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Scaling Operations Feed

  • Total Posts: 7
  • Total Subscribers: 330
  • 2 min read

ICEYE is looking for talented embedded software engineer.

Guys, we need your help in expanding our team. We are currently looking for a talented embedded software engineer. I know that they are not easy to find but I am sure that with your help we will be successful. If you know someone suitable, or someone that would know someone suitable, please refer them to us. You can find the job opening on LinkedIn [here](https://www.linkedin.com/jobs2/view/114102474?trk=biz-overview-job-post). Below is the summary of what we are looking for. If you need to contact me, you can always do it at rafal@iceye.fi
Thanks a lot for all the help!

##Embedded software engineer

**Tasks/Responsibilities:**
-Capturing and managing system requirements.
-Design, code, implementation and verification of high-reliability embedded software for small satellites.
-Using tools for source code management.

 **Desired Skills and Experience**
 - Degree in Computer Science, Software Engineering or Mechatronics/Electronics Engineering with a strong Software Engineering orientation.
- Proven experience in Embedded Real-time Systems, Software Engineering & SW tools and environments.
- Proven experience in developing Software using ANSI-C.
- Some experience developing routines in Assembly.
- Some experience with higher level or interpreted languages: C++, Java, Python.
- Low Level Interfaces: I2C, SPI, CAN, UART; Drivers; Embedded Software Development.
- Some experience with Embedded Linux, Linux drivers and Board Support Packages (BSP).
- Practical experience of Real-Time embedded Operating Systems (RTOS) - Embedded SW experience 'close to the hardware' and RTOS is required.
- Practical experience of using Windows and Linux operating systems.
- Knowledge of software engineering tools: Git, continuous-integration tools, bug-trackers.
- Fluent English.
 
**We can offer:**
-Work with challenging space technology
-Fully flexible working schedule
-Attractive working location in the middle of an inspiring startup environment
-Startup culture related events (free meals, sport activities and afterwork)
-Training opportunities, including conference trips and part-time PhD possibilities
  • 1 min read
  • Staff Pick

For Silicon Valley the Hangover Begins

For Silicon Valley, the Hangover Begins

WSJ

Not long ago, employees at Practice Fusion Inc. reveled in the technology boom, munching daily on free healthy food, enjoying "Phenomenal Friday" gatherings and racing around the office on tricycles. Today, the Silicon Valley extravaganza is waning. The San Francisco electronic medical-records company has booted its founding CEO, laid off a quarter of its staff and cut back on projects to save costs.

  • 1 min read

Don't Waste Time, Hire Slowly and Hire A Player Talent

A-Player thinking means looking at TALENT as the most important resource your company will ever have.  Hiring people just to fill positions quickly is not successful strategy.  People mistakes are very expensive.  You need to have a strategy to hire A Player Talent because your company is nothing without a great team!

One of our FOUNDER.org teams has hired several A Players and here are their tips.
  • 12 min read
  • Staff Pick

Fireside Chat: Scaling Customer Development


##A set of thought leaders opened the FOUNDER.org Q3 Forum in New York with an informative and action packed panel on scaling customer development. 


* Moderator: **Michael Baum**, CEO of [FOUNDER.org](www.founder.org/about)
* **Anna Palmer**, CEO of [Fashion Project](https://www.fashionproject.com/)
* **Beth Haggerty**, Former CEO of [WeAre8](https://weare8.com/) 
* **Rob Morse**, Account Executive of Major Accounts at [Splunk](www.splunk.com) 

**TLDR:**

* Be careful about winning customers through price. This sets a baseline for their later behavior. 
* Love your early customers because they are your biggest evangelists. Do everything you can to make them happy. 
* Institutionalize your learnings from your early customers in order to set up a repeatable sales process.
* If you haven’t set up a process to scale, you’re not ready to go all in.   


---------------------------------------------


###Introduction 

**Beth:** I worked together with Michael and we have been long friends. I was the former VP of Sales at Infoseek and Michael was the VP of E-commerce. I have worked with a number of companies, large, medium and small. I have successfully built companies and managed global business teams across digital and television media. I have served executive roles at companies, including those that have exited to The Walt Disney Company, AT&T and Nielsen. 

**Rob:** I’ve had a long career in selling technology with big companies and I’ve had my own reseller business that I’ve operated for 12 years. But the crowning achievement has been my role as a regional sales manager at Splunk, where I have been for the last 6 years. We have seen phenomenal success, thanks to Michael [Baum], and we have continued to grow at a rapid pace. The customers are the biggest customers in the world. 

**Anna:** I’ve been in Consumer Internet for 4 years. I’m a graduate of Harvard Law, which is where I met Michael when he was doing a talk there. I started my company called Fashion Project. Michael has personally mentored me for several years. To date, we have donated close to $1M to non-profits and worked with customers like Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. 

### What are some war stories from finding your first customers? 

**Michael:** One of the most challenging things is landing your first customers. Let’s talk about some war stories from how to find your first customers.

**Anna:** From the consumer side, we get to know our customers so, so well.  For us, we needed to know our women so well. I know exactly who she is:  At this point she’s getting on the subway. This is what is happening in her day. It’s very important to nail this group because your the first customers really become your biggest evangelists. So it is so crucial to put the time in because you need to get that foundation. To build this base, we went directly to where our customer was. We had to find them. For us, it was Instagram, because that is where our women were. From there, our customer base grew fast and we expanded. 

**Michael:** Anna is a big student of Day in the Life Challenge. 

**Rob:** When it comes to large enterprise customers, you have to realize that they have been at it for a long time and are very smart. One of the biggest dangers and challenges is that everyone wants a big customer. Everyone wants that first foothold into a big account. Often times, it’s easy to lead by price to get that big win, to give a discount to win that client. However, this can get you real trouble. Because then you are playing the commodity game. Figure out a way to not be commoditized, because  that’s a sure killer. I’ve seen time and time again, where my competitors come in with price and sometimes they win because of that. But usually those customers come back to us because we are better at what we do. Really, it’s all about the value not the price. 

**Beth:** When I advise early stage companies and entrepreneurs, the primary reason they fail is that [entrepreneurs] just want to go fast. If you look at all successful startups, they were all able to focus on a specific segment.  That discipline is very important and very hard to maintain. Take a step back to prepare and carefully map your market, because it’s not random. Figure out where you need to go. It’s so thoughtful and carefully planned. So go get your first customer and most importantly, make sure to take your learnings to a second customer in the same market. Attrition is the most expensive thing, in any way.  Investors will need to see a repeatable process for you to scale. 

### What can go wrong with early customers? 

**Michael:** What can go wrong with early customers? We once had a client in the early days that we failed- we had to refund them. It was devastating to the whole engineering and management team. That was a time that we could throw up our hands or fight. I actually took their purchase order and framed it for everyone to see. It was a reminder of what can go wrong. But we worked hard to fix everything and make our software great.  In 6 months, we were able to turn it around. We gave their money back, but in the end we made it work. They ended up purchasing afterwards. They actually later became a great reference customer for us. 

**Rob:** There are so many instances where these problems become a compelling event. From the customer perspective, it’s going to be hard to find someone to give exactly what they want. However, [these companies] can turn out to be your best client, if you don’t give up. Just by being persistent, I’ve turned many uncomfortable situations around and many turned out to be my best customers. 

**Anna:** Remember, your customers are smart. They will go online and research you. You really have to love your first customer so hard. I always talk with my customers constantly. I actually got invited to one customer’s thanksgiving. No joke, that’s how close we were.  On mistakes, I’d be careful in sacrificing for customers. Especially in consumer, it can be so easy to throw a discount, but you have to realize that whatever you establish as your foundation is what [your customers] will do over time. This is how they will behave. If you can’t get to the price point that makes sense for your business, then you need to figure out a work around. So here is an example: We had a big customer account, and you have to make sure you’re really ready to handle a big customer. When the promotion went out, it was crazy. To put it in perspective, we were doing 1000 closes/week which overnight jumped to 10,000/day. It was a nightmare situation to get them what they wanted. We were scrambling and we had to outsource every printer across Boston just to print the labels for shipping.  But this is so critical because you can’t mess up with a big client in the first 3 days, or they will never use you again. We got saved through creativity, but it was close. It could have killed the company. 

**Beth:** I would agree. Your first customer is your marketing vehicle.  You never forget your first customer- you love them always. You are so grateful. It’s so careful to manage expectations. So for example, if they are beta partner, there’s an expectation that things are not always done yet.  They will be more understanding. Also, choose a coach inside the customer to figure out how to succeed. Get as much data as possible, which will help you succeed in the relationship. This will mitigate hopefully a scenario of going over the edge. But to repeat, do everything you can to make them happy. 

**Michael:** Be careful to what you do with the customer because that becomes your baseline. Be careful about discounting because it pushes you into a commodity space. 

**Beth:** Depending on where you set your value, it’s very difficult to get out of later on. What you want to do with your first set of customers, call them your charter or first inaugural customers. If the strategy is to discount, you want them coming from a different place. Discounting as an overall strategy is very bad, because you need to first say [early customers] are a charter member. These first customers, they can stay lower, but you get out of that point as quickly as you can. 

### How do you know when its time to take a process and start repeating it?

**Michael:** A lot of teams here are thinking of their first customers. How do you know when its time to take a process and start repeating it? A lot of entrepreneurs are hesitant to say now is the time we can start repeating [the sales process]. Here we are working with our entrepreneurs to put together operating plans- to figure out where they want to be in 5 years and how they will get there. 

**Rob:** Repeatable processes that become part of your go-to-strategy- How do I drive adoption or accelerate growth? For me, it was with enterprise software. I was working on a major financial account, and what was starting to resonate with me was working with many different silos and lines of business. Once I find that I have representation across multiple lines in the organization. Then it’s easy to go to senior leadership to show value across the organization.  That becomes a repeatable process that you share with your team- that’s the map we use at Splunk. 

**Anna:** With scaling on the consumer side, I can’t emphasis enough how important building these operating plans are. You need to know how you can hit your goals. We track customer cohorts for months, which ends up telling us how much you can spend in the marketing channel. You need to figure out the whole cycle before going all in. Or else it can kill your company. If you can see that your operating plan is matching reality, then you can go all in. 

**Beth: ** Right, you are always iterating and always improving. So the biggest thing is to capture and institutionalize learnings from early customers. There’s a point in which you just know when you are ready because it just all fits. Whoever is running sales needs to institutionalize [the sales process] with the team. You really need the infrastructure to support it. Especially, you need someone on the team as founder and CEO to make sure that it’s profitable. If you are starting to see that each time you are deploying sales and closing customers, that the cost is increasing and you actually are losing money- that’s not scalable. That’s not repeatable. Costs should be diminishing, not increasing. You have to know that’s an issue of scalability. If you can’t scale, it’s not a business. 

###What kind of advice you would give to these teams for infrastructure to support repeatability?

**Rob:** Collaborate: the sales reps have to be working together. You need to model what your successes are. Take your biggest and more successful deals and create flow charts. There absolutely needs to be executive alignment. You need to have access to technical folks on their side and yours. You need visits for lunch and learns. All these steps are needed to get to a large financial transaction. Then share this process and make it happen. All the reps need to be able to recreate that success in their own accounts.  

**Beth:** This is one of the more difficult things to track, and you don’t want to get ahead of it. There are all types of tricks. One of the things that you can do is to come up with a model where part of the proceeds is paid upfront.  This way you can invest in infrastructure. It’s so critical to have infrastructure- and it can get messy- so you want to make sure that your sales projections are conservative and realistic. You are going to have investors, who are pressuring you to set sales goals higher. You are going to want to and you are going to believe that you can. But you don’t. Set the goals much, much lower. Underpromise and overdeliver. If you are exceeding [your sales goals], that’s a good problem to manage. You just need a pipeline to manage and hire. That’s so obvious, but I’ve been guilty. You are under so much pressure to hire and you have no time- you need to hire well especially in infrastructure and know how to operate. You need engineering to support you and marketing to support you. 

**Michael:** [When I was at Splunk], I put my desk in the middle of the sales team, because I wanted to hear how people are pitching the company and the problems that they are facing. I would help them iterate quickly. But that’s how we got to be a successful company. Iterate quickly and fast. 

###What are some strategies to tightly couple sales and marketing initiatives? 

**Rob:** At Splunk, the sales and marketing teams are so well aligned. You walk in day 1 and it almost sells itself. The marketing team has a unique way to get the product in our customers’ hands. It makes my job so easy to get in the door because they already like us. We also have Splunk live events around the world, where we invite our customers and marketing gets the people there. 

**Anna:** One thing we found that worked well is to have all the metrics reported together. For us, they were working closely together, almost as one group. 

*How are you thinking of scaling your customer development? What challenges have you faced? Please comment below!*
  • 7 min read

Does a Startup Need an Operating Plan?

At this point everyone knows startups shouldn't waste time writing a **Business Plan**.  The traditional 60 page document lost its purpose for fast moving innovators more than a decade ago.  But today more than ever, if you are moving fast, you need an **Operating Plan**.  So what's the difference between a Business Plan and an Operating Plan and why do you need one and not the other?  

##Business Plans

Business Plans are traditionally long documents that wax on about the strategic approach to the business, seeking to document every last assumption but are out of date before they are finished.  Decades ago innovators creating new companies learned that taking the time to articulate every aspect of the business in long written prose was a waste of time.  Business Plans are a very high resolution medium, making it **difficult to prototype quickly**.  Prose is subject to differing opinions and styles and can take a lot of time to perfect and publish.  

##Operating Plans

An Operating Plan, on the other hand, represents the **minimal amount of information you need to forecast your goals and resources** you will need to meet those goals. Goals can be research, product, market, customer, revenue or financial oriented but are quantitative in nature.  Dates, numbers, market share, percentage increases and other performance indicators are all examples of how goals get measured.  

So why not just wing it?  You're moving fast. You don't know what your assumptions should be.  Heck you don't even know what  your business model will be.  So why try to set goals, write them down and measure your performance?  The last point "measure your performance" is reason enough.  Every startup team thinks they can accomplish more in a certain period of time than they actually can.  Part of being a fast moving company is being able to understand what I call  your **fantasy factor**, the difference between what you think you can accomplish in a certain amount of time, with a certain degree of quality and what you can actually do.  What separates great performing teams from mediocre ones is the ability to set goals, measure performance against  those goals and make changes to people, systems and processes so that your fantasy factor and your actually performance come in line.  Great teams get more realistic about what they can accomplish and improve their actual throughput so that the two converge and planning gets to be more accurate. 

This doesn't mean you won't miss some of your goals.  If you are not missing some goals, you're not pushing hard enough.  But if you are constantly missing most of your goals, it means you're fantasy factor, poor performance and a lack of introspection and improvements are getting the best of you.

##Why You Need an Operating Plan

Yes the number one reason you need an operating plan is to set goals, measure your performance and improve your people, systems and processes.  But there are lots of other reasons too.  Not only will an operating plan get everyone on your team on the same page, but it will also make you **look like a real company** before you become one.  Clearly outlining what you want to accomplish and how you think you will get there  will build credibility with all your stakeholders; employees, investors, customers and partners.   

##What's in an Operating Plan?

While we spend quite a bit of time with our teams creating their operating plan, simplistically its really just a series of steps to set figure out how you will engage your customers, set goals for building your product and your market and then determining the resources you need to get there.  We prefer this goal setting, dreamer approach to the incremental approach we see many startups taking.  Building a new innovation isn't about incremental thinking, its about dreaming, setting goals and determining what it will take to get there. 

###Goals

Start by writing down your top goals for this month, quarter and year by each major area; technology, product, marketing, sales, fundraising etc. Make sure you establish one or more metrics for each goal to determine how you will measure your success.  Now that you have your goals and metrics you can start to document each period what your top successes and misses were, what you learned and how you are going to do things differently moving forward. 

###Market Engagement

The next step is to write down an overall strategy for how you will engage your customers.  What will you do to build awareness, trial and adoption of your product or service?  Without at least a straw man proposal for how you will get to market, it is impossible to continue with the rest of the operating plan which depends on at least a market engagement thesis in place. 

###Revenue and Cost of Goods Sold

Perhaps the most challenging part of building an operating plan is forecasting revenue targets.  We like to use a top down and bottom up approach.  Our top down approach involves identifying comparable companies to yours that have grown to be successful and modeling your revenue growth curve similar to these companies.  The bottom up approach makes use of your market engagement thesis to look at how many customers you can reach, the number you can persuade to work with you and how many you can capture as paying customers (usually at more than one level).   Its also important at this stage that you forecast your Cost of Goods Sold (COGs) as well.  COGs are the costs that go into creating the product or service you are selling.  Most innovative companies have a COGs of 50% or less than the revenue they collect.  When you here people talk about "unit economics" this is what they are referring to.  How much can get when you sell a unit of your product or service (your revenue) and what will it cost you to produce this unit (COGs).

###Operating Expenses

Your operating expenses include all the thinks you will spend money on that don't fall into COGs.  Usually this includes research and development, sales, marketing, finance and operations.  Most of your costs here will be associated with headcount.  In the case of marketing most of your costs will be associated with marketing programs to create awareness, drive trial and convert customers.  

###Cash Flow

The final step in your operating plan is to example your cash flows.  Revenue minus COGs provides positive cash and operating expenses and capital expenses (purchase of assets) use up cash.  Every startup must have a good view on how much cash they will need to get through each phase of the business. 

###Fundraising Plan

With your cash flow plan in place you are now equipped to outline a fundraising plan.  When will you need to raise money and will you have achieved a set of goals that align with how investors evaluate companies at your stage. How much will you raise to accomplish your goals to get to the next well understood fundraising stop.  When you think about the types of investors you will approach at each stage, you must also use your operating plan to assess whether or not you will have achieved what those types of investors expect to see to get them to invest in your company.  

Building a realistic fundraising plan that balances likely fundraising points with your goals and accomplishments is the best reason I can think of to have an operating plan.

  • 6 min read
  • Staff Pick

The 13 Things a Startup CEO Must Do

As CEO, you are the soul of the company, the spirit and the visionary. But you must turn this passion into a business and to do this, you need to become a leader of the business. It sounds really sexy, saying "I am CEO of my own company." But, do you even know what a CEO is supposed to do? 

When I started my first company as CEO, I had no idea what a CEO was supposed to do.  Despite having two Silicon Valley VCs on my board, neither of them had been a CEO either. I had no annual review and nobody to mentor me into the role.  I was 22 at the time. It wasn't pretty.

If you haven’t done it before, chances are you don’t know what to do either and you’re just winging it.  The hard truth is that “winging it” means you are mostly doing what you like to do, not what you’re supposed to do.  Okay, I’m not saying you should lose your “personal spike”  — what makes you be you. Every awesome CEO has a personal spike, something they really excel at doing.  It could be marketing, product development, technology or sales.  I was a technical and product person.  Keep doing whatever it is you need to do to keep that spike, but you also need to be a CEO and do the things a CEO needs to do.  As CEO, you have certain responsibilities, if you want to build a successful company and grow at warp speed.   

So what is all this maybe-horrible stuff I “need” to do that may not be my first reflex as a first time CEO?  

I’ve learned through trial and error that there are 13 things an early stage CEO must do to steer their company into the success zone. You can like these things or not, but you absolutely need to do them to be an effective CEO of a hyper-growth company. 

**Note:** By the way, 99% of early stage company boards suck at telling their CEOs what they should be doing to run the company.  In my experience, board members are either too inexperienced at the CEO position, too busy or too inarticulate to engage with a young founder & CEO to really help.

So, what’s on this magical list?  Here we go.

##1. Create the vision of the alternate future you want for your customers.

The best CEOs are relentless about the continued evolution of the company’s value to customers. Make sure the vision is simple, powerful and unique. Really take the time to really spell it out, because this will be your one true guide through your company's journey. 

##2. Recruit and retain the best talent.

The number one issue growing companies, especially hyper growth companies struggle with, is talent acquisition. Yet, the most important fuel for your growth is great talent. This means as the leader of the business you have to be a recruiting machine. 

##3. Develop and lead the executive team 

Ultimately, the number one job of a CEO is to assemble a holistic team to run the business and lead this team. 

##4. Manage the Board of Directors 

Startup boards can be super helpful or they can be a complete distraction. The CEO has the responsibility for determining what type of board the company should have, who is on the board and how the board operates. In my experience, most early boards are a distraction, and it's up to the CEO to make sure that this doesn't happen. 

##5. Ensure the company’s product roadmap is in line with the alternate future. 

An early stage CEO must pay extra special attention to product plans, ship dates and progress. At it's core, this is how a company progresses, so CEOs need to stay focused on the heart of the business, in addition to fighting fires in other dimensions. 

##6. Develop and maintain the business plan 

Second only to TEAM, is the CEO's responsibility to develop the strategic business plan. Without a business plan, watch everything fall apart faster than you can say "Series A". 

##7. Evangelize the market 

CEOs must know how to paint a vision and get people to listen. Every CEO must do some speaking at industry conferences, blogging, speaking with the press or writing contributed articles. There are tremendous opportunities for feedback as you hone your message. 

##8. Strategic selling with key customers 

Getting a very important customer to make their first purchase, painting the vision of the alternate future with a customer who is looking to make a larger purchase or helping to save an early customer where things didn’t go so well are all examples of where a CEO’s sales magic can make a world of difference. 

##9. Measure the important things 

An effective CEO understands the key goals for the company and the key metrics that tell everyone if the strategies laid out by the team are working. It's critical to be able to differentiate between what is a little spark versus a full on fire to put out. You'll get burned badly otherwise. 

##10. Establish a rhythm to the business 

Everyone on your team must understand that you are building a culture of planning, performance and constant improvement. As CEO, strive for complete transparency and dependable frequency of communication. 

##11. Understand funding needs 

Running out of cash in a startup is not an option. The CEO must understand how much money the business is spending and what fundraising needs the company has going forward. 

##12. Develop network of potential investors 

Raising money takes time, but it takes less time if you’ve already done your homework to understand who are the likely investors for your company. CEOs should always be researching who is funding their type of a business considering the company’s industry, geography, business model and stage. 

##13. Run the fundraising process 

The CEO runs the process. Nobody, but the CEO in an early stage company should be running the process with investors. Investors are backing the CEO.

Overwhelming? You bet. It's a tremendous journey where you discover your limits. You want to be the CEO, so now do the job or get someone who can. 
  • 3 min read
  • Staff Pick

Understanding Operations

For pre-revenue companies, there’s a strong temptation to not worry about processes, tools, and staffing until you’ve released your product or service (or at least launched a pre-sales campaign).  Suddenly, you’ve now got real customers to support, revenue to recognize, customer contacts to create, and potentially a manufacturing and distribution process to manage (if you think you get a lot of email now, brace yourself!).  

Even as you disrupt an industry, you’re still going to need some level of internal systems to be effective.  Our focus in this dimension is to prepare founders to scale by designing an appropriate level of infrastructure - focusing on leveraging tools and repeatable processes with the right mix of outsourced support and in-house staffing. 

# Accounting, Finance, Legal and HR

Early on you want to put as much resource as possible behind product, marketing and sales.  However, you can’t completely ignore G&A activities.  In areas such as accounting and finance, legal, and HR, the key thing is understanding what you should do in house vs. outsourcing.  In these areas, you can generally outsource these functions for quite a while (it will be some time before you need a full-time CFO or a general counsel) and bring in part-time contractors to handle things. For certain roles, there are a lot of options for part-time bookkeeping accountants and contract recruiters. In determining the right level of in-house vs. contract, you need to designate the difference between strategic versus transactional services. Ultimately, you’ll need someone internal who is the point person and clear owner of the area, who can manage process and contractors.   

# Marketing Automation and Customer Relationship Management

In these areas, we encourage founders to have the foresight to think through their marketing engagement and CRM strategies early on.  That way, they can get the appropriate systems in place ahead of the curve.  Of course there are a lot of competing priorities for a founder’s time, but if you’re leading marketing or sales (in advance of bringing in specialists in these areas), we encourage founders to start thinking through a strategy and leveraging tools as early as possible.  We live in good times as there are multiple cost-effective options now geared toward early stage companies.

# Outsourcing and Manufacturing

With more and more hardware companies, one thing that we see come up more are discussions around outsourcing hardware design, prototyping and understanding contract manufacturing.  A lot of companies we see are combo hardware and software, with the founders having much more experience on the software side.  Thus, we often focus on understanding the process of choosing a partner, accurately assessing how much things are really going to cost, and building a strong supply chain.