Tricks of the Trade Every Startup Should Follow

This isn’t one of those startups lists you’ve already read 100 times. I’ll admit, seeing another 10 Things Every Founder Should Know with the same  1. Team, 2. Founder Vesting, 3. Ship Fast would drive me insane, too.

Instead, I wanted to share a few tools and best practices that can help startups save a lot of time and money. We live by these tricks of the trade at Gamer Duel, and as a startup advisor I all but require any company I work with to do the same.  

Find the right software for managing your securities docs

If you’re a founder and you have a folder with every stock agreement and options grant your company signed from every round, bravo.

For everyone else there is this amazing company called eShares that manages all of your securities docs for you. About to raise a Series A and need to know what happens if you fire one VP but hire a solid Director of Engineering at three percent? Done. Need to send an options grant to your latest marketing hire? Done. Want all that in a killer website? Done.

They also do an awesome confetti effect whenever something cool happens. You’ll love it.

Stop going to meetups that offer little value

The advice ‘talk to everyone’ is generally a good one. Generally. At some point though, you need to stop going to the meetup with 50 ‘Life Coaches’, ‘Business Development Consultants’ and ‘Part Time CFOs.’ Your time is valuable, and while I love event hustle, I love smart hustle even more.

Go to events hosted by startups themselves versus meetups as a business types. Not only does this tend to weed out unhelpful service providers, but events run by startups can be great for recruiting.

Never paying an angel group’s ‘fees’

Seems like common sense right? Not. There is at least one major Boston angel group that charges $5,000 just to raise from them. If your investor wants you to pay these kinds of fees, get your laptop and run. Run fast. Not only is this a complete misalignment of reality, but I bet you’ll find every seed stage fund that charges seed fees also has a 4 month due diligence process and wants a detailed business plan. Remember when I said to run?

Jokes aside, paying these fees is a ridiculous practice. The only way startups can fight back against this is by refusing to work with groups who make these types of charges.

Create a tutorial for your app

Your users, investors, and mom didn’t build this and they probably don’t know how to use it – yet. The number of beta-only startups who show me a demo with no tutorial is insane. Anyone can sign up for AppCues and have a basic coach mark tutorial ready in 20 minutes. It’s easy to execute, low hanging fruit, and simple enough do over a Harpoon IPA during the Pats game.

Vet your lawyers like you vet your VCs

Listen, not vetting your lawyer properly will totally screw you. Before taking money from a VC, everyone says you should call founders from a VC’s portfolio and ask them what the VC did when the company went through hard times – so why not the legal guy?

I’m advising a company that ended up with 3 groups suing each other because their lawyer was okay with a founders agreement that seemed like it was created for Wild West cattle trading. A good lawyer gives you the confidence to focus on running your business. A bad lawyer get you fired by Raviga, and before you know it you’re back at Hooli schlepping code.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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As a founder and startup advisor, Nathan focuses on creating products in high-growth tech markets, including eSports, payments, ecommerce and digital media. His most recent venture, Gamer Duel, lets people win real money competing on console games like FIFA, Madden and NHL. Nathan built Gamer Duel’s proprietary payments, matchmaking and dispute resolution platform to enable secure competitions between friends, followers or anyone in the Gamer Duel network. Nathan is also advising a number of Boston-area tech startups, from stock market competition app Waylz to writing platform Syrah. Prior to founding Gamer Duel, Nathan served as CTO of Barstool Sports, the number one independent sports and men’s lifestyle site with more than 200 million monthly page views globally. There, Nathan oversaw the company’s technology strategy and led the rebuilding of Barstool’s technology stack from the ground up. Previous roles included senior manager of client services at eGifting currency and incentives Cash Star, and founder of nightIQ, an app for helping people plan their night lives around friends, events and locations.
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