Starting Greatness on Smash Notes

Starting Greatness podcast.

February 23, 2020

Host Mike Maples Jr from venture capital firm FLOODGATE offers lessons from the startup super performers—BEFORE they were successful—featuring interviews with some of Silicon Valley’s most legendary entrepreneurs and thought leaders, including Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, Nextdoor co-founder Sarah Leary, Instagram founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Kreiger, and more.



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Have you heard of crossing the chasm, an inevitable jump that every startup has to make? Mike Maples, an investor from Floodgate, explains why startups have to go through this process and how starting small is the only way to get it right.

Updated on February 23

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Everyone knows a fragile team is more likely to fail. But an anti-fragile team is more than just resilient....it's more like a Hydra: When you cut off one of it's heads it grows two back in its place. Anti-fragile teams actually get BETTER when the environment around them is high-pressure and chaotic. In this lesson of greatness, we drill down into what it means to be anti-fragile and how you can apply the concept to your own startup team.

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From his surprising beginnings as a shrimp farmer with Communist parents in Ecuador to his death-defying pivot from a failed startup idea to what is now Outreach, Manny Medina's story is both colorful and compelling. In this episode, Mike Maples, Jr of Floodgate discusses Manny's unconventional journey and his struggles and triumphs on the path to greatness with Outreach, now valued at more than $1 Billion.

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Commander John Boyd was a fighter pilot who changed the art of war in the late 20th Century. He offers a vital lesson of greatness, especially in times of massive uncertainty: Decisive leaders take the initiative, ALWAYS. This episode describes why that's the case and how the philosophy of taking the initiative can help you achieve greatness in what matters to you.

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Many startups face difficult choices when it comes to overcoming COVID-19. In this special episode, Mike Maples Jr of Floodgate interviews Steve Blank about techniques founders can use to shape circumstances rather than be shaped by them. Steve has a unique vantage point since he's weathered every dislocation affecting startups since 1978, including the 1987 crash, the dotcom bubble burst, and the 2008 financial crisis.

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Bob Metcalfe has traveled in many orbits, but most recently he has been a professor at the University of Texas....so it seemed only appropriate to honor the unstoppable power of Metcalfe's Law in this lesson of greatness. Mess with it at your peril :)

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Bob Metcalfe has lived in the future since the late 1950s. And lucky for the rest of us, he has brought us along for the ride. In this interview, Mike Maples Jr of Floodgate talks to him about the origins of networked computing as well as the birth of "Metcalfe's Law."

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Many say that in real estate, the key to success is location, location, location. A key lesson of greatness from Reid Hoffman is that for consumer products and network effects businesses, a key to success is distribution, distribution, distribution. In this Lesson of Greatness, Mike Maples Jr of Floodgate builds on this by outlining specific strategies founders can learn from Reid Hoffman to get distribution for their startup ideas.

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Reid Hoffman's success as a founder of LinkedIn, investor in Airbnb and Facebook, and charter member of the PayPal Mafia have a common thread - an intense passion for creating valuable networks with people at the center. In this episode, Mike Maples, Jr of Floodgate talks to Reid about key approaches for building valuable business and consumer networks from the ground-up.

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Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moores is the most influential book on technology go-to-market ever written, and for good reason. In this episode, Mike Maples Jr from Floodgate talks to Geoffrey Moore about how startup founders can apply its core principles to building great startups, as well as how to avoid critical mistakes.

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Great Startup Recruiting is surprisingly similar to great Startup Ideas: Just like you have to find undiscovered opportunities to start a great startup, you need to find undiscovered talent to build a great startup team. In this Lesson of Greatness, we discuss how to find great undiscovered talent and five key factors to look for.

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Few people in the history of startups have seen more examples of excellence than Keith Rabois. Not surprisingly, Keith is also one of the best investors in Silicon Valley, having achieved great success as an Angel and now at Founders Fund.

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It's tempting to start a company when it meets the conditions of your "master plan." But sometimes you realize that an idea has visited you and it is now or never...you must either plunge in and take the chance NOW, or watch from the sidelines while someone else makes it happen.

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Todd McKinnon co-founded Okta when most around him thought it was a bad idea. And soon, he started to wonder if they were right. Was he cut out to be a startup company builder? But eventually, he proved to everyone (and most importantly to himself) that he was right to believe from the very start.

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What job should a desperate customer hire YOUR product to do? Answering this question is key to unlocking a key lesson of greatness. Here we discuss how the Instagram founders illustrate this lesson perfectly and how you can apply it to your own success as a startup founder.

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Find out how Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger trusted their instincts and overcame rookie mistakes on the way to building Instagram, which now gets close to 100 Million photos uploaded a DAY.

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The Startup Rollercoaster is not fun, but it's a reality of startup life. The great founders learn to manage it rather than be overwhelmed by it. In this lesson of greatness, Mike Maples summarizes key lessons from Kim Polese's success at this, as well as specific techniques to stay grounded through all of the inevitable ups and downs.

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Kim Polese, the founding product manager for Java at Sun, as well as co-founding CEO of Marimba, talks about how Java almost didn't come to be....as well as her experiences riding the startup rollercoaster as a high-profile, and ultimately successful startup founder.

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If you want find greatness, you have to improvise to beat impossible over and over again. There is no course or framework to teach you how to do this. Instead, you must never surrender to any fear or obstacle you face.

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Osman Rashid, co-founder and original CEO of Chegg, talks about how Chegg’s startup team of misfit rebels navigated through a crazy sequence of near-death experiences…one day at a time…and lived to tell the tale of achieving greatness.

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William Gibson, the cyberpunk novelist has said “The future is already here; it’s just not evenly distributed.” This perfectly describes a key lesson of greatness from Marc’s Netscape experience.

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Mike Maples, Jr talks to Marc Andreessen, Co-founder of Netscape—the startup that launched the Internet era. What it was like when Netscape was about to blow up? What does he wish Netscape had done differently? -- and what lessons from its success are not fully understood?

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“Getting out of the building” means something deeper than many realize. Mike Maples Jr explores why in this key lesson of greatness.

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Steve Blank’s Customer Development methodology is one of the critical teachings of entrepreneurship over the last twenty years This episode explains why great founders are more like artists than normal business people and why getting out of the building is more about artistry than running a focus group.

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Why proving a startup’s value hypothesis before testing its growth hypothesis is critical.

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Nextdoor today is worth more than $2 Billion and is used by 250,000 neighborhoods throughout the world. Silicon Valley types had doubts about their approach, but Sarah offers valuable ideas for finding the path to the light. One crucial hint is that users matter far more than the folks in the "chattering class."

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Learn why great startups have unique insights that defy conventional wisdom.

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The Co-founder of Benchmark Capital & Wealthfront explains the most important goal of a startup: how do you find product-market fit? As the man who coined the term, he’s the expert—and in this episode, he also shares lessons learned from legendary startup super performers such as Scott Cook, Reed Hastings, Don Valentine, and many others.

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In the Starting Greatness premier, Floodgate co-founder and podcast host Mike Maples, Jr., explains why greatness is a decision—and what questions you need to ask yourself to make your startup a success.

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