Interview with a16z icon: Marc Andreessen ⭐️- Are you a superforecaster or a Unicorn expert?🔮- Company Culture with Fred Mazzella 📘- The secrets of Customer Success 👍- Tips for SaaS experts 🧰
"If you don’t change your mind frequently, you’re going to be wrong a lot.” Jeff Bezos
Hi there 😊, it’s me, Gilles!
Episode #48. Already 1 month into 2022. And we are already in the Eye of the Tiger 🐯 with this new Chinese year starting.
I am super excited to share new learning tips from some of the very best experts in their field featuring :
Marc Andreessen (a16z) about society and success,
Frederic Mazzella (BlaBlaCar) about hiring and company culture,
M Berthelot and JF Marti (7about) about EU unicorns and ‘superforecasters’,
Morgan Perry (Qovery) about customer success,
Alexis Fogel (Stonly) about hiring and a few other great tips.
I feel lucky because I met personally all of these guys except one (guess who). Big merci to Patrick Kervern for helping me build this episode of The Timestamp.
Buckle up and get ready for your weekly dose of inspiration 👇 There is a free surprise for you at the end of this 7minute read 🎧.
#1. Learning with a16z cofounder Marc Andreessen
Patrick Kervern shares his key takeaways from a podcast called The Knowledge Project you can access here 👉 Marc Andreessen: Interview with an Icon. This great interview was released by Farnam Street on January 25, 2022.
Society. In society, Power and Status Bells are the core Bells. They are the most vicious fights. A key question to consider is “How does technology impact social hierarchy?”. With the rise of the tech era, probably the biggest shift is from institutions towards networks. A pessimist view of the internet would be to think that it has not proven able to build a functioning governance system. Or can you have a democracy when people are arguing every day on peer-to-peer networks?
Success in life is more probabilistic than deterministic. Think of the “Idea Maze”. Some successful entrepreneurs have been thinking about a specific problem for more than five years.
At a16Z, investment decisions are not based on unanimity, majority, or top-down processes but by budget allocation with a single trigger puller. Success (or failure) is not at the unit to measure the ROI of an investment; it is at the unit of the ROI of a portfolio.
Growing Up. The “Elon Musk on your shoulder” advice. See the problem through the lens of somebody else persona. Import other people's mental models ie. What if Elon Musk, Peter Thiel or Andy Grove were in the room? what would they say? How do you keep the bar high when you are an entrepreneur: you need a forcing function. You need smart people in your board of directors to argue with them.
I edited 3 key learnings from this inspiring interview with the help of my friend Patrick Kervern. In case you want to get access to 10 more key takeaways from Patrick, you can join The Timestamp VIP club with a premium subscription here 👇
#2. Are you a ‘superforecaster’ or are you a Unicorn expert?
My key takeaways from an article you can access here 👉 7 about: les superforecasters, Blinkist et la Tech à Berlin 🇫🇷 was published by a couple of expert curators M Berthelot et JF Marti on February 4, 2022.
Are you a ‘superforecaster’? This means you are able to predict the future even better than experts. Here are a few tips they use:
gather a lot of information from multiple sources,
accept to be wrong in the short term but right in the long term,
be open to doubt and reconsider your judgment often.
teamwork is crucial,
be a master in probabilistic computing,
use scoring methods.
Superforecasters happen to change their minds up to 4 times: “People who are right a lot listen a lot, and they change their mind a lot. If you don’t change your mind frequently, you’re going to be wrong a lot.” Jeff Bezos
Guess what? 321 🦄
2021 was 3x more successful for EU startups in terms of funds raised.
In 2021, Europe counted 321 unicorns (startup companies > 1 bn USD valuation) and 26 decacorns (>10bn valuation).
The country ranking remains the same with UK 1st 🇬🇧, Germany 2nd 🇩🇪 and France 3rd🇫🇷. Berlin comes 2nd in the city ranking behind London and before Paris.
#3. Setting up a good company culture 🇫🇷
My key takeaways from the last part of the book “Mission BlaBlaCar” written by Frederic Mazzella (Ed. Eyrolles) about company culture. You can find the book here 👉 Mission BlaBlaCar 🇫🇷 January 2022. Sorry for the French.
Wild beats skills. La motivation est plus forte que les compétences.
« Recruter des personnes qui aiment partager ce qu’elles connaissent sans rétention d’info » > Recruit employees who love sharing what they know without retianing information.
« Recruter des personnes qui savent faire plus voire beaucoup plus que le poste pour lequel elles postulent chez vous » > Recruit employees who are more skilled than the job you are recruiting for.
« Faire confiance à priori à celles et ceux qui savent dire quand ils ne savent pas ou quand ils se sont trompés …et qui travaillent beaucoup ». > Give your trust to employees who can say they don’t know or those who can admit they made a mistake… and are workaholic.
#4. Customer Success 1st, Growth 2nd
My key takeaways from a great article you can access here 👉 The secrets behind our Growth - Customer Success. Thank you Morgan Perry for this piece published on January 16, 2022.
A satisfied customer is less likely to churn and more likely to sell your product for you.
A measurement of success can be the usage of your platform. It can also the number of prospects they refer you to. For example, Qovery has a BtoD strategy selling its solution to developers. If your persona is a developer, it is wise to develop a support department to serve … developers.
In the end, doing an outstanding job at supporting your customers will lead to spontaneous product referrals on LinkedIn or other social networks. At Qovery, time spent on the platform is measured with the number of users using the platform and the average time spent per user.
A crucial KPI a SaaS company has to measure is time to value TTV (Time to Value). This is the average time it takes for your customers to realize the value brought by your product. Improving TTV proves to be deeply related to customer satisfaction.
For example, the company also found out that the average daily time spent per user per session on the platform was important to measure.
The customer success team has a key role to fuel customer feedback info back to Eng, product teams to have the whole team focused towards the same TTV goal.
In a competitive space like your Saas company might be in, the customer success team is the one that will make the difference between success and failure. Make sure your CSM team uses the right tools like Slack Connect (a precious tool for support teams) or Trana (a training tool that can be instrumental to accelerate adoption and TTV).
Some finals takeaways:
CSM teams have to work closely with product teams to improve TTV.
Everyone in the company is writing stuff or sharing knowledge with others.
Existing customers are the foundation to make growth possible.
#5. Tips from refounder Alexis Fogel (x-Dashlane now @Stonly)
My key takeaways from a podcast called SaaS Connection you can access here 👉 #10 Alexis Fogel, cofounder @Stonly. Restart from zero after a first success @Dashlane 🇫🇷 was published by Alex Delivet on June 2021.
Alexis Fogel (x-Dashlane now Stonly) gives a couple of tips for startup growers:
hires opportunistically because it is preferable to have the right person when you do not exactly need it rather than hiring the wrong person at the moment you open a position,
use data in any aspect of the customer journey to understand and share factually the value you bring to them. When they say you are not bringing enough value, try to balance their perception with facts,
data is also crucial for product leaders to understand which feature is being used or not. The feedback loop is key,
Stonly created a series of podcasts where the best Customer Service leaders are sharing their views about the best practices. Creating this audio content was a decision Stonly figured after witnessing that social networks were not bringing a satisfactory quality level for leads.
Lately, I have been extremely busy working on a new project but I am so proud to be able to maintain this writing routine 👉 delivering you The Timestamp every Sunday. For those who speak French and want to know more about my new professional challenge, you can listen to this interview here 👇
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