Dharmesh Shah is well known in the online startup world. But if you live and work outside of that group, you may not have heard of him. He is the co-founder of marketing engine HubSpot, which offers software designed to help companies attract and engage with their customers online. But he and his co-founder Brian Halligan took their time to get started— more than two years of discussions about what the company would do, before they incorporated. Today HubSpot is an enormous success with more than 9000 customers. And they’ve raised more than $100 million in venture funding. Before starting HubSpot, Mr. Shah was the founder of Pyramid Digital Solutions.
He co-authored (with his HubSpot co-founder Halligan) the best-seller, Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs, a beginner’s guide to online marketing.
Mr. Shah is an active angel investor, having invested in more than 30 startups, mostly outside of any formal angel investment group. He has been an advisor or investor in AngelList, GroSocial, Buffer, Rapportive, and dozens of others. With his background in startups and angel investing, it’s no wonder that his blog, OnStartups.com, is one of the most popular spots online to find advice and inspiration for entrepreneurs.
Here are a few things he has said or written that we think small business owners will be inspired by:
“Success is making those who believed in you look brilliant.”
“Give credit where credit is due—especially if it is overdue.”
“Knowing the right thing to do and doing it are two different things. There is no partial credit for the first.”
“Many companies have forgotten they sell to actual people. Humans care about the entire experience, not just marketing or sales or service. To really win in the modern age, you must solve for humans. Every process should be optimized for what is best for the customer—not your organization.”
“It’s a one-time cost to come up with great name for your startup—but the benefit is forever.”
“That is the life of an entrepreneur: It’s a steady stream of hard work, occasionally punctuated by some really hard decisions.”
“It doesn’t matter how much ‘real’ (objective) value you have baked into your product if your customers don’t perceive that value.”
“The goal of positioning is to create an immediate and direct connection in the minds of consumers; that’s what branding is all about… Imagine you ask a colleague or a boss or a customer for to pick one word that describes you and they aren’t allowed to use words like awesome, fantastic, great, terrific, etc. They have to pick a specific, non-generic word. What word would they choose? The word they choose—for better or worse and, where you’re concerned, intentional or unintentional—is your positioning in the minds of the people you work with. That’s how they see you. That’s how they think of you. That is how they remember you.”
“When recruiting for a startup, you’re looking for the future stars—because you likely can’t afford or convince the current stars.”
“Customers are usually very good at identifying their problems, not so much the solutions.”
“Don’t try to take market away from your competition. If the market is big enough there should be enough non-consumers you can be selling to.”
“Sleep is that time you’re working on startup problems with you eyes closed.”
—Dharmesh Shah, Author and Co-founder of Hubspot