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It’s easy to fall in the build trap — cranking out new features rather than solving the true customer needs.

Almost every failed startup has a product. What failed startups don’t have are enough customers.

— Gabriel Weinberg

1. Define your North Star Metric

The NSM gives direction to your company’s long-term growth vs. short-term growth.

Here are some examples of North Star Metric for well-known companies:

  • Facebook: Monthly active users
  • Spotify: Time spent listening
  • Airbnb: Booked nights
  • Whatsapp: Messages send
  • Uber: Rides per week
  • Slack…


Disclaimer: None of this is a medical advice. I’m not a doctor. If you find it helpful, consult with your doctor.

In my twenties, I ate what I craved, slept inconsistently and rarely did any exercise.

It was fine until it wasn’t. 2017, the year that changed my perspective on the power of foods, exercise, and sleep on our health.

After a few months of celebrating my 30th birthday, I was due for an annual physical. To my surprise, my vitals moved from being perfect to borderline and on track to be requiring some medications in the next 5–10 years.


The less you have, the more you can focus

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Over the last 13 years, I have moved 10 times. From multiple trips, cars, boxes, and rental trucks, there were costs to picking up and going somewhere else. Thousands of dollars were spent.

Every time, I upsized, I accumulated more stuff. Every time, I downsized, I donated and sold stuff. I spent more when upsizing my living space. I lost more when downsizing as most of the stuff we buy, depreciates in value.

It took me a long time but it became clear: having more meant spending more. …


How startups use this rule to disrupt industries

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Prior to the launch of Robinhood, an average commission for stock trading could be anywhere from $4.95 to up to $10. The transaction fees from stock trading represented a significant part of the total annual revenue of brokerage firms.

In 2015, Robinhood, a commission-free stock trading launched in public beta. Over the last few years, when the incumbents started losing customers, they were forced to offer commission-free revenue. Robinhood was the first one to own the “commission-free stock trading” that has helped it acquire over 12 million customers.

As of December 2019, the top asset management firms hold a combined…


Find your customers, partners, competition, and your differentiation

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I enjoy spending time learning and thinking about fintech space. I thought I’d share my growing list of unique companies for everyone interested in the wider Fintech space.

My plan is to keep updating this post on a regular basis. If you’re building a company that you think should be included, let me know!

Quick disclaimer: This is not an attempt at including every single company in various fintech categories, but rather a selection of the venture-backed startups I know and find interesting.

Business Lending & Finance

  1. Clearbanc — Growth capital for online businesses
  2. BlueVine — Business loans, line of credit and invoice factoring

How I evaluate my startup ideas

To have a successful startup, you need a great idea in a growing market, a great team, a great product, and great execution. Thus, before you write a single line of code, you need to evaluate if your idea is worth spending years building it.

I have founded two companies (one exited, second in progress), led product & engineering at two startups acquired both acquired by public companies. Over the last 10 years, through several mistakes, I developed some questions on how to evaluate startup ideas.

The following are the four questions that I ask myself when I’m evaluating a…


A practical guide on finding startup ideas that are worth pursuing

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Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or going through a pivot, finalizing a startup idea could be overwhelming.

A good founder usually has a bag of ideas. Having multiple ideas is good, but not ideas are created equal.

In this post, I’m sharing the process that I use to decide what ideas are worth executing and how to eliminate weak ideas.

1. The power of scratching your own itch

The best business ideas usually come from scratching a personal need. When you solve your own problem, you spend your time building something that you’re passionate about. This is more common in creating direct-to-consumer businesses.

Start with a list of…


35 tips to tighten up your grammar skills

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Grammar rules, annoying as they can be, are man-made. But, grammatical issues distract readers from what you want to convey. Instead of resonating with your words, they have to re-read the sentences until they understand.

Without the distraction of grammatical errors, readers can focus on — and better understand — your message.

This cheat sheet is a work in progress and hopefully, can be a good reference for anyone looking to tighten up their grammar skills.

I hope these guidelines will help you as much as they have helped me.

1. A While vs. awhile

A while is a noun phrase and means “a period…


Because thinking is hard.

Cognitive biases have become quite popular in mainstream culture in the last decade, thanks to books like Thinking Fast and Slow and Predictably Irrational.

There are more than 100 biases (188 according to an exhaustive infographic⁴). I’m going to focus on five common biases, share what they are, and how to avoid them.

1. Confirmation bias

Confirmation bias occurs when people actively seek out information that confirms their opinion and disregard information which contradicts it.

Examples:

  • Getting news from a single source.
  • People who support or oppose a particular issue will not only seek information to support it, they will also interpret news…


A new standard for team communication and knowledge sharing

When Herman and I decided to start our company, we knew we wanted to operate as a fully distributed company. We were drawn to the benefits of having the freedom to work from anywhere, access to global talent, and the potential cost savings.

We had also worked in distributed teams before, and found that it made us more productive. There’s a strong culture of written communication, which builds transparency and allows us to be less distracted in our work.

We knew the distributed structure of our company would require a new way of working:

  • With different timezones and working hours…

Arun Agrahri

Thoughts on entrepreneurship, future of work, leadership, and intellectual life. Founder | Product & Eng Leader. Past: VP Eng Twine (John Hancock), Vurb (Snap).

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