Dev Khare

TMT
9 Months ago
Conversational artificial intelligence (AI) platform Yellow Messenger has raised...
1 Year ago
Global venture capital firms started testing the waters of India’s startup ...
2 Years ago
Venture capital firm Lightspeed India Partners has raised its second fund of $...
2 Years ago
Venture capital firm Lightspeed India Partners has appointed former Andreessen ...
2 Years ago
US-based venture capital firm Lightspeed Venture Partners has opened its second ...
8 Years ago
                                                                             I have worked with the Slideshare team, as a user, investor and board member at different times, from 2008 till late last year.  After the Slideshare + LinkedIn announcement last week, I have been reflecting on how much has changed and how much (or little, depending on your perspective) I have learnt from this experience since starting out in the venture business several years ago, as well being a founder myself in the late 1990′s.Here’s what I learnt from Rashmi, Jon and Amit about best practices of founders.  I appreciated their willingness to work with me and be patient.Passion & FocusPassion about your userbase is contagious. It impacts the employees and their retention, it impacts your core user base and their retention, it impacts customers and their retention.Focus, focus, focus on honing the product – UX, scalability, security, data, analytics and more – but keep trying new product angles quickly to iterate toward high engagement and clear value.Focus on crystallizing value to paying customers – make it easy for customers to understand value (packaging, positioning, messaging), connect value to price, and make it easy to pay as customers receive value. To do this, understand who your super-user segments are and why.Growth and (or versus) MonetizationBe frugal (if possible) but keep innovating, so you are around when lightning strikes in terms of user growth, revenue or outcomes.It’s tough to balance growth versus monetization versus profitability. There is definitely a trade-off. Get lots of input on this from people who have made these trade-offs successfully.Understand path from user acquisition to engagement to retention to monetization early on and track associated actionable metrics (a la Dave McClure’s AARRR). Especially for user-generated content, there’s no automatic connection between usage and revenue.The Outside WorldAcquisitions and successful partnerships take time to develop.  They generally come from engaging over long periods of time. At the end of the day, it’s about people getting to know people.Keep tabs on competition, don’t obsess about them though – most companies die of self-inflicted wounds, not because of competition.Investors are people. Sometimes your investors and board members know what they are talking about, sometimes they don’t, hopefully more of the former.Becoming a Better Board MemberThrough hits (and misses), I also learnt some lessons on how to become a better board member over time:Be respectful w.r.t. founders – they known their business better than you do.Be patient – there’s no such thing as an overnight success – don’t get too impatient but still hold management’s feet to the fireBe thoughtful and have a high bar when suggesting workstreams for the company – their time is precious, don’t waste it.Focus on strategic impact – as an investor, focusing on daily management decisions (i.e. micro-managing) will not have a positive impact on the company (and may have a negative impact). Focus on strategic changes, such as building the best management team, making the right bets on monetization, making the right introductions to partners/acquirers, holding people accountable for outcomes.Conduct board meetings for the right reasons. Board meetings should not primarily be about reporting only but also about trying to solve problems together and laying the groundwork for scale.  The real action happens outside of board meetings though.Align with founders on outcomes. Understand your goals and risk-profile as an investor early on relative to goals and risk-profile of the founders & management team.  Align.Angels and VCs are not at loggerheads. As long as companies continue to build value in a large enough market, angel investors and venture investors are aligned.  All the media hype about the two communities being at loggerheads with each other is overdone.(Dev Khare is at Lightspeed Venture Partners in New Delhi and invests in Internet, mobile and software companies. He has led investments and served on the boards of companies like Slideshare, Appia and Aha Mobile. The post has been reproduced with the author’s permission from his blog, NextWala.)