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Sean* is a serial entrepreneur VC and co-founder of GrowthX and GrowthX Academy, with three successful exits, who has successfully grown dozens of early-stage companies across a wide variety of products and markets. He was recently named the #2 Online Sales Influencer and contributor at The Huffington Post. He’s now committed to working with countries, companies, entrepreneurs and those who want to work with them on building startup ecosystems and developing the next generation of growth leaders for the innovation economy.  

*Sean is speaking at the #GHConf19 stage.

  • VM

    Vijay Mandeep

    5 months ago #

    Hi Sean,

    Glad to see you on GH AMA. I've asked these questions to many growth leaders and almost everyone had different answers to these. What's your take on these?

    1. What does the growth look like for companies that are slow at product innovation?
    2. While in the growth stage, should companies aim for product innovation or product optimization?
    3. How do you balance such a demanding role with your personal life? Any habits that contribute to your performance?

    Can't wait to read your answers!

    • SS

      Sean Sheppard

      5 months ago #

      Glad to be here Vijay! And thanks for the good q's..
      Q1
      There are three types of innovations
      1. Core - Which is improving existing products, which tends to be the slowest, but most consistent and safest growth..i.e building depth to create and capture more value within existing customers by better understanding their needs.
      2. Adjacent - Which creates opportunities for differentiation and possible growth through adding market share. This comes from the willingness to work with your eco-system to enter new areas closely aligned with your core competencies.
      3. Disruptive - These are the things that could put you out of business! i.e Uber to Yellow Cab. This is where most companies struggle..especially once the founding teams have been replaced by managers.

      Q2
      Depends on their overall strategy and what expectations they've set with investors and market. I believe innovation is a mindset which needs to be a part of your culture from day one. Others choose to stay focused on establishing the core and then looking at it later. I don't advocate for the latter. Why? Because, in the innovation economy, there's no time to rest :) Someone is always following fast!

      Q3
      Work-Life balance is a myth for the driven. The key is know how you're built, and surround yourself with people who understand and love you for that. The best habit i've learned is how to say no. It has changed my life :) I used to say yes to everything and it almost broke me!

      Great q's!!

      3 Share
      • AS

        Alanna Sousa

        5 months ago #

        Loved how you see this whole myth of work-life-balance, Sean. Especially the fact that you too see it as a myth. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on that!

      • VM

        Vijay Mandeep

        5 months ago #

        Thanks, Sean!

        These answers are really insightful. I like how Peter Thiel in his book "Zero to One" quoted "Companies that thrive for a competitive edge will always be disruptive!"

        And yes there's no time to rest in an innovation-driven company. No matter how fast you are there's always someone behind you waiting for that one break you take.

      • SS

        Sean Sheppard

        5 months ago #

        Q3
        Work-Life balance is a myth for the driven. The key is know how you're built, and surround yourself with people who understand and love you for that. The best habit i've learned is how to say no. It has changed my life :) I used to say yes to everything and it almost broke me!

      • SS

        Sean Sheppard

        5 months ago #

        Glad to be here Vijay! And thanks for the good q's..
        Q1
        There are three types of innovations
        1. Core - Which is improving existing products, which tends to be the slowest, but most consistent and safest growth..i.e building depth to create and capture more value within existing customers by better understanding their needs.
        2. Adjacent - Which creates opportunities for differentiation and possible growth through adding market share. This comes from the willingness to work with your eco-system to enter new areas closely aligned with your core competencies.
        3. Disruptive - These are the things that could put you out of business! i.e Uber to Yellow Cab. This is where most companies struggle..especially once the founding teams have been replaced by managers.

    • SS

      Sean Sheppard

      5 months ago #

      Q2
      Depends on their overall strategy and what expectations they've set with investors and market. I believe innovation is a mindset which needs to be a part of your culture from day one. Others choose to stay focused on establishing the core and then looking at it later. I don't advocate for the latter. Why? Because, in the innovation economy, there's no time to rest :) Someone is always following fast!

  • JN

    Jason Ng

    5 months ago #

    What’s your opinions about companies that rely heavily on channel partners for majority of their sales vs. direct sales org?

    • SS

      Sean Sheppard

      5 months ago #

      It depends on two things, The stage of the company and the business model.

      At the early stage, I avoid channels until I validate product-market fit with the end user. Even in a pure channel model, channel partners will promise a lot and delver very little until there is sound end user demand. So take responsibility for your product and customer...because no on else will.

      Sorry for the delay...Chrome Crashed!!! Murphys Law :)

      2 Share
  • RK

    Ryan Kulp

    5 months ago #

    hey Sean, what's the biggest mistake you see early stage startups make when they:

    1. Start doing sales?
    2. Hire sales people?

    • SS

      Sean Sheppard

      5 months ago #

      Hey Ryan!

      1. They talk about their product and not the problem.

      2. They hire sale people from the industry who've never sold in a start up environment. What's required to go from 0 to 1 is very different from 1 to N.

      • SS

        Sean Sheppard

        5 months ago #

        Chrome crash number three!

        I would add that the biggest mistake I see early stage startups make when selling is setting false expectations about early traction. They tend to make up forecasts based on BS assumptions with no concrete data to support their assumptions.

        3 Share
  • WI

    Wizr Solutions Inc

    5 months ago #

    Hi Sean,
    Among all social media which is most effective in selling a new technical product?

  • ST

    Steve Tucker

    5 months ago #

    Hi Sean, my audience are ecommerce retailers and marketers. I'm trying to quiz as many of them as I can for feedback in order to learn, but most seem waaaay too busy to want to give their time. How do you suggest I move forward? Thanks

  • SS

    Sean Sheppard

    5 months ago #

    Time is our most precious and non-renewable resource. So I am grateful to all of you for taking your time to be a part of today's AMA! See you #GHConf19 - and always remember - Traction speaks louder than words!

    2 Share

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