Livecycle's Year in Review

Livecycle's Year in Review

It’s official. 2021 is in the books.

For us at Livecycle, this also marks the close of our company’s first year of existence, and boy have we been busy! Ideating, founding, raising a seed round, hiring a founding team, moving into our first office space, building our open beta, developing a brand and launching a GTM strategy… just to list a few of the highlights.

And while we’re laser-focused on the road ahead, we took a little time as a team to reflect on our journey so far, and pull out some nuggets that might be useful to other young start-ups and founding teams who are navigating their own journey.

Here are twelve things we learned as a company, starting out in 2021:

1. Choosing the right partners is critical

Founding a company is almost like getting married. It’s a close relationship that will expose the differences, strengths and weaknesses in each of the founders. Our co-founders (Matan, Yshay and Assaf) knew each other for years before founding Livecycle. They saw clearly how they each brought very different and very complimentary skill sets and personalities to the table. This familiarity allowed them to flatten the initial adjustment curve and hit the ground running by focusing on what matters. If you’re starting a company - make sure you know who you’re founding your company with. Make sure you have shared core values around your solution. Then look past the inevitable craziness and focus on helping each other achieve your goals.

2. Choosing the right investors is critical too

Sure, investors are a source of capital. But they can and should be so much more than that. Find investors that are “space-savvy” - they know the space of your product and your target audience. They can relate to the dilemmas you face and can therefore more effectively help you find ways to tackle them. In our experience, this has been incredibly helpful with things like: developing a GTM strategy, working through product dilemmas, and broadening our network with industry leaders in the space. So don’t just look for someone to sign the check. Look for someone who can also be an amplifier of your values and your growth as a company.

3. Most decisions are half-guesses in disguise

Early-stage startups make hundreds of decisions a day. Often, there isn’t a lot of clear data to go on. But waiting around until you have more information is also a decision, and it’s usually the wrong one. We’ve learned that a far better approach is to decide fast, measure precisely and then adapt as needed.

4. Remote work is a strategy, not a contingency

The last two years of COVID-19 had many people thinking that remote work was a backup plan. If we can’t make it into the office, then we need to find a way to work remotely. But we learned that it’s far more beneficial to make the remote work option a strategic decision. There are several benefits to this approach. An important benefit is reducing your friction for hiring. Finding and hiring talent (particularly developers) is more difficult and more competitive than ever before. Setting your company up to allow maximum flexibility for potential employees will make you a far more attractive landing spot. Embracing the remote option from the start allows you to make sure your tools and systems are in place to work effectively from any location.

5. Invest in your technical onboarding

We realized quickly that investing time, thought and energy to make our technical onboarding capabilities robust could save us huge headaches later on. So we made deliberate decisions like self-contained repositories (with documentation, scripts and steps). We made sure that all members of the dev team share the same environment. This also means that when someone wants to add a tool to the environment, every benefits from it instantly.

6. Optimize your local dev experience

Another technical lesson we learned is to let developers run the entire system on their local environment. This allows you to manage the delta between dev and production and makes life easier, especially if you have a bunch of microservices to manage.

7. Generalists > Specialists (for founders and coding languages)

We found that a “generalist” approach could be a strategic advantage. This is true of the founding team members tasked with doing a wide range of things effectively. And it’s also true on a technical level in terms of the programming languages we use to build our product. Languages like Typescript/Javascript have a large community of developers working with them and they are more productive across the board as you can use the same code from both front end and back end development. Specialists have their place, but getting a product and a company off the ground is achieved more effectively when you can do a lot of different things well.

8. Researching and learning are superpowers

Skills and experience are important. But the ability to research and learn new things quickly are superpowers. We’ve made this a cultural pillar of our organization - to encourage people to learn more and be OK with not knowing the answer to everything. It makes the work a lot more fun.

9. Nothing happens instantly

Startups pride themselves on their agility - the ability to move fast and react. It’s easy to fall into the trap of expecting that you’ll just as quickly see results. Remember that things take time. Noting happens in a second. Balance your ambition with a healthy dose of patience and realism - for your sake and for the sake of your team.

10. Never compromise on the people you hire

The market for hiring talent in tech companies today is more competitive than ever. At various points we asked ourselves if we should lower some of our standards to give us a wider pool of candidates to choose from. But we realized that it is people who make or break your success. Compromising on who you bring means compromising your likelihood to achieve your goals or enjoying your day to day. So whether in terms of abilities or in terms of personality fit - find the people with the highest likelihood to help the company succeed and don’t settle for less.

11. Don’t forget that there’s life outside the office

Your startup is an extension of you. And a hugely important part of “you” is your life outside the office - family, friends, hobbies etc. Make a conscious decision not to sacrifice these other priorities - you’ll thank us later. Investing in these other part of your life will give you the positive energy and the support you need to confidently grow your business.

12. Fall in love with your users (not with the “problem” or the “solution”)

We’ve adopted a PLG (product-led growth) GTM strategy. One thing we’ve learned quickly is that effectively executing this is not by focusing on the product, or obsessing over the problem or the solution. It’s by falling in love with the users themselves. Product-Led Growth is ineffective without a Customer-Led Growth foundation.

Good luck to everyone starting and building their own companies this year. Looking forward to an amazing 2022!

Livecycle

Livecycle

January 11, 2022

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