[OurCrowd in CTech] Amid a 400% recruitment boom, only 14% of OurCrowd companies are expecting to return to the office full-time

Companies and employees were surely expecting a shock to the system with Covid-19 upended the way millions of people work each day. Now almost a year later, reports are suggesting that a majority of workers are settling into ‘the new normal’ more comfortably than they thought.

Read more here.

The post [OurCrowd in CTech] Amid a 400% recruitment boom, only 14% of OurCrowd companies are expecting to return to the office full-time appeared first on OurCrowd Blog.

OurCrowd Blog

Interviewed for full-time job, received a job offer but asked to come on board as a contractor for a few weeks before starting full-time role. Lots of red flags coming up – is this normal?

Interviewed for full-time job, received a job offer but asked to come on board as a contractor for a few weeks before starting full-time role.

Many red flags showing up. For example: the contractor contract stipulates the need for several years worth of liability insurances. And things discussed in the interview/job description (equipment and equity) have evaporated. After questioning the contractor contract, and liabilities, I've now been told that they are not worried about having a contract in place.

They seem really desperate to get me on board and aren't really addressing my concerns. I haven't signed or started yet.

I know startups can be chaotic, but is this switch and bait normal? Is it normal to come on as a contractor? Is it normal not to bother with a contract? I feel like the company has mishandled this, and either they don't know what they are doing, or they are out to screw me.

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Tips for Turning Your Side Hustle Into a Thriving Full-Time Business

The story of my company, White Spider, began when I rented out the guest bedroom of my San Francisco apartment. I initially did it to make some quick cash to buy a used bike, but that weekend turned into many, and the bedroom became a mainstay on Airbnb. Eventually, I quit my high-paying job as a salesperson, and my side hustle grew into a successful design and guest management firm for vacation rental properties.

We manage hundreds of properties across multiple destination cities in the country. Today, we have the best team in the business made up of 95 percent women (this company didn’t build itself!). We chose to keep our operations completely in the U.S., instead of outsourcing to call centers. This means we pay our team members better than any of our competitors (one of the perks of being self-funded). We create wealth and new income opportunities for our clients. And, yes, it all started as a side hustle.

Below, I’m sharing a few pieces of advice that contributed to our success in the early days, helping to grow our company into the business it is today, in the hopes that these tips will help you to do the same.


StartupNation exclusive discounts and savings on Dell products and accessories: Learn more here

Customer experience is everything

Even in the very beginning, and arguably especially in the very beginning, creating a memorable customer experience is truly everything when building a new business.

Even when I had just a single bedroom listed on Airbnb, customer experience was a top priority. For example, considering each and every item that a guest may want and need during their stay to be comfortable—like Q-tips, tampons or makeup remover wipes. This might seem insignificant to the big picture, but in actuality, they are the big picture. Going the extra mile with details that some might consider a “nice to have” can take the customer experience from mediocre to truly memorable.

Experience is what builds your reputation, creates word-of-mouth momentum, drives referrals and keeps customers coming back for more. Further, with excellent customer service as the north star of the business, it became what we’re known for in the industry today. In fact, the clients who hire us often do so because they have the same commitment to service and know we will truly take care of the guests who stay in their homes.


Related: How to Choose a Side Hustle That Matches Your Personality

Capitalize on the skills you have and surround yourself with people who have the rest

Early on, many side hustlers get burnt out because they try to do everything inside of the business. Work in your zone of genius to get your spark of an idea off the ground, then surround yourself with people who are even better than you in the areas where you are not so strong.

For example, my background was in sales, so to get started, I leveraged the skills I’d developed in my career to help build the business, such as creating relationships, communicating the value of a service and the art of follow-up and follow through.

You too likely have a few key skills that can serve as the foundation for getting started. Use those skills to create your initial success, then when you’ve built a little momentum, surround yourself with great people and help them succeed in the areas where they excel.

I promise, no one gets to the top without an incredible team of people around them (no matter what they say), so don’t feel the need to try and do everything.

Use your early successes to leapfrog

Going from one bedroom on Airbnb to managing hundreds of homes across the country, of course, didn’t happen overnight. We got there by treating every win like valuable capital that could be reinvested into the business.

Now, the most obvious form of capital is cold hard cash. While, yes, cash is important for any business, it’s not the only form of currency that can help you turn a side hustle into a full-time business.

For example, spending the time to gather customer testimonials and turning them into case studies builds your credibility. Additionally, an investment in your customer relationships compounds into repeat clients and referrals. When you’re aiming to build momentum in the beginning, no win is too small to leverage for more success.


Sign Up: Receive the StartupNation newsletter!

Dare to be different

One common mistake that budding entrepreneurs often make is focusing too much on their competitors. Many spend a lot of effort on how they’ll compete with others in their industry and not enough on how they’re going to be truly different.

As a company, this has been one of our winning strategies since day one. We never wanted to compete with design firms that were creating pretty, but cookie cutter, spaces. Our approach is being bold and unique, and it has paid off in spades. Airbnb even recreated one of our designs in their corporate headquarters. The space caught their attention because we dared to be different.

Get creative to uncover how you can be truly unique in your side hustle. Perhaps there’s something that your competitors are ignoring, or you have humor on your side in an industry that’s typically very buttoned up. Whatever it is, figuring out how to be in a category of one versus how to be three percent better than your competitors will help you carve out your place in the market more easily and quickly.

Last, but certainly not least, there is one bonus piece of advice I’d like to share for anyone who is working on a side hustle right now. This year could objectively be called a dumpster fire. When times are particularly difficult, it’s important to attach the “why” for your business to what’s truly important to you.

The big why for White Spider is using our business to have a meaningful impact in the world, giving back to underserved communities, fighting social justice issues and creating opportunities for those who deserve them but might be overlooked by mainstream society. I urge you to do the same in your business. When times are tough, it will inspire you to keep moving forward.

The post Tips for Turning Your Side Hustle Into a Thriving Full-Time Business appeared first on StartupNation.

StartupNation

Tips for Turning Your Side Hustle Into a Thriving Full-Time Business

The story of my company, White Spider, began when I rented out the guest bedroom of my San Francisco apartment. I initially did it to make some quick cash to buy a used bike, but that weekend turned into many, and the bedroom became a mainstay on Airbnb. Eventually, I quit my high-paying job as a salesperson, and my side hustle grew into a successful design and guest management firm for vacation rental properties.

We manage hundreds of properties across multiple destination cities in the country. Today, we have the best team in the business made up of 95 percent women (this company didn’t build itself!). We chose to keep our operations completely in the U.S., instead of outsourcing to call centers. This means we pay our team members better than any of our competitors (one of the perks of being self-funded). We create wealth and new income opportunities for our clients. And, yes, it all started as a side hustle.

Below, I’m sharing a few pieces of advice that contributed to our success in the early days, helping to grow our company into the business it is today, in the hopes that these tips will help you to do the same.


StartupNation exclusive discounts and savings on Dell products and accessories: Learn more here

Customer experience is everything

Even in the very beginning, and arguably especially in the very beginning, creating a memorable customer experience is truly everything when building a new business.

Even when I had just a single bedroom listed on Airbnb, customer experience was a top priority. For example, considering each and every item that a guest may want and need during their stay to be comfortable—like Q-tips, tampons or makeup remover wipes. This might seem insignificant to the big picture, but in actuality, they are the big picture. Going the extra mile with details that some might consider a “nice to have” can take the customer experience from mediocre to truly memorable.

Experience is what builds your reputation, creates word-of-mouth momentum, drives referrals and keeps customers coming back for more. Further, with excellent customer service as the north star of the business, it became what we’re known for in the industry today. In fact, the clients who hire us often do so because they have the same commitment to service and know we will truly take care of the guests who stay in their homes.


Related: How to Choose a Side Hustle That Matches Your Personality

Capitalize on the skills you have and surround yourself with people who have the rest

Early on, many side hustlers get burnt out because they try to do everything inside of the business. Work in your zone of genius to get your spark of an idea off the ground, then surround yourself with people who are even better than you in the areas where you are not so strong.

For example, my background was in sales, so to get started, I leveraged the skills I’d developed in my career to help build the business, such as creating relationships, communicating the value of a service and the art of follow-up and follow through.

You too likely have a few key skills that can serve as the foundation for getting started. Use those skills to create your initial success, then when you’ve built a little momentum, surround yourself with great people and help them succeed in the areas where they excel.

I promise, no one gets to the top without an incredible team of people around them (no matter what they say), so don’t feel the need to try and do everything.

Use your early successes to leapfrog

Going from one bedroom on Airbnb to managing hundreds of homes across the country, of course, didn’t happen overnight. We got there by treating every win like valuable capital that could be reinvested into the business.

Now, the most obvious form of capital is cold hard cash. While, yes, cash is important for any business, it’s not the only form of currency that can help you turn a side hustle into a full-time business.

For example, spending the time to gather customer testimonials and turning them into case studies builds your credibility. Additionally, an investment in your customer relationships compounds into repeat clients and referrals. When you’re aiming to build momentum in the beginning, no win is too small to leverage for more success.


Sign Up: Receive the StartupNation newsletter!

Dare to be different

One common mistake that budding entrepreneurs often make is focusing too much on their competitors. Many spend a lot of effort on how they’ll compete with others in their industry and not enough on how they’re going to be truly different.

As a company, this has been one of our winning strategies since day one. We never wanted to compete with design firms that were creating pretty, but cookie cutter, spaces. Our approach is being bold and unique, and it has paid off in spades. Airbnb even recreated one of our designs in their corporate headquarters. The space caught their attention because we dared to be different.

Get creative to uncover how you can be truly unique in your side hustle. Perhaps there’s something that your competitors are ignoring, or you have humor on your side in an industry that’s typically very buttoned up. Whatever it is, figuring out how to be in a category of one versus how to be three percent better than your competitors will help you carve out your place in the market more easily and quickly.

Last, but certainly not least, there is one bonus piece of advice I’d like to share for anyone who is working on a side hustle right now. This year could objectively be called a dumpster fire. When times are particularly difficult, it’s important to attach the “why” for your business to what’s truly important to you.

The big why for White Spider is using our business to have a meaningful impact in the world, giving back to underserved communities, fighting social justice issues and creating opportunities for those who deserve them but might be overlooked by mainstream society. I urge you to do the same in your business. When times are tough, it will inspire you to keep moving forward.

The post Tips for Turning Your Side Hustle Into a Thriving Full-Time Business appeared first on StartupNation.

StartupNation

Why is GoCardless COO Carlos Gonzalez-Cadenas pivoting to become a full-time VC?

Index Ventures, a London- and San Francisco-headquartered venture capital firm that primarily invests in Europe and the U.S., recently announced its latest partner. Carlos Gonzalez-Cadenas, currently COO of London-based fintech GoCardless and previously the chief product officer of Skyscanner, will join Index in January.

Gonzalez-Cadenas is a seasoned entrepreneur and operator, but has also become a prolific angel investor in the U.K. and Europe over the last three years, making more than 50 angel investments in total. Well-regarded by founders and co-investors, his transition to a full-time role in venture capital feels like quite a natural one.

Earlier this week, TechCrunch caught up with Gonzalez-Cadenas over Zoom to learn more about his new role at Index and how he intends to source deals and support founders. Index’s latest hire also shared his insights on Europe’s venture market, describing this era as the “best moment in entrepreneurship in Europe.”

TechCrunch: Let me start by asking, why do you want to become a VC? You’re obviously a well-established entrepreneur and operator, are you sure venture capital is the career for you?

Carlos Gonzalez-Cadenas: I’ve been an angel investor for the last three years and this is something that has basically grown for me quite organically. I started doing just a handful and seeing if this is something I like and over time it has grown quite a lot and so has the number of entrepreneurs I’m partnered with. And this is something I’ve been increasingly more excited to do. So it has grown organically and something that emotionally has been getting closer and closer as time has passed.

And the things I like more specifically are: One, I’m quite a curious person, and for me, investing gives you the possibility of learning a lot about different sectors, about different entrepreneurs, different ways of building businesses, and that is something that I enjoy a lot.

The second bit is that I care a lot about helping entrepreneurs, especially the next generation of entrepreneurs, build great businesses in Europe. I’ve been very lucky, in the past, to learn from great people, like Gareth [Williams, Skyscanner co-founder] and Hiroki [Takeuchi. CEO at GoCardless], in my journey. I feel a duty of helping the next generation of entrepreneurs and sharing all the things that I’ve learnt. I care a lot about setting up founders as much as possible for success and sharing all those experiences I’ve learned [from].

These are the key two motivations that have led me to decide that it would be a great time now to move to the investing side.

How have you managed your deal flow while having a full-time job and where is that deal flow coming from?

It is typically coming in three buckets. A part of it is coming from my entrepreneur and operator network. So there are entrepreneurs and operators I know that are referring other entrepreneurs to me. Another bucket is other investors that I typically co-invest with. Another bucket is venture capitalists. I basically tend to invest quite a lot with VCs and in some cases they are referring deals to me.

In terms of managing it alongside GoCardless, it takes quite a lot of effort. It requires a lot of dedication and time invested during evenings and weekends.

The good thing is that my network typically tends to send me quite highly curated deals so essentially the deal flow I have luckily tends to be quite high quality, which makes things a bit more manageable. But don’t get me wrong, it still takes quite a lot of effort even if the deal flow is relatively high quality.

Presumably you haven’t been able to be all that hands-on as an angel investor, so how are you going to make that transition and what is it that you think you bring with the operational side to venture?

The way I think about this is, the entrepreneurs I typically invest in and their companies tend to be quite capable in their day-to-day perspective. Where they tend to find more value in interactions with me is what I call the “moments of truth.” Those key decisions, those key points in the journey where essentially it can influence the trajectory of the business in a fundamental way. It could be things like, I am fundraising and I don’t know how to position the business. Or I’m thinking about my strategy for the next 18 months and I will basically welcome an experienced person giving me a qualified opinion.

Or I have a big people problem and I don’t know how to solve that problem and I need that third person who has been in my shoes before. Or it could be that I’m thinking about how to organize my team as I move from startup to scale-up and I need help from someone who has scaled teams before. Or could be that I’m hiring three executives and I don’t know what a great CMO looks like. It’s those high-impact, high-leverage questions that the entrepreneurs tend to find helpful engaging with me, as opposed to very detailed day-to-day things that most of the entrepreneurs I work with tend to be quite capable of doing. And so far that model is working. The other thing is that the model is quite scalable because you are engaging 2-3 times per year but those times are high quality and highly impactful for the entrepreneur.

I typically also tend to have pretty regular and frequent communication with entrepreneurs on Slack. It’s more like quick questions that can be solved, and I tend to get quite a lot of that. So I think it’s that bimodel approach of high-frequency questions that we can solve by asynchronous means or high-impact moments a few times per year where, essentially, we need to sit down and we need to think together deeply about the problem.

And I tend to do nothing in the middle, where essentially, it’s stuff that is not so impactful but takes a huge amount of time for everyone, that doesn’t tend to be the most effective way of helping entrepreneurs. Obviously, I’m guided by what entrepreneurs want from perspective, so I’m always training the models in response to what they need.

Startups – TechCrunch

Founders don’t need to be full-time to start raising venture capital

“More than 50% of our founders still are in their current jobs,” said John Vrionis, co-founder of seed-stage fund Unusual Ventures.

The fund, which closed a $ 400 million investment vehicle in November 2019, has noticed that more and more startup employees are thinking about entrepreneurship as the pandemic has shown how much room there is for new innovation. To gain a competitive advantage, Unusual is investing small checks into founders before they’re full-time.

Unusual, which cuts an average of eight checks per year into seed-stage companies, isn’t doling out millions to every employee who decides to leave Stripe. The firm is conservative with its spending and takes a more focused approach, often embedding a member from the firm into a portfolio company. It’s not meant to scale to dozens of portfolio companies a year, but instead requires a methodical approach.

One with a healthy pipeline of companies to choose from.

In an Extra Crunch Live chat, Vrionis and Sarah Leary, co-founder of Nextdoor and the firm’s newest partner, said lightweight investing matters in the early days of a company.

“There were a lot of teams that needed capital to start the journey, but frankly, it would have been over burdensome if they took on $ 2 or $ 3 million,” Leary said. “[New founders] want to be in a place where they have enough money to get going but not too much money that they get locked into a ladder in terms of expectations that they’re not ready to take advantage of.” The checks that Unusual cuts in pre-seed often range between $ 100,000 to half a million dollars.

Leary chalks up the boom to the disruption in consumer behavior, which opens up the opportunity for new companies to win.

Startups – TechCrunch

Creating startup while working a fulltime job

To all of the innovators on this forum, I would love to hear your story on how you started your own business. I recently graduated from college and am working as a software engineer and as this is great, I am still not satisfied. I want to create my own product for myself and sell it, if covid has taught me anything it's that it's never good to have all your eggs in one basket. So please share your stories here under this post, and please share any resources or useful tips that others, including myself, can use.

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Outsourcing customer support without the demand for full-time?

I'm in a situation that I imagine lots of startups get themselves into. I have around 1K~ paying customers, who for the most part do not need much support as the platform is for the most part self-service.

If we hired a full-time support agent, they would spend half the day doing nothing. At the same time, support is taking a good chunk of time out of our core staff who have better things to be doing.

Our support requirement are:

  1. Prospect/Customer communication via Intercom/Email/Telephone
  2. Sales demos
  3. Customer training demos

I'm wondering if anyone has experienced this obstacle and how you overcame it?

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!