My guest today is Mike Maples, co-founder and partner of Floodgate. As a child of the computer revolution, Mike was deconstructing calculators in grade school, writing video games in high school, and inevitably found himself building businesses in Silicon Valley after college. After his success as an operator, Mike eventually transitioned to become a full-time venture investor in the 2000s, and has since built a track record that includes Twitter, Twitch, Lyft, Octa, and a long list of successful tech businesses.
I'm not sure I've recorded a conversation with more applicable ideas and advice for company builders. We discussed early insights and secrets, value hypothesis testing, customer development, growth, team orchestration, and a lot more.
This is a masterclass from somebody who has seen it all. Also, do not miss his answer to the kindest thing question at the end of the conversation. I hope you enjoy this great talk with Mike Maples.
For the full show notes, transcript, and links to mentioned content, check out the episode page here.
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[00:03:08] - [First question] - His philosophy on the power of forcing a choice
[00:04:43] - How he knows when he comes across a team that has an apple quality
[00:07:39] - Exploring and hunting new inflections in ever-changing systems
[00:10:37] - Why recognizing winning insights allows you to not have to predict the future
[00:12:23] - Whether or not the evolving nature of the funding landscape changes his thinking
[00:14:18] - An example of his insight framework and stress testing a team’s potential
[00:17:21] - Practice reckless optimism
[00:18:54] - Commonalities between teams and their ideas when they get inflections wrong
[00:20:12] - What the value hypothesis is and how to test it
[00:22:15] - Ways that effective startup teams operate compared to big corporations
[00:25:36] - His involvement post-investment and where outsiders can be most helpful in a companies’ early days
[00:28:34] - Lessons learned about finding, convincing, and marketing to their first customers
[00:32:13] - An example of early customer selection done phenomenally well
[00:34:09] - Why it was possible for companies like Justin.TV and Lift to pivot so dramatically from their original ideas
[00:38:49] - Customer development and using good customers to your advantage
[00:42:31] - Who went from founder to the best growth executive
[00:43:05] - What he thinks his firm will need to do to continue offering an apple to founders
[00:46:08] - The most useful stress tests his firm can offer founders
[00:46:52] - Defining category design and what the process of category design looks like
[00:50:33] - Inflections he’s currently paying the most attention to
[00:52:07] - His experience with an HP35 calculator and how it shaped his life
[00:54:41] - What venture capital may look like in the future
[00:56:30] - The most difficult things he faces in his career
[00:57:52] - Ways he’s learned to manage failure more effectively
[00:59:06] - The kindest thing that anyone has ever done for him