November 05, 2014
One of the reasons we feel comfortable writing to entrepreneurs of all stripes is that many of us are entrepreneurs ourselves. Some of us are being exposed to this roller-coaster for the first time here at Contactually, while others are long-time business-building junkies, here for yet another go-around.
But you could make a reasonable argument that nobody here is quite as knowledgeable about entrepreneurship as Contactually's co-founder and CEO, Zvi Band. And while you may know him from Twitter, his involvement in the DC startup community, or this awesome eBook full of relationship management hacks for entrepreneurs, you probably don't know a lot about how he stays up on the many things that affect his world.
One thing Zvi and I (and probably you) have in common is that we read a LOT of stuff online. In the interest of expanding my entrepreneurial expertise (and giving you something to read, and possibly sucking up to the guy who runs my company), I asked him to recommend some good sources of content.
So, without further adieu, here's what Zvi's looking at every day, along with some of my initial observations.
Tom Tunguz is a venture capitalist at Redpoint, and his site includes a lot of things you'd probably find interesting if you were running a fast-growing, venture-funded startup. You know, things like how Series A valuations are getting higher, and why revenue isn't as important as you might think for a growing company.
It's probably not hard to imagine why somebody like Zvi cares about this stuff, but as a non-CEO, non-founder myself, I can tell you that it's arguably just as fascinating for regular ol' working stiffs, or those of us starting businesses that don't fit the venture capital model. Ideas like sustainable growth, ownership, and effective marketing aren't just for dot coms, after all.
Ever been to HackerNews? It's a wonderfully simple way to monitor the pulse of the tech & developer community. Structurally, it's basically a huge list of links to articles around the web, which are then upvoted by members, and often discussed in some of the more epic comment threads you'll find online. HackerNews is doubly useful this way -- you can simply browse it to discover the kinds of thing your engineering department is probably arguing about in the kitchen, or go down the rabbit hole of comments yourself. I'm more of a lurker myself, but you'll have to ask Zvi which approach he prefers.
CLASSY! Ivy League jokes aside ("this blog smells of rich mahogany, and many leather-bound books") the Harvard Business Review's collection of bloggers is an active source of high quality business insight. If you want to read smart people talking about smart things, it's hard to beat HBR's army of doctors, lawyers, academics and various captains of industry. I wouldn't describe the content as "narrowly focused" -- you can find opinions here on everything from pharmaceutical regulation to customer service best practices -- but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Plus, it's always fun to read smart, nuanced takes on critical business topics lead with headlines like "BUREAUCRACY MUST DIE". Even the best and brightest gotta git' them clicks.
I can't tell if Zvi is just messing with me or not, but look at this -- invite-only! It appears that anyone can request membership, but with a 37% acceptance rate, I feel like I need to improve my resume (maybe perform in the Contactually musical or something) before I apply. Still, Quibb "is invite-only with the goal to slowly grow a high-quality network", which sounds reasonable. Built around Twitter, users are able to find discussions that are relevant to them and interact with industry influencers. The low acceptance rate fosters the community's high standards of influential, important, and relevant content in discussions. So, I probably won't get in. Where do the rest of us go, though? Does anyone remember where I put my MySpace password?
I've already read a few of Zvi's answers on Quora, and trust me, they're pretty good. The topics range from the origins of Contactually, to whether aspiring developers can survive a summer without a technical internship.
I'm constantly impressed by the quality of information and discussion you can find on Quora -- it's a long, long road from "HOW IS BABBY FORMED" and a lot of the other garbage you'll find on sites like Yahoo Answers. The fact is, there are a lot of knowledgable, well-spoken folks out there, and a surprising number of them are on Quora.
In fact, you may have gotten to this very blog post via a Quora post Zvi set up. (For the record, I've decided to become a little more active myself, albeit on topics I might be more qualified to discuss.)
I don't count this as one of the top five because chances are you're probably already on Twitter, but we can't emphasize enough how valuable it is. Along with many of us at Contactually, Zvi is a very active Twitter user. And when he's not disagreeing with me about essential wedding music for millennials, he's often plowing through piles of great content from the people in his network.
So what's the sort of thing Zvi's likely to voraciously read and share? You could do worse than this Bryce Dot VC post, which Zvi described as "one of his favorite posts of all time".
It's bold, motivating, and a little surprising. If you know Zvi like we do, that probably sounds just about right.