a start up.  It’s a great mentality to have.

    9. Mark Essel

      Perfect timing, I can’t imagine how a scrappy unfunded startup is going to build it’s team in the current market. Part story telling, part diplomacy, part faking it till you make it. This process is far from well understood by fresh founders.Just yesterday I was describing to a young entrepreneur (biz founder seeking tech team) how the startup Fast Society found me (friendly resume pass between developers).

  8. Steffan Antonas

    There was an entrepreneurship conference at Harvard yesterday that had a session called “Startup: The First 90 Days”. It generated a lot of enthusiastic debate. That might be a good theme for the next few posts.

    1. Avi Deitcher

      DId Watkins have anything to do with it? He wrote an excellent management book called, “The First 90 Days,” about when a new manager takes charge.Actually, I highly recommend it to anyone in any management role.

      1. Steffan Antonas

        Watkins didn’t have anything to do with it, but the book sounds very interesting. The session was about what the team should focus on in the first 90 days. I know that Fred has written about the various stages of a startup to some degree in this series, but if I remember correctly, those posts were more about the stages as they relate to the structure of the team, rather than the focus of the team. It was just an idea.

        1. Avi Deitcher

          Here is Watkins’ book.…

  9. iamronen

    the social role of VC (and business?)… should there be, is there, local, national, international …

    1. fredwilson

      great topic but i don’t see that as MBA Mondays material

      1. iamronen

         well then how about “should social responsibility be a part of MBA studies” as a topic 🙂  I believe underlying purpose should be (and isn’t) a higher priority in the VC/business world … I don’t know how much of a future there is for business without it  … and I would love to read more on your thoughts on the subject 🙂

        1. LE

          Businesses are socially responsible now if it is of benefit and as a way to do more business. Other than that business is business people will always go with the dollar in the end when making choices. Try selling what Walmart sells at a higher price but while showing you are socially responsible. It won’t get you anywhere.  “If all else equal” doesn’t matter since it never is.

  10. jason wright

    The dark secrets of venture capital 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      that’s a great idea for an entire blog

      1. Daniel

        Indeed. I do think a more focused series on making investments could be really interesting!

        1. markslater

          Love this idea. Something tells me that Fred will be brutally honest and out a few people / shady techniques in the process!

    2. Tom Labus

      Gut + numbers.

    3. LE

      It would definitely make interesting reading. But I think it’s a little cart before the horse.  I would imagine that most people reading this blog are trying to get to a certain place with an idea they have.  They should only be so lucky as to have an idea where they have to worry about a VC taking advantage of them.  I find much of the talk on the few places I read about how to try and keep control and squeeze the best deal for yourself (and worship of Zuckerberg for his control) really misplaced. Focus on building something that people want. It’s all a matter of degree but the same thinking process is why many people don’t ever get married. They are obsessed over cutting the best deal for themselves. Better to get your ticket punched with a lousy deal – you’ll make it up the second time around (in business not in marriage).

  11. Ronnie Rendel

    Personally, the more you write about the mechanics of the vc world the better. I loved the examples you used in the past when discussing liquidations etc.I would like to see more posts covering valuations at different stages, more vc math, what agreements make up the life cycle of the vc/startup relationship, even how vc operate internally, more on how they manage themselves and their responsibilities to their LP etc.By the way, we are running an experimental education program for “at risk youth” (hate that term) with great potential. They are paired up and covering your MBA Monday’s as one of the primary curriculums. Thanks.

    1. fredwilson

      wow. that is awesome!

    2. Nick Grossman

      I agree re: the vc mechanics.  This stuff has always been fascinating to me, and it’s pretty opaque from the outside.Is there anything you can link to for more information on your education program? I am quite interested in experimental / networked approaches to education.

      1. Ronnie Rendel

        Hi Nick, thanks for asking. We have been so busy we haven ‘t had a chance to put anything up (my first class is at 0700 and with the startup teams I can be working until 10pm).I took a couple of hours to put some pictures online (inspired by you). Here is the link, can’t wait to hear what you think.http://yeshivaventures.word

        1. ShanaC

          And what of the asifa?

          1. Ronnie Rendel

            B”HAt the risk of polluting Fred’s blog with strictly “Jewish” issues, I do think this issue “asifa” is about the Internet, and an unusual perspective to the AVC community…In preface, Ever since Mankind gained a spiritual consciousness [The Kabbalists, like the Holy AriZal, in several mathematical computation of spiritual cycles date the planet to about 6 billions years – they said this 500 years ago!] there had been prophets.Until the prophet Avraham our Father, mankind was more interested in engaging in “star gazing” and meditative techniques to access and manipulated higher (non physical but very real) powers in order to obtain self gratification. These spiritual channels were combined with sexual practices to form what the Bible records by the generic term “idolatry”.Comes Avraham our Father, and uses the meditative manipulations known in his day to “seek higher” and beyond the relatively lowly spiritual; forces responsible for the cycles and phenomenon of thephysical. He slowly attain higher levels of consciousness into the realms of the divine (which are beyond the realms of spirit). Few prophets in Avraham’s generation knew of G-d, but only the many spiritual forces linking in a chain of progressions from complete Abstration and Nothingness into the coarse material physical world.This is the beginning of Avraham’s prophecy recorded in the Bible, as Avraham began teaching humanity that there is a unified system that makes all the disparate force in one perfect harmony. He taught that this higher Unity had a consciousness, and that man’s consciousness was created in its Image. People wanted to kill him, and he had many miracles.He taught these traditions to his son Yitzchak, who continued forming a community communing with and drawing down G-dliness. And Yirzchak our Father taught his son Yaacov our Father.Yaacov’s 12 sons descendent into the Egyptian exile, for the purpose of forming this family into a nation, through the melting pot of exile.But one of the 12 tribes was never enslaved in Egypt, it was the tribe of Levi, who maintained the stuydy of the Torah, the traditions from Avraham, yitzchak and Yaacov.Within this tribe was born the father of all prophets, and man who would reach the highest level of nullification, and through this G-d chose His “re-introduction” into the reality He created billions of years before.The reason was that G-d created a world to be a partner with Him in creation, for this Mankind, created in G-d’s image and His “partner” in creation, had to reach perception of G-dliness “on its own”. This is a deep concept in Kabbalah, not to be explored here.At the Exodus from Egypt G-d performed several miracles, which over-ride the consistent rules of Nature (which are a subset of the rules G-d set in creation and are studied in Kabbalah). The reason was to prepare the entire world to the revelation of the Giving of the Torah on Mt Sinai.This event, witnessed by 3 million men women and children was recorded (and never to be repeated) as the moment the spiritual and physical became fused through the study of Torah and performance of Mitzvot.The Torah, being G-d’s Will and Wisdom as He gave over (and hence gave Himself over so to speak) to the Jewish people in trust for all of mankind. Remember the same of the world is still in a very primitive state. It is indeed our generation that the entire world is evolved and refined to be able to reveal the torah and its mystical secrets – which is of course the process known as the “redemption by Moshiach”.The Mitzvot (which are not just for Jews, but some Mitavot are for all mankind – like don’t kill, don’t steal, establish courts of law, sexual conduct, etc.) are “sesmingly random” acts or practices, by which man can bind himself witht he Creator – the Aramaic meaning of “Mitzva” is “connection” not “commandments”…The Torah and Mitzvot had a revealed aspect (the story associated with it, the practical performance, the intentions for it etc.), as well as the esoteric aspect. Same with the Torah – the revealed aspects are the stories and laws, and the inner dimension is the deepest and most esoteric mysteries of creation. Again, Moshiach’s “job” is to reveal these mysteries to a generation philosophically and technologically advanced enough the internalize and harness this G-dly Wisdom, hence ushering in this utopian age mystically known as the Days of Moshiach and World to Come.Now back to your question. The mystical dimensions of the Torah were purposely concealed around 2500 years ago (at the destruction of the First Temple). The reason was that these teachings gave rise to idolatry and black magic and bunch of bad stuff as humans tend to do to wiosdom (before human spiritual evolution completed).Now, the actual laws and mitzvot had to be carefully guarded through generations (over millenia) since this was the mission and very essence of the being of the Jewish people. And particularly in the last 2000 years (since the destruction of the Second Temple by the Roman Empuire and the beginning of this long exile), the Jewish people suffered tremendously for it.”What do you mean you don’t work on Saturday?” said the 1920’s American employer. “It’s Shabbos” says the Jew. “I can’t tell you why, and I know it doesn’t make sense, but I can’t do certain work on Shabbos.”Over the years, the Jewish community tried to protect the traditions by building walls around ourselves. In the past 200 years those walls were broken by Jews who decided they want to be part of the “world” and this was the birth of the “orthodox” or “ultra-orthodox” – Jewish communities that isolated themselves to guard the laws and traditions of Moses, until the time of Moshiach as we mentioned above. Interestingly, if you want to study with the few living masters of Kabbalah, you will find them hidden in those “ultra-orthodox” communities.Now comes the Internet, and all values and culture are accessible to anyone anywhere. The Jewish leaders forbid the Internet in a Jewish home. Their goal is to “shelter” the orthodox Jews from “outside” influences that will jeopardize keeping of Torah. Of course these rabbis are wrong, if only because they cannot shelter people from the Internet.The Internet is a manifestation of a new age that coincides with he coming of age of humanity which I repeatedly refer to as Moshiach.Rather then limit people’s access, it is time for the open learning of Kabbalah, thus empowering the Jew (and the world) with knowledge and experience of Torah and Mitzvot. Then you don’t have to worry about the Internet, in fact it then becomes a beautiful tool to build a united universe.These rabbis (called Misnagdim) are also opposed to the open teachings of Kabbalah, and they consider Chabad Chassidim (like myself) whose mission is study and teaching of Kabbalah “the closest religion to Judaism.””Asifa” means a “gathering”. These rabbis and thousands of orthodox Jews are getting together to talk about how the Internet is bad. And they’re not wrong, the Internet has MANY communities and while the AVC community is one of (many) best things in my life, some “communities” reverberate the lowest levels of morality and human value. To a traditional orthodox home, it’s a real problem. And in that respect this “asifa” is important. But the answer to the problem is learning Kabbalah and living it, not sheltering the world away.Moshiach Now!

          2. ShanaC

            One a) I’m formerly orthodox. My parents are orthodox, and in fact spend lots of time supporting online learning communties of orthodox things. I’m well educated Jewishly – I know this is the kuzari principle. I also don’t believe (since there is no evidence) that most of the stories in bereishit and shmot happened. There should be some outside of the text evidence, like pottery, or other nation records, to describe what happened. They don’t exist, especially with egyptian records, which is quite bizarre if you think about it. (lots of slaves leaving at once is a historical thing for them too). Debunking the Kuzari has been hashed out excessively online. So using it isn’t going to help you (with me)two a) The reason behind the drop in Mitzvot for Jewish people who immigrated here pre ww2 has more to do with the way Jewish education worked in the period – it doesn’t teach the whys, it just teaches the how. Lots of traditionally Jewish behaviors became much less compelling in the US and in situations where secularization of business life became normal.b) Other jewish groups study kabballah, and there are kabbalah masters who are teimani among other groups that wouldn’t have had exposure to chassidus until the late 19th-mid 20th century.c) The reason Chabad is the religion closest to any form of Judaism is because of their messianism (of which you are a member). Other jewish groups, including reform and reconstructionist, don’t hold that the messiah has come (even in the most abstract possible way). Behaviorly, though, even the meschists practice the same sets of jewish behaviors as most other orthodox groups, which is why the term “close” is usedd) I’m also a mitnag, and I like reading Gershom Scholem. The Gr’a read kabbalah. Mussarniks developed all their books as preemptive reads before reading kabbalah Please don’t go there, it is a bit insulting. it also places primacy of kabbalah over say, tanach, or other books.e) You’re not answering why something is immoral, immoral enough to get a group of people to go to Citi Field and yell “boo internet”. I think a ton of orthodox interpretations of halacha is immoral, starting with women’s inability to testify in batei din. That’s not the real issue though – I’m just at a loss as why I should support something when other members of their community (other ultra-orthodox Jewish people) are running around trying to ban their work. Innovative solutions aren’t going to come out of groups that try reaching into the past and stay traditional. If anything I would want to meet the Mendelssohn* of that group. At least that person is pushing innovation. How are these kids going to innovate in an enviroment stuck in the past – the support system isn’t there, from the time they are born. They need to play catchup with their education, just as a starting issue….*founder of Reform Judaism in Germany

          3. Ronnie Rendel

            B”H I definitely agree with you on one point – Jewish education did a terrible job addressing “why” we do things, and adding to that most orthodox high schools have no idea how to deal with a student who asks “why”Ironically, it is specifically students who ask “why” that are the most promising, and hence modern day orthodox schools are losing the battle for relevance in this generation – hence their freaking out over the Internet.If you look at our blog, you will see ALL of my students are “dropouts” from the orthodox system. Most of them dropped out for the same reason you [insert however you define your journey….]Besides realizing that these “dropouts” have the making of creative and technology leaders, my program also channels their energy and curiosity, which is otherwise channeled in self destructive ways.Regarding Kuzari – I never read it, what I wrote was a short stream of consciousness based on whatever is in my head. As such, I take your Kuzari reference as a complement.If I have one statement to make (without getting into details which I will be happy to do some other time):Regarding Kabbalah (and Moshiach for that matter): IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK. Kabbalah was hidden for over 2,000 years destined to be revealed in the “last generation” and propel us into an age of human perfection.It’s not crazy – it’s happening. The Internet was born on a popular level exactly when the Lubavitcher Rebbe passed away (and he did pass away even though he is very involved with the world. How is this possible? I guess we have to look at our definition of the term “live”.The Internet is a big part of this utopian age. Forget fire and brimstone, Moshiach is here, and he is revealed through all of us, and the study of Kabbalah. Kabbalah will send physics, economics, and all other sciences into a hyper dimension, and I feel I have a duty to push that forward.Regarding a Jewish king and all that, it’s going to happen some day, but we don’t know anything about that, and anyone that things he does is an idiot or a charlatan.But Kabbalah holds such a promise to the human race, that I feel it must be studied, specifically within academic and creative/tech circles like the community of this blog.

  12. andyswan

    Expectations of a prototypeListening to client feedbackIgnoring client feedbackMetrics that matterAlso would enjoy a full series:  “Back of the napkin” that week by week goes through some of the common ratios/assumptions that you use, assume and reject.

    1. David Semeria

      Good one Andy

    2. awaldstein

      Building community around a prototype alpha/beta is part of that.The sense behind stop counting signups and start building engagement is so obvious but so often ignored. 

    3. Aaron Klein

      I second this. There’s no central place to understand the accepted conversion rates for consumer or B2B services. What is a “good” sign up rate? What is an acceptable MAU %? What about sales cycle time from lead to contract?I remember an Inc column where someone wrote into Norm Brodsky asking him for help because they were “only closing 22% of their leads.” They had no context to know how good they had it!

      1. karen_e

        One time a firm owner said to me without a trace of irony, “We don’t mind paying for marketing, we just want to make sure ahead of time that it’s going to work.” I felt like saying, isn’t that the million-dollar dream?

        1. Aaron Klein

          That is pretty funny. Performance based marketing is the dream, but deals don’t work if both sides don’t have skin in the game.

  13. Dan Storms

    I’d love to see a few posts on the anatomy of a startup hub. NYC has done a good job becoming one, many others are trying hard (Tel Aviv, Austin, London, etc) and have a lot of passionate people spinning their wheels.

    1. fredwilson

      my friend Brad Feld is writing a book on this topic.

      1. Dan Storms

        great! Brad certainly knows!

  14. Mike Kijewski

    Our company is just starting to get to the size where the founders can’t do it all: we need to hire an employee or two.Can you do a post about the most important first hires, in terms of skill area (sales vs. engineering vs. HR vs. etc.) and who to look for? (I realize this is a bit ambiguous.)

    1. fredwilson


  15. markslater

    Naming.This can be a very tricky proposition. There is plenty of snake oil out there in the real world and it would be good to avoid it.

    1. awaldstein

      Oy!Never easy. Always compromises.The only thing that gets you through this is that 90+% of the value of the brand is created not born with the name itself.

      1. Tom Labus

        Seen some major battles over names like that was it and game over.Great point about brand evolving.

        1. awaldstein

          The process is getting harder.We have experts like @LE within the community that are priceless as a resource.But the game is changing. SEO is important but not at the level of criticalness that it was.Less URLs are typed in and more embedded in shares.With mobile apps how you sound is more important that how you are spelled.Great topic that keeps evolving. Did this post 9 months ago and while true the game is changing as mobile takes control .

    2. fredwilson

      hmm. i’ve certainly had a lot of experience with this one. i will think about it.

  16. panterosa,

    I would like to see the startup stage stage common pitfalls, a bit like Rohan said in Life balance, and a bit like LIAD mentions in what can go wrong. I’d like to see it for men and women and how that differs – some pattern recognition of life stage (single/married/young kids/older kids seems more relevant than 20’s/30’s/40’s). Much talk has gone on AVC and elsewhere about more women in all stages of startups and the startup ecosystem. Perhaps recognizing some sweet spots and some real pain points is valuable to entrepreneurs to recognize the biggest challenges they face at their stage, and have someone from that experience talk about how they managed to get through it. It’s not only the women who suffer when they have young families if they are founder, for a woman having a male partner who is in crazy mode all the time brings stress. It brings me back to the quote of you first meeting Jerry and saying you needed to postpone a meeting for a kindergarten graduation, and the workshop Jerry did with Ann Mehl in startup-proofing your relationship.

    1. fredwilson

      my friend Brad and his wife Amy are writing a book on startup proofing your marriage

  17. John Best

    There’s been some discussion recently about advisors/mentors. Micah Baldwin lets off steam here –…I don’t think anything in there is contentious, but how do you go about finding the right advisor? Is it a scaled down version of the Board search process?

  18. Michael Shafrir

    Moving into execution, one thing that is missing, at least in my MBA program, is a granular-level customer-acquisition class that isn’t high-level corp. strategy or any of the MBA-level marketing classes.  Would be interesting to hear from both the online side (especially consumer focusing on subscription or freemium businesses, not b2b lead-gen) but also the b2b side (thinking of something like what Dave Skok does on his blog).

    1. fredwilson


  19. awaldstein

    We don’t need business plans but we certainly need market approaches.A series by CEOs on how they got the first 1000 engaged users is one answer.

    1. John Best

      Good suggestion. Possibly related – how do you know when you’ve made it? At what point do you think “yes, this is a success”?

      1. awaldstein

        Was going to add to my suggestion:When you you know you’ve discovered that ‘thing’ the ‘there there’ of what makes your service work.Discovering your market is the driving pulse of what companies do.Call it marketing. Call it community building. Call it managing customers. It’s all the same and all there is. 

      2. Tom Labus

        Initial success can be fleeting and disappear too.

        1. John Best

          That always has to be the worry, right? No one wants to be flavour of the month for one month, and back to fading obscurity the next.

    2. Aaron Klein

      +1…and find people who have done it and can tell real stories, not just theory.

      1. awaldstein

        Could be a great interview series. Live with a small audience for questions.Every case is different. All have similarities. Every company needs to stumble forward and find their own way.

    3. Elia Freedman

      And another +1. Marketing topics are woefully missing from the MBA Monday series.

    4. Nick Grossman

      I like this too.  Joshua Schacter (delicious founder) once said it to me this way: “we made it work for our first 10 users — when it worked for them, we made it work for the next 100; when it worked for them, the next 1000” etc etc.  I love the idea of stories of the first 1000 users.  Not sure if this is exactly MBA mondays material, but regardless it would make a great series.

      1. awaldstein

        Yup….agree completely.The first 1000.Dream series.Focused group of questions across a series of different successful entrepreneurs with ongoing concerns.

    5. William Mougayar

      For a consumer buz, the first 1000 is easy. 10,000 is more difficult. 100,000 is next stop.

      1. awaldstein

        Think engagement not buzz.I think the first 100 then 1000 active engaged users are key. Because by then I have true data on the ‘why’ or why someone cares about the product.I’ll take 100 engaged users that I can talk to each and every one of them over 30,000 signup any day.

        1. William Mougayar

          You’re talking about Active users, daily/weekly/monthly. That’s a different discussion that signups/acquisitions I think.

          1. awaldstein

            Engagement is all that matters.

          2. David Semeria

            Disqus needs a like x10 button!

        2. Alex Murphy

          I think this exemplifies the reason this is a critical series topic.  What is traction?  How do you get it?  Different in consumer apps than in enterprise apps.  Different for web vs mobile.  Different in transactional vs platform. etc.

          1. awaldstein

            Yes, all true. And yes, all important.But you need to guard against digging too deep into the weeds to make it all details and no logic. Or to go to high, so that it’s all sound bites and no sense.At the core, it’s just business. It’s pertinent to figure out the dynamics around your business. And of course good to have baseline metrics. But nothing is all black and white in market building.Any particular issue or metric that is applicable to your situation that you have questions on?

    6. ShanaC

      that would be helpful…

    7. BillMcNeely

      Wow we could use some help at Veteran Central right now!

    8. matthughes

      Would love to see this…

    9. Shaan Rafiq

      This is something I am REALLY, REALLY, REALLY interested in. Not many seem to be willing to talk about it!

    10. Mark Essel


  20. Donna Brewington White

    I see that someone mentioned scaling internationally, but what about scaling as a topic on its own?

  21. Peter Sullivan

    Love to hear some conversation about forming partnerships. Dealing with setting up a deal, closing. Types of deals, different structures, and importance….

  22. MartinEdic

    The glaring omission is marketing. It should be there from the beginning as too many startups don’t have any idea who is going to buy their stuff, how much they are willing to pay or how to reach them. As a marketer it seems to me that the marketing plan for nearly every software startup out there is Freemium. This great for some but pure laziness for most.You ask yourself:What problem are we solving?Is it important enough to get someone’s very limited attention?Are there enough people (not companies) with this problem?How do we communicate a story of how we solve it?Inadequate answer to any of these indicates a major problem early on. And that is what drives most early pivots.

    1. Tom Labus

      I think there is failed product museum someplace and it’s usually marketing that put them there.

      1. MartinEdic

        Failed products are nearly always the result of not answering the questions I posed above, before product development. Marketing has two core responsibilities: Generating qualified sales leads and managing reputation. Neither is possible if the company answers a problem that doesn’t have a question. Engineers are really good at developing products that cause most of us to go, huh?You’l notice I said nothing about ‘brands’. That’s an area where startups waste too much time and energy.MHO of course…

    2. fredwilson

      that’s because it is my blind spot, weakness, etci don’t like marketing, but i do respect it.

      1. MartinEdic

        Yeah, I’ve heard you say this before but I think it’s because we have the old school and the new school and the old school thinking still dominates, especially among MBAs and agencies. Today it is all about measurability and reputation. But things like product/market fit are primarily marketing issues and marketers need to be much more technologically savvy just as engineers and VCs need to be understand marketing better. No marketing, no revenues, no business.Look at Kickstarter. All of the successful projects are marketing case studies, usually succeeding with virtually no budget. But they tell a great story to an audience where it will resonate. But Kickstarter makes it easy to take action on the spot. It’s a marketing site.

        1. MartinEdic

          And way too many tech startups focus on marketing to other tech startups, their peers, not necessarily their market. They’re staying in their comfort zone just as you are here when it comes to this subject. On that note, money was never my comfort zone! But AVC has helped a lot with that.

        2. fredwilson

          great point

  23. EmilSt

    Acquiring, engaging, retaining users.Scenarios for future. How would commerce, education, healthcare, banking/payments, politics/voting look like in 5, 10, 20 and 50 years? How the basic idea of a “good life” will evolve?

  24. mikenolan99

    How about a Capstone class?  A walk through an entire deal…

    1. fredwilson

      what is “capstone”?

      1. mikenolan99

        Our Capstone class encompass every aspect of the MBA – usually through a simulations and case studies. Here, we could walk through a deal, with the community commenting and filling in the blanks.  For example, you could post the parameters of the founders equity, comment on their fundraising goal, and the community could help “answer” the questions.  (Valuation, ownership shares, etc.)It would be a fun way to revisit every topic, and allow/force us to participate.

  25. JLM

    A series of anecdotes — “I learned about business from that…” in which entrepreneurs impart a lesson they learned from some specific real world situation.There is an aviation mag, Flying, which has a column — “I learned about flying from that…” in which some near disaster is recounted by a pilot.As a pilot when you read it, you ask themself — hmmm, would I have done the same thing?It is scary to see some of the dumb stuff others would do and it is even scarier to realize — hey, that could have been me.

    1. Tom Labus

      War stories. Always the best for learning.There should be an award for surviving business disasters.

    2. John Revay

      I like anecdotes, stories, war stories – there is a lot of knowledge to be transferred via story telling

    3. Cam MacRae

      We’re compelled to submit into an Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), even for fairly minor incidents. Our association mag publishes a wide selection of the reports every 2 months – always sober reading.

    4. Guest

      Gee, JLM, we could start a whole series on “dumb stuff” and what we learned from our stupidity! I want to moderate that one as I am an expert on dumb stuff! 🙂

      1. Rohan

        ‘Maybe the purpose of your life is to serve as a warning to others.’I think that describes me pretty well.. hahaha

        1. Guest

          You are way too young! Don’t confuse your first steps forward, as failure… are just finding your balance before moving forward in a big way!

        2. JLM

          canary in the mine shaft is still a full time job

    5. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Used to love reading those pieces – I could have contributed a few.Excellent idea.

    6. BillMcNeely

      37Signals used to do a series on firms who boot strapped thier ventures and attained $1 M in profit on a consistaint basis maybe something like that here?  

    7. K_Berger

      Great idea.  Real life business cases are such a great way to learn.

    8. LE

      War stories. Absolutely.

  26. KirSo

    What about getting into VC series? (hiring, structuring, deal sourcing etc.) 

    1. fredwilson

      hmm. let me think about that

  27. Jeff T.

    PR – Marketing – Growth stategy.  From prototype user to first users group to international etc.

  28. Jeff

    Yes. I had a conversation with an entrepreneur turned banker the other day. He told me that his unique personal skill was his ability to fire. So maybe a post in the series called “Channeling your inner George Clooney!”

  29. Tom Labus

    A post on “outsourcing”.What it means in 2012 and can it be a positive factor for new teams.

    1. fredwilson

      i think i did a few of those early in MBA Mondays

  30. Alan Warms

    Fred -Real estate.  I recall you’ve written before about post the 2002 melt down working through bad real estate deals for portfolio companies, and I certainly lived that myself.  There are decisions that can be made here that can be incredibly harmful to a business and sometimes it’s hard to talk founders out of them (even with the, “I’ve made this mistake myself..”) line.Don’t think this is a series, but probably a worthwhile post.Al

    1. fredwilson

      yes Al this is a good topic. either as a standalone post or part of a series.

  31. John Revay

    Sales vs Marketing  I have worked for companies where there is not a clear delineation between these two functions.VP Sales vs VP Marketing 

  32. Dennis Cahillane

    Long time reader, first time commenter. I suggest a series on finding product/market fit.

    1. fredwilson

      the hardest thing to do in startups

  33. John Revay

    Trends you ( or portfolio companies) are seeing in new customer  acquisition – piggy backs on Arnold comment about first 1,000 users

  34. John Revay

    Hopefully we get some people from academia commenting – Profs from MBA programs

  35. anonymous

    How about “People and Organizations” Series which would discuss matters such as:  1. international startups (cultural matters, time zones, breaking points), 2. moving HQ from the country of origin to the US/China/India 3. ‘US investors’ but ‘European startups’ – do’s and don’ts

    1. fredwilson

      sounds like international issues are a big topic to explore

  36. William Mougayar

    How to work with VC companies once funded. How to get the most from the relationship. Things you like to be asked for or don’t like.

  37. RichardF

    Strategies for achieving and maintaining competitive advantage

    1. fredwilson

      great topic.

  38. schultzmj

    How about a series focused on sales and marketing questions / issues. 1.  Sales models by stage of company2.  Sales models by type of company 3.  Sales vs marketing….when are they the same, when do they become different4.  When do you hire VP Sales, VP Marketing5.  Do you hire VP sales, VP Marketing6.  Scaling questions / issues with sales teams7.  Selling through channels (if so when, how)…..

    1. fredwilson

      yup. i need to do that.

  39. Nikhil Nirmel

    I would like to hear about the process of product design that you and guest bloggers believe in. How are decisions on the inclusion and design of functionality made at various points in the company? How do product designers translate what they see as a market inefficiency or unmet need into specifications, and ultimately code, that directly addresses that opportunity?It’s not exactly a classic numbers-oriented MBA topic, but without first nailing product, there’s no business and the numbers parts are moot.

    1. fredwilson

      we do a regular event at USV called Product Sessions where this kind of knowledge is dropped regularly

      1. Nikhil Nirmel

        That’s very cool.

  40. Joaquín R. Kierce

    Organizational culture.Values.Setting them, spreading them throughout the organization, hire based on them and ensuring, as leaders, that the org culture reflects them.

    1. lance

      Creating the right culture and set of values is critical to taking a great startup concept and turning it into a successful company. A series on how to do this with guest posts at the end by people that have would be fantastic.

    2. fredwilson

      yeah, so important

  41. Iggy Fanlo

    Outsourcing. Wats the process to go through to determine what parts of your business to outsource? It’s very timely with cloud, apps, and lots of start ups allowing a company to do just that. It’s like Lego pieces tat you just need to fit together. And fits with your investment thesis too so your insights would be keen and valuable.

    1. fredwilson

      did that early onhttp://mba-mondays.pandamia…

  42. Gorilla44

    The Exit – acquisitions, IPOs, etc.

    1. fredwilson

      i did a series on acquisitionsIPOs is probably a worthwhile topic

  43. Aruni S. Gunasegaram

    Three suggestions.  First, a series on sales – from people, to incentive plans, to motivation, to process, to managing, B2C, B2B, etc.  Having received my MBA, I always wished we had more training on sales. Secondly, a more detailed series on term sheets and their terminology.  Some things have changed over the years and there’s more info out there on term sheets these days, but for founders they can be one of the most perplexing things to understand. Thirdly, a series on financial projections and the importance of the assumptions…maybe a case study that ends with a template that you can have users download and use for certain kinds of businesses.  Any one I’ve used, I’ve had to modify for the business I was working on, but having a template with P&L, BS, and CF statements tied together could be helpful to many.If you’ve already done any or all of the above, then maybe a recap post periodically pointing to specific takeaways/tools from relevant posts.

    1. fredwilson

      i think i did #3 already. brad feld has written the canonical series of blog posts on term sheets. i don’t think i should or could replicate it. but the sales thing is something i should tackle. thanks.

  44. Richard

    “big data” strategies from collection to monetization.

  45. Rob K

    Fred- One thing I think would be interesting, and could last a month or two, would be a “When’s the right time to…” series.Like “when’s the right time to move from seed to series A?””When’s the right time to go from controller to CFO?””when’s the right time to begin International expansion”for a consumer play “when is the right time to move from user experience to generating revenue? 

    1. fredwilson

      hmm. that’s an interesting suggestion. thanks!

  46. Ela Madej

    +1 for recruiting. I am also interested in the myriads of venture funding / deals.

  47. falicon

    Spotting the “it” factor. Each post just pick out a company/product/pitch you fell in love with and ended up funding…and talk specifically about the “ah ha” moment where you decided you wanted the deal to happen…

    1. bsoist

       Only problem with Fred talking more about portfolio companies is that many of them turn into obsessions for me. I’ve had to restrict myself to using only on Fridays (mostly) and Kickstarter may very well have changed my life (and I’ve not even posted my own project).

      1. falicon

        Well that would be the fun part because within the comments I’m sure we would all share our own “it” moments with the services he mentions…

        1. bsoist

          Of course. I agree it’s a great idea. 

    2. fredwilson

      hmm. maybe a great series for AVC. not sure about MBA Mondays

  48. bsoist

    I see some very good suggestions here. I’m looking forward to reading your posts on all of these topics.Attracting talent, and crisis management jump out at me, as does that series suggested on “Best practice for when things go bad.”

    1. fredwilson

      yup. that’s how i read the thread too.

  49. Andrew

    I know you’ve said you’re not a fan of non-profits, but I also know you sit on a couple of non-profit boards. I’m wondering about best practices for incentivizing/rewarding people when it’s not a (monetary) return. Just what you’ve found motivates people who are volunteering time for something that can be as demanding as a paid position. 

    1. fredwilson

      that’s one of the many problems with non profits

  50. David Clarke

    The product lifecycle. This has changed radically in the last 3 years, and even 12 months- particularly for consumer-oriented technologies. There are huge differences among companies in how they attack product strategy, product management, product development and product iteration. I think this community would have a lot to say on product-related topics.

    1. fredwilson


  51. ShanaC

    I think we should do case studies for a bit and talk about different strategies to get through common problems.  We actually do very little case here, ironically enough.That and I would love a business ethics course.

  52. Eric Leebow

    It seems as though Marketing is the biggest secret, and even marketing experts know that, as there is no shortcut to it.  If you’ve solved the marketing challenge, everything else seems to fall into place for a technology company.  Talk about strengthening your marketing plans, and what marketing has been beneficial that many people have not thought would have been helpful.  There are a lot of people attempting to sell entrepreneurs something in marketing, whether it’s an analytics system,  traffic generators, SEO, something that will get you more back links, advertising, promotional items, and more.  What worked, what hasn’t for your startups?  Is there something that has been overly beneficial for your companies on the marketing front? Can you grow users without breaking your back or budget marketing?  If we’re not marketing, we’re not growing our users (or is this a fallacy), which is the only way an entrepreneur can make their company grow.  If someone comes within a 3 foot radius of me, and they look like a college student, I attempt to tell them about my site or at least hand them a flyer. Signing them up is a much challenging game, and it’s actually backfired on me, and maybe it would’ve been better if their friend signs them up.  I’ve been turned down a lot, lied to (sure I’ll try your site, and hoping to see this beautiful stranger on my site and they never signed up), and even been told I’ve got the best idea and the worst idea in the same day.  That’s the amazing thing about entrepreneurship, there’s people who want to see you succeed and those who don’t. I’m sure you have some great things to say about marketing, yet probably wouldn’t want everyone to know in a blog post. What’s your favorite promotional item?  Have you found any of value (ie. t-shirt) etc?  What lengths should someone go for a promotional item. If you’re paying 3 bucks for a t-shirt and getting a user to signup, is it worth it.  There are tons of great stories you can share about product or service marketing, I’m sure.  It’s my favorite subject in business.

    1. fredwilson

      i have never been more hated on than when i talked about marketing on AVC…

      1. Eric Leebow

        Remember this post, it’s interesting. Every advertiser you encounter, “how much are you currently paying for users” it’s an interesting take.  It’s always, you have to do something to get something, and some good products that are lesser evolved may have challenges getting the word out. 

  53. BillMcNeely

    Working off the recent Inc magazine article and Bloomberg Episodes a series on preparing your application for a seed fund accelerator  or your version or how to get the most out of a Startup Weekend.

  54. BillMcNeely

    Managing a team remotely. Uncompensated (Money or Equity) Undermarket Value

    1. fredwilson

      managing a remote team is a great topic. i don’t have much experience with it directly. i would need a guest post

  55. BillMcNeely

    When to use the different incorporation models and where

    1. fredwilson

      i did that in the early days of MBA Mondayshere it is…

  56. toddmck

    I recall most of the undergrad B-Law stuff from “many moons ago” being focused on real estate and contracts. I would think that a practical look at business law today, particularly as it relates to tech startups, would cover some ground that isn’t in those old tomes.Something of a survival guide for swimming with sharks, or however it makes the most sense to characterize the legal environment of business nowadays, would be quite nice in terms of rounding out your curriculum.

    1. fredwilson

      that would be JD Mondays!

  57. LE

    Negotiation. Comes in handy in life and obviously in startups. 

    1. fredwilson

      i’m not much of a negotiator. i don’t know if i am the best person to write that one.

  58. JamesHRH

    People & the startup Process.There is a huge interaction here – one influences the other.Lots of potential perspectives (i.e., guest posts!) IMO.

    1. fredwilson

      people. word.

  59. Dan

    Would love different takes on user growth vs. revenue generation.- If you start with a free service to attract users, how do you convert to paying customers- Should some businesses forget free, because a paid solution has higher buyin/engagementBasically, at what stage and based on what evaluation processes do you adjust your focus from user growth to revenue generation. I’m not necessarily thinking in absolutes (ideally we are generating revenue from day one), but more in a strategic sense.I’m especially interested in how this conversation pertains to maximizing near-term value for investors/founders vs building a long-term business.

    1. fredwilson

      i have written on this a fair bit. is this a regular AVC post or an MBA Mondays post?

      1. Dan

        I didn’t express it well, but my comment came from recent reflection on growing a sustainable business. I guess I would summarize by asking for a series breaking down biz dev strategies. I love the differing viewpoints that come out of guest posts.You touched on the basis for this request in todays post on working for a huge exit. Too many entrepreneurs I’ve talked to recently have a short term view on building a business, brand, etc. This view on maximizing current theoretical value at the expense of real, long-term value is oft reinforced through interaction with institutional investors, and societal focus on rev>profit. People are applying social network style growth strategies to all sorts of products, which feels strange. This was clarified for me further yesterday evening at a talk given by Jason Fried of 37Signals – who was talking about growing a business slowly over years.I guess I would love a mba guest series looking at the good and bad of different ways to build a sustainable business. For example, posts from folks who have built sustainable b2b, b2c or established a new market vs entered and won a saturated market. I don’t buy that there’s a silver bullet, but would love the conversation that results.I’ll also take a look back through prior posts to get a better sense of the information that’s already been hashed through.

  60. John Bodrozic

    I think a “Marketing Strategies” series would be great.  The goal would be to keep it generic enough to apply to a broad set of companies, whether they are B2C or B2B.  But it could be done with a broad range of topics such as the following.1.  Developing a brand identity that works2.  Messaging and positioning the company in the beginning3.  Developing your web properties to communicate what you do4.  Promoting the business to drive traffic5.  Market sizing6.  Market demographics and psychographics7.  Aligning marketing stratgies with product strategies8.  Channels to market9.  Scaling the marketing functions10.  Marketing with partnersJohn BodrozicHomeZada

    1. fredwilson

      yes, that is a core part of a MBA curriculum. but i am not sure i am well suited to write this.

  61. obscurelyfamous

    Effective org structures for companies as they grow from one size to another. This is interesting to me because they’re very different depending on the type of company, but there are great guidelines to how one should think about the problem.

    1. Jim Goodlett

      Check Geoffry Moore’s book, “Crossing the Chasm” which outlines why some companies are able to grow from their installed base of early adopters to more explosive growth when moving to the more lucrative early majority…

    2. fredwilson

      good suggestion.

  62. bcarroll1234

    B2B sales!  They don’t really teach it in MBA programs, but most definitely should.

    1. LE

      Selling, sales, persuasion – good.

    2. fredwilson

      not sure i am the one to write that series 

  63. Ben Sesser

    1) strategic partnerships (for distribution, co-branding, etc.)2) startup HR3) ‘hacks’ used by repeat entrepreneurs to save time, money, and headaches

    1. fredwilson

      i can do #1#2 is the most common suggestion in this thread#3 is probably best done via a series of guest postsgreat suggestions

      1. Ben Sesser

         thanks! looking forward to them!

  64. pdobson

    I would like to see a series called “Starting from 0” or something like that. Lots and lots of people have business ideas, and I am regularly approached by friends, family members, and random strangers that want me to help them build the next big thing. I’d love to be able to link them to a AVC MBA Monday Series on going from Idea to Business.You could cover legally creating the entity that will be your company, how to get idea validation, when to decide whether or not you need to raise capital, whether or not you should try to join a startup accellerator, and how to pick co-founders.I think a series like this would garner a lot of traffic because the beginning of the startup funnel is where most entrepreneurs live.

    1. fredwilson

      good suggestion. thanks.

  65. Chris Phenner

    Customer Acquisition & Lifetime Value (LTV) modeling.  I am of the view that even pre-revenue firms should model for LTV, even if they lack a firm denominator.  I think every firm should be able to quantify how much customers cost (even if for ‘learnings’ or ‘insights’ and not dollars).

    1. fredwilson

      yeah. i have to do that. either as part of a series or a series on its own.

  66. Eunice Apia

    I don’t know if you’ve written a book yet, but it would be great if you did. You can take your favorite blogs and put it in book form plus notes on the side about the blogs etc. Just a suggestion.

    1. fredwilson

      i am not going to do that. others have and will continue to do that. my content is creative commons licensed so anyone can take it and publish it in any format without my approval. i want to write on the web, for the web, with the web. it is the format for me.

  67. Return Path

    I second (third? fourth?) the suggestions on a series on marketing. (I hate the idea of sales “versus” marketing … )  Lots you could tackle there. If you want a guest post on PR specifically, let me know. I did a panel for Charlie O’Donnell’s Start Up Marketing school and I have thoughts on what companies need to do right from the outset to set themselves up to tell their story.Tami Forman [email protected]

    1. John Revay

      Hi Tami,Sales vs. MarketingI just find people – who don’t understand the difference and group and or use them interchangeably

    2. fredwilson

      i guess this doesn’t count…

  68. Shaan Rafiq

    How about some stuff to do with sales? Sales channels. Sale strategies. Pricing. Biz dev/partnerships. etc etc etc. As the founder of a recent start up (non tech though it’s a “way in” to getting parents to adopt tech in the future) I find that everything I do comes down to sales. 

    1. fredwilson

      yup. gotta do that. thanks.

  69. Robert Thuston

    Fred, what about a series on CUSTOMER DEVELOPMENT? It’d be a great lead in to a series on recruiting talent as well. I’m at the stage right now where I’m thinking about is customer development. When I get that going then ill think about recruiting talent.I also believe CUSTOMER DEVELOPMENT would make for some awesome guest posts as well.Whatever you choose, I’ll find something to get out of it.

    1. fredwilson

      maybe i should get steve blank to guest write that series

  70. John Revay

    Update on latest trends in term sheets… 

    1. fredwilson

      the way things are going, we will just be giving the money away soon with no term sheet and no equity in the company either

  71. Dan Sweet


  72. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    So many fantastic ideas. I vote for the international expansion and talent acquisition tips told in anecdotal manner. Having said that – any of the topics mentioned would be great if it is covered.

  73. Abdallah Al-Hakim

    Fred,Would it be possible to run a poll to vote on some of these ideas. There are so many comments and it would be great to get them listed in some format. It is just an idea

    1. fredwilson

      i thought about it when i was writing this post yesterday. i might take the most common suggestions and do a poll vote on them

      1. Abdallah Al-Hakim

        I have been thinking of ways to get a quick relevant summary of the numerous comments that you blog postings receive. I am thinking something similar to summify would be terrific if it could incorporate into disqus. It is just an idea and is not something that I am currently working on. Let me know if this is something you considered in the past

  74. Alex Murphy

    Corp dev, the different stages from early intros, to developing meaningful partnerships to finding a buyercontract negotiations

    1. fredwilson

      i think we did justice to the first topic in the long M&A seriesgood suggestion on the second

  75. FlavioGomes

    How to do an orderly wind down? Odds are not many will find the promised land. Not to be a downer to the party but some times 3’s a charm. Getting some advice on preventing your first couple experiments from crippling you is good knowledge indeed.

    1. fredwilson

      i have a fair bit of experience on this one. i’ve been part of shutting down dozens, maybe several dozen companies in my career. not every deal works out. i think all the money rushing into the VC business needs to learn that lesson. sadly the only way to learn it is the hard way.

  76. Dasher

    Here are some important topics I haven’t seen suggested1. Managing change/pivot – 2. Corporate development – growth by acquisitions3. Building moats 

    1. fredwilson

      building moats. great topic!

  77. Peter V. T. Schlegel

    Speaking to the companies you’re involved with, you probably have a pretty keen sense what’s top-of-mind. My sense (from being a startup founder & CEO and talking to my peers) is that we struggle with very operational issues once having secured funding. Like…- recruiting top talent (teach people to build a pipeline and pitch your company to potential employees)- onboarding new talent (especially if many in a short period of time = going from founding team who know each other really well to having 10 employees = need for processes like SCRUM etc.)- product roadmap (and doubling back on it as things change – like stuff covered by Lean Startup, only different and shorter)- sales and marketing (Mark Suster obviously did some posts on this but need more perspectives)In other words – I think that operational issues have a very high priority. And btw, love the MBA Monday format, so definitely keep it coming.

    1. fredwilson

      yeah, these are the essential challenges that every company faces

  78. Erlend Kjellstad

    Hello – I would love to hear some detailed ‘war-stories’ about each of many of your investments – i.e. from first meetup, to investment decision, to key-inflection points, to exit. It would be very interesting to hear your thought process, and also be educational to compare some of the big hits vs some of the ‘could-have-been’ 

  79. Jamie Flinchbaugh

    I would love to see some thoughts / education on the “kitchen table stage”, meaning before you have a company, before you even have an idea, what are you doing to get started. Some people start with intent and then have an idea and some people start with an idea and then move to intent, but your thoughts on how people get through the ideation phase would be very interesting.

  80. ThomasTriscari

    How about a series on the art of making deals? Reading thecomments below, people are gravitating toward talent acquisition/retention — thatmakes a lot of sense. As far as I can tell, successful startups hire greatpeople who are also good at making deals, particularly the founders and keyhires. It’s not just bus. dev. people that go start conversations, extend ideasand make deals. Developers make deals. Data people make deals. Finance, HR, andOps all need to make deals. Marketing people make deals with users (implicitand explicit), agencies and audience owners. When startups make build, buy orpartner decisions, deal making soon follows. When startups decide to pivot orpersevere, some form of deal making probably follows. In your experience acrossfunding many deals, you must have countless stories and lessons on how startupsmake deals — the good, bad and downright ugly. 

  81. david_moeller

    Fred-Do you know of any startups using Statistical Process Control (SPC) to determine if their products/services are in control?  Like you, as an undergraduate, I studied Mechanical Engineering, and now run a startup internet company.  I’m trying to find a SaaS SPC product that mimics what I used as an intern at a Proctor & Gamble plant.  How does this tie into MBA Mondays?  Technology & Operations Management!  I think it would be a fantastic topic for you to cover.Thanks,David 

  82. Abc

    Career path for recent grads: product management/biz dev at a startup Vs venture capital

  83. Nitzan Yudan

    How about the marketing plan?I was surprised it wasn’t in the list.I’m sure you see it as well that many startups have a great idea, excellent team, but no idea who is their customer and how to find them.I would say that the most important questions to answer are:1. Who is my customer?2. How will they hear of me?3. Will they use the product/service?I’m starting every day on asking myself these questions and trying to improve the answers – as well as act accordingly.I’m happy to contribute one guest blog for the series.

  84. A CTO

    Fred, this is a somewhat different idea, but how about an “Ask a VC” feature where readers submit questions, and you choose to answer the ones that seem most interesting or relevant. Like Bijan does here: provide a wealth of information here, and I sometimes refer friends to one of your posts that does a better job explaining things (I’m a techie) even though I’ve used these ideas/methods in my own startups and understand their value, for example Convertible Debt:…But there are many other topics that fellow entrepreneurs (in my case usually technical founders) ask me about that you haven’t answered in the 8+ years you’ve been at this…

    1. fredwilson

      i have been tempted to do that quite often. but then i think “i’ve got a blog to write every day, i’ve got the community/comments to tend to, and now i’ve got MBA Mondays and MBA Mondays live, and i also have a day job” and so i don’t do it

  85. hereverycentcounts

    How about a series of “other” things early-stage employees should know. Beyond equity, what should early startup employees (ie first 1-10) know about the first 5 years of the business? Ie how do most startups compensate early employees, and how can they set themselves up best whether the company does well or is liquidated after those 5 years? Also, regarding employee equity, I was in a situation where during an acquisition employees were unable to trade shares for shares of the new company unless they were “accredited investors” (where the founders and a few other early employees already had $1M networth but the rest of the employees were not able to exchange their options for the new company stock.) I wanted to understand how common this is during acquisitions and also if there are any other surprising things (beyond basic dilution and reverse stock splits) that may come up upon sale of a company where early employee “risk” is not compensated for in a sale where some people benefit more than others, due to outside factors.

    1. fredwilson

      good suggestions. thanks

  86. Top MBA college in Punjab

    Its really a great step for education.

  87. fredwilson

    the last one is top of mind right now for me