Kiko's Startup Musings

by Francisco Homem de Mello

@franciscohmello
Founder of Qulture.Rocks
Trying hard to be a: Writer, entrepreneur, angel investor, curious mind.

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Do SaaS stocks perform alike?

Ever since I’ve started following SaaS stocks on my Iphone, I’ve noticed that Workday and Hubspot’s historical price graphs looked a lot alike, but that Veeva’s didn’t. So I decided to plot them on a chart builder to see what they looked like against each other. Turns out they really do behave similarly (Hubs and Wday), and that indeed Veeva is on a different path (rocketing upwards):

Screenshot 2017-02-21 07.56.37.png

As you can see, Salesforce, a much more mature play, is less correlated, showing a kind of “tamed horse” price trajectory when compared with both. When we take Veeva (the incredible growth story) and Salesforce (the mature daddy) out of the way, we see that Hubspot and Workday look a lot alike in terms of price action:

Screenshot 2017-02-21 07.57.07.png

Two selloffs call our attention, around Jul'16 and Dec'16, about which I have no information or recollection (it’s been a long time since I haven’t followed the markets closely). But

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My review of Phil Knight’s memoir, Shoe Dog

I have to say I only picked up Shoe Dog, Nike’s Phil Knight’s autobiography (or memoir? What’s the difference?), because of it’s mention on Gates Notes, Bill Gates’ blog, where the Microsoft founder publishes an yearly holiday book list based on what were his top reads of the year (in this case, 2016).

Here’s what Gates had to say about the book:

[the] memoir, by the co-founder of Nike, is a refreshingly honest reminder of what the path to business success really looks like: messy, precarious, and riddled with mistakes. I’ve met Knight a few times over the years. He’s super nice, but he’s also quiet and difficult to get to know. Here Knight opens up in a way few CEOs are willing to do. I don’t think Knight sets out to teach the reader anything. Instead, he accomplishes something better. He tells his story as honestly as he can. It’s an amazing tale.

I tend to trust book suggestions by

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A Brief Economic History of Brazil - pt 1

When Portugal decided to double-down on colonizing Brazil, it based this decision on some wishful thinking: that Brazil carried precious metals just like Peru and Mexico did.

Brazil was first “discovered” when a squad of Portuguese ships found its land when navigating east from Portugal in the hopes of finding an alternative route to the Indies, where it could buy stuff like cinnamon and pepper to resell back home.

Unfortunately for Portugal, there wasn’t a lot of gold or silver around here.

So in the first few years of the “discovery” (16th century), Portuguese settlers explored native indians to extract Pau-Brazil from the jungle. The trade was terrible, since the noble wood was very difficult to transport back to Europe.

Next came sugar cane agriculture. Brazil had lots and lots of land to spare, so Portugal divided its territory into many lots, and these guys who received the

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What a BAD pricing page - and revenue model

Today I ran into this pricing page for HackerRank, a recruiting platform for technical jobs (i.e., developers):

Screenshot 2016-11-10 00.35.12.png

The page and its content is highly confusing.

First of all, “free trial” and “premium” are displayed as two different plans. But a free trial is not a plan: it’s a trial, that let’s you - try - the software, decide, and buy it. So a much better info architecture for the page would be to offer one plan, called whatever, and explain that this plan is available on a “free trial” basis.

The second problem is that “free trial” and “request a demo” are two things that shouldn’t coexist. If the company offers a free trial, it’s moving along the lines of a self-service model, where the trial is the actual demo, allowing the potential buyer to decide if he wants to purchase the software. If it offers a trial, it should also offer pricing for customers that decide to buy it for

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What makes Brazilians Brazilians?

Gilberto Freyre, arguably Brazil’s greatest sociologist, does a great job in studying and hypothesising why Brazilians are the way they are.

According to him, it all boils down to the Portuguese people, and their adaptation to the newly conquered land, Brasil, named after a common native tree that is nowadays almost extinct. The Portuguese are themselves a melting pot of differences: on one hand, there’s the European heritage, more Germanic, cold, and direct. On the other, there’s the influence - and ethnic mixture - of the Moore peoples of northern Africa, who’d maintained control of the Iberian peninsula for a long time.

The cold and the warm also come together on the climate of Portugal, which is almost as northernly as New York, but that bathes itself on the warm, velvety winds that flow north from the Saara desert and over the Mediterranean sea. It softens the Portuguese; brings a

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Are you Amazon, or are you Zappos?

I once spoke to a fellow startup founder (huge funding rounds, killer team), and asked him a pretty simple question: are you Amazon, or are you Zappos? The startup had the mission of disrupting one of these really large industries, like mobile phones or banks. It sounded like a crucial question to me: What, in the eyes of this founder, would his company be like towards consumers? A frugal cost-cutter, that would extract huge inefficiencies from the industry by vertically integrating it with the use of technology (and thus offering little or no customer support by heavily investing in self-service technology), or would it make a killing with amazing customer service, (something consumers in the space were incredibly unused to), like having reps talk on the phone to customer for hours, order pizzas, and so on and so forth?

I’m a manager by training. I onde had a former McKinsey consultant

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What is this product/market fit thing?

I’m trying to organize my thoughts about product/market fit, so this may seem a bit disorganized to you. It is. But maybe writing it down will help me achieve better thoughts/article fit. Ha Ha.


When I stop to reflect about my startup’s product/market fit, I get very frustrated about the myriad interpretations that the term is used with in the VC/startup pundit circles.

First of all, product/market fit essentially means, when I read and think about it, that I have a product that has a market for it. Product/market fit means there are customers, collectively called a market, that like my product to the point of paying for it.

I have that.

But then I read Marc Andreessen’s seminal *The Only Thing that Matters" post, and it all goes south. He cites Andy Rachleff when trying to explain to us what PMF means:

“Product/market fit means being in a good market with a product that can

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Venture Capital and Silicon Valley Entrepreneurship

I am rereading Ben Horowitz’s The Hard Thing About Hard Things. First of all, the book is making a whole different impression in me this second time. What has changed? I am now the founder/CEO of a startup, and am experiencing firsthand the pain an struggle of it.

Apart from everything else that I’ll discuss on upcoming Qulture.Rocks’s blog posts, this quote struck me as golden:

“The primary thing that any technology startup must do is build a product that’s at least 10 times better at doing something than the current prevailing way of doing that thing. Two or three times better will not be good enough to get people to switch to the new thing fast enough or in large enough volume to matter. The second thing that any technology startup must do is to take the market. If it’s possible to do something 10X better, it’s also possible that you won’t be the only company to figure that out

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Ben Horowitz Sums it All Up

I am rereading Ben Horowitz’s The Hard Thing About Hard Things. First of all, the book is making a whole different impression in me this second time. What has changed? I am now the founder/CEO of a startup, and am experiencing firsthand the pain an struggle of it.

Apart from everything else that I’ll discuss on upcoming Qulture.Rocks’s blog posts, this quote struck me as golden:

“The primary thing that any technology startup must do is build a product that’s at least 10 times better at doing something than the current prevailing way of doing that thing. Two or three times better will not be good enough to get people to switch to the new thing fast enough or in large enough volume to matter. The second thing that any technology startup must do is to take the market. If it’s possible to do something 10X better, it’s also possible that you won’t be the only company to figure that out

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Zen and Beginner’s Mind

You know that feeling when you hear an amazing song for the first time? You savour it on its entirety. Every riff. Every chorus. Every beat. Then if you are like me, you put it on repeat, and listen to it about 100 times on your iPod. Somewhere in the second half of those 100 repeats, something weird happens: the notes fail to move you, and you start missing the most amazing part of the song, the one you most anticipated just y repeats before that. X repeats go by and you don’t even notice them. You’re looking at Waze, checking Twitter, or driving your car.

I think that’s a clear application of what Zen practitioners call “beginner’s mind.” With so much stimuli, anxiety, and pain, we get sedated to the basic constituents of life: first of all, our senses, which bring us to the present. Hearing noises, smelling smells, tasting tastes, feeling your skin and body, etc. Senses bring us to

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