David Cancel tells us about how he has launched, grown, and sold four startups with obsession, iteration, and validation.
Today’s guest, David Cancel, has founded five companies and sold four. He is currently co-founder and CEO of Drift, where he’s helping marketers transform their relationships with customers to drive retention & growth. David previously founded Compete, Lookery, Ghostery, and Performable.
David’s parents were both immigrants, and it was from them he learned his impressive work ethic. He learned to find an obsession and channel it towards success.
David warns us against starting a business based solely on an idea, instead encouraging an iterative process that focuses on improvisation and discovery. Then, as a business begins to form, it has to be validated. Repeatedly.
We’re going to learn how David found repeated success, about customer-oriented business growth, the true value of listening, and the importance of setting goals.
“At the core of it, I believe all of our ideas are wrong, and I think we should accept that… our ideas are wrong, and we need to get out and validate those things, and get feedback, in order to understand how wrong we are.” (click to tweet)
In this episode, you’ll learn from David:
- The patterns of David’s success.
- The benefits of channeling an obsession into a business.
- The dangers of starting a business based only on an idea.
- That launching a business is an iterative process based on improvisation, discovery and validation.
- A lesson on listening to others and quieting yourself.
- An additional lesson on understanding what you hear.
- The importance of settings goals when launching a business (see last week’s episode for more on setting goals) and how to use those goals as a standard for calibration.
- The potential benefits of building a product and planning the marketing for a new business simultaneously.
- The value of a good sales team or individual.
- How a low price point can actually undercut a B2B service.
- A servant leadership company structure: at the top of the pyramid is customers, below them individual contributors in the company, below them managers in the company, and at the bottom of the pyramids is the CEO.
- How an autonomous, customer-driven approach can increase efficiency, make customers happier, and make employees happier.
- How to feel good about exiting your startup
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Resources mentioned in this episode:
Answers to Quickfire Q&A:
- If you could chat with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
- Charlie Munger. I’m obsessed with learning, as I said before. For those who don’t know, Munger is Warren Buffet’s partner at Berkshire Hathaway
- Name a tool, app, or website that you can’t live without and why.
- Drift of course. Beyond Drift, I spend a lot of time on Twitter.
- Tell us something unique and interesting about you that not many may know.
- “I will throw down with anyone on making pizza” (and he does leave that challenge open to anyone)
- What are the top three skills or characteristics that you look for in people you work with?
- A lifelong learner
- Do they have something to prove?
- What is something you believe, but few others agree with you?
- There’s lots of things. Just one on top of my head: I say we’ll see a reemergence in desktop applications.
How to contact David:
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