At last week’s Early Stage virtual event, founders and investors shared some of their best insights about startup building and what they’re looking for in their next investments. We’ve assembled a compilation of insights covering different elements of entrepreneurship from a handful of founders and VCs:

  • Jess Lee, partner at Sequoia Capital on identifying your customer
  • Garry Tan, managing partner at Initialized Capital on finding the right problem
  • Ann Miura-Ko, co-founding partner at Floodgate on product-market fit
  • Ali Partovi, Neo founder and CEO on hiring

Jess Lee, partner, Sequoia Capital: Start with your customers

Jess Lee has a whole framework for describing customers as if they were characters in a film.

“The way to think about it is as a fictional character who represents a particular user type that might use your product or company or your brand in a particular way,” she said. “And many companies have multiple personas.”

A more scientific way is thinking of your customers as a cluster of data points. The persona that emerges is at the center of that cluster.

Image Credits: TC Early Stage

“So if you map out all of the possible customers, you tend to see these clusters and then you describe who the person is at the center of that cluster,” Lee said.

What makes a good persona is someone who feels useful for product design but also memorable. That means creating a persona that has a clear story with real pain points, she said.

“And that’s the most important thing,” she said. “What do they care about and what problems are you trying to solve?”

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