How do you know your startup is solving a real pain? How do you know your customers will adopt your product and pay for it?

The most common advice to new startup founders is to interview target customers and validate their pains before building a product. But this is easier said than done! Usually customer interviews go like this:

  1. Would you use my product?

This does not really work! In fact, this type of questioning misleads founders into spending precious time and effort into addressing pains that aren’t real. As Steve Jobs infamously…

This is the story of what happens when poor data and bad math meet a frustrated society in crisis, governed by opportunistic politicians, with journalism nowhere to be found*.

Earlier this month, the B.C. government published two studies that looked at new datasets of real estate transactions. They reported that “more than $7 billion in dirty money was laundered in B.C. in 2018, hiking the cost of buying a home by about 5%.”

Cue in an onslaught of online hysteria, press hearings, indignant reporters asking tough questions from officials caught off-guard by the scandal, even some reporting further inflating the…

For entrepreneurs, feedback comes in all forms and sizes. Whether it’s from a friend, a user, an adviser, or an investor, it’s important to: 1) maximize the value of the advice being offered, and 2) maintain a good relationship.

In this post, I focus on feedback from investors. As an investor, it’s easy to give ambiguous responses after a pitch; you don’t want to be discouraging, or presume to know more than you do. At Pear we try to give an honest feedback so the time we spend with founders is valuable to them, even if it doesn’t lead to…

ModCloth, an online retailer for vintage women’s apparel, was acquired by There are good lessons to be learned on growth financing:

[D]ebt can also work against you. If you can’t execute well post raising debt and get to another equity round or some other transaction (an attractive exit being the other obvious option), then you can have your debt called from under you and lose the control over the timing and terms of your exit.

Investors often ask to see your deck before agreeing to meet. This is what we call a teaser deck — A standalone document that could be consumed without a presenter. Often entrepreneurs use their (in-person) presentation deck as their teaser deck (or vice versa). But is that the best approach?

There are different use cases for a deck

A presentation deck is a supporting document that helps a presenter deliver their message. The goal is to re-enforce their talking points — not to add new information, or distract the audience from the presenter!

A teaser deck, on the other hand, is a standalone document that’s consumed by itself…

You’ve identified a pain point, but how do you test it? What does a good pain point look like?

Not all pain points are created equal

1. Is it a real pain point?
Everyone knows they need to talk to their customers early to validate an idea, but what do you ask them? And how much can you trust their answers?

Interviewing customers to validate a pain point is as critical as it is challenging.

  • Tip #1: Don’t tell them what you’re doing. Instead, ask them what their problems are (read more about this here)

One of the first challenges to overcome when starting a company is figuring out how to divide up company ownership. Below are a few resources that you might find helpful.

The most important principle: Fairness, and the perception of fairness, is much more valuable than owning a large stake. Almost everything that can go wrong in a startup will go wrong, and one of the biggest things that can go wrong is huge, angry, shouting matches between the founders as to who worked harder, who owns more, whose idea was it anyway, etc.

That is why I would always rather…

An endless array of hypotheticals and scapegoats are being offered to explain how nearly 60 million voters elected a racist, misogynist, hot-tempered vulgarian with no experience or policy to the highest office of the most powerful country on earth. Hillary’s emails, the FBI letter, sexism, third-party candidates, #bernieorbust, low voter turnout, etc. just to name a few.

These are all symptoms.

There is one fundamental reason for Trump’s victory, and it is the same reason for Obama’s victory 8 years earlier. It is also the force behind every successful startup:

Product-Market Fit

Rather than questioning the significance of every misstep by Democrats…

Update (Oct 17): Based on this week’s polls, new information has been added for the following three ridings at the end of the article: Coquitlam — Port Coquitlam (BC), and Essex (ON).

Short version:

We found 16 special ridings that will change the outcome of the election. In these ridings: the conservative candidate is ahead, one of the progressive candidates is a close second, while the other is a distant third but still has enough support to impact the result. Brampton Centre and Prince George are two examples:

Two of ridings that will change the election

In both ridings, the 3rd-placed candidate has little chance of winning but…

Ali Kashani, Ph.D.

Robot Maker, VP of X at Postmates

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