7 Things I Wish I Knew When We Started BigCommerce

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Post on 30-Oct-2014



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Slides accompanied BigCommerce (http://www.bigcommerce.com) co-founder Mitchell Harper's presentation at SydStart in Sydney, Australia on September 22nd 2011.In his speech, "7 Things I Wish I Knew When We Started BigCommerce", Mitch discusses 7 key points for all entrepreneurs starting a new business, which are:1. Business model2. Modelling3. Product first4. Automate everything5. AMB (Always Be Marketing)6. Culture is king7. Maintaining state


  • 1. 7 Things I Wish I Knew When We StartedBigCommerce

2. Allow Myself to Introduce... Myself...

    • Me:
      • 29 years old, programming since 12
      • Developer-turned-entrepreneur
      • Love innovation in the software space
      • Co-founder of BigCommerce
    • BigCommerce:
      • SaaS e-commerce solution for SMBs
      • Launched in September 2009
      • 20k paying clients, ~$15M revenue
      • (Almost) 100 employees in Sydney+Texas
      • Raised $15M series A in July 2011
      • Growing > 100% year-on-year
      • Kick ass culture + awesome people

3. 7 Things I Wish I Knew (And Now Do)

    • Business model
    • Modelling
    • Product first
    • Automate everything
    • ABM (Always Be Marketing)
    • Culture is king
    • Maintaining state

4. #1 - Business Model

  • Where will your revenue come from?
    • Start with the exit in mind
      • Do you want to go public (IPO) or be acquired?
      • What is your break even point?
      • Find a consultant (CFO) to build a financial model
    • Recurring (i.e. monthly subscription) vs perpetual
      • Recurring revenue makes it easy to sleep at night
      • Recurring revenue significantly improves valuation
      • Recurring revenue goes up over time

5. #2 - Modelling

  • Another word for modelling is "copying"
    • You're not the first person to do what you're doing
    • Someone else has done it
    • They've made the mistakes
    • Find & bribe them to be your mentor
    • Learn from their mistakes
    • Compress years of THEIR experience into days of learning
    • Focus on the end goal not process

6. #3 - Product First

  • If your product sucks then your business (revenue) will too
    • Are you building a real product or just a feature?
    • Quick test: If what you build could easily be added in the next release by a competitor, then it's a feature
    • Find a single pain point that people will pay you to fix
      • For us, this was ease-of-use
    • Use surveys to find the biggest pain point and nail that in your product and in your marketing
    • Case in point: Google Wave

7. #4 - Automate Everything

  • The more you automate, the lower your costs + work load
    • "How can we automate that?"
      • Ask it about EVERYTHING
        • Invoicing -> Freshbooks
        • Recruiting -> Jobvite
        • Website Updates -> SquareSpace
    • Automation is cheaper than hiring
    • Automation lets you focus on strategy
    • Documented processes + automation = nirvana (scale)

8. #5 - ABM (Always Be Marketing)

  • Become a whore - amarketingwhore, that is
    • You're always marketing
    • You never know where a conversation with a stranger can lead
    • Always be thinking "how can I use this opportunity to grow my revenues, team or customer base"
    • I'm marketing to all of you, right now
      • We're looking to hire 30 engineers
      • Startups are hard, join us instead!
      • BigCommerce.com/careers.php

9. #6 - Culture is King

  • Awesome culture attracts kick ass people
    • You're a startup, so no one knows you
    • People don't really believe in your idea
    • An amazing culture can win them over
      • Look at your competitors and be different
      • Inject your personality into your culture
      • For us, that means:
        • We only hire A-players
        • We hire and fire based on our core values
        • We take care of the little things
          • Free food, soft drink, beer, lunches, etc
          • Xboxes, bean bags, t-shirts, books, courses
        • We all play poker and drink beer together
    • Your decisions on people will make or break your company

10. 11. 12. 13. #7 - Maintaining State

  • Or, how to cope when shit hits the fan (because it will)
    • You're always on an emotional roller coaster
    • You're either at the top (fun), bottom (miserable), on your way up or on your way down - this is called "state"
    • You need to be aware of your state every day
    • If you're on your way down you should already have a plan to start heading back up the roller coaster
    • Acknowledge that you're at the bottom/heading down
    • Feeling awesome one day and like absolute shit the next day is normal and happens toeveryentrepreneur

14. Thanks For Listening And Good Luck! [email_address] @mitchellharper on Twitter