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January 11, 2012

The First 100 Days of a Startup

by Dan

Josh Coates, founder of Mozy and current CEO of Instructure, once taught a series of classes at BYU on high-tech startups. I jumped at the chance to audit his class.

One of the things Josh covered was what should happen during the first 100 days (14 weeks) of a high-tech startup.

Week 1 — Research and choose business
Week 2 — Build financial model and development plan
Week 3 — Build pitch with screenshots and practice
Week 4 — Interview law firm, staff and advisers
Week 5 — Incorporate and setup shop with office space and equipment
Week 6 — Initial documents, books, hires and cap table
Week 7 — Create website and logo (do a trademark search)
Week 8 — Identify 10 to 20 potential investors and study who else they invest in
Week 9 — Practice the pitch and setup meeting with the least important investor
Week 10 — Interview, build product, pitch again
Week 11 — Interview, build product, pitch again
Week 12 — Interview, build product, pitch again
Week 13 — Interview, build product, pitch again
Week 14 — Interview, build product, pitch again

He recommended interviewing one potential employee every day. Pitching to the least important investor first lets you have a chance to practice in a situation where making a mistake isn’t as damaging.

I first met Josh just after publication of an article he wrote on how many angel investors in Utah were doing it wrong. The article, entitled “Poison in the Well”, in addition to having a great title, was direct and clear in its criticism. It was one of the reasons I later applied to work at Mozy.

For anyone who knows him, I think “direct and clear criticism” is a good phrase to describe what it’s like to work for Josh. His class was no exception. It was a great chance to learn from someone who’s been there and done it successfully.

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