Fierce Conversations

7 lessons learned on the journey from founder to CEO

Two days ago I had the honor of keynoting at the First Round Capital CEO Summit in San Francisco. The event was held at the Jewish Contemporary Museum. During my speech, I promised to put my notes up on my blog and so here they are.

My talk was about the 7 lessons I've learned on the journey from founder to CEO. First Round Capital invested in us when Bazaarvoice was under 10 people; they came in alongside Austin Ventures - where I am now a Venture Partner - in our Series A. First Round has been an incredible partner in our journey from startup to public company. Personally, I think they are the best first round investor in the U.S. with the portfolio to show for it. Josh Kopelman, a fellow Wharton grad, is especially strong and he has helped me many times along the way.

I started off my talk emphasizing that the journey matters most in your transformation from founder to CEO. It is both a beautiful journey and also at times a gut-wrenching one. As Kirk Dando, my CEO coach of four years, says, "the path to heaven goes through the road to hell". This couldn't be more true. You aren't born knowing how to either found a company or be a CEO. You aren't born knowing how emotional this journey can be. But it is a journey that I've cherished and, in my opinion, the most profound journey that one can take in a career. It is a journey that led to me being recognized as Austin's best CEO for the large company category last year. This doesn't mean I have done everything right or that I don't make mistakes (hopefully less of them are repeat mistakes).

How to be efficient in your communication to get things done quickly

In startups, you have no time to waste. Every day counts. The opportunity cost of lost time is huge. Startup life can be short and fragile. So, one way to get things donequickly is to communicate in an effective manner. I was thinking about this today while I was at The Wharton School serving as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence and talking about a lot of lessons learned at Bazaarvoice and Coremetrics. As I wrote about in this Lucky7 post, Bazaarvoice was one of the most capital efficient companies leading up to the IPO as compared to many companies that reach this milestone. Certainly one of the reasons this was the case is we wasted less time than most companies in how we chose to communicate with each other in order to get things done quickly.