On Non-Traditional Offices and Conference Sheds

  I originally wrote this for the Contactually Blog here, but I’m reposting this to my own blog. Who needs real walls? On what would otherwise be an unremarkable Monday morning, the normal stream of our team, dogs, and interview candidates filtered into our non-traditional office. So did 5 construction workers from rural Virginia, with … 

 

Thankful

Being CEO of a growing venture, regardless of current success or support network, is a hard, dark, lonely position. It may be the best job in the world (definitely the best I’ve ever had), but it’s been riddled with many tough periods and scary moments – particularly in my head. Right now, I’m just thankful. Rather … 

 

A confession on our 4th birthday

On October 11th, 2011, Contactually was incorporated. We take our Founding Day pretty seriously – we shut down normal operations for the day, make breakfast for the team, retell the origin and history of Contactually, and go and do fun company bonding activities for the rest of the day. In the past, we’ve gone to … 

 

Organizational Design

One of the core tenets of a first time founder is being responsive to the idea that there is a aircraft carrier’s worth of things you don’t know about building a fast growth organization. But perhaps even more jarring is the delta between the expected and actual importance of certain components of a business. One … 

 

In this I believe

One thing I believe in – Great companies are founded on one or a few core principles. These could be secrets, facts, guesses, or beliefs about where the ball is heading. Those principles could be ridiculed and trivialized. In our case, it was hated. One of my strong beliefs early on was that email was … 

 

Exit Interview

I’ve written previously about the positive implications and strategy for 1:1s. One of the more important – and often overlooked – one on one sessions is the exit interview. My first job out of college, an exit interview is a nice way of saying that someone from HR runs through a checklist of to-dos with … 

 

All the ways I was weak at building product

Last year I made the decision to hire a product manager, who I soon had fully take the reigns as VP Product. I wrote last year about the decision. The decision was primarily driven by the need for me to operate at the CEO level and the priorities that a scaling company required. But it … 

 

Reference Checks

Christoph wrote a great post about the need for reference checks in a startup. I’m surprised to hear periodically about startups that make hires without doing reference checks. Or, when people that have completely bombed our reference checks get hired. Reference checks serve a few purposes for us: Verifies that this is a good candidate … 

 

Galapagos

There are ~90 ships that have access to the Galapagos. On recommendation and research, we went on the National Geographic Endeavor, one of the largest ships in the Galapagos. Highlight album available here. Day 0 Connected through Miami (what a dump of an airport) to Guayaqil, Ecuador. From the many Ecuadorians we would later meet, … 

 

Affinity Groups

The best source of learning, advice, and vendors I’ve received is from other founders. Great investors know that their portfolio theory not only applies to returns, but to establishing internal knowledge-sharing among companies at different stages. I’ve been to portfolio conferences for a few different funds, and have gotten more value out of them than …