How do startups navigate the transition from a small, lean team to a larger, more structured organization?

We have tried to do one thing that has had the largest impact on our (so far) successful transition from a 12-person start-up to a 50-person tech company that is still quickly growing.

For as long as possible, we're trying to maintain a flat organization.

As our employees gain experience and seniority, they become responsible for more processes and data, rather than more people.  Managing the data and processes often means that you are asking people to do work, but you don't control how they balance it with their other work, but rely on a fully-developed understanding of priorities across the whole team.

This takes a bit to learn and we use a few strategies for ensuring that priorities are well-entrenched.  I will admit that managing this takes quite a bit of my own time, however, it's far better (in my opinion) than having to hire middle managers and creating a reporting structure.  It also lets us identify talented people and give them more responsibility, or appropriate responsibility that matches their proclivities and ability, without stepping all over a seniority chain.

Thus, we have very new people with lots of responsibility in a domain that means they are asking very senior people to do work, without a management chain. 

So far, this has been really effective.

What are the most overrated movies?

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

I see that Chappell Ellison thought Slumdog Millionaire was overrated (which I agree with) – I think these two movies were/are overrated for exactly the same reason.

For Indian/Chinese audiences, these movies were chock full of generic and familiar effects, settings, fight/dance choreography, plot devices and characters.  They've been making Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragons (Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Samo Hung, Chow-Yun Fat, Jet Li… etc.) and Slumdog Millionaires for decades but this one was

(1) created and marketed with Western audiences in mind, so there was a bit more polish,

(2) contained actors and others that gained recognition in both the US and Asia (Crouching Tiger: Michelle Yeoh, Chow-Yun Fat, Yoyo Ma and director Ang Lee.  Slumdog: A.R. Rahman, Dev Patel from Skins) and

(3) most significantly, the first such mainstream film that Western audiences had ever seen. 

No, it's certainly not a bad movie.  The cinematography, screenplay, music and acting were all good, but it was essentially the same movie I'd seen many times late at night on the Chinese TV channel.

When should I incorporate my startup?Can I incorporate while employed? If not, is it kosher to promise the engineer equity and salary which can only be delivered once revenue is sufficient for me to leave my employer and legally incorporate?

Incorporating your startup at the early stages can be thought of as the nuts and bolts that keep your business machinery running.

Just FYI, if you want a more personalized answer, feel free to check out LawTrades–a marketplace that lets startups find, hire, and work with curated startup attorneys.

Anyways, back to the question…

After deciding to begin a startup business, the first thought should be hiring a qualified startup business lawyer. Valid legal matters will arise throughout the lifecycle of your business and you will need legal expertise for navigating through these murky waters, from its inception (e.g. raising capital, hiring employees) into the final stages (e.g. eventual exit in the form of an acquisition). See more:

Why should you hire legal expertise for your startup?

  • Startup lawyers strategize with your company to create long term value that is focused around growth and risk management. A lawyer will help you organize your startup in a manner that is realistic and is tailored to your market. They will help with essentials like finding the best location and finding the right connections in the industry.
  • They help mold the business depending on how you envision the future of the company. This could mean positioning it to be acquired by a competitor, affiliating with entrepreneurs from different fields, or even filing for an IPO. Therefore, they help keep your books in order, have your assets tied down, and ensure that you have the type of agreements that investors are looking for.

LawTrades is a website created by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs to help early stage startups find affordable legal services. Just tell it what you need, and it'll provide you with a free price quote for an attorney to complete the project for you.

Do you prefer tutorials in video or text and static images?

Text and static images, for sure.  Video takes me much longer to consume and I can't reference it later.  If parts of the tutorial are better suited for video, then intersperse the text with video where appropriate (and please, have a transcript).

Also, most people who give video tutorials aren't good at it, and I think text is more forgiving in that regard than video.

How do you prevent someone from falling in love with you?

Probably, by the time you "see it coming" it's too late 🙂

However, beforehand, a few general tips:

  • Avoid spending too much one-on-one time with them. I get the feeling it's harder to really fall for someone when the bulk of your interaction happens in front of other people.
  • Similarly, avoid having long, personal conversations with them, even over chat. (See: Is it possible to fall in love online?) It's ok to have such a conversation once in awhile, but I think that when it happens regularly, feelings can occur (speaking from personal experience here! I always end up falling for friends …)
  • If you have a significant other, make sure that it's known. You don't need to do it obnoxiously, but just lightly put it out there that you're in a relationship and not looking from the beginning.
  • Be careful of giving off any signs that they will mistakenly interpret as interest (see: What are all of the signs that a girl likes you? What are the best signs? and What are all of the signs that a guy likes you?)
  • Keep all interaction unambiguous. Don't invite him/her to things that are too date-y if you're worried about a crush occurring.