Things that surprised me about Blitzscaling

sydneyverifiedco-creator of Commaful
Autoplay OFF  •  2 years ago
A few things that surprised me (or things I didn't know coming in) to CS183C

Things that surprised me about Blitzscaling

Lessons that I thought were most unique/interesting from CS183C

Every stage in a company's life has big, new challenge

This isn't surprising per-say, but so much modern day startup advice is focused on getting to product market fit and early day growth that we sometimes forget the scaling challenges

You're going to fire A LOT of people

Different stages of the company require different types of people. As companies blitzscale, many people who play critical roles in one stage of the business have none at the next stage

The Importance of Management

The bigger the company gets, the more important management skills become. Managing a large company involves maintaining culture, talent, mission, and more.

Need for processes

Standard and formalized processes are necessary when the company hits 100+ employees. I knew this was common in operation heavy companies, but seemed surprising for younger startups.

Still learning how to grow

After product market fit, there is still a lot of testing to find the best growth strategies. The numbers need to get big, fast.

You're a cool startup......until you're not

When hiring, you have the fact that you're hot and cool going for you. And then you get to a point where you can't pitch that anymore. Usually that's where mission kicks in.

"What got you here, won't get you there"

Lots of great lessons, these are just a few.

Thanks to Chris, Reid, John, and Allen for putting this awesome class on!

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sydneyVerifiedco-creator of Commaful
2 years agoReply
@slisam - A few things that made this an amazing class: 1) People and instructors: The instructors and guest speakers were always open to answering questions and hanging out with students. Even during the class, the questions asked by the students were generally good and aligned with questions I had in my own mind. The instructors and guest speakers were extremely knowledgable and probably the best people in the world to be lecturing on blitzscaling. 2) Unique information: The info taught in this class isn't info you can find by googling or reading a book. The stories, the processes, and challenges were often never before documented. In many cases, I bet even the instructors learned something from the guest speakers! For talking to instructors after class, I also learned a lot about companies that I never would have realized before. 3) The Community: For most classes, you attend class and mind your own business. You might have a group project. For this class we had a Slack group, Facebook group, and LinkedIn group. I ended up meeting so many cool people which led to many interesting discussions. I probably learned just as much from the students around me as I did from the class itself. 4) Actionable: Many students in the class were building companies. Some at a later stage and most at an early stage. A lot of the advice we got could be applied directly into the products and companies we were working on or at.

2 years agoReply
@sydney - You mentioned that this is by far the best class you've ever taken. Besides the fact that is thought by really smart and thoughtful people and that you are strongly interested in the topics, can you share what are some things that stood out to you in terms of learning?

2 years agoReply
Thanks @sydney. Two potholes to watch out for - 1) scaling processes too early; 2) not putting processes in place once you have data that says you're ready to scale. Regarding #1 - test your hypotheses as early as possible. For #2 - whatever processes you put in place will likely change. That's not a good reason not to establish a process. It's much easier to improve/optimize a process if everyone's on the same page with how it's supposed to work. Just make sure your employees don't fall into the rut of "this is how we do it". They need to follow the process, but know that it's also their job to continually look for ways to improve it.

2 years agoReply
@sydney It was surprising in a good way how much the culture was guarded at places like Airbnb to the point where Brian Chesky personally interviewed so many candidates. It showed how much he cared about his vision to keeping the company the way it was. I also like how he defined culture fit with the "host" culture and not just a set of things that people do together like going to happy hour. There were a lot of awesome tidbits but can't remember them at the moment lol.

sydneyVerifiedco-creator of Commaful
2 years agoReply
@kevinshin you've come to a few classes :) Did anything surprise you? @jc you mentor a lot of companies that are starting to blitz-scale on growth strategies. What are common problems that you see with companies starting to scale?