Deep in the trenches: November 19th 2020
Covid vaccine, frameworks for hiring and Théo from Multis
I mentioned in the last edition that I was tinkering with the idea of having one newsletter per month dedicated to introducing a founder of a VC backed early stage company (pre Series A) with a “short bullets” format.
Here’s the first experiment at this format. Would love your feedback!
Today, we’ll introduce Théo from Multis 👇
But first, I’d like to share two articles I’ve enjoyed recently.
📄 Some interesting resources I’ve checked out lately:
1) This New York times article on The husband and wife team behind the leading vaccine to solve covid-19
BioNTech began work on the vaccine in January, after Dr. Sahin read an article in the medical journal The Lancet that left him convinced that the coronavirus, at the time spreading quickly in parts of China, would explode into a full-blown pandemic.
It’s one thing to having called it early on twitter (some VCs and other prominent figures in Silicon Valley did) but calling it plus making it the the only focus of your energy and company is a whole other level. Impressive.
On the day they were married, Dr. Sahin and Dr. Türeci returned to the lab after the ceremony.
I added to the list of things to think about whenever I think I work hard enough.
2) Frameworks for Hiring - Erik Torenberg
We’re hiring for 4 positions currently at Actiondesk and naturally, I’m reading a lot about hiring. Building a truly excellent team is a topic I obsess about, especially in the early stages. I strongly believe the first people who’ll come onboard will define the culture and standards the company will have over the long term.
This article contains a few nuggets, I particularly got some good insights on reference calls which I applied immediately as we just made an offer to a full stack engineer.
Reference calls are hard because nobody wants to be mean and say negative things about a former colleague. Thus, finding good questions to ask to get the right signals for you to get to a decision is key. Here are some I used and why I think they’re good:
Is this person in the top 5% people you've worked with?
Most people actually honestly answer this. If not, you can see if it’s a “Absolutely” or a “yes” after hesitating
If this didn't work out in 3 months, why not?
One answer I got about the candidate we made an offer was “It will have been your fault” which I took as a very good signal
If we were going to hire someone, who should we pair them with as a good complement to their skills?
This is a good way to understand what could be the weaknesses of the candidate.
📣 Introducing Théophile Villard
Théo and his cofounder Thibaut were both in the same Y Combinator batch as Actiondesk last year (summer 19). We actually lived together for ~10 days. Indeed, Multis was accepted into YC during the last round of interviews, right before YC started. They hadn’t found a flat to stay at, nor did they have any clothes and other things for a 3 month stay in the valley, so we used the extra space we had in the house to welcome them. On to the interview 🎙
What are you working on?
crypto-powered banking solutions for companies
How did you make your way to the world of startups?
While doing my Erasmus in Madrid I realized translation services sucked for short sentences, because you cannot trust them.
I watched "The Social Network" and started my first startup which was a "social translation platform" - I worked on it for my last year project at university and then ran out of money one year later
How do you define product market fit and do you have it?
PMF is when everything is breaking down (too many users, too much volume etc) :)
We're not there yet
How did you get your first 10 users (for consumer or B2B SMBs) or first customer (for enterprise)?
Pure grit and outbound.
I can testify to that. I remember Thibaut making list of people he thought would be good fit for their product and rigorously cold emailing them. He was not using a template, he was finding interesting things to say to each of them and was crafting a personal and relatable email for each of them. Do things that don’t scale.
Is there one specific tactic that was very helpful to you, whether it's in finding users, building your product or fundraising that you'd like to share?
We let my cofounder Thibaut be the beta tester of the features the product team builds -- nothing is working for him, it's a gift from the gods
We do the same, I’m always the first tester for any new feature we release.
What's a favorite book and why? It could be business related but doesn't have to be.
Deep Work -- it made me more deliberate about my focus time