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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.

Episodes with Smash Notes

Rahul Vohra shows us how game design can be used to make business products far more engaging and contribute to a state of flow. Since future success in business software and services is increasingly driven by product-led growth and bottoms-up adoption driven by end-users, mastering game design is vital for startups seeking greatness. In this lesson of greatness, Mike Maples, Jr talks about the specific and actionable steps you can take to harness the power of game design in your products.

Rahul Vohra of Superhuman has adopted some of the most cutting-edge approaches to making a business product people *want* to use, rather than have to use. In this episode, Mike Maples, Jr of FLOODGATE talks to Rahul about how any startup founder can apply the principles of game design to their products, and why this is becoming increasingly important in a world where users (rather than IT) increasingly decide which products win.

The conventional thinking is that a big total available market (TAM) is one of the most important factors in startup success. But Julia Hartz's success at Eventbrite shows the limits of this thinking. In this Lesson of Greatness, Mike Maples Jr of Floodgate talks about the difference between available markets and potential markets and offers heuristics for determining the potential market for future breakthroughs.

Eventbrite CEO Julia Hartz didn't start out life thinking she would be a tech founder, but she has achieved a feat that's very rare: Starting a great startup and going the distance, even past IPO. She also navigated one of the toughest setbacks in recent tech history when the COVID-19 pandemic jeopardized Eventbrite's entire business. In this episode, Mike Maples Jr interviews Julia Hartz to discuss what founders seeking greatness can learn from her varied experiences and choices along the way.

Most startups postpone pricing decisions until after the product is developed. They HOPE they can make money rather than KNOW they will at the outset. In this Lesson of Greatness, pricing guru Madhavan Ramanujam shows us that without a price, you literally don't have a product. Therefore, we should follow some of the best practices aligned with having the willingness to pay discussion early and in the most effective ways.

New startups fail for many reasons. Perhaps the most obvious is they can't get people to pay the necessary price for their products. Madhavan Ramanujam's book Monetizing Innovation, is the foremost guide in the industry for startups who want to make pricing a core part of their success rather than an afterthought. In this interview, Mike Maples Jr of Floodgate talks to Madhavan about the key success factors as well as mistakes to avoid.

The best startups almost always ride a wave that represents a sea change. Such waves give the founders the power to show up with a radically different idea that changes the subject -- and the future. In this lesson of greatness, Mike Maples Jr talks about how the example of Jerry Yang and David Filo at Yahoo illustrates this perfectly and how you can leverage this insight as a founder seeking your own path to greatness for your startup.

Before Google or Facebook; prior to the days of snapping, tweeting, and texting....Yahoo was the original King of the Internet. But in the early days, Jerry Yang and David Filo weren't sure if it was even a valid business. In this episode, Mike Maples, Jr of Floodgate interviews Jerry Yang about what it was like to learn that what started out as a hobby was destined for business greatness.

Many startup founders would agree that team building is the most important part of startup success. But very few startups actually live it. The founders of Cloudflare offer key lessons in how to start with the right founding team, how to collaborate more effectively, how to design a company culture....and most importantly, how to make hiring the very best your top priority...for real.

It takes a lot of effort to build a breakthrough product. It's perhaps even rarer to design a company that endures. In this interview, Mike Maples Jr of Floodgate interviews Matthew Prince and Michelle Zatlyn of Cloudflare to highlight what we can learn about how to get a startup's foundation right, along with recruiting, hiring, and company design.

Most people think that risk should be avoided. But Vinod Khosla teaches us otherwise...Risk is something people *take* when they create breakthroughs. This lesson of greatness talks about the key frameworks for why this is the case as well as how to take risks intelligently to tilt the odds in your favor.

Vinod Khosla is a Silicon Valley legend, having achieved greatness as a founder with Sun Microsystems and as one of the best venture capitalists of all time. In this episode, Mike Maples, Jr of Floodgate talks to Vinod about why it's wrong for breakthrough builders to play it safe and how to turn the odds in your favor when setting out to build a massive breakthrough.