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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Is This Offer Fair - The Real Risk of Joining A Startup

It's no secret, startups are sexy again.  I've been getting calls from friends and helping them evaluate offers.  Since I just finished reading Mark Suster's TechCrunch article on dilution, which you should also read,  I'm writing this post to illustrate my POV on equity, as an entrepreneur-who one day hopes to be hiring and divvying it out.

My framework is loose, but valid in explaining non-investor risk among *venture-backed startup* operators (in both actual and perceived terms), so here goes.

*Venture-back startups are, by definition, companies that have to have to return 10X or better to be considered successful*

Founders:

The greatest risk applies to the founding team.  They have left real jobs, are working unpaid (for some period of time), get to draw a significantly less than market rate salary upon raising a seed round, don't have cash on-hand to cover salaries and operational expenses for more than 3-6 months (if lucky) and are compensated for their risk with more lottery tickets, so long as they stay around and keep hitting milestone.  If you don't get passed the seed stage and go broke, the experience gained is only incrementally valuable to a handful of companies in the market at large.

Employees hired after the first priced round:

This area is dicey, because you need top talent and can't pay premium prices.  As a founder, I couldn't hire someone that early without telling them upfront how many months I can guarantee their below-market salary;  the longer I can pay them, the less risk.  There is a resume risk b/c the startup is (usually) unknown and unproven and there is an opportunity cost, which incrementally tick up the amount of risk the first (few) hires are assuming, which has to be fairly compensated.  However, most early hires are exposed to valuable experience and are assuming titles that garner both respect and greater consideration / compensation if & when they leave the startup venture, not to mention they get veteran consideration in the startup community if they choose to move on to their own venture.  And oh yeah, institutional investors are really quick to snatch up these guys and move them to other portfolio companies.

Admittedly so, quantifying and rewarding these hires is tricky.  However, generally they are brought on for comparable, if not higher, equity to the packages received by seasoned / experienced, VP-level post A / B round...which sounds like a decent benchmark for fair.


Engineer 6+ or anyone that comes in after a $3-5 A round:

Effectively, you have no significant risk, besides a below-market rate salary risk, if you are getting paid below market rate at all.  And, since your equity is priced, you know you are being compensated for the gap and an average bonus as soon as you do the math on the equity offer...but you are also getting a better work environment, solving problems you are passionate about and greater marketability later.  So, I'm not sure what the bitching is about?

Most of the posts I see or personal inquiries I get seem to revolve around perceive risk and not real risk, since most people fall into that 6+ or post $3-5 A round category.  Just because the company may not be around, you will most likely have a job for 12-18 months (minimum).  You are not entitled to get rich, a big nest egg, or anything in return (beyond the aforementioned non-monetary compensation). In the likely event that you're not apart of a home run, you worked at a really cool small business.  Newsflash, if my argument doesn't convince you a startup is worth joining, don't do it.

For everyone that is joining a company at or around series B level...that's not a startup.

Here's the good news, if the company hits the home run that it promised it would when it accepted VC money, everyone gets paid more then they were actually worth...that's the whole point.  Equity is gravy...the sooner you get it, the better off you'll be.

If you have ever seriously entertained a thought like, "If I can get a bigger piece, in the event of a not so hot exit, I'll still get PAID", while negotiating with as engineer 6+ / $3-$5 mil A round, don't make the leap. You just don't get it and the mentality won't help the team that's extending you an offer.

As you saw from the infographic in the aforementioned article, deals aren't usually optimized for not-so-hot exits...and they shouldn't be.  But then again, equity is designed to motivate for the BIG EXIT.  In the event of a fire-side sale or flat exit, you'll be lucky to be made whole in-cash, but the experience gained will ease the pain.  But then again, you knew going in what the risks were.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Facebook Let's You Increase Security, If You Don't Use Chrome

Edit: After being schooled for shooting off a hasty post, this clearly isn't a Google specific problem.  I will keep up the previous post and Mea Culpa as a reminder for next time.  However, the larger issue is that in order to enable this security feature, which could cause you to lock yourself out of FB, instead of warning the user why this could cause problems or building a forgot your password recovery tool, FB chose to create require me NOT to clear my cookies.  It is a little ironic that by enabling device level security the trade off is allowing FB to track my activity via web/mobile device?

Facebook and Google don't like each other.  It's nothing new and it isn't going away.  In a big dollar, Highlander world, you do what you have to do.

Today, I was reviewing my privacy settings after the new FB release and I wanted to enable "Login Approvals", under the general settings>security tab.  After all, it's probably a good practice to ask for credentials when logging in from an unrecognized device.  By default, this setting is set to "Approval is not required".



After checking the box to enable the feature, I got this message:


After closing the box, the setting remains unchecked.  

I get it, I really do.  Facebook makes privacy hard because they don't believe we need it & it's bad for business.  I was unfriending people today and laughed when I realized FB didn't use check boxes to allow me to unfriend in mass.  To make it worse, I had to mouseover a box, scroll to the bottom of the list which was one space from a list of ~4 options, click & then confirm (via pop-up) each unfriend.  It's no secret security settings have always been unnecessarily difficult, but saying, "Want security?  Can't use Chrome!"  Sure, it's a swipe at Google, but it's a big FUCK YOU to all of us...your users...the ones that made you what you are today.  

Message to FB: I'm apart of the vocal minority that care about my privacy and browser choice, so ignoring me doesn't seem like a big deal.  There are 650+ million other users, who you are trying to earn revenue off of and most of them don't care.  But know this, I'm on every new social network, evangelizing and seeding the nascent community, just like I did for you FB.  I'm not asking for default privacy, b/c you err on the side of openness and that's your choice.  But this kinda shit drives me crazy and keeps me looking for somewhere better.

  


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Yahoo! Fix? - It's Not About the Chief, It's About the Indians





Yahoo is all the rage again, this time it's b/c Carol Bartz is out and everyone has an opinion on how to fix Yahoo's problem...For all of those who think a product visionary (Steve Jobs) is the answer...it's not about the chief, it's about the indians.  The tech community talks a lot of shit about how Yahoo! is done.  They aren't.  They've got the biggest email user-base in the US (where they do well in content), are in fantastic positions in several markets abroad (in content and email) and make tons of money.  The next CEO needs to figure out how to retain, excite and recruit guys like Paul Tarjan (Yahoo! Resignation Video below).


Approximately 2.5 years ago, every day TechCrunch was flooded with who's leaving Yahoo! now articles.  Some people left for Facebook/other startups, some founded their own ventures and others jumped to other tech giants.  People jumping around isn't new or necessarily news worthy.  After all, certain types of people always leave big companies, they just don't fit and can't stay.  Their thrill comes from figuring out solutions, as opposed to executing/maintaining established systems.  With some of those types, even if you have cool projects in the pipeline, a lot them just like changing things up or want to launch their own venture.  On the other side of the spectrum, many people will never leave the company they work for.  They are good / great at their job, settled into their responsibilities and work-to-live, as opposed to those who live-to-work.  There is nothing wrong with either types of employees or their professional proclivities.  What we saw with Yahoo!, and the sign that their culture was broken, was when the movers-and-shakers, the creative/quirky people, the ones who epitomize your culture (the stereotypical company XYZ employee we refer to when we talk about your company) and those management wanted to cultivate into future company leaders, up and left, in droves.  That exodus was the sign the culture was broken and no one with the power to do so cared enough to fix it.  When the culture that brought them to Yahoo! was gone and it became clear it wasn't returning, everything got tainted and they could only stomach it so long, before they left.  

What's left is a money making machine, that's not beyond repair.  However, greatness comes from your companies culture and Yahoo! has to get that back internally, before they can project an external image that attracts the types of people that left, back in the future.

How can they do that?  They have to break a few eggs.  Yahoo! has a lot of talented engineers, why not empower and motivate them to start solving problems?  Yahoo needs to spend a small fortune (how about the $10 million they don't have to pay Bartz for disparaging them?) on an all-hands event that expresses their appreciation for their current employees,  rallies the troops, forces product managers to experiment on their products and ends with announcing a new initiative that rewards and allows individuals to incubate Yahoo!'s future products.  Then, hold a small-group Hackathon, see what floats to the top and support the most promising projects.  Then, hold the hackathons every month (keep them themed.  One month is new features for existing products, then mobile, then deals, then whatever) and keep supporting the best projects.  That will build morale, buzz and excitement & that's what'll attract others to Yahoo!.  Oh yeah, you'll probably get some great products / features out of it too (and don't forget to tip your innovators).

Kinda sounds like a place I'd like to work.



  

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Law of Sexual Chemistry & Google+ - My Review

The tribal knowledge surrounding the casual dating scene is filled with wisdom.  For example:

1) Gain Their Attention - successfully approaching a potential interest and carrying on an interesting, balanced and engaging conversation with her and her friends.

2) Stay Out of the Friend Box - use appropriate touching to make your intentions known to the person of interest w/o freaking them out.

3) Separate the Sheep from the Herd - if interest is reciprocal, a soft suggestion is all that's necessary to get the person one-on-one...keeping rhythm -> would you like to dance, I'm stepping outside for X -> I'll go with you.

Failure to execute on any of the previous steps can be a powerful de-selector, though not impossible to recover from.  However, before any of the aforementioned can come into play, one must address the Law of Sexual Chemistry.  

The Law of Sexual Chemistry states that, "A person of the opposite sex knows instantly whether or not they want to have sex with you."  This law speaks specifically the high correlation between initial attraction and willingness to close the deal and not to whether or not you can overcome a lack of initial animal magnetism (IE: The Art of the Slow Play, The Last Call Exemption, Getting Out of the Friend Box - The Underdog Story).  

What does this have to do with Google+.  Google's nascent attempts in social were akin to the smartest kid in high school going to college.  For those of you still with me...

I won't talk about Orkut b/c I've never used it (I'm US based).

Buzz - This product had a double dose of confidence.  Unfortunately, it felt like Google's answer to twitter...which no one was asking for.  The nerdy kid got the courage to approach the group of girls, led with, "What did you get on your SATs" in hopes they would in turn ask him back and be impress with his 1600.  However, he got 3 faces staring at him and smiling awkwardly and then started to wet himself.  However, after studying the case, Google learned the power of integrating social w/ gmail and what that did to initial user adoption.

Wave - A heavily anticipated next attempt at social, more geared towards social collaboration in a professional environment (my opinion). This was an interesting twist and probably related to a sophisticated understanding of what % of gmail users used gmail for work, as well as an attempt to better position Google's b2b offerings.  The buildup leading to Wave, as well as the types of problems Wave attempted to solve, showed a refinement and understanding of the right type of confidence.  However, upon first logging into Wave, I had no earthly idea what the fuck they wanted me to do with it, I didn't know where to start and whatever problem Wave attempted to solve for me wasn't bad enough for me to invest anymore time into trying to figure out.  After mastering the approach and interesting, casual conversation, the young man started racking up female friends like it's nobody's business, but that's not gonna get your laid. 

Google+ - This offering is different and Google is making sure everyone knows it.  First, it speaks succinctly to the growing feeling that one network is better than nothing, but filtering / grouping is more trouble than it's worth (currently).  The current solution is that we have a professional network, a social network, a short-form / asymmetric content discovery network, etc.  To make matters worse, companies are popping up all the time that want to give us even more networks...politics, health, hobbies, family, close friends, etc.  The average user balances the number of networks they are willing to maintain, with the amount of spam they are willing to sift through.  For most of us, there has been a noticeable degrading return to our existing social experience.  Google+ is trying to be a better way to manage the people in our lives, as well as facilitate more meaningful interaction with those we choose to, when we want to.  The message is clear.  It has become obvious to all parties involved who fancies whom and exactly what his intentions are.

What remains to be seen is whether or not Google+ gets it right.  As someone who is eagerly waiting my invite, watched all the demos and read all the reviews, I have the problem they are trying to solve.  And from what I've heard, I'm not the only one.  After mastering the first two steps, separating the sheep from the heard is the current focus and it doesn't look like it'll be much of  a problem...she's biting her lip and playing with her hair.

However, I couldn't help but notice in the time leading up to the announcement, Google has made some changes.  There has been a noticeable commitment to design.  First, whispers of Google hiring designers,  even better Google Doodles, and visually compelling / meaningful commercials / videos.    Then, changes to plugin placements in my gmail, which let me know that my gmail can be the center of my online experience.  Finally, the screen shots of Google+ & demo videos with simplicity, color, panache and an impressive UX...that is both visually appeals to and leads the user through the experience (and name-dropping the guy who is responsible for it).  No one is really sure exactly when it happened, but the socially awkward, nerdy, skinny guy put on some muscle, got a new wardrobe and his confidence projects in a way that people respond to.

If you've made it this far...this analogy has gotten a bit uncomfortable.  All that's left to figure out is if he's gonna close the deal...Methinks he might.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Myth of the Early Stage Pitch Deck

Do you know why there is so much information about how to craft the perfect early-stage pitch deck?  Because, people believe a good deck will get them investment...the secret is, it won't.  To make matters worse, it's damn near impossible and let me tell you why.

First of all, no matter how good your slides are, you're only guessing what the person across the table wants to see.  I realize that many VCs, like Sequoia and Dave McClure (500 Startups) via How to give a VC a Hardon, tell entrepreneurs what they want to see.  However, that's just a guideline at best.  Depending on whom you actually get face time with, even within the same firm, they all have different experiences, knowledge bases, skill sets and triggers...not to mention getting VCs interested is about getting them excited, not-not boring them to tears.

Second, public speaking is hard.  Most people can't land a joke successfully when all eyes are on them.  Think about how many conferences you've spent staring at your phone or picking at your terrible meal, instead of listening to the speaker.  In the world of entrepreneurs pitching VCs, I guarantee that no VC has ever invested in an entrepreneur they've tuned out.  But, don't worry.  You don't need to spend years perfecting public speaking.  But, before I tell you my thoughts on what to do, I'm sure some of you are wondering, "How do you know if I'm a talented speaker?"  If you haven't spent years dazzling crowds, or if you don't feel guilty about all the great events you have to turn down speaking requests from, it's unlikely that you are a great public speaker.

The good news is, you don't have to be.  Check out Sergey & Larry at early Google.  The secret is to let your passion come out.  Focus on what you have going for you, which is the problem you're solving, your solutions to the problem (ie product) and the empirical evidence you've gathered that tells you it's going to be a winner.  The best pitch meetings I've ever had started with a demo (core use case, not EVERY SINGLE FEATURE) and then I shut my mouth.  The interested ones wouldn't let me through the demo without lots of questions and comments (that's a good thing).  After you get through the product / use case, then it gets down to the evidence.  This is where you should use your prepared slides.  If you get through the details and the conversation turns turns to "How much are you looking to raise?" or "What can I do to help?", that's the best possible outcome...no pitch from a deck required.

The caveat is if you aren't pitching the right person in the firm, the aforementioned doesn't apply.

Then why do so many people ask for decks?  Theoretically, a deck is faster to thumb through than a executive summary and you can direct submitters to touch on important topics.  All that means is, if you are part of the unfortunate masses that haven't invested the time into directly networking with investors or people investors respect, when you get put in the never-empty inbox, you have a better shot at getting thumbed through.  But, do you really want anyone seeing your slides un-narrated?  NO!

If you get a seat at the right table, let your passion, hard work and external validation shine through.  There is nothing worse than having your pitch stopped or watching people you've spent months trying to get to-check their email.  Realizing you blew is like a punch in the stomach.  Pitch decks are only for products that have gained traction (specifically in the minds of investors).  If the person you are pitching isn't already a fanboy, and they're usually not (odds are they haven't even looked at your product, even though you are on their calendar), you have to make them a believer.  To do that, you must make them believe, in this order:

1)  users will use it.
2)  that someone will pay for it.
3)  that they can make a big return by backing it.

Most investors invest with their gut and justify with facts.  Once you've crossed the threshold of worthy of their time (their most valuable resource), they'll be more forgiving.  However, for most of us, running them through a slide deck during your 1 bite at the apple, isn't going to do it for you.  The good news is, now you know that is.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

What Startups Can Teach Big Companies About Hiring

I've read so many posts about interviews.  Whether you are trying to learn what questions to ask or how to answer the hard questions, the practice seems to be converging towards a standard song and dance, as opposed to a true assessment of how an individual will meld with your company's culture and what type of value they will bring to your company when they get there.

First, screen candidates for actual business needs. Every interview should have some standard for general competence, because we've all seen resumes that take liberties.  However, if you are hiring a developer / engineer, give them a real world problem and ask them how they'd solve it.  Better yet, tell them about problems you've actually encountered.  Then, ask them how they would go about solving the scenario.  Then, have them start coding it.  Throw them some curves on the fly and see how they deal with it.  There is more value in seeing someone psuedo-code a solution (free from a scrutinizing eye saying "that'll cause a runtime error") to How would you programmatically parse a sentence and decide whether to answer "that's what she said"?   than there is in knowing the difference between obscure algorithms (for 95% of your engineering team).

Next, interviewers are sales people.  There job is identifying hot leads and figuring out how to close.  It is a skill, so don't send them out unprepared.  Every interview I've been on, as a candidate, ends with me asking:

"What is your company / group's short-term goals?

"How do they measure progress towards achieving those goals?"

"What does your company value and how do they live those values?"

"Someone from your company said your company is looking to move in direction X.  What tangible steps have been taken to support that directive?"

From a startup perspective, those questions are critical to recruiting people and keeping them happy when they join your team.  As an interviewer for a larger company, you should make it a point to mention these things; they aren't just important for startups trying to recruit.  I learned to ask those types of questions because the information never comes up unprompted.  Surprisingly (or not), most of the time, the people conducting interviews can't answer those types of questions anyway.  Not bringing those types of things up, and certainly not being able to answer those types of questions, is a sure sign that your house isn't in order.  And your house has to be in order to attract the right type of candidate.

That leads me to my final point. HR representatives should know the open roles they are responsible for, the teams looking to fill those roles and the projects they are currently working on, cold. However, they should also know what other open reqs are out there AND have a standard for finding roles for 'the right people'.  All too often, candidates interview for a position and would be a better fit somewhere else.  It's a miscarriage of HR's responsibilities not to be able to spot this when it happens.  Since most larger companies have an arduous process for requisitioning new personnel, I'll stop short of saying that a great company always has a place for talented employees.  But, they really should.  At a small startup, the people trying to build a company based on a vision are conducting the interviews.  They would never let 'A' talent out the door because the role wasn't a fit.  At a larger company,  recruiters should pretend that the CEO, COO or SVP of something or other, is behind a two-way mirror.  Believe me, 'A' talent in a new role is better than experienced / I fit the job description perfectly 'B' talent every day of the week.  And let's face it, you have to hire 'A' talent when you find it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

It's Not Them, It's You - Why You Can't Recruit Top Engineering Talent

Recruiting anyone worth having on your team is hard.  But, as a entrepreneur, you won't get very far without being able to do it.  Over time, I recruited a technical co-founder and several engineers / designers (albeit only part-time).  I'm almost embarrassed to tell you how long it took me to figure out what it takes to get them to give up what little free time they do have to spend it working on your startup idea.  Instead of airing my own dirty laundry, here's an approach that I've found very effective when recruiting engineers.

I tell everyone in the startup world that ideas are a dime a dozen, work on the idea that is meaningful to you (work on the project that you would use A LOT).  The problem is, it's unlikely the problem that drove you to start a startup will be more than 'interesting' to most engineers...especially the engineers you want.  However, interesting is a good starting point, not as good as "I've known this person X for years and we've been looking for an opportunity to work together", but it'll do.

What makes an idea interesting to you is the use case.  Once you figure this out, I encourage all non-technical founders to spend time learning to code a bare-bones v.0001.  Learning to code (a little bit) does a couple of things:

1) you get some cred w/ the engineer
2) you understand the lense through which your recruit sees the world
3) you understand a snapshot of all the work that goes into some business guys bright idea for a new feature 4) you develop genuine admiration for the skill set it has taken your potential hire years to develop

Then, get it in front of a potential hire.  At this point, you must treat the potential hire like the prettiest girl at the bar.  Get them interested, using as few words as possible.  Let them play with the product..  Ask them the some key questions.  What do you think?  Given what's going on with the web today, what would you build next?  If you've had users, give the engineer user feedback.  If they are interested, you'll see the sparks flying.  You'll know it's going well if they start talking, hypothesizing, building Rome and using the pronoun 'we'.

Engineers that join early startups has an uncharacteristic (to their field) risk profile and you have to nourish their inner desire to do more than just code.  And guess what, the engineers I've worked with have WAY MORE TO CONTRIBUTE than just code.  They can smell a whartonite-seeking code monkey a mile away.  Don't be that guy!!!  Any early members at a startup is a utility player, the more they bring to the table, the better off you will be.

FYI, being able to recruit goes a long way towards building a team and moving your project along.  Which is to say, it's a major milestone in terms of showing a customer / investor you can get stuff done.  It'll also stop you from ever having to say, "I'm raising money to hire 3 rock star engineers from company XYZ that have already told me they'll quit their job once I can pay them X."  If you don't already know, the aforementioned statement is second only to, "You'll need to sign an NDA before I can tell you about my idea," on the list of things to say to get thrown out of a serious conversation about startups.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Only N00Bs Ask For Advisors / Investors

I'll preface this post with the fact that I spent the better part of 9 months reaching out to investors for money and anyone who had done anything remotely significant in my project's space asking for advice.  During that time, I found that there is a lot of goodwill in the startup/investment community and lots of great folks who field thoughtful responses to enthusiastic neophytes b/c they remember what that feels like.  In my case @joshk, @jayadelson, Kamran Pourzanjani and a few others, gave me way too much of their valuable time (based on a cold email / chance meeting), when I truly didn't deserve it...If you find yourself in that position, make sure you are respectful of how you use their ears when you have it, or you will certainly lose it.

The point is, investors invest and thought leaders advise (and sometimes invest too).  As an entrepreneur, you need both types of people involved in your startup, so it's natural to identify targets and phrase 'the ask'.  From my experience, that approach doesn't work.  But, I have found that the following approach works for both types of people.

Build a product, an MVP like I mentioned in my previous post, and get people using it.  Once that happens, try to get face to face with your target.  You should note that they probably won't take a meeting if they don't have a warm intro from someone they trust (ie someone that made them money).  So, go to the events they go to.  Politely introduced yourself, use your one-line pitch and show them your product.  Then, here's the really important part, SHUT YOUR MOUTH AND OPEN YOUR EARS.  If they aren't interested, they'll let you know.  If they are interested, they'll start talking and that's a good thing.  The most valuable commodity investors / advisors have is time.  If you are getting it, make sure you don't fuck it up.

Investors are highly intelligent and have tons of experience.  If they are interested their wheels start turning right away.  They'll have suggestions and questions, make assumptions that may or may not be true, and they'll give you an opportunity to demonstrate to them that you are the person that can take an interesting idea and turn it into a big business.  If all goes well and you jive, which is to say if they can believe they can convince their partners that you are investment worthy, they'll ask if you are raising money.  It's their job to invest.  They'll assume the reason you are talking to them is to raise money (b/c it is), so you don't have to ask.

Advisors are a little different, depending on their background / experience.  When talking to them, approach them in the same way I mentioned above.  If they are interested in you and / or your product, they'll come out and say, "What can I do to help?"  At that point, you don't need to ask them to advise you, b/c they've already offered.  FYI, you don't need to offer advisory equity to most people, especially if you haven't raised money / have a formal board.  As a matter of fact, I'd caution you as to anyone who says they'll advise you if you give them X.  Also, advisors are just that, so use them respectfully.  Especially at first, limit your asks to things that can be solved over coffee, introductions, etc.  After all, most advisors worth their salt are probably running their own companies / departments and advising multiple other startups, while trying to maintain some type of personal life.

Remember, you don't need to ask.  


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Just F^cking Build It & Send It!

     As a nascent entrepreneur, my team and I have been knocking out projects for about 1.5 years.  Some better than others, but we have a few minimum viable products (MVPs) under our belt (and from my experience comes my .02, buyer beware).  With our latest project, I found that we were trying to build Rome.  This was a mistake we made with our first product, it was pointed out to us by @Votizen's David Binetti and we've tried to avoid doing it again ever since.  If for no other reason then to remind myself, "JUST FUCKING BUILD IT & SEND IT" & "DON'T BUILD ROME".

     There is a huge emphasis on perfecting your pitch, the elevator pitch, the my company is X for Y and so forth.  There should be as much, if not more, emphasis on building just enough to see if your product has a market / delivers value.  In our case, we have an integrated solution for e-commerce.  We have to add functionality to existing systems in order for our application to work.  So our barrier is higher than most.  But, if you are building a social solution, my advice to you is think ABACUS (ancient mathematical tool you played with in grade school).

     The abacus was around for thousands of years because it got the job done.  Later it was replaced by the slide rule, then calculator and now the calculator app...but it got the job done so people used it.  When you deliver value to a group of people in need, some portion of that group will use your product.  Then, once you've attracted some...focus on making it better to attract more.

     If your team is arguing about whether or not you'll lose more people b/c you don't have multiple login services setup, just get Facebook going and move on.  If you don't have Facebook and Twitter sharing setup yet, guess what?  If your app sucks, people won't share it anyway...time wasted installing those buttons / delaying your launch is time you'll never get back.  And don't add any 'You Can Also'.  Let me repeat...NO YCAs.  As a startup, your product does one thing.  If no one likes that one thing, take it down and do another.  No user will look past your first crappy offering to try some other (crappy) thing.  You have like 5 seconds to deliver value...otherwise they are gone forever.  First time users of web / mobile apps don't have time to figure stuff out...it's your job to make it so simple they don't have to think twice about how to use it.  When you are big you can add other stuff, when you are a startup you have to be focused on one thing at a time...