The Best of 2023 from Houck's Newsletter
You probably missed some of my best issues of the year
I wrote 51 deep dives to help you build your startup this year.
But on January 1st, 2023 the newsletter had under 5,000 subscribers so you probably didn’t see some of the best pieces from this year.
So to close out the year I’m counting down the 13 deep dives that got the most positive engagement, replies, and votes from readers.
Here’s to a great year!
Read Time: 05 minutes
The Best of 2023 from Houck’s Newsletter
#13: How Founders Can Save 20 Hours / week with a VA
That’s not hyperbole. My virtual assistant (VA) literally saves me 20+ hours every week.
I break down my system for finding, assessing, hiring, and managing VAs and share why Athena is a great place to find high-quality assistants.
#12: I Analyzed 5 Early Pitch Decks from Unicorns
Dropbox, YouTube, Airbnb, Intercom, and Revolut. All are unicorns with unique early stage approaches to fundraising.
I got my hands on their early decks and broke down what was appealing about each, and also some things that maybe wouldn’t work today. I also share the decks, of course.
#11: How to Measure Product-Market Fit
NPS is useful, but Sean Ellis’s product-market fit score metric is more relevant to startups.
I break down the differences between the two and share a way to use both in tandem to measure how close you really are to PMF.
#10: My 5-Step Framework for Startups to Create Hype
My last startup was featured in The New York Times before I even incorporated the company.
Generating hype for your startup isn’t just based on luck. You can engineer it. I shared my framework and how you can leverage it.
#9: The Founder Journey with Brett Adcock
Brett Adcock founded Archer and led it to a $2.7 billion IPO. He also had a previous startup acquired for $100 million, and now he’s building his most ambitious project yet — Figure, a humanoid robot company.
I sat down with him and he shared a ton of unique takes on how founders should run their startups.
#8: How to be a Top 1% Startup CEO
If you’re the CEO of your startup you have unique responsibilities. It’s not enough to simply go through the motions — everything depends on you.
I analyzed advice from renowned CEO coach Matt Mochary and others, and also added my own tips for how to do the role most effectively.
#7: Why Founder-Market Fit Matters More than PMF
Founders tend to obsess over reaching PMF, but if you don’t have FMF your chances of actually doing so are very low.
It turns out that FMF matters more than PMF, but eventually it flips. I broke down when, and why.
#6: Good Advisors vs. Bad Advisors
There are two types of advisors: good ones and bad ones. The good ones are all pretty similar, but the bad ones can hurt your startup in many ways.
I share the difference, and also how to negotiate with them upfront.
#5: How Investors Secretly Say They’re Not Interested
Investors are incentivized to keep their options open, so the chances of them saying they don’t like something about your startup are generally pretty low.
But they do leave subtle hints that make it clear they’re not actually interested in investing. I shared what those are and how to spot them.
#4: What to do if Your Startup Is a Zombie
There’s five paths you can take if your startup isn’t going to be the billion dollar company you originally hoped it would be on its current trajectory.
I shared what those are and why you should avoid building a “zombie” in particular.
#3: How to Extend Your Runway (Without Layoffs)
Man, fundraising is tough right now. That was the case all year and 2024 is looking similar.
I shared a few helpful ways you can extend your runway without having to lay people off (however, I’ll caveat it by saying you should do layoffs if you need to — founders often don’t cut deep enough because of how hard it is to decide to do layoffs).
#2: 11 Investor Red Flags
Yes, there are signs you shouldn’t actually accept a check from an investor. I shared 11 of them that can help you avoid letting someone onto your cap table who’s going to give you headaches down the road.
#1: Crisis Management 101 for Founders
Not many founders know what it’s like to go through an existential crisis until they’re in one, and by then it’s likely too late.
I’ve seen a few, both as a founder and as a board member, so I shared the right and wrong ways to handle crises in case you ever have to deal with one.
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