Startups move fast and if you’re doing it right, you make a ton of progress on everything from customers, product, team, systems, press…very quickly and it’s easy to lose track. And, since most leaders are very focused on the future and what’s next, they forget to celebrate the “wins” or look back at what’s been accomplished. But, when they want to make the documentary about your startups’ massive success, like they did for Apple, Pixar or General Magic (well they didn’t have commercial success), or you want to be featured on an Acqired.fm podcast (produced by my partner Ben GIlbert) like Alibaba or Epic Games, they’ll need material, so I suggest you develop systems to create, accumulate and celebrate the “memories”.
Here we are; my brother Rob, Adam Loving and myself when we started HelpShare. It’s fun to look back but I wish I had lots more photos or collections from those early days.
Early versions of websites are cool and often embarrassing at the same time. Here is HelpShare (in 2000, with cringy “smoke” background) or Gist, (circa 2008) which still holds up…from the awesome Internet Archive aka “the Wayback Machine.”
One way to do this is a Slack channel, which seems to be the best as everyone can post, share and see the history from a variety of different inputs (screenshots, photos, videos, other applications…) Evernote works too or some kind of shared folder (Gdrive/Dropbox) but not as much fun to scroll. I suggest you put in more vs. less in the “history/memories channel” as you can always delete later but it’s really hard to recreate the moments and so easy to forget the details.
Really think hard about all the little wins. The first customer, the release of a key feature, hiring your first X kind of role, your first product spec, company values…it all matters. Take screenshots of the time your product first fell over due to customer load or the Zoom birthday serenade. I am pretty sure you’ll forget who was actually there and what the product looked like when you made your first 1K, 10K, 100K, 1M.
The ZeroCard has lots of photos of their team out and about with Zero gear on. Here’s one of me, in the Enchantments sporting the hat. And here’s one during my first trip to Tulsa and collecting a cool beer koozie (nice schwag).
In pre-covid times, Remarkably had Friday happy hours where different people “host” and were in charge of the food and drinks and they have lots of those in the memory channel. Scott Dorsey, the founder of ExactTarget and now managing director at HighAlpha, used to do a “friday note” which is another form of history/memories. And a recent tweet from Paul Grahm about the early days of Stripe.
Our PSL company TeamSense just celebrated our 1000th end user so we have that marked…just good (and sometimes the bad) of how the company evolves. Their team recently implemented a hat for some zoom fun!
While nobody has done this yet, I am encouraging our CEOs to consider a “yearbook” for everyone in the company. This could be a fun video time capsule or a photo-book, presented to everyone who was there for the year. Imagine 10 years later or at the IPO, a stack of the photo books on a shelf and thinking “Remember when…”
To all the memories of all the startups!