Startup Costs

Businesses are not the same, so their startup costs will vary. Some are asset free, some are not. Some are heavily dependent on cap expenditure, some are not. It really depends on what you really need to launch your business and operate it. Some can be launched online, while others need a physical office/store/warehouse/factory/,etc. and need equipment, goods to sell and so on.

Common costs include:

  • Research Expenses – market research reports/agencies/fees.
  • Insurance, License, and Permit Fees – Industry specific permits, Federal and state licenses
  • Equipment and Supplies – Lease vs. buy
  • Advertising and Promotion –
  • Borrowing Costs – Equity Financing and Debt Financing. Interest expenses.
  • Employee Expenses – Wages, salaries, and benefits.
  • Technological Expenses – Website, software (accounting, payroll, productivity, office,..)
  • Legal Costs – agreements, registration fees, hiring. For corporations, filing articles of incorporation and bylaws and terms of original stock certificates.

Maintaining liquid-able assets or cash in hand is essential for emergency purposes.

Legal Help for Startups

Legal Requirements

  • Protect personal assets – Form an LLC to avoid a lawsuit being the end of not only your business but also your personal financial security.
  • Skimping out on worker’s comp could seriously backfire and cost you dearly.
  • General liability insurance keeps you safe from generic claims of wrongdoing, or if one of your products is defective and harms the user.
  • Register your name with US Patent and Trademark Office.
  • Apply for an Employer Identification Number online via a holding company, which will allow the U.S. government to differentiate between your business and others when collecting what it’s owed.
  • Check if you need Business License in order to operate in the city of your office.

Legal Documents

  • Articles of Incorporation : Put proper business structure in place. Startups with multiple shareholders should form a C Corp. To lower the fees and tax obligations, LLC is an option.
  • Intellectual Property (IP) Assignment Agreement : Startup founders should have complete ownership of all IP assets in writing.
    • Technology Assignment Agreements assign startups any intellectual property created before forming the company. Developers may in certain instances retain individual IP ownership rights, or they may sell their rights in exchange for equity or cash.
    • Invention Assignment Agreements assign the new company IP ownership of any relevant work product created by employees after the company’s formation. A confidentiality and invention assignment agreement is typically signed by founder(s) and employees. The company will own all rights to the IP portfolio.
  • Bylaws : Formulate strong bylaws. Bylaws should establish the internal rules of the company like how to settle disputes, select leadership and determine the rights and powers of shareholders. Most importantly, bylaws should institute voting thresholds for approvals to certain actions by the corporation like electing new board members or entering into debt.
  • Operating Agreement (Founder’s Agreement) : All co-founders should sign a comprehensive operating agreement, which defines relationship of the founders, provide the expectation that all work will belong to some entity in the future and outline a basic communication and conflict-resolution clause that can help prevent disputes.
  • Non-Disclosure Agreements : It should specify: What constitutes confidential information, How confidential information should be handled, Who owns that information (the company), The time period that the information will be disclosed, The time period confidentiality will be maintained .
  • Employee Contracts and Offer Letters : Should clearly state the following:
    • Terms of employment (e.g., compensation, role responsibilities, working hours and grounds for termination)
    • Reporting structure
    • IP ownership of work
    • Expectations
    • Required commitments
    • Share vesting
    • Company policies (e.g., vacation days, paid time off structure, dress code)
  • Shareholder Agreements : Determines the rights of shareholders and defines when they can exercise those rights. Those rights can include shareholders’ right to transfer shares, right of first refusal, redemption upon death or disability and shareholders’ power to manage and run the startup.  Document the sale of any shares to avoid huge financial penalties under state and federal laws.

Free Document Templates:

Books for an Entrepreneur

1) The Lean Startup
Written by Eric Ries, this is sort of the bible for new business ventures. Regardless of the business you build, this will teach you the mindset of creating quick “minimum viable products” and using the feedback loop to quickly change your product based on user input. The theory is practically accepted as truth nowadays, since so many new businesses operate under this methodology. It gets you out of the mindset of “I want the product to be perfect before launching it to the world!” and into “lets make something that barely works then let users tell us how to build the rest”.

2) Rework
The folks at 37 Signals did a wonderful job with this book. It is a really interesting read into corporate counterculture. This company hates meetings and other time-wasters, and offers tons of eclectic/strange but work-changing practices that keep people productive. It makes fun of the typical hour-long meeting, and dives into the practices of a company that operates with primarily remote employees. An excellent foray into efficiency in the startup workplace.

3) How to Win Friends and Influence People
You can go after the job you want…and get it! You can take the job you have…and improve it! You can take any situation you’re in…and make it work for you! Since its release in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People has sold more than 15 million copies. Dale Carnegie’s first book is a timeless bestseller, packed with rock-solid advice that has carried thousands of now famous people up the ladder of success in their business and personal lives.

4) Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
Peter Thiel begins with the contrarian premise that we live in an age of technological stagnation, even if we’re too distracted by shiny mobile devices to notice. Information technology has improved rapidly, but there is no reason why progress should be limited to computers or Silicon Valley. Progress can be achieved in any industry or area of business. It comes from the most important skill that every leader must master: learning to think for yourself.
Doing what someone else already knows how to do takes the world from 1 to n, adding more of something familiar. But when you do something new, you go from 0 to 1. The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. Tomorrow’s champions will not win by competing ruthlessly in today’s marketplace. They will escape competition altogether, because their businesses will be unique.
Zero to One presents at once an optimistic view of the future of progress in America and a new way of thinking about innovation: it starts by learning to ask the questions that lead you to find value in unexpected places.

5) Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days
“Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days” is a collection of interviews with founders of famous technology companies about what happened in the very earliest days. These people are celebrities now. What was it like when they were just a couple friends with an idea? Founders like Steve Wozniak (Apple), Caterina Fake (Flickr), Mitch Kapor (Lotus), Max Levchin (PayPal), and Sabeer Bhatia (Hotmail) tell you in their own words about their surprising and often very funny discoveries as they learned how to build a company.

6) Mastering the VC Game: A Venture Capital Insider Reveals How To Get from Start-up to IPO on Your Terms
Entrepreneurs who dream of building the next Amazon, Facebook, or Google can take advantage of one of the most powerful economic engines the world has ever known: venture capital. To do so, you need to woo, impress, and persuade venture capitalists to take a risk on an unproven idea. That task is challenge enough. But choosing the right investor can be harder still. Even if you manage to get backing, you want your VC to be a partner, not some adversary who will undermine your vision in order to make a quick return.
Jeffrey Bussgang is one of a few people who have played on both sides of this high-stakes game. By his early thirties, he had helped build two successful start-ups-one went public, the other was acquired. Now he draws on his experience and unique perspective on the “other side” as a venture capitalist helping entrepreneurs bring their dreams to fruition.

7) Venture Deals: Be Smarter Than Your Lawyer and Venture Capitalist
Beginning in 2005, Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson, managing directors at Foundry Group, wrote a long series of blog posts describing all the parts of a typical venture capital Term Sheet: a document which outlines key financial and other terms of a proposed investment. Since this time, they’ve seen the series used as the basis for a number of college courses, and have been thanked by thousands of people who have used the information to gain a better understanding of the venture capital field.
Drawn from the past work Feld and Mendelson have written about in their blog and augmented with newer material, Venture Capital Financings puts this discipline in perspective and lays out the strategies that allow entrepreneurs to excel in their start-up companies. Page by page, this book discusses all facets of the venture capital fundraising process. Along the way, Feld and Mendelson touch on everything from how valuations are set to what externalities venture capitalists face that factor into entrepreneurs’ businesses.

8) Startup CEO: How To Build a Company To Success
A definitive book for any CEO–first time or otherwise–of a high-growth company. While big company CEOs are usually groomed for the job for years, startup CEOs aren’t–and they’re often young and relatively inexperienced in business in general. Author Matt Blumberg, a technology and marketing entrepreneur, knows this all too well. Back in 1999, he started a company called Return Path, which later became the driving force behind the creation of his blog, OnlyOnce–because “you’re only a first time CEO once.”

9) The Entrepreneur’s Guide To Business Law
This standard-setting book is an essential resource for anyone looking to understand the legal challenges faced by entrepreneurs. From leaving your current job to taking your company public, THE ENTREPRENEUR’S GUIDE TO BUSINESS LAW has the information you need to avoid potentially costly missteps. This book contains 17 chapters that follow the progression of a start-up business and anticipate its legal concerns through each stage of growth, with essential coverage of e-commerce and international issues where appropriate.

10) Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good: The Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0
Once You?re Lucky, Twice You?re Good is the story of the entrepreneurs who learned their lesson from the Internet bust of 2000 and in recent years have created groundbreaking new Web companies. The second iteration of the dot-coms? dubbed ? Web 2.0?? is all about bringing people together. Social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace unite friends online; YouTube lets anyone post videos for the world to see; allows Internet users to vote on the most relevant news of the day; Six Apart sells software that enables bloggers to post their viewpoints online; and Slide helps people customize their virtual selves.
Business reporter Sarah Lacy brings to light the entire Web 2.0 scene: the wide-eyed but wary entrepreneurs, the hated venture capitalists, the bloggers fueling the hype, the programmers coding through the night, the twenty-something millionaires, and the Internet ? fan boys? eager for all the promises to come true.

11) The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Startups That Win
The essential book for anyone bringing a product to market, writing a business plan, marketing plan or sales plan. Step-by-step strategy of how to successfully organize sales, marketing and business development for a new product or company. The book offers insight into what makes some startups successful and leaves others selling off their furniture. Packed with concrete examples, the book will leave you with new skills to organize sales, marketing and your business for success.

12) High Tech Startup: The Complete Handbook for Creating Successful New High Tech Companies
This practical handbook is filled with hard-to-find information and guidance covering every key phase of a start-up, from idea to IPO: how to create a winning business plan, how to value the firm, how venture capitalists work, how they make their money, where to find alternative sources of funding, how to select a good lawyer, and how to protect intellectual property. Nesheim aims to improve the odds of success for first-time high-tech entrepreneurs, and offers an insider’s perspective from firsthand experience on one of the toughest challenges they face — convincing venture capitalists or investment banks to provide financing.

13) Do More Faster: Techstars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup
“Do More Faster: TechStars Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup” is a collection of advice that comes from individuals who have passed through, or are part of, this proven program. Each vignette is an exploration of information often heard during the TechStars program and provides practical insights into early stage entrepreneurship. Contains seven sections, each focusing on a major theme within the TechStars program, including idea and vision, fundraising, legal and structure, and work/life balance. Created by two highly regarded experts in the world of early stage investing. Essays in each section come from the experienced author team as well as TechStar mentors, entrepreneurs, and founders of companies.

14) Good To Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t
How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness? For years, this question preyed on the mind of the author of this book, Jim Collins. Are there companies that defy gravity and convert long-term mediocrity or worse into long-term superiority? And if so, what are the universal distinguishing characteristics that cause a company to go from good to great?
Using tough benchmarks, Collins and his research team identified a set of elite companies that made the leap to great results and sustained those results for at least fifteen years. How great? After the leap, the good-to-great companies generated cumulative stock returns that beat the general stock market by an average of seven times in fifteen years, better than twice the results delivered by a composite index of the world’s greatest companies, including Coca-Cola, Intel, General Electric, and Merck.
Over five years, the team analyzed the histories of all twenty-eight companies in the study. After sifting through mountains of data and thousands of pages of interviews, Collins and his crew discovered the key determinants of greatness — why some companies make the leap and others don’t.

15) The Start-Up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career
The career escalator is jammed at every level. Unemployment rates are sky-high. Creative disruption is shaking every industry. Global competition for jobs is fierce. The employer-employee pact is over and traditional job security is a thing of the past. Here, LinkedIn cofounder and chairman Reid Hoffman and author Ben Casnocha show how to accelerate your career in today’s competitive world. The key is to manage your career as if it were a start-up business: a living, breathing, growing start-up of you.

16) Raising Venture Capital for the Serious Entrepreneur
Written by Dermot Berkery, an internationally known venture capitalist with Delta Partners, this complete toolbook thoroughly details how venture capitalists arrange the financing for a company; what they look for in a business plan; how they value a business; and how they structure the terms of an agreement. Within its pages, you’ll find everything you need to successfully raise new business capital with the most attractive terms possible.

17) Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers
This book introduces startup founders and employees to the “Bullseye Framework,” a five-step process successful companies use to get traction. This framework helps founders find the marketing channel that will be key to unlocking the next stage of growth.
Traction is a guide to getting customers, written for startup founders, marketers, and those interested in how today’s startups grow and get traction. This book shows you how the founders of several of the biggest companies and organizations in the world like Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia), Alexis Ohanian (Reddit), Paul English ( and Alex Pachikov (Evernote) have built and grown their startups. The authors interviewed over forty successful founders and researched countless more growth stories to pull out the repeatable tactics and strategies they used to get traction.

18) The CEO Tighttrope: How to Master the Balancing Act of a Successful CEO
Trammell has created this resource for aspiring, new, and more experienced CEOs. He shares stories that allow you to identify your own strengths and weaknesses and provides questions that promote self-analysis. Filling a void in the market for a clear, compelling guide for CEOs, The CEO Tightrope is certain to become your go-to valued resource.

19) The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything
In The Art of the Start, Guy Kawasaki brings two decades of experience as one of business’s most original and irreverent strategists to offer the essential guide for anyone starting anything, from a multinational corporation to a church group. At Apple in the 1980s, he helped lead one of the great companies of the century, turning ordinary consumers into evangelists. As founder and CEO of Garage Technology Ventures, a venture capital firm, he has field-tested his ideas with dozens of newly hatched companies. And as the author of bestselling business books and articles, he has advised thousands of people who are making their startup dreams real. From raising money to hiring the right people, from defining your positioning to creating a brand, from creating buzz to buzzing the competition, from managing a board to fostering a community, this book will guide you through an adventure that’s more art than science—the art of the start.

20) The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers
A lot of people talk about how great it is to start a business, but only Ben Horowitz is brutally honest about how hard it is to run one. In The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley’s most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, draws on his own story of founding, running, selling, buying, managing, and investing in technology companies to offer essential advice and practical wisdom for navigating the toughest problems business schools don’t cover. His blog has garnered a devoted following of millions of readers who have come to rely on him to help them run their businesses. A lifelong rap fan, Horowitz amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favorite songs and tells it straight about everything from firing friends to poaching competitors, from cultivating and sustaining a CEO mentality to knowing the right time to cash in.

21) Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies
Collins and Porras go beyond the incessant barrage of management buzzwords and fads of the day to discover timeless qualities that have consistently distinguished out-standing companies. They also provide inspiration to all executives and entrepreneurs by destroying the false but widely accepted idea that only charismatic visionary leaders can build visionary companies. Filled with hundreds of specific examples and organized into a coherent framework of practical concepts that can be applied by managers and entrepreneurs at all levels, Built to Last provides a master blueprint for building organizations that will prosper long into the twenty-first century and beyond.

22) Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose
This book written by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is a great resource if you want to learn about the path that Zappos took to get to over $1 billion in gross merchandise sales in less than ten years. It also provides some of the lessons learned along the way from all the mistakes. In addition, the book is a grab read for those founders that are looking to create a stronger company culture, which will make employees and coworkers happier and create more employee engagement, leading to higher productivity.

23) Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
In Made to Stick, accomplished educators and idea collectors Chip and Dan Heath tackle head-on why do some ideas thrive while others die. Inside, the brothers Heath reveal the anatomy of ideas that stick and explain ways to make ideas stickier, such as applying the “human scale principle,” using the “Velcro Theory of Memory,” and creating “curiosity gaps.”
Made to Stick is a book that will transform the way you communicate ideas. It’s a fast-paced tour of success stories (and failures)–the Nobel Prize-winning scientist who drank a glass of bacteria to prove a point about stomach ulcers; the charities who make use of “the Mother Teresa Effect”; the elementary-school teacher whose simulation actually prevented racial prejudice. Provocative, eye-opening, and often surprisingly funny, Made to Stick shows us the vital principles of winning ideas–and tells us how we can apply these rules to making our own messages stick.

24) Crush It!: Why Now Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion
Gary Vaynerchuk shows you how to use the power of the Internet to turn your real interests into real businesses. Gary spent years building his family business from a local wine shop into a national industry leader. Then one day he turned on a video camera, and by using the secrets revealed in this book, transformed his entire life and earning potential by building his personal brand. By the end of this book, any reader will have learned how to harness the power of the Internet to make their entrepreneurial dreams come true. Step by step, CRUSH IT! is the ultimate driver′s manual for modern business.

25) The Entrepreneur Mind: 100 Essential Beliefs, Characteristics, and Habits of Elite Entrepreneurs
In a praiseworthy effort to distill some of the most important lessons of entrepreneurship, Kevin D. Johnson, president of multimillion-dollar company Johnson Media Inc. and a serial entrepreneur for several years, shares the essential beliefs, characteristics, and habits of elite entrepreneurs. Through the conviction of his own personal experiences, which include a life-changing visit to Harvard Business School, and the compelling stories of modern-day business tycoons, Johnson transforms an oftentimes complex topic into a lucid and accessible one.
In this riveting book written for new and veteran entrepreneurs, Johnson identifies one hundred key lessons that every entrepreneur must learn in seven areas: Strategy, Education, People, Finance, Marketing and Sales, Leadership, and Motivation. Lessons include how to think big, who makes the best business partners, what captivates investors, when to abandon a business idea, where to avoid opening a business bank account, and why too much formal education can hinder your entrepreneurial growth.

26) The Paypal Wars: Battles with Ebay, the Media, the Mafia, and the Rest of Planet Earth
When PayPal launched its online payment service and set out to overhaul global currency markets it successfully weathered the dot-com bust and a fierce competitive struggle with the auction giant eBay. But hordes of government regulators, trial lawyers, and organized crime rings soon targeted PayPal for destruction, turning its quest to make Internet history into a desperate struggle for survival.

27) The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Mae a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future
Chris tells you exactly how many dollars his group of unexpected entrepreneurs required to get their projects up and running; what these individuals did in the first weeks and months to generate significant cash; some of the key mistakes they made along the way, and the crucial insights that made the business stick. Among Chris’s key principles: if you’re good at one thing, you’re probably good at something else; never teach a man to fish – sell him the fish instead; and in the battle between planning and action, action wins.

28) The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About it
An instant classic, this revised and updated edition of the phenomenal bestseller dispels the myths about starting your own business. Small business consultant and author Michael E. Gerber, with sharp insight gained from years of experience, points out how common assumptions, expectations, and even technical expertise can get in the way of running a successful business.
Gerber walks you through the steps in the life of a business—from entrepreneurial infancy through adolescent growing pains to the mature entrepreneurial perspective: the guiding light of all businesses that succeed—and shows how to apply the lessons of franchising to any business, whether or not it is a franchise. Most importantly, Gerber draws the vital, often overlooked distinction between working on your business and working in your business.

29) Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to Plan That
In this inspiring book, Ash Maurya takes you through an exacting strategy for achieving a “product/market fit” for your fledgling venture, based on his own experience in building a wide array of products from high-tech to no-tech. Throughout, he builds on the ideas and concepts of several innovative methodologies, including the Lean Startup, Customer Development, and bootstrapping.

30) The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen R. Covey presents a holistic, integrated, principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems. With penetrating insights and pointed anecdotes, Covey reveals a step-by-step pathway for living with fairness, integrity, service, and human dignity — principles that give us the security to adapt to change and the wisdom and power to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates.

31) Can’t Hurt Me

For David Goggins, childhood was a nightmare—poverty, prejudice, and physical abuse colored his days and haunted his nights. But through self discipline, mental toughness, and hard work, David  transformed himself from a depressed, overweight young man with no future into a U.S. Armed Forces icon and one of the world’s top endurance athletes. The only man in history to complete elite training  as a Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller, he went on to set records in numerous endurance events, inspiring Outside Magazine to name him “The Fittest (Real) Man in America.”

In Can’t Hurt Me, he shares his astonishing life story and reveals that most of us only tap into 40% of our capabilities. Goggins calls this the 40% Rule, and his story illuminates a path that anyone can follow to push past pain, demolish fear, and reach their full potential.

32) Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Carol S. Dweck talks about the Fixed and Growth mindsets.

Startup Fund Raising Notes

This is a collection of suggestions and recommendations from several successful startup founders who have raised investments for their companies. The source of this information is coming from various websites, podcasts, books, and personal interviews. I thank everyone of them who has contributed to this large collection.

Note: The terms “investor” and “partner” could be used interchangeably in this article. They refer to the person or company that is investing in the startup.

Investor Selection

  • It’s not the fund. It’s the person. Choice is yours not the investor’s.
  • Partner selection is extremely important.
  • Set up a Q&A process for investors. Find signals to detect if they are truthful.
  • Take the fund out of the equation. Focus on fit.
  • Research your partners. Talk to back channel.
  • Try to get a meeting with GP/senior associates ( they have influence). Check their number of years with the fund.
  • What does the investor like to see in your product.
  • Does the investor care about your product ? Does he ask a lot of questions related to the product and come up with feature suggestions?
  • Ask what value can the investor bring to your company.
  • Ask what value the investor sees in your product.
  • Do they share your long term view.
  • Push and ask if the investor wants to do it not. Be assertive.
  • Interview their portfolio companies.
  • Senior partner, principal, and analyst are normally in the conversations.


  • Be locked in on fund raising. No distractions. It is time consuming task.
  • Don’t go to fund raising too early. Build a team before you do.
  • Get an executive coach. It helps tremendously. Helps bring essential traits.
  • Get your data room ready for the investors.
  • Customer calls, reference calls are done by investor.
  • Useful to have other founders with you while raising fund. They work like sounding board.
  • Wear something that reflects you as a brand.
  • Listen to earnings calls of public companies.
  • Founder psychology, investor pressure tactics read about them.
  • Don’t work up for validation. Be realistic optimistic. X times previous round…

Closing the deal

  • Term sheet is just LOI. Cash in Bank is when the deal is done.
  • Takes 60 days more days to get cash in bank.
  • Work with a good law firm. Negotiate a cap with your law firm to do the legals because it will go over and it will end up being 30 days or maybe even 60 days.


  • Review the fund raising memos of successful companies.
  • Speak to VCs and ask for their favorite memories or how they think about putting a memo together. Use that as a foundation to structure your memo.


Establish company culture. Values you care. Scoring people on the culture fit.

  • Right founding and leadership.
  • Recruit executives who were early in the founding. Not those who joined in later stage of the company forming. Did they go through the frustration that you are facing.

Board Meetings

  • Learn conducting board meetings. Running productive meeting. Send agenda early.
  • Establish the frequency. OKRs? Set realistic, measurable, and have team buy-in.
  • Conduct regular all hands meeting. Gather the notes. It makes it easy to send investor updates.
  • Board meeting should be focused on enabling the board to make decisions.


  • Don’t put the cart before the horse.
  • If there’s one number every founder should always know, it’s the company’s growth rate. Use growth like a compass to make almost every decision you face.
  • To grow rapidly, you need to make something you can sell to a big market.
  • Your niche both protects and defines you.
  • Rapid change in one area uncovers big, soluble problems in other areas.
  • A good growth rate during YC is 5-7% a week.
weekly yearly
  • A startup, making $1000 a month, that grows at 5% a week will in 4 years be making $25 million a month.
  • Having to hit a growth number every week forces founders to act, and acting versus not acting is the high bit of succeeding.
  • Nine times out of ten, sitting around strategizing is just a form of procrastination.
  • Raising money lets you choose your growth rate.
  • Identify your ‘earned secrets’ – proprietary insights that you’ve discovered that no one else knows yet.
  • For ‘why now’, think about change events that relate to new technology, new regulation, or new shifts in consumer behavior. Explain why no one could have successfully built your business in the past as well as how a particular change event has created a window for new possibilities.
  • The best founders are the authentic ones who care more about solving the problem than they are about building a unicorn business.

Marketing Stack

Social Media Icons

1. Introduction

Mar-tech stack is how marketing technology tools are organized, or stacked, together. Each platform or program in your stack should complement or support the others so that everyone in marketing, and other functions in your organization buy into it.

To build your Marketing Stack, start by identifying the business and marketing objectives that you are trying to achieve, and then define and map the marketing functions that will need to be supported by technology for each objective. Then derive the technology requirements needed to support the marketing functions. This will lead you to the type of product that you need to add to your stack.

The purpose of your marketing technology stack is to help you help your customers through the buyer’s journey. Whether you’re using influencer marketing software to identify brand advocates who can drive meaningful traffic to your website, or a communication service that allows your team to collaborate on a product update, at the end of the day, it’s to turn your prospects into customers and then maximize their lifetime value to your business.

Stacks are different based on the company’s stage and target customer segment.

Early Stage Startup Well-funded startup/ Medium-sized business Enterprise-level

2. Definitions

Dark Tech: “Dark tech” refers to marketing technology that has been developed internally rather than acquired.

Martech: A group of independent technologies that helps digital marketers to efficiently perform marketing activities, across various channels.

3. Goals

· Make difficult processes easier

· Measure impact of marketing activities

· Drive efficient spending

4. Approach

Aligning technology requirements to marketing functions that support business and marketing objectives should also drive the rationalization of the existing stack. Each platform and product should be evaluated against an overall set of marketing functions and technology requirements.

Write down specific scenarios for things you want to do with the software. Map it out.

Example 1:

· Business objective: Increase revenue and reduce costs

· Marketing objective: Improve campaign return on investment

· Marketing function: Develop a sound attribution strategy that allows our team to make better investments based on past campaign performance

· Technology requirements:

o De-duplication for leads and contacts

o Automated lead-to-contact conversion

o Automated lead-to-account matching

o Automated contact-to-opportunity conversion

o Field normalization (standardization)

o First touch, last touch, and multi-touch reporting

Note: In this example, the type of product needed turned out to be a data orchestration platform.

Once you identify a stack, do this:

· Make sure that all stakeholders in the organization are involved in the process

· Clearly establish objectives and the priority of each

· Define a data architecture and flow that will support all objectives

· Align internal skills with the technology and business strategy

5. Needs

Sample questions to establish your needs:

· Do you want to nurture leads to a sale?

· Are you trying to improve your influencer marketing?

· Educate a huge volume of potential customers to move them closer to demo?


6. Building Blocks

Depending on factors like business size and marketing strategy, every company’s mar-tech stack is going to be unique.

1.1 Advertising + Promotion

Help promoting brand and driving traffic. Specialized and have distinct purpose in disseminating information about your brand.

· Mobile Marketing

· Display + Programmatic

· Search + Social Advertising

· Native + Content Advertising

· Video Advertising

· Print

· PR

1.2 Content + Experience

Backbone for entire marketing operations plan, as well as integration with sales and customer success team.

· Mobile Apps

· Video Marketing

· Interactive Content

· Email Marketing

· Content Marketing

· Optimization + Testing

· Data Asset Management (DAM) or Marketing Resource Management (MRM)


· Marketing Automation

· Content Management System (CMS)

Implement bold ones as soon as possible as they relate to how you produce and optimize your content, direct your leads to sales, and keep your database (your most valuable asset) clean at all times. DAMs and MRMs can generally be consolidated into a robust marketing automation system.

1.3 Social + Relationships

Just as important as content and experience is for nurturing leads and managing your database, your CRM and customer success system is a crucial component to your overall tech stack.

· Call Analytics

· Account Based Management (ABM)

· Events, Meetings + Webinars

· Social Media

· Loyalty + Referrals

· Feedback

· Customer Experience + Success

· Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

1.4 Commerce + Sales

More important for B2C business. The goal here is to provide your consumer the greatest user shopping experience both on and offline.

Key subcategories any B2C business should consider:

· Retail Marketing

· Partner + Local Marketing

· Sales Automation, Enablement + Intelligence

· Affiliate Marketing

· Ecommerce Marketing

· Ecommerce Platforms

1.5 Data

Helps measure the effectiveness of their campaign initiatives.

· Audience + Data Enhancement

· Marketing Analytics, Performance + Attribution

· Mobile + Web Analytics

· Data Visualization

· Customer Intelligence

· IPaaS + Tag Management

· Data Management Platform (DMP)

· Predictive Analytics

· Customer Data Platforms

1.6 Internal Management

· Talent Management

· Product Management

· Budgeting

· Collaboration

· Projects + Workflows

· Agile Management

· Vendor Analysis

7. Align Marketing with IT

· Designate a cross-functional advocate: In smaller companies, this can be your marketing technologist, automation user or somebody in demand generation.

· Involve IT in strategic planning: This is especially important when it comes to managing your data across multiple platforms.

· Expedite vendor assessments: bring your IT into the research discussions, especially when it comes to considering the possibilities from an integration and production standpoint.

· Digitize the business: this involves getting every member of your marketing team (traditional and digital) to become digitized when it comes to developing cross-functional marketing programs and unifying your strategy.

· Create a marketing analytics portal:

8. Budget

· Generally ranges from 10-40% of forecasted annual recurring revenue (ARR).

· Median sales and marketing spend vs. projected growth rate hovers around 28%.

· Identify the big-ticket channels (events, some in advertising, content, or experiential), and then work backwards.

· Increased technology costs ultimately impact the cost of customer acquisition (CAC) and customer lifetime value (CLTV).

9. Early Stage Startup/Growth Hackers Budget and Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking (

Setting up $100,000 marketing tech stack for under $100 (

Look for low-cost single function platforms. Hubspot for startups ( ) gives 90% off discount on the platform.

10. Early Stage Startup/Growth Hackers Budget

Well funded, but have company size less than 500.

Common investments are in:

· a CRM platform (i.e. Salesforce)

· a marketing automation platform (i.e. HubSpot)

· a web experience platform and/or e-commerce platform (i.e. Shopify)

· a social management platform (i.e. Hootsuite, Buffer)

· an analytics platform (i.e. Google, KISSMetrics)

Check to learn more about what other company’s use for their tech stack.

If you are unsure (budget, bandwidth), consider all-in-one options like HubSpot.

Check 80/20 rule of software purchases (

11. Enterprise-Level or Large Corporations

IT starts working closely on integrations.

ExactTarget, Adobe or Oracle’s Marketing Cloud.

12. Capability Cluster

4 Topologies of Marketing Tech Stacks (

Many companies have 5 or so platforms as part of their stack,

· a CRM platform ( i.e. Salesforce)

· a marketing automation platform (i.e. Marketo)

· a web experience platform and/or e-commerce platform (i.e. Magento)

· a content + social management platform (i.e. NewsCred)

· an analytics platform (i.e. Google, KISSMetrics)

Oracle, Salesforce, HubSpot, and Marketo are looking to develop their own “ISV ecosystems,” essentially destroying the marketing tech stack altogether.

13. The Ultimate Marketing Technology Stack


1. Tag Management System

2. Analytics + Tracking

3. Mobile Optimization

4. Customer Relationship Management

5. Marketing Automation

6. Conversion Rate Optimization

7. Data Management Platform

8. Remarketing + Retargeting

9. Search Engine Marketing

10. Social + Content Tools

14. Examples

Grade your stack here:

Stack investigator tool:


Chief Martech

Chief Martech

Gartner Digital Marketing Transit Map

Gartner Marketing

Spacey Campus/ Galaxy Map

Marketing Galaxy


BillShark Marketing Stack


Acrolinx Marketing Stack


Landing Page –

Content Marketing –

Leadership at Startups

Be yourself, be authentic. It is hard to copy someone else and be a great leader.

All great leaders do three things exceptionally well:

  1. Think and communicate clearly
  2. Show great judgement about people. Develop intuition about people
  3. Have exceptional personal integrity and commitment

Take time every day or every other day to think. An hour of thinking immensely helps.

Trust is a leader’s most important success metric. In a 360 degrees sense. In all that you do, optimize for trust.

Buffet’s life lessons:

  1. Love the work that you do
  2. Stop your ‘thumb-sucking’ – It’s stalling, procrastinating and avoiding something that may have been your best bet to begin with to reach your goals. 
  3. Don’t judge yourself by other people’s standards – follow your “Inner Scorecard”, which defines your own standards and not what the world imposes on you.

3 things to do to keep your startup going:

  1. Do it right the first-time – don’t necessarily need to be perfect, but do it right way
  2. Do it fast
  3. Have fun

My Collection of Quotes

“Make yourself redundant. The best way to grow is by hiring talented people, mentoring them to do your job and moving on to bigger and better jobs.”

Prof. Mohanbir Sawhney, Kellogg School of Management

“The most important thing is to be customer obsessed.”

Jeff Bezos

‘Reading is the gateway to accumulate knowledge and information and only then do you have a chance to make the right decision.’

Warren Buffett

“If I had more time I would have written a short letter”

Mark Twain

“We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details.”

Jeff Bezos

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one twists facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts. “

Sherlock Holmes

“The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.”

Charles Bukowski

“Some people don’t like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster.”

Elon Musk

‘A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to put his pants on.’ – Winston Churchill.

“VCs are looking for pain killers. Not Multi-Vitamins. They invest on imminent pain.”

“Secure funding when you can, not when you need”

Quotes from Star Wars

“In my experience there is no such thing as luck.”

Obi-Wan Kenobi

“Strike me down, and I will become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.”

Obi-Wan Kenobi

“Fear is the path to the dark side.”


“Do. Or do not. There is no try.”


“Sometimes we must let go of our pride and do what is requested of us.” 

Anakin Skywalker

“The ability to speak does not make you intelligent”

Qui-Gon Jinn

Fund Raising Tips

Focus on explaining the problem. Investor has to recognize it is a problem worth solving. Explain with an analogy/anecdote. Understand at what level the person you are talking to understands your space. Solution is less important. “Communicate clearly and adjust depending on the situation”

Investors love to hear about your background and how you evolved to become a founder. They look for the chemistry between founders.

Create a process – who to speak to, when, why, etc. Dedicate yourself to it. Create a spreadsheet with schedule and probability of success. Track conversations/results. Find balance between a hyper-critical investor and an all-is-well investor.

Raising too much too fast will hurt the company. Identify the milestones and the runway you need to meet them and go from there.

Find what GREAT is and means. Investors love to see you rub shoulders with other successful founders/investors/leaders. Personal connections and network matters. Find a sparring partner and not a best friend who doesn’t challenge you enough.

Avoid investors who are too involved and those that are not involved at all. Do not take office space in your investor’s building. You need room to grow and not someone overseeing you.

Can you take a big hairy problem and break it down into simple smaller problems? Condensing is a skill.

Tip 1: Lead Investor

Investors care more about who else is investing than the business plan and team. So, don’t go broad until you have a lead investor lined up.

Tip 2: Set a deadline

Deadline keeps the momentum going and keeps you running towards closing the fund raise.

Tip 3:


How to raise Money?

Value Proposition Statements from Startups

Following below is a collection of value proposition statements that the startups used in their pitch deck when raising capital. Note that some of these may not be verbatim from their deck, but paraphrased without losing the key message.

Please add a comment with your favorite ones that are missing here and I shall include it.

Adpushup allows companies to maximize ad revenues through advanced A/B testing. 

Airbnb is a platform that allows people to list, find, and rent lodging.

AppVirality allows app developers to identify and implement the right growth techniques, within minutes. No coding required.

Bliss provides code quality metrics for engineering managers and allows them to collaborate easily.

Buffer is a social media scheduling platform that helps you schedule content to Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Pinterest.

Castle app lets rental owner put their properties on autopilot.

Canvas replaces paper-based processes with affordable and easy-to-use mobile apps and forms.

Crew (formerly Ooomf & then PickCrew) is a premium marketplace of the best mobile and web talent where the talent picks the work.

Cubeit is a mobile application that allows users to aggregate content from anywhere.

Dwolla allows anything connected to the internet to move money quickly, safely, and at low cost. It is a payment solution that allows users to send, receive, and request funds from other users.

Facebook: is an expanding online directory that connects students, alumni, faculty and staff through social networks at colleges and universities.

Fittr is a platform that designs custom workouts tailored to equipment, access, time management, and goals. Lumosity meets Fitness.

Flowtab is a mobile ordering, payments, and loyalty platform for bars and nightclubs. It allows people to order drinks quickly at a crowded bar.

Foursquare is a mobile platform that helps you find the best places to go in your area.

Gusto (previously ZenPayroll) is a cloud-based solution tool for small businesses to pay employees.

LaunchRock allows users to create landing pages and quickly get their startups known through social media, even before the launch of their full site.

Manpacks is a platform that delivers men’s essentials such as underwear, razors, grooming and other products.

MapMe allows users to create universally accessible (i.e. on smartphones, tablets, and computers) maps of anywhere they want with no coding required.

MapMe – platform that empowers passionate people to build, launch, and grow Community Maps.

Mint is a personal financial services tool that helps people track their spending and find ways to save money.

Mixpanel is an advanced analytics platform for product and marketing.

Square is a company that allows merchants to accept mobile credit card payments via a dongle.

SteadyBudget is budget management software that helps PPC analysts manage various budgets across different channels.

Swipes is a task manager app to help its users increase their productivity.

Wealthsimple is Canada’s fastest growing online investment manager. We make smart investing easy, low-cost, and transparent.