The Growth Stage

Blog-RocketOne of the things that I love most about blogging is that often the process of writing helps clarify my thoughts. I crystallize my thinking. And in many cases I learn. Both through the writing process and through the feedback I get. To date, I have written primarily about early stage startup issues because that’s what I was facing myself.

My blog has not been getting too much love since I joined FreshBooks. The main reason is that I’ve been busy. The other is that FreshBooks is a growth stage company. And growth companies are very different from young startups.

Turns out the interwebs are full of wisdom and guidance for early stage folks. That’s the primary audience that people write for. I guess because there are so many more people starting companies. There are a few folks like Fred Wilson that write about issues that span all stages. But for the most part if you’re running a growth stage company you have fewer reading options (along with a lot less reading time…).

So, going forward, I will be trying to share some things I am thinking about and doing at FreshBooks. Sharing some thoughts on building great, market leaders.

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Partners vs Investors

Its rare that Techcrunch follows me in covering a story 🙂 but yesterday they had an excellent piece on the perils of party rounds that follows on nicely from my last post on investor cheque sizes.

In the Techcrunch post, a number of experts weigh in on the downsides of having too many investors in your round. All I can say is: I agree.

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The State of Canadian VC…

I spent a couple of days last week at the Canadian Venture Capital Association’s annual conference. Pretty much every fund in the country was there.  Perhaps it was the perfect Montreal weather, but the mood at the conference was very positive. Weather aside, there are lots of reasons to be optimistic about VC in Canada – and we have a great opportunity ahead of us – IF we play it right.

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The path to Premium

With Xobni launching premium services yesterday and Fred Wilson posting about the importance of active users today, I thought it would be a good time to share some thoughts on how startups should develop their strategy for getting paid users. These suggestions are in the context of a freemium web business.

As Fred says, its all about your active users. In his own words:

Your best advocates are always your most active users. So focus on them, make them successful in your service, focus on growing that number, and the non-active problem will take care of itself.

Metrics like “total users” are interesting but unactionable. They’re just vanity metrics. I take things a step further than Fred’s suggestion to focus on active users and instead look at the waterfall of how we go from registered – active – power – paying users.

Some definitions:

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