positions who are accustomed to
structure may struggle in this
volatile milieu. Establishing
for the frst few months is wise.
Finally, you will need to decide
how to decide. Even if you have
known one another for years, it
is unlikely you’ll have made these
kinds of high-stakes decisions
together. What will be the deci-sion-making model? Consensus?
Democracy? Is there a third party
to break a stalemate? It’s best to
designate a single arbiter for each
type of decision.
Make them pay
For entrepreneurs, this may be the
greatest shock: Within 90 days,
you should be pursuing sales. It’s
not about the money, although
money is nice. Rather, selling is the
best possible indicator of whether
someone wants what you’re
making. The challenge is getting
creative about what, so early in
the process, you are able to sell.
Craig Wortmann is founder and
executive director of the Kellogg
Sales Institute at Northwestern
ON THE FIRST DAY of your company,
your only product is you. You can
sell that. You can sell your time,
and you can sell the knowledge or
insight that will eventually power
your product or service.
I know the founders of a company that, years ago, was developing an app to help high school
athletes optimize their choice of
college. They did what most
founders do: went into their cave
and worked on the product. And
when they fnished, people looked
at it and said, huh. Instead, the
founders should have ofered to sit
down with students and their
parents and, for a price, build
spreadsheets with all the variables
To excite investors,
focus on the big picture,
not the details
When we started to raise money, we were told no dozens and dozens of times.
We were really focused on the specifcs and also trying to get every part of
our story into the conversation. With early-stage fundraising, you’re lucky if
you get 30 minutes with someone, and all fve of us founders were talking
about our expertise, our pricing strategy, the product we were going to build.
We learned to take a step back and say, “What’s the vision we all share?”
It was creating the world’s frst sleep brand and changing the way people buy
sleep products. You don’t need to tell your entire life story in an investor pitch.
Early-stage investors get excited about hearing your story, and how you’re
going to change the world and why, as opposed to your saying, “Tactically,
here are the next six steps we’re going to do, and this gets us to launch.” That
tactical conversation—you need to have a keen grasp of it, but it’s not what
sells the dream. It’s important to build your 12- or 18-month projection and
build a spreadsheet that shows a driver of the business, but ultimately the
only thing that’s certain is that that spreadsheet probably won’t be right, so
the only thing they’re betting on is you as the founder.
So as we were fguring out how to focus more on the big-picture vision
and not get so much into the weeds, Red Antler, the agency we’d hired to
create our branding, made an introduction to Ben Lerer. He and his team got
our vision. —As told to S.M.
Philip Krim and
his four co-found-ing partners are
aiming to turn
Casper into a
“sleep brand” that
for every aspect
of the snoozing