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It Took Canva a Year to Make Its First Technical Hire. Now It’s a Hiring Machine

Plenty of entrepreneurs adhere to the mantra of “hire slow, fire fast” and for good reason. Then there’s Melanie Perkins, the co-founder and CEO of Sydney-based design software company Canva. She spent a year trying to find her first technical hire.

While Perkins didn’t intend to spend so much time filling her first engineering position, looking back on it now, she wouldn’t have done it any other way. The year-long quest informed how she’s made every other hire since. And it’s hard to argue with the results: With 700 employees, Canva is a hiring machine, and it’s been doubling in size every year.

In an industry that sees engineers switch jobs with frightening speed, many of Canva’s early technical hires are still with the company. While Canva won’t discuss revenue, Perkins, the company’s co-founder and CEO, says the company has been profitable since 2017. Canva has 20 million monthly users in 190 countries. In October, Canva announced an $85 million investment, with a valuation of $3.2 billion.

This is going to be bigger than yearbooks

When Perkins started the predecessor company to Canva in 2007, she was just 19. She was frustrated by how hard it was to use design software. When she started teaching design at university, she noticed that her students were similarly frustrated. With her boyfriend (now fiance), Cliff Obrecht, she built a website called Fusion Books that helped students design and publish yearbooks.

It did well–becoming the largest yearbook company in Australia and moving into France and New Zealand. Perkins quit university to work on it full-time. By 2011, Perkins and Obrecht realized Fusion Books could be much more: an engine to make it easy for anyone to design any publication. But to build that more ambitious product, they’d need outside investment.

Perkins headed to San Francisco to visit angel investor Bill Tai, who is known for making about 100 investments in startups that have yielded 19 initial public offerings. She’d met him in Perth a year earlier, where she had collected an award for innovation. “If you come to California, come see me,” he remembers telling her. “Without me knowing exactly what she was doing, she engineered a trip. She’s a very ballsy woman, if that makes sense. And I’m thinking, you know, I should help her. I know hundreds of engineers.”

Early in her San Francisco visit, Tai introduced her to Lars Rasmussen, the co-founder of the company that became Google Maps. Tai told her that if she could hire a tech team that met Rasmussen’s standards, he’d invest. “I didn’t realize at the time what that meant,” says Perkins. She bought an Ikea mattress, and planted it on the floor of her brother’s San Francisco apartment. “Obviously, that was free rent,” she says. “I had food to get by and I felt safe.”

Perkins set out initially to hire by doing the obvious: She went to every single conference she could get into. She’d speak if the organizers let her. Tai invited her to his MaiTai Global networking event in Hawaii, even though, for most attendees, a big draw was kitesurfing, which she’d never attempted. “It was great fun,” she says gamely. Then, “I really don’t like it. I have the scars to prove it. I’ve … retired from kitesurfing.”

Back in San Francisco, Perkins passed out flyers, trying to pique people’s interest. She cold-called engineers, and approached suspects on buses. She scoured LinkedIn, but Rasmussen wouldn’t even deign to meet most of her finds. “He didn’t think they had enough startup gumption or experience with a world-scale company, or with complex technology,” she said. She says fewer than five LinkedIn finds ended up interviewing with Rasmussen. He’d give them a problem-solving challenge that, inevitably, they flubbed.

After a year of this, Perkins was thoroughly frustrated. Surely it’s better to at least make some progress, she told Rasmussen, than to continue to do nothing. But he was adamant.

The perfect candidate and the bizarre pitch deck

That same year, Rasmussen introduced her to two candidates that he thought might be a good fit and recruitable. The first, Cameron Adams, a user interface designer who had worked at Google, was busy trying to raise money for his own startup. The second, Dave Hearnden, a senior engineer at Google, initially said he wasn’t interested. In 2012, both had a change of heart.

“We were absolutely over the moon,” says Perkins. Adams came on board first, as a co-founder. Hearnden, on the other hand, started to have second thoughts: Google wasn’t happy with his leaving, obviously, and was trying to get him to stay. He worried that his project would be abandoned without him, and he didn’t want to disappoint his team.

At this point, Perkins sent him something that has since become known as the Bizarre Pitch Deck. In 16 slides, the deck tells the story of a man named Dave, who longed for adventure but was torn by his loyalty for Google. In the pitch deck, as in life, Dave eventually joined Canva. It helped that Google had already poached his replacement.

In 2012, Perkins was able to raise a seed round of $1.6 million, and got another $1.4 million from the Australian government. Tai finally agreed to put in $100,000. “It was really hard for her to raise,” he says. “You’ve got a young girl in her 20s from Australia who had never worked at a company, with her live-in boyfriend as COO. People would say to me, What if they break up? I didn’t have a good answer.” Now, things look much different: Tai says Obrecht is Canva’s “secret weapon,” and that “Cliff has just blown me away.”

Keeping the bar high, hundreds of hires later

While Tai drove her nuts at the beginning, Perkins appreciates his stubbornness now. “We’ve been able to attract top talent across the globe,” she says. “It wouldn’t have been possible without setting such a high technical bar early on.” Tai says he hasn’t made exactly this condition with other startups. But he’s done it in reverse: He’s backed highly technical people without knowing what, exactly, the business opportunity would turn out to be.

The experience also showed her, the hard way, just how much effort she’d have to put into hiring if she wanted to build a successful tech company. By Canva’s second year, the company had a recruiting team. “We knew we needed to invest heavily in hiring,” she says. Now, each open position gets a strategy brief. That document lays out the goals for the person in that role and the project they will be working on. It also identifies the people who will be involved in the hiring process. “Getting everyone on the same page is really critical,” says Perkins. “It sets that person up for success.”

And like Rasmussen looking for the first technical hire, Canva asks each candidate to take a challenge. Candidates have a choice of doing a four-hour challenge or a one-hour challenge. “Maybe they’re working parents and they can do it in an hour,” says Perkins. “Other people prefer to have a longer time and work at their own pace. We’re looking for people happy to take on challenges and who get a real buzz out of being able to solve hard things.”

In in-person interviews, someone on the Canva team will almost always ask the candidate, “How would your previous boss or manager talk about your work or rate you?” Perkins says people are “surprisingly honest” in their responses. The answers help her get a window into what type of leadership allows a particular candidate to thrive. Some people require a lot of structure or hierarchy, she says, and Canva doesn’t have much of either.

“One of the things I believe quite strongly is having a really strong idea of where you’re going,” says Perkins. “I have this visual metaphor. Plant 100 seeds. Until eventually one flowers or sprouts. For most people, if you’re rejected, you feel really hurt and don’t want to continue. The reality is that you have to push through. If I had given up quickly, I certainly wouldn’t be here today.”

By Kimberly WeisulEditor-at-large, Inc.com

Source: It Took Canva a Year to Make Its First Technical Hire. Now It’s a Hiring Machine

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A behind the scenes look at the amazing team behind Canva, hope you enjoy watching the video as much as we enjoyed making it!

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3 Key Signs Your Startup’s Business Plan Needs to Change

Pivoting is expensive, but so is making smaller changes to your business plan to address the present-day realities of your market, your customers and your company. Revising your plan and implementing those changes can be time-consuming and expensive, and it can result in considerable operational upheaval.

But sometimes that’s exactly what your small business must do to ensure future success. How will you know it’s time to re-write your small business’s playbook? Here, three key signs:

1. Your growth is stagnant.

In a startup, momentum is everything. Growth provides the resources to continue to expand, beat the competition, improve quality and service, and increase efficiency through economies of scale.

Unfortunately, most small businesses can’t afford to simply plow additional funds into advertising in order to grow. Keeping customer acquisition costs down — and churn rate down as well — is key in the early stages for any bootstrapped startup.

In that case, growth might require jettisoning — or at the very least de-emphasizing — some products to focus on more profitable products. (See Steve Jobs when he returned to Apple in 1997.) That may require you to shift employees into new seats: sales, service, operations, etc.

Do this and the result might be a ripple effect of positives: Shifting employees provides opportunities for them to learn new skills, demonstrate new talents and learn about other functional areas. Moving a few employees into different roles can help re-energize and re-engage a number of other people.

Growth could also require introducing new products or services, especially when they complement existing offerings. Complementary offerings are a great way to re-engage existing customers as well as to bring in new customers who may then purchase other products or services.

In short: If your growth has stalled, what you planned to offer may not be sufficient. So how will you know what changes to make?

Ask your customers. They’ll tell you.

2. The needs of your “ideal” customer have changed.

Every business plan includes information on the target market: Demographics, interests, needs, pain points, etc. Over time, those needs can change (or maybe they never actually existed, at least on a sufficiently broad scale).

If you’re a tech company, evolving technologies can change the way customers interact with your service. If you’re in the restaurant business, today’s hot trend can be tomorrow’s outdated fad.

More likely, as your business has grown, so too has your infrastructure — meaning the level of one-on-one service you planned to provide is no longer necessary. (Or even desired.)

A great business plan lays out a blueprint for meeting customer needs and solving customer pain points. A great business constantly evolves to ensure those needs are met and those pains are eliminated.

Stay on top of metrics like return, service calls, churn rate, etc. to keep up with changing customer needs. Talk to your customers to find out how their needs may have changed.

Then revise your plan to make sure you provide not just what your plan says, but what customers really want and will pay to get.

3. You need full-time people in freelancer seats

Early on you may not have needed — or maybe couldn’t afford — to hire full-time people to perform certain functions. Wisely, you turned to freelancers. Freelancers are great for completing specific tasks, especially when sufficient expertise or specialized knowledge is a necessity.

The problem with freelancers is that they can only perform specific tasks. They can’t step into other roles. They can’t step into other functions. Because they aren’t a part of your company, they can’t learn and grow and develop with your company.

At some point it makes sense to hire a full-time employee. While they might not currently possess every drop of skill and experience they need to succeed in the role, when you hire people who are adaptable and eager to learn, they soon will.

And then they will help create an outstanding foundation upon which your company can grow.

By: Craig Bloem Founder and CEO, FreeLogoServices.com

Source: 3 Key Signs Your Startup’s Business Plan Needs to Change

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Tutorial starts at 1:20 Whether you’re starting a new business or just trying to get your existing business a bit more organized, writing a business plan is the perfect way to clearly outline how your business operates, declare goals, and set out a strategy to reach those goals. In this video you’ll learn about the six essential pages every business plan should have, what to record on each of those pages, and also how to write your business plan as quickly and easily as possible — even if you’re a complete beginner! 🔹 Download the FREE Six-Step Business Success Plan: https://www.gillianperkins.com/downlo… // WHAT TO WATCH NEXT Six Ways to Earn Six Figures Working from Home https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1i8x… How I (actually) Got My First Client Online https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AST3P… How I Created Multiple Streams of Income for Myself https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfaH_… How to Decide What Business to Start https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mid_A… // LINKS Learn more about Gillian and find resources to build your online business: https://www.gillianperkins.com Join our private Facebook group! https://www.facebook.com/groups/start… Follow Gillian on Instagram to get a BTS look at what it’s like to be a digital entrepreneur: https://www.instagram.com/gillianzper… // MAIL Gillian Perkins International P.O. Box 13573 Salem, OR 97309 NOTE: This description may contains affiliate links to products we enjoy using ourselves. Should you choose to use these links, this channel may earn affiliate commissions at no additional cost to you. We appreciate your support! KEYWORDS how to write a business plan, free business plan, do i need a business plan, #entrepreneurship, #gillianperkins, business plan how-to guide, business plan step by step, business plan tips ,gillian perkins, gillianperkins, do you need a business plan, How To Write a Business Plan To Start Your Own Business, how to write a business plan step by step, business plan for beginners, simple business plan, business 101, business plan template, business plan example, how to write a business plan for beginners

Groupon Made Eric Lefkofsky A Billionaire—His Cancer-Fighting Startup Is Worth Far More

Eric Lefkofsky hasn’t taken a science class since college. But as he meanders through the Chicago lab of Tempus, his medical startup, he presents an air of expertise. “One thing you can see right off the bat is the purple staining of this cell,” he says, pointing to the pathology slide of a patient with breast cancer. He walks past vials of lysis buffer and a $1 million genomic sequencer. “Tempus is attempting to bring the power of artificial intelligence to healthcare,” he says. “The first step in all that is data.”

Assembling data was the first step in Lefkofsky’s other ventures. The 49-year-old has launched five companies worth at least $250 million apiece, each promising to transform an industry by using big data. His best-known venture is Groupon; despite the deals site’s disappointing share price, Lefkofsky is worth an estimated $2.7 billion.

Tempus is predicated on the theory that information, lots of it, will enable doctors to personalize cancer treatments and make them more effective. A doctor treating a patient with lung cancer might send a tumor sample to Tempus for genomic sequencing. Tempus identifies a mutation in the gene for epidermal growth factor receptor, which causes cells to grow and divide too much. With that, the doctor prescribes a targeted therapy that can have better results than chemotherapy.

So far the 700-employee company has raised $520 million (Lefkofsky put in $100 million). The lavish $3.1 billion valuation suggests investors expect his approach to make a big score, starting with cancer, then against chronic conditions like depression and diabetes. But precision medicine is a nascent field. Tempus, on its own or with a research partner, has published fewer than 20 peer-reviewed manuscripts since its founding four years ago. A competitor, sequencing firm Foundation Medicine, has published over 400 in 9 years.

While the cost of sequencing has dropped, it still runs $1,000 to $5,000 per analysis, and Tempus loses money doing it. Tempus also licenses its library of anonymized data to drug companies, insurers and researchers. Lefkofsky won’t reveal revenues, but says it gets seven-figure fees from seven of the ten largest cancer drug companies.

Lefkofsky got the entrepreneurial bug at the University of Michigan, where he studied history and made money selling carpets. In 2001, he cofounded InnerWorkings (marketing), then Echo Global Logistics (transportation) and Mediaocean (advertising software). One of Lefkofsky’s hires, Andrew Mason, pitched an idea for a business focused on “collective action.” Lefkofsky invested $1 million in what became Groupon. A year after its 2008 founding, it booked $14.5 million in revenue; in 2011, it generated $1.6 billion.

“It certainly feels like my entire career has led to this point,” Lefkofsky says. “I hope this will be my legacy project.”

Lefkofsky spent a few years dabbling on other projects, including Uptake (predictive analytics for heavy industry). “I always knew back then, [with] those businesses, that I would be in and out,” he says.

In 2014, Lefkofsky’s wife, Liz, was diagnosed with breast cancer. “I was just perplexed at how little data had permeated her care,” he says. That experience ultimately launched Tempus. (Liz has “been taking it one day at a time,” Lefkofsky says.)

Yet again, Lefkofsky needed data. But some researchers were initially hesitant to share. “They wanted us to basically send all our samples there for all our patients” in the future, says John McPherson, deputy director of the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. “But we took a more cautious approach.” They ran a head-to-head comparison involving gastrointestinal cancer between Tempus and Foundation Medicine; Tempus fared well.

                       

In 2017 Tempus reached a licensing agreement with the American Society of Clinical Oncology to extract and organize data from 1 million patient records. Today the company says it already works with 30% of U.S. oncologists; many send patient records and biopsies to Tempus for analysis. Tempus hopes to sequence 120,000 genomic samples for doctors this year.

Even with that data, Tempus faces stiff competition. Last year Swiss drug giant Roche spent $4.3 billion acquiring Foundation Medicine and big data firm Flatiron Health. Another startup, Concerto HealthAI, backed by billionaire Romesh Wadhwani, has access to many of the same records as Tempus.

                           

Doctors at UC Davis, McPherson says, have only sent about 100 samples to Tempus, considerably fewer than they’ve sent to Foundation. “I think they were a little baffled by the amount of data that came back [from Tempus],” McPherson says. Clinicians “tend to take the easier route just to save time. But there are several clinicians that are now working fairly closely on the research side with them.”

Lefkofsky remains supremely optimistic. “It certainly feels like my entire career has led to this point,” he says. “I hope this will be my legacy project.”

I’ve been a reporter at Forbes since 2016. Before that, I spent a year on the road—driving for Uber in Cleveland, volcano climbing in Guatemala, cattle farming in Urugua…

Staff writer at Forbes. Email me at mtindera@forbes.com and follow me on twitter @mtindera07.

Source: Groupon Made Eric Lefkofsky A Billionaire—His Cancer-Fighting Startup Is Worth Far More

It’s Not About Ideas. Do What Amazon, Netflix, Uber And AirBnb Did, Head For A Blue Ocean

In this July 1, 2014 photo, Dollar Shave Club CEO and co-founder Michael Dubin poses for photos at the company's headquarters in Venice, Calif.  (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

If you want to become an entrepreneur but don’t know where to start, relax. It’s not about ideas, it’s about understanding and researching current industries that have not innovated their products or services and have a large customer market. If you think about what Netflix, Amazon, Uber and AirBnb did, you can clearly see, they created nothing new in terms of products. So, what did they do? They changed the “game” in an industry that was not being innovative and was ripe for disruption. In other words, they headed for a “blue ocean” made famous by management thought leaders W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne in their perennial bestseller, Blue Ocean Strategy.

Blue Ocean Strategy is an approach that challenges everything that you thought you knew about the requirements for entrepreneurial success. Blue Ocean Strategy can be summarized in a nutshell: the best way to beat the competition is to make the competition irrelevant. Imagine that the marketplace is comprised of two sorts of oceans: red oceans and blue oceans.

To discover an elusive blue ocean, Kim and Mauborgne recommend that businesses consider what they call the Four Actions Framework to reconstruct buyer value elements in crafting a new innovation wave. The framework poses four key questions:

  • Raise: What factors should be raised well above the industry’s standard?
  • Reduce: What factors were a result of competing against other industries and can be reduced?
  • Eliminate: Which factors that the industry has long competed on should be eliminated?
  • Create: Which factors should be created that the industry has never offered?

If you think about it, lets review what these market leaders did with Blue Ocean Strategy in mind. Amazon did not build bookstores but built an enterprise infrastructure to have access to one million book titles and competed well with Borders and Barnes & Noble. Netflix did not use stores in their business model to compete with Blockbuster; instead they focused on customer service. Uber did not even try to buy cars and compete with the independent taxi companies, they created a mobile app. AirBnb does not own homes or hotels, instead they redefined the travel experience by uniting existing property owners onto a common easy-to-use platform.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, third from left, takes a photograph as he attends the opening bell ceremony at the New York Stock Exchange, as his company makes its initial public offering, Friday, May 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, third from left, takes a photograph as he attends the opening bell ceremony at the New York Stock Exchange, as his company makes its initial public offering, Friday, May 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

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Existing marketplaces with lots of competitors live in crowded, shark-ridden red oceans. Red oceans are characterized by multiple firms offering similar products competing mostly on price. Think Target versus Wal-Mart, Sony versus Samsung.  Meanwhile, blue oceans are characterized by untapped market space, demand creation, and the opportunity for highly profitable growth.

In recent years, Dollar Shave Club took on Gillette by offering subscription-based access to razors at a better cost and service. As a potential entrepreneur, just examine large industries or product lines and see if customers are happy with their current choices. Wherever you find customers are not ecstatic, dig deeper. A few years back, Chobani did the same thing to yogurt by offering Greek yogurt, more protein and less sugar. None of these examples showcase a completely new, never heard of before product. But all these companies either innovated the current product in the marketplace or they offered a simple innovation or twist to the business model for their company. In almost every case, the customer is happier with the new company or product. That means they were dissatisfied before these companies came along.

If you want to get a jumpstart on surfacing an opportunity, pay attention to something new you see (craft beer, organic pet food, cloud storage, etc.) and do some research.  Or go to places where you can observe people: malls, airports, universities and just walk around. See what people are doing and not doing. Don’t look for anything in particular, just observe. Another option is to walk through Target or Wal-Mart and slowly walk up and down the aisles. Look for current products that seem over priced or they don’t exactly make the customer ecstatic. Then research how big that industry category actually is. If it’s billions, keep going. Run a few of your best “opportunities” through the Blue Ocean Strategy framework of raise, reduce, eliminate and create.

The founders of Skullcandy did something similar by walking through Target to spot their earphone opportunity. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you have to solve a problem in a big marketplace. To spot a problem, go looking. Once you find some problems, use Blue Ocean Strategy to innovate a solution and perhaps you will create a billion dollar company.

You can read more about what Bernhard has to say on his website and follow him here on his Linked In

I am the Director at the Lavin Entrepreneurship Center, San Diego State University. I oversee all of the center’s undergraduate and graduate experiential programs.

Source: It’s Not About Ideas. Do What Amazon, Netflix, Uber And AirBnb Did, Head For A Blue Ocean.

Crypto Startups Are Fleeing The U.S.—This Bill Is Trying To Stop Them

In the fall of 2018, Republican congressman Warren Davidson was meeting with a cryptocurrency entrepreneur in Massachusetts. The CEO was deciding where to locate his startup, and they were discussing the regulatory uncertainties surrounding digital currencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs). The entrepreneur told Davidson, “Look, it’s nothing personal. We just don’t trust that you guys are gonna get this done right.

Source: Crypto Startups Are Fleeing The U.S.—This Bill Is Trying To Stop Them

Brex Has Amassed A Valuation Of $1.1 Billion In Under Two Years – Donna Fuscaldo

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Brex, the provider of a credit card for startups, has raised $125 million in venture funding, propelling the company into unicorn status with a $1.1 billion valuation. Earlier Friday the San Francisco-based startup announced it closed a $125 million Series C round of funding with Greenoaks Capital and DST Global leading the investment round. This comes on the heels of $50 million raised in June. Since changing course a little more than a year-and-a-half ago, Brex has been able to amass a valuation of more than $1 billion…….

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/donnafuscaldo/2018/10/05/brex-has-amassed-a-valuation-of-1-1-billion-in-under-two-years/#47f0025b65a1

 

 

 

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