20VC: Cruise’s Daniel Kan on Lessons From Scaling The Team From 40 To 1,500 People, How Daniel Thinks About Continuous Learning & Self-Development and Why CEOs Hiring Themselves Out Of Roles Is Wrong

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Daniel Kan is the Chief Product Officer @ Cruise, the company building cutting-edge hardware and software that work seamlessly together to transform the way we all experience transportation. In 2016, Cruise was acquired by GM for a reported $1Bn. Since the acquisition Cruise has raised $7.25 billion in committed capital and has attracted SoftBank, Honda, and T. Rowe Price as investors. As for Daniel, he started his career at a startup called UserVoice. He then founded Exec, an on-demand hospitality service company, and successfully sold Exec to Handy. As a result of his many success, Daniel was listed as number 7 on Fortune’s 2016 40 under 40 list for the most influential people in business.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Daniel made his way into the world of startups and came to co-found the game-changing company of the next movement mega wave of transport innovation in Cruise?

2.) What have been Daniel’s biggest lessons on what works for leaders in scaling themselves? How can a leader ensure their team feel real ownership and accountability for their roles? How does Daniel think about KPI and goal-setting? How does Daniel look to strike the balance between ambitious but achievable goals and then unrealistic?

3.) How does Daniel think about micro-management? Is there ever a time for it? What are the leading indicators you or someone on the team is micro-managing? What can they do to correct it? What are the dangers of micro-management? How does Daniel think about assessing human potential in terms of a stretch VP and a stretch too far?

4.) Why does Daniel believe that “if you are not growing, you are dying”? What has been transformational to Daniel in increasing his own level of self-development and learning? How does the organisation need to be set up to ingest these learnings in real-time and improve? Where do many go wrong when it comes to mistakes and learnings?

5.) At acquisition, Cruise had just 40 team members, today the team consists of 1,460. What have been some of Daniel’s biggest lessons in the process of scaling the team with such rapidity? What have been some of the core challenges? How has Daniel’s style of leadership had to change and evolve with the growth?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Daniel’s Fave Book: Shogun: The First Novel of the Asian saga: A Novel of Japan

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Daniel on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

20VC: True Ventures’ Puneet Agarwal on Why EQ Is Going To Separate The Best Firms In Venture Over The Next Decade, The Negatives of Attribution in Venture & What Makes A Truly Efficient Venture Partnership

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Puneet Agarwal is a Partner @ True Ventures, one of the leading early-stage VC funds of the last decade with big wins including Fitbit, Peloton, Ring, Hashicorp, Duo Security and Blue Bottle Coffee, just to name a few. As for Puneet, at True he has led deals in Duo Security, Tray.io, Lumity, Solo.io and more. Before the world of VC, Puneet spent 6 years in product management with Geodesic Securities and BEA. Before product management, Puneet actually cut his teeth in the world of VC as an associate at Mayfield which he joined post a 2-year stint at JP Morgan.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Puneet made his way into the world of venture from JP Morgan? How seeing the boom and bust cycle impacted his investing mindset today? How his career in operations led to his joining True?

2.) Why does Puneet believe that EQ is going to separate the good from the great in venture firms over the next decade? What can VCs do to remove the barriers to access them? What have been Puneet’s biggest lessons on what it takes to build real relationships of trust and respect with founders? What is a test of a strong founder <> VC relationship?

3.) What does Puneet believe are the 2 feelings a board member can bring to a board meeting? Why would an investor bring fear to the board meeting? Why is this a sign and result of the culture of their own venture partnership? What have been Puneet’s biggest lessons on how investors can bring the feeling of safety to a board meeting? How has Puneet changed his style of board membership over the last decade?

4.) Why does Puneet strongly advocate for a venture structure without attribution? What are the benefits of not having attribution? How does this also impact the re-investment decision-making process? How does Puneet think about how he spends his time across the portfolio? What have True done to optimise the investment decision-making process? Why is unanimity not required?

5.) How does Puneet and True think about portfolio construction today? What amount of initial checks give them enough diversification to feel comfortable but also enough reserves to double down? Does Puneet believe that ownership can be built over time? Where does Puneet believe there is a whole in the funding environment? How does True think about minimizing risk on the first check?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Puneet’s Fave Book: Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World

Puneet’s Most Recent Investment: Upsie

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Puneet on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

 

20VC: Hiten Shah on The Right Way To Think About Depression, Control and Burnout, Why Nobody Really Knows What They Are Doing and How One Should Receive Advice As A Result & How To Gain Self-Awareness As A Leader

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Hiten Shah is the Co-Founder @ FYI, the startup that allows you to find your documents in 3 clicks or less. Before FYI, Hiten co-founded QuickSprout alongside Neil Patel, together they scaled the platform to over 500,000 readers every month. Before QuickSprout, Hiten was the Co-Founder and CEO of KISSmetrics, raising over $19m in the process for the company from the likes of True Ventures, Uncork Capital and Felicis Ventures just to name a few. Finally, Hiten is also the Co-Founder @ Crazy Egg, the heat mapping tool used by hundreds of thousands to improve the effectiveness of their websites. Finally, Hiten is also an angel investor with a portfolio including Buffer, Clearbit, Front, Gusto and more incredible companies.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Hiten made his way into the world of startups, growth market and SaaS and how that led to his co-founding FYI today? Having founded multiple startups, does Hiten agree with Joe Fernandez @ JoyMode that “serial entrepreneurship is overrated”? Why does Hiten believe that fundamentally, nobody knows what they are doing?

2.) How does Hiten feel about the compression of fundraising timelines today? How does Hiten advise founders on building authentic relationships with investors? What is it crucial that founders understand about the investing class? How does Hiten advise founders on building hype and urgency within their fundraising? What works? What does not?

3.) Why does Hiten believe that we have seen the eradication of the friends and family round? What other large trends has Hiten observed in the early stage over the last few years? How does Hiten advise founders on how to approach which seed investors they take on board? Does Hiten think founders and investors can be friends?

4.) How has Hiten seen himself change and evolve as a leader over the last decade? What have been the biggest learnings on what great leadership really means? What are the 5 core elements that all great leaders must focus on? How does he split his time across these 5 disciplines? Where do founders often not spend adequate time among the 5?

5.) How does Hiten think about the element of “burnout” and depression today? Has Hiten ever felt burned out himself? How does this stress manifest itself? How does Hiten think that burnout and control are correlated? What can one do to change their relationship to control? What has worked for Hiten? What has not?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Hiten’s Fave Book: The Courage To Be Disliked 

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Hiten on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

20VC: Benchmark’s Chetan Puttagunta on The One Question To Ask When Analysing Market Size, How To Compete in Today’s War for Talent & Why We Have Seen An Over-Rotation In Running Businesses Based on Metrics

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Chetan Puttagunta is a General Partner @ Benchmark, one of the most successful funds of the last decade with a portfolio including the likes of Uber, Twitter, Dropbox, WeWork, Snapchat, StitchFix, eBay and many many more. As for Chetan, at Benchmark he has led deals in the likes of Duffel, Sketch and Pachyderm. Before Benchmark, Chetan was a General Partner @ NEA where he led investments in Elastic, MongoDB and Mulesoft to name a few.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Chetan made his way into the wonderful world of venture, came to invest in Mulesoft and Elastic and how that led to becoming a GP with Benchmark today?

2.) How does Chetan feel about the push to run businesses based on metrics and benchmarks relative to other companies? What are the metrics they should hone in on? What are the metrics they should disregard? How does Chetan advise his portfolio on the right way to view competition? What is core to analysing competition effectively?

3.) How does Chetan assess the “war for talent” in terms of startup recruiting today? How do the very best CEOs recruit the best talent to their team? Who has done this best from Chetan’s portfolio that comes to mind? How much weight does Chetan place on references? What should one watch out for with references?

4.) With the rise of remote, does Chetan believe that a startup even has to have an office in SF today? How does Chetan think about the “tribal knowledge” that remains within the valley? What does Chetan advise his companies that are not in the valley and contemplating it? What works? What does not?

5.) How does Chetan think about market size today when considering new opportunities? Where does Chetan think most managers go wrong when assessing TAM? How does Chetan think about time allocation across the portfolio? What have been his biggest lessons on managing his time effectively as an investor and board member?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Chetan’s Fave Book: Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE

Chetan’s Most Recent Investment: Duffel

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Chetan on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

20VC: Why Passion Is Overrated When It Comes To Starting Companies, Why VC Is Overrated As A Financing Mechanism & Why You Should Never Sell Your Company with Waseem Daher, Founder & CEO @ Pilot

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Waseem Daher is the Founder and CEO @ Pilot, the startup that takes care of your bookkeeping from start to finish so you can focus 100% on making your business succeed. To date, Waseem has raised over $58m in funding from some of the very best firms and people in the business including Index, Stripe, Okta’s Frederic Kerrest, Gusto’s Josh Reeves, Stripe’s Patrick and John Collison and Lola’s Paul English, just to name a few. As for Waseem, Pilot is the 3rd business he has founded with his co-founders, the first being Ksplice and the second Zulip, which was acquired by Dropbox in 2014. He has also enjoyed spells with the likes of Oracle and Dropbox in the interims.

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In Today’s Episode You Will Learn:

1.) How Waseem made his way into the world of startups over 15 years ago and how that lead to his founding of Pilot today, changing the world of accounting? Does Waseem agree with Joel Fernandez at JoyMode that “serial entrepreneurship is overrated? What has Waseem done differently this time as a result of his 2 prior founding experiences?

2.) Why does Waseem believe that “passion is overrated when it comes to starting companies”? If passion is not fundamental, what does Waseem believe is fundamental to ensuring one sticks the course? How does Waseem think about the craft of company building as a passion in itself?

3.) What is it about Waseem’s relationship with his 2 co-founders that makes it so successful for the third time around this time? What do they do to ensure that unity and trust remains? Where do they have weaknesses and flaws in the co-founding relationship as a result of it’s maturity? What advice does Waseem give to newer co-founding partners?

4.) Waseem has previously said that “VC is overrated”. What does he mean by this? How does Waseem think about the decision to bootstrap vs to raise VC? What are Waseem’s biggest lessons when it comes to investor selection? How much of a role does brand play? What core questions should the founders ask the VC?

5.) What does Waseem mean when he says, “never sell your company”? What were his biggest lessons from exiting two companies to Oracle and Dropbox? How did it shape his thinking on M&A and exits? How has Waseem seen his role scale and develop as a leader and as CEO? What are the biggest challenges he has found in his personal scaling?

Items Mentioned In Today’s Show:

Waseem’s Fave Book: Harry Potter

As always you can follow HarryThe Twenty Minute VC and Waseem on Twitter here!

Likewise, you can follow Harry on Instagram here for mojito madness and all things 20VC.

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