Focus Areas

Company Formation - Culture, Vision/Mission, Hiring

This framework is really all about getting you to think about how to formulate your culture, and communicate your vision and mission so you can hire consistently great people as well as attract strongly aligned customers and investors and keep them in sync so that collectively all your stakeholders can help accelerate your execution.

There are many Startup Secrets in this area, but before you dive in, let me offer the following observation. Many entrepreneurs choose to go straight to working on their breakthrough - whatever that may be. While that may prove a great starting point, in the end there's no substitute for the foundational elements of an enduring business such as Culture.

And while there is no shortcut to building a great culture, if thought about early, it's a lot about who you are as a founder and what values, ethics you live by and what standards you practice every day in building your startup. All this is covered in the main resource here brought to life with case examples from great companies like Acquia who are currently the fastest growing software company in the Inc 500.

Vision and Mission is a little more obvious, but even so, being truly compelling about how you'll take your initial value proposition (see Value Prop here)  and define a compelling Vision for how you will serve a market years into the future with a meaningful Mission is not easy.

And that's a balancing act when, to start with, it will be a challenge to prove you even have something that works right here and now! As I'm often asked about that, there is a discussion about balancing Vision and Execution to be found here.

Finally, every startup I know struggles with hiring the best talent. Best is a relative term. It starts with who will FIT your culture - what I call CQ. And that's something I find too few startups pay attention to, so we take time to cover that in the hiring section of the slides and video here. I will be doing more case studies and I am also developing new content specifically on hiring best practices for startups. In addition, I highly recommend Professor Noam Wasserman's excellent book - The Founder's Dilemmas.


Anecdotally, one of the first sales people I ever hired shares a case in point here of culture playing a role when we worked at Symantec and made a major acquistion of Peter Norton Computing.

Case Examples

Company Formation - Case - Salsify
Teaming to win featuring Don Bulens
Symantec acquiring Peter Norton Computing


Forbes, May 21, 2013, Michael Skok, Contributor
WSJ Blog-The Accelerators, June 27, 2013
Problem Solving, featuring Andy Jassy, SVP, Amazon Web Services
LinkedIn, September 24, 2013, Michael J. Skok
LinkedIn, July 16, 2013, Michael J. Skok
LinkedIn, September 24, 2013, Michael J. Skok
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