Today, we are excited to announce the launch of our new podcast TRACTION. On the show, we’ll explore and share the stories of all the creative, unusual, and clever ways that entrepreneurs find early results. We’ll talk to founders as well as executives, investors, and journalists, all of whom did something smart or sneaky or downright brilliant to go from zero to one in an important area of their business.
Everyone likes to say that startups should do things that don’t scale. So we wondered – what ARE those things?
Update (September 2015):
Traction is now a 5-star rated show (53 fives, 0 fours or lower). Our 11 episodes feature founders of companies like…
- General Assembly
…and more, all sharing openly about the grind of their launch and early progress. Here are all episodes to date:
Why Does the World Need Another Tech Podcast?
Yes, there are other tech podcasts out there that do a great job talking about industry trends, strategy, and founders’ stories. We find that these are great, and I personally listen to many of them. But we noticed that while the information in these podcasts is interesting, many are often far removed from the actual day-to-day challenges of very early stage founders that are just trying to go from nothing to something.
In Traction, our focus is on the practical things that founders did at the earliest stages when they have almost no resources or credibility just yet. This is about the non-scalable stuff that founders have done to “make things happen” and the “hustle” that actually creates step-function results rather than just wasted effort.
So, given the general topics of most startup podcasts and our goal to be more narrowly focused, here are examples of what we WON’T discuss:
- What’s the latest trend in drones?
- Are we in a tech bubble?
- Should Microsoft buy Salesforce?
On the other hand, we WILL discuss things like these:
- How did a non-technical founding team actually get a product built?
- How do you test demand for a product without having said product?
- How was liquidity built on Day 1 in a marketplace business?
We’ll also throw in some fun stories and rants from some great founders, and put them all on the hot seat with three personal questions at the end with a segment called Alpha-Beta-Scale. And, hopefully, you’ll find the style and sound of the show to be pleasantly different from typical interview-based podcasts.
Is This Practical If The Stories Are Inherently Non-Scalable or Not Repeatable?
The point of these stories and interviews is NOT to create a playbook for future success. Early stage founders end up doing many things that fall outside of any traditional blueprint or approach, and therefore it might not be repeatable again. Taking advantage of an emerging distribution channel or market inefficiency is an opportunity in a moment in time, not today. Using some brute force tactics to get early growth isn’t scalable over time, even if they work early on.
We don’t try to share a playbook because, at the seed stage, there IS no playbook.
Instead, the point of sharing these stories is to stretch the imagination of listeners and to get us all to think differently and creatively about how to approach the challenges of building a very early stage business. The ability to take advantage of unproven things or non-scalable methods is, in a way, the super-power of an early stage founder that large companies just can’t compete against.
Knowing what these might be for your business is the challenge, but hearing stories of others will help you frame your constraints and opportunities differently.
How Do I Get Future Episodes?
You can listen to Traction and subscribe to the show in two different ways:
- Subscribe to the NextView blog, the View From Seed, if you haven’t already. You’ll get each episode as soon as it’s live, plus other content we create — resources like board deck or pitch deck templates, strategies and data for raising seed or Series A capital, and other great stories and tips from founders and investors.
- Subscribe on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. On iTunes, please consider rating the show. It helps Traction get more traction 🙂
And since we’re excited about today’s launch, we’re also giving you immediate access to the first three episodes below. Thanks for listening!
Episode 1: Fred Shilmover, Co-Founder/CEO, InsightSquared — We hear the story of how one of Boston’s fastest-growing SaaS startups began — namely, with a clever tactic that Fred used to earn revenue before he had a product (or co-founders, or capital, or an office, or …) We also introduce our closing segment, “Alpha-Beta-Scale.”
Episode 2: Lee Hower, Co-Founder, NextView Ventures — Lee shares the story of co-founding LinkedIn and getting hired by Elon Musk to X.com (merged with Peter Thiel and Max Levchin’s Confinity to form PayPal). He discusses what it was like pioneering virality- and social media-based products before that was even a thing, and how the climate and technology of Silicon Valley back then was radically different than today.
Episode 3: Ken Chen, Co-Founder/CMO, NatureBox: Ken looks back at how they scrapped their way towards an initial proof of concept — all in a single weekend. They’re now a Series C startup delivering millions of boxes of snacks to customers each year. How did they prove this could work, especially since brand is so important? How do you even build a brand as a startup?
Future episodes include founders, executives, or journalists from: General Assembly, DraftKings, Pando Daily, The Boston Globe, and many more.