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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

If you’re a startup founder simply waiting around for a lightning in a bottle moment to find you, we have some bad news. Startup success doesn't happen overnight. You need to design your path to greatness, including your co-founder, your market, your category, your team and your culture. In this lesson of greatness, Mike Maples, Jr of FLOODGATE discusses why “Big D Design” was essential for so many successful startups, and how the fundamental tenets of intentional design should extend beyond how you run your company, and into how you live your life.

Your startup will face multiple WFIO moments on the path to greatness...COUNT ON IT. But that doesn’t mean you should let these moments get inside your head. In this lesson of greatness, Mike Maples, Jr of FLOODGATE discusses how every startup team MUST be prepared to take the initiative in the crucible of the WFIO moments they will inevitably face. The bright side? You can use these horrible situations as defining moments to show everyone that your startup is destined to defeat the impossible.

Startups are romanticized AFTER they win. But it takes extraordinary grit to have what it TAKES to win. Ben Horowitz, the co-founder of Andreessen-Horowitz, is the perfect guest to tell it like it is, as he has for many years in his books "the Hard Thing About Hard Things" and "What You Do Is Who You Are." Mike Maples, Jr of FLOODGATE interviews Ben to discuss the ups and downs of dealing with "the struggle," and why the best startup leaders are often the ones who simply refused to quit.

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel understands that the task of a revolutionary startup is to manifest a radically different future, and not merely settle for a marginal improvement. But how did he make that future a reality with messenger RNA Therapeutics, and how can you do it with your startup? In this lesson of greatness, Mike Maples, Jr of FLOODGATE goes in-depth on the three strategies to designing a future where your startup achieves greatness: Play offense with risk, use the Backcasting method, and connect the future to the present.

What’s it like to run a startup that has achieved its goal of impacting humanity at a time of desperate need? Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel joins Mike Maples, Jr of FLOODGATE to discuss the power of taking offensive risks to seize unlikely futures with massive upside, sometimes with the result of changing the odds of life itself. For founders seeking greatness, the conversation also teases out many of the enduring lessons of how we can increase the odds of creating massive breakthroughs.

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.