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.

Read this first

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

Continue reading →


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

Continue reading →


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

Continue reading →


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

Continue reading →


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

Continue reading →


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

Continue reading →


Sealing meats

I know, I know. Totally unrelated. BUT related.

Every week I read some dumba$% talking about the importance of sealing a nice piece of meat before roasting it in the oven. They say, it “helps keep the juices neatly stuck inside the meat, and not lost in the pan.” Bullshit.

Sealing meat has only one purpose: building that nice, brown, crispy, burnt-like crust on the surface of the piece, because that crust tastes good and looks good. That’s it.

Sealing meat doesn’t magically turn the meat surface into GoreTex, or Thinsulate, or Nylon. That’s stupid. Even if you seal your meat like a crazy BBQ-master, juices will still flow out of it when you leave it to rest (I’ll tackle resting in another post).

But still, mindless people, pundits, and even chefs, repeat nonsense like that like parrots. Why don’t people stop and think about things they listen? Why don’t they apply logic, reasoning

Continue reading →


A Stupid Sales Strategy

Today I had this most stupid sales call with a company called Walk Me. They’ve raised U$ 40 + million, so I was flabbergasted, to say the least, with what happened.

 Day 1

I was looking for a solution that would help me onboard my users. A quick Quora search referred me to many potential providers, over which I chose to test Walkme.com.

Upon entering they’re cute little website, I was happy to find hints to a freemium plan, i.e., the following message:

Get Started with our free plan

Well, that’s what I got. I signed-up for an account, and began testing the product.

 Day 2

Had real trouble setting up the product right, so thought about reaching out for help. Was directed towards a Q&A website, totally oriented to self-service. Didn’t find what I needed (I hate self-service) so I began checking if there was a premium plan with which I could get some further support. That’s when I

Continue reading →


Interesting thoughts on org. structure

This is a work in progress


According to Robert Simons on his Levers of Organization Design, designing your company’s organizational structure (how information, power, and accountability all flow through the organization) is the act of balancing four tensions:

  • Strategy x structure
  • Accountability x adaptability
  • Ladders x rings
  • Self-interest x mission success

IMG_2997.JPG

Strategy x structure

Strategy and structure need to be balanced constantly. The structure needs to be designed so as to support and reinforce the company’s strategy.

The structure of an organization determines how information from the market is processed and acted upon. The design of an organization determines who receives information, to whom it is forwarded, and what actions are ultimately taken. In other words, not only does strategy determine structure, but structure also determines strategy. This two-way flow must be

Continue reading →


Do large entreprise software companies ever achieve product/market fit?

PMarca’s definition of product/market fit goes like this:

You can always feel when product/market fit isn’t happening. The customers aren’t quite getting value out of the product, word of mouth isn’t spreading, usage isn’t growing that fast, press reviews are kind of “blah”, the sales cycle takes too long, and lots of deals never close.

And you can always feel product/market fit when it’s happening. The customers are buying the product just as fast as you can make it – or usage is growing just as fast as you can add more servers. Money from customers is piling up in your company checking account. You’re hiring sales and customer support staff as fast as you can. Reporters are calling because they’ve heard about your hot new thing and they want to talk to you about it. You start getting entrepreneur of the year awards from Harvard Business School. Investment bankers are staking out your

Continue reading →

Subscribe to Kiko's Startup Musings

Don’t worry; we hate spam with a passion.
You can unsubscribe with one click.

W8zJ7PourOP6JEiws5Ha
no