So, I'm planning to build this website which provides a certain service to the users. I initially wanted to make it only add based but soon realized that this won't provide me with enough revenue. Now I'm thinking about charging each customer $ 5/month, but I'm afraid that if I do so, they won't be willing to pay. When I for example see a paid service I often choose not to use it not because of the fact that the price is too high but because of the fact that I have to pay (idk if this makes sense). How would you deal with that?
CTO / Co-Founder is an equal shareholder. I'm the CEO, the idea guy, and the investor.
I ask him: do you feel motivated enough by the mission and vision we have? He goes: "I will only get motivated when I see money coming in, otherwise it feels like we are wasting time".
My idea is that if we don't get motivated, enthusiastic, and fuel ourselves with illusion at pre-MVP level, we will never be able to even hope for paid users.
Is this an expected statement from a typical CTO? I guess, they tend to be more rational and logical than CEOs, who are often visionaries, dreamers, and sometimes delusional. So I should just accept it, and try to engage him more.
Or is it a red flag that shows that the guy doesn't have any skin in the game and that he is going to drop me when things get rough?
How would you interpret this? Perhaps a failure from my side to "sell" him my vision?
Or perhaps I should expect to build a vision together since he's a 50% co-founder?
I preface that we have just got started. We haven't gone trading for a year with no revenue – if that will ever happen, I might get discouraged too at that point.
Working remotely is great and it gives people flexibility to balance their personal and work life better. For many of us, it’s been an essential part of our response to the current pandemic. But there’s also a downside to it – and that is not being at the office and getting to work and have a good time with your co-workers.
It’s in situations like this that team building activities might be just what you and your team need to keep the spirit alive. For this reason we have come up with a list of 10 remote/online team building activities and games that you can enjoy with your team. Have fun.
Fitness or Yoga – Keep your mind off of numbers and reports for a while and put on your sport clothes. Even if you’re a beginner or have some experience, fitness and/or yoga are the perfect activity for any kind of team. There are two ways to set this up: find an online class on Youtube to then get together on a video call for the activity, or reach out to a personal trainer or gym to create a special activity for your team. Pros and cons? The first time is free of charge, while the second isn’t but you get to have a professional lead the activity and encourage and challenge your team.
Guess the song – This one is perfect for the music geeks and a casual friday afternoon get together. Ask your team to send 3 to 10 songs (depending on the size of your team), put them all together on a playlist and tell them to create pairs. The game consists of playing the first 3 seconds of a song to a pair and see who guesses it first. If they don’t recognise it at first, extend to 5 seconds and up to 20 seconds. First person to guess the title correctly gets a point. If you wish to make it a bit more challenging you can give 0.5 points if they only get the title or artists, and a full point if they get both, title and artist, right.
Two truths and a lie – This one is the perfect game to get to know your team buddies. Ask your team to draft a list with 10 truths about themselves at 5 lies and then set up a video call. You can count points and get a winner at the end of the game or just let it roll and have a little fun getting to know the people you work with. You might be surprised!
Charades – This is the kind of game that might not be thrilling to some people at first, but everyone ends up loving at the end.Depending on the size of your team you can either play all together or divide into two (or more) small teams. So that all team members can play, you can use Get Charades Ideas – a free generator which can also be filtered to create different categories as you play the game.
Hidden hobby – All of us have something that we’re very good at and that maybe our team members don’t know about. This activity is about getting to know a hidden side to your work friends. Ask your teammates to prepare a 5 to 10 minute presentation on something they’re good at and create a workshop around it. For example, if you’re a great baker, you can shoot a video to show your teammates how to make the bestSachertorte. So that it doesn’t get overwhelming, space out the presentations and host 1 or 2 maximum every week.
Virtual happy hour – Don’t let lockdown come in between having a good time. Happy Hour is perfect for Fridays at 5pm when you can’t focus on anything else anymore. Like you do on a regular Friday at the bar next to the office, grab a few beers and turn on your laptop camera. Might also be a good idea to play some of the games mentioned above.
Virtual travel – This one is perfect for the creative minds and those with wanderlust. Ask each team member to decide on one country – could be one that they have visited or want to visit. Create a calendar and decide on the theme country for the week. For every daily standup meeting all team members will have to wear or do something that reminds them of the chosen country. For example, if one person chooses the UK, you can show up to the morning catch-up with tea and biscuits, or pull off your best British accent. This can even be turned into a mini social media campaign to share on your company’s Instagram.
Virtual campfire – Friends, campfires and s’mores? Couldn’t ask for anything better. There’s two ways to go with this one. You can either contact Tiny Campfire and they will deliver a tiny campfire set for all your team, or you get all your team members to buy the essentials at home: candles and s’mores. Sit down with your workmates and chat. or even play a few games while you disconnect from work for a while.
Donut time – This is a slack extension that will pair up your team members randomly. Each pairing will have a 15 to 30 minute video call to chat about anything but work. Encourage your team to use this time to get to know each other on a more personal level and then share on your group channel any similarities or fun facts that they might have learnt from one another.
Virtual Kahoot – Not being at the office might be keeping you away from knowing what’s being done in other teams. Product updates, deals closed and campaigns launched, the list goes on and on. So that no one gets lost, make sure to send out a weekly newsletter or message on the General channel where you tell your team everything that has happened. To (sneakily) make sure that everyone gets and reads the news, you can set up a small Kahoot game on Monday and see who is on the loop with what’s going on.
Now all that we can say is go have fun! We hope that you and your team enjoy these activities and small games. In situations like the one we’re living it’s important to stick together and keep the team spirit thriving.
Have any of you had a PayPal account go negative? I had a business that went bust last August. I had a PayPal business account that went negative in July 2019 from client refunds.
The last refund/chargeback was in October 2019.
It’s negative $ 43,800.
What’s odd is that except for one phone call to my house in October they haven’t contacted me at all. I’ve been calling them more than they’ve been calling me.
The account is closed/charged off (I can’t log in either), but every time I call and ask for the contact info of the collections agency they sent it to I’m told they are still holding it with their in house collections.
Customer service has no answers.
I want to set up a payment plan that’s 24 to 36 months long, but because they are not a bank they don’t offer payment plans. That’s why I was waiting for them to send it to collections
I don’t even mind setting up a payment plan for the entire balance. I just want SOMETHING in place where I’m paying it off so I can sleep at night. This not knowing is killing me
It’s just a regular PayPal business account that went negative, so there’s no interest rate.
They also can’t tell me when it will be sent to collections.
What should I do? My personal account went and stayed negative a few years back by accident for a small amount and they very, very quickly sent it to collections and called like crazy.
I’m just kind of baffled figuring out what they’re next move could be
Caryn Marooney is general partner at Coatue Management and sits on the boards of Zendesk and Elastic. An advisor to Airtable, in prior roles she oversaw communications for Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus and co-founded The OutCast Agency, which served clients like Salesforce.com and Amazon.
I recently got an email from a company that once sold me a pair of jeans. They wanted to talk about COVID-19. I’ve gotten a lot of these emails over the last few weeks, as more and more companies are blasting their contacts, expressing concern, making commitments and vowing that we will get through this together.
I used to run communications teams, so I get it; no one knows what to do these days, and all of us are looking for ways to help. But as comforting as it is to know my insurance company, food delivery service and apparel retailers are looking out for me, I find myself hoping that there’s more to the plan — that they are helping the people who actually need it (not me).
As an investor and advisor to founders, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks as part strategist, part therapist. This crisis is unlike anything that has come before in our lifetimes, but there are things we can learn from other crises and from each other to navigate the uncertainty ahead. This is not a post about layoffs or expense planning, although there are important things to say about both. Instead, this is a collection of ideas that have come out of brainstorming sessions I’ve had with startup founders over the last few weeks focused on how to think about sales and marketing in the time of COVID-19.
No one has a playbook for this. But we can experiment. We can stop a bunch of activity that was normal just weeks ago. We can learn from each other. We can plan for both short-term disruptions and long-term realities. And we can give each other some actionable steps to take at a time when everyone is trying to figure out the best way forward.
To that end, here are a few things I’ve brainstormed with founders, divided into three categories:
The coronavirus outbreak will likely have an impact on early-stage venture investment in tech startups, but the European investors and industry professionals are optimistic.
Do follow our special coverage on coronavirus over here.
New deals are still happening!
We asked Patrick Polak, Managing Partner, Newion Investments if new deals were still happening? He replies, ”Yes of course! All professional funds are open to doing new business and invest in promising companies. Obviously, COVID-19 has an unprecedented impact on all of us: families, employees, companies, and investors. Although every investor is very much involved today to re-assess their existing portfolio on the impact, we all have long term views. At Newion, we partner up with entrepreneurs for 7 or more years. And VC’s are being paid to invest, to make a return. So, sitting on your hands won’t help here. It cannot be denied that the current crisis heavily impacts our outlooks and our growth models. But we must not forget that good and robust business models will remain valuable, although it is likely that temporarily there will be less growth than originally expected.”
On this Polak adds, “Newion continues to invest since our core investment focus is based upon the trend — Digital Transformation. We won’t use less data or less software in the future. We have enough dry-powder to invest in new companies and support our existing portfolio companies. Our team consists of very experienced and down to earth people. And maybe growth takes a little longer, so what?”
At the same time, San Francisco-based early-stage venture fund and seed accelerator, 500 Startups surveyed investors to find out the impact of COVID-19 on the early-stage startup investment climate. The majority of respondents identified as a venture capital firm (40%) or an angel investor (35%) noted that the COVID-19 healthcare crisis is having an impact on investment activity or plans. While many of those surveyed have not yet decided how they will change their investment strategies, 26% will continue the investment allocation planned prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. When asked how long-term investors believe the impact of COVID-19 will last for the early-stage investing community, most believe the impact could last between one and two years.
However, some categories are massively benefiting from the virus, such as healthtech and remote working solutions.
Commenting on the matter, Tim Chae, General Partner at 500 Startups says, “We know that this health crisis will, unfortunately, hurt investment: in our survey, 32% responded COVID-19 will have a negative impact and 36% answered it will have a somewhat negative impact. And the average investor surveyed believes the impact on early-stage investing of COVID-19 will last from one to two years. But the downside is not the only trend in the picture. Investor interest is rising in specific industries affected by COVID-19, including healthcare (47%) and remote work solutions (42%) – industries which will only continue to strive regardless of COVID-19’s duration. With record-level dry powder available from VCs as the result of the highs of VC funds raised from LPs in 2018 and 2019, there will still be deals that get done – still at relatively high figures when compared to the last 10 year average. However, we expect overall global early-stage VC deployment to be reduced by 25-33% from 2019 figures for the remainder of 2020 and into the first half of 2021.”
Not all will be negative in early-stage investment climate in 2020 and 2021
With the pandemic, startups around the globe have been left scrambling to adapt. In addition to moving to fully remote work, startups are wondering what the future of early-stage investment holds during this crisis as well as in its aftermath.
On this Chae says, “Before addressing the current situation, it’s important to note that there was a record number of VC funds raised in 2018 and 2019. The majority of these funds are still in their active investment period, and many may continue to make investments for the rest of this year and into 2021, assuming typical active-investment periods. In the past two years, we’ve seen historic levels of active seed and Series A funds, which means it’s not all negative news for capital availability at this point.
However, investors must now navigate market changes as well as the pandemic’s effects on a global scale, which may impact investment activity. VCs now have to not only meet founders remotely, but they also have to make decisions among the firm remotely, which could contribute to the slowdown in investment. I believe the slowdown may continue at least for the next two-to-three months due to the adjustments these VCs have to make. And while there is capital available, founders have to take time to consider the next steps.
The true impact of COVID-19 and the current market fluctuations may be felt more in 2021, which means startups should prepare now. As TechCrunch reports, there may be less active funds in 2021, as total funds raised in VC for early-stage may take a large step back from the record highs we saw in 2018 and 2019.”
Further when contacted, Sebastian Schaal, founder of German AI startup — Luminovo which scored over €2 million in a pre-seed financing round this week — to ask what are VCs interested in at this point of time, he says, “The amount of money in the market has not changed, but the view on approaching the game. Often, there was the “new is always better” attitude, where everyone was desperately hunting for the next big thing – especially the early-stage funds. Their model works that way: small tickets have to have the potential to return the whole fund. However, now most funds are first looking at their own portfolio, assessing who would suffer the most from the crisis and need extra capital. Where before you could bet on external funds following-on, it might now be likely that you have to do an internal route.”
Timon Ruban, co-founder of Luminovo adds, “I don’t think their interests have changed, but maybe the risk aversion has increased a little. And while Uli Hoeneß is hoping for the transfer fees of soccer players to drop after the Corona crisis, there might be a self-fulfilling prophecy of VCs wanting to pay lower valuations in the time to come. The difference between VCs and soccer clubs is that many soccer clubs are actually suffering big losses, whereas most VCs are working with funds that have been closed before COVID-19 came along. In general: the nature of the game–looking for strong teams with good ideas in interesting industries–has not changed.”
Founded in 2017, the Munich-based AI company has recently raised over €2 million in a pre-seed financing round with support from venture capital firms including Cherry Ventures and La Famiglia. The tech startup aims to redefine how electronic circuit boards are brought from an idea to market.
“Great startups are born regardless of the cycle”
They say great ideas always work and this is what the investors believe in and are putting their money on. When we asked Patrick Polak whether they will be investing in technology startups during the pandemic?
Polak says, “First of all, investing in early-stage companies is in our DNA. Since 2000, we have invested in many early-stage companies. We understand their challenges, we have developed a methodology to support their growth in an efficient way, and we have specialised in B2B software. Investing in these companies sits deeply in our core business. It is very risky, all companies are very vulnerable, but over the years we have joined many entrepreneurs on their exciting and successful journeys.
Like with the start of any crisis, the immediate reaction is to investigate your “here and now” situation: Save what you have, careful where you post your next steps. But I had the privilege to be invited to join a couple of companies at an economic downturn in 2001 (internet bubble) and 2011 that proved to be multiple fund returners for us, many years later. Investing in early-stage companies always was and remains a game of long-term perspective. We understand this, we have the strategy to make this work.”
Chae is also very optimistic about the situation says, “If you look at the survey results from last week, 53% of respondents will invest in the same stages as planned prior to COVID-19 but close to 75% of interviewees shared with us that they will invest less than planned. This means that for all new investments that are not already well engaged, we are anticipating less funding available starting now and for the next 6 to 12 months at least.
As I said in my talk during our 500 Digital Demo Day, these are truly unprecedented times, but great startups are born regardless of the cycle. Some of the startups that you see today will become our next unicorns and centaurs. Because of this, at 500 Startups, we will continue to invest in more than 100 companies globally this year.”
When asked, as a founder of a tech startup, what is the best thing to focus on right now, Timon Ruban from Luminovo says,” For us, it is all about user testing and building out our product. The timing is very fortunate since building a great product and finding product-market fit is not really influenced by any potential economic downturn.”
Lean startups will come out as winners
In these tumultuous times, investors recommend that startups stay vigilant in resource allocation. COVID-19 will impact early-stage investment, but no one knows for how long its impact will last. Given these unknowns, startups should consider reducing cash burn and adopting lean startup methodologies. While many startups may have already made 2020 roadmaps, it’s time to re-evaluate plans and reduce expenses. At the same time, startups should maintain a focus on customer requirements.
Chae notes, “Now is the time to keep the spotlight on the customer, consumer needs, and consumer demands. Your product should revolve around them, so be wary of making any changes or pivots that could negatively impact their experience. Your startup should fit a consumer need and gap in the market, so stay on that track and continue to measure KPIs that show customer satisfaction in your product or service. Focus on providing pain killers, not vitamins. In any economic downturn, non-essentials are often the first to be dropped by customers. It is more important than ever for venture-funded companies to become an actual business and build on revenue.
To prepare for a downturn in investment, cut the low-hanging fruit. Unnecessary costs and spending should be evaluated and eliminated at this point. Because investment will likely slow down significantly next year, startups will need to increase their runway to last longer than expected. How would your business operate if there was no injection of new capital for the next 18 months? That’s how you should be thinking about your business today.
While we don’t know the exact investment projections for the next two years, I suggest that startups plan on an altered investment climate for the next 24 months. Preparing for this now will help companies stay afloat if capital availability wanes.”
Polak notes, “As with any fundraising: prepare well. Provide as much as possible evidence of the growth model you are projecting. Do not over-ask on amounts: take what you can get to get to the next level. Work with professional VC’s that could also fund you in the next rounds and have access to additional VC’s.”