Wise words regarding board meetings

Super valuable advice shared by Bilal Zuberi on hist twitter account on May 12th 2018. All merit belongs to Bilal, I’m just compiling and writing down for future memory.

“1) Attended a whole bunch of Board meetings this week on both coasts. Sharing some quick observations on what I typically see work well at Board meetings.

2) Board meetings should be held at company offices IMO. Let Board members see, touch, feel, your products…let them mingle with some team members, help them understand company’s culture, and share in the excitement.

3) Share Board decks etc in advance, at least 3-4 days. Set expectations that people come prepared and having studied the materials. Board meeting is not a time for reporting on activity…but to discuss, ideate, debate, decide.

4) Keep a standard format for Board decks. Present in same format…train eyes to look for information, compare from past reports, and start connecting dots over an arc of time. Boards don’t just decide on tactical at-the-moment stuff, but also longer term strategic directions.

5) I find dashboards useful. Start deck with such a snapshot/dashboard. Sends a message on what you consider important in the business, metrics that truly matter, and what you want management and the Board to always know on the tip of their fingers.

6) There should be no one in your Board room whose opinion you and other Board members do not solicit, respect, or care for. That’s dead weight and find a way to, frankly, leave them out of Board meetings if you can.

7) Board meetings should not result in surprises. It is a bad time to ‘break news’, positive or negative. Best early stage CEOs typically spend 1-on-1 time with Board members before the meeting. Also allows people to walk in with ideas/resources to offer.

8) present challenges faced by business first, and then the successes. (a) allows for more time if needed to be available for discussing challenges, (b) shows CEO is always in mode of reducing risk for business, (c) let’s ppl walk away with positive news due to recency bias 🙂

9) Do any of the Board member look sleepy? Call on them like they do with students at business schools 🙂 This is time you ‘paid’ for. Get them in the game and focused on your issues. They can think about their other portfolio companys’ challenges AFTER they leave your building.

10) Show how you followed up on take-aways and to-dos from previous Board meetings. Eg, did everyone, including Board members, do what they said they would do? To not miss intg ideas brought up, have someone take notes in the meeting who is NOT your lawyer.

11) Involve top management team in the Board meeting. Helps them also develop Board experience + share their own successes/challenges. You would be surprised how presenting helps people grow!

12) Always leave some time for an executive session at the end. Not only for Board members (minus mgmt) to discuss what’s on their minds, but also for CEO to get feedback from Board.

13) I like company schwag 🙂 What a great gift – better than fancy meals. IMO Board members should be just as excited to wear your company T-shirt as your new summer intern.”







Categories: Board, Management, VC

Enterprise sw and growth

February 18, 2018 Leave a comment

Reforge is a kick-ass source for growth knowledge.

Bela Stepanova, from Box (Director of Product Management) shares her thoughts on enterprise software and growth:

These days, if users aren’t using a product, the real switching cost is logistical. Imagine this – a company installs Salesforce, but the team doesn’t really adopt it – no one’s inputting contacts or tracking communications. When IT identifies the issue, no internal development work is required and no big migration is needed to switch CRMs – IT can just plug and play another SaaS product.

User adoption and engagement are becoming important measurement tools for enterprises as they evaluate switching technologies. IT buyers now measure post purchase success using product engagement metrics, and many now even measure end user productivity as a key input to core business metrics.

Bela’s version of the funnel provides an interesting insight, as she adds extra layers at the top.

Critical are the growth levers, which can be described in four pillars:

  • Business processes
  • Migrations and integrations
  • Employee events
  • Compliance and policies

On employee events: “Mergers and acquisitions, policy and regulation changes, and new hire onboarding are all examples of events that can affect if, how, and when an enterprise customer and their employees engage with your product. All of these can trigger a sudden influx of new users or an unexpected exodus of existing users.


Categories: Growth

Apps monetization – Distimo Feb. report

  • One download is worth $5.32 in Japan;
  • Five markets with most potential: Japan, Australia, South Korea, UK and USA;
  • ARPD fluctuates depending on the market: Jewel Mania $6.65 in Australia and $1.44 in France;
  • ARPD on iPad is higher;
  • Paid apps are more likely to be downloaded in December (free time?)
  • Freemium business model (free apps w/ IAP) generates the majority of the revenues in the app stores. Examples:
  • In Japan, Free w/ IAP represents 94% of revenues, Paid without IAP is 5% and Paid w/ IAP 1%. Similar in China & South Korea;
  • In Western countries (USA, France, UK, Canada), Free+IAP is in the high 70% (76% – 79%) while Paid without IAP varies between 17% and 20%. Germany has lower Free+IAP, with 70% and 26% Paid without IAP;
  • Larger revenues from Paid Apps come from categories like Productivity, Navigation or Education (highly popular in Germany);
  • Revenue share from Free+IAP in the US rose from 46% in Jan 2012 to 80% in Jan 2014;
  • ARPD, by country: Japan $5.32; Australia, $3.6; South Korea $3.4; Canada $2.38; Germany $2.3; USA $2.29; UK $2.5; France $1.78; Russia $1.3; China $0.92
  • ARPD per device: iPad performs better in almost all countries. In China and France it’s a tie, in South Korea is very close;
  • However, the majority of revenues in iOS is still generated in iPhones in Asian countries (91% for iPhone in Japan, 81% in South Korea and 73% in China). In Western countries, there’s more balance, from high (58%, Germany) to low (51%, USA) fifties for iPhone, with the exceptions being France (63%) and Russia (46%);
  • People spend more money on IAP when the Apps are free;
  • ARPD vs ACPI (average cost per install): USA (2.52 vs 2.17); Canada (2.73 vs 2.42); UK (2.33 vs 1.86); Italy (1.61 vs 1.47); Germany (2.45 vs 2.07); China (1.13 vs 0.9); South Korea (3.82 vs 1.98); Japan (6.34 vs 1.86); Australia (4.5 vs 2.59)

Download full report from Distimo

Scamming the way to the App Store tops

February 20, 2014 Leave a comment

After the mysterious Flappy Bird “overnight success”, another strange story arises about an App achieving Apple’s App Store top.

how on earth two different developers used a $10 GameSalad template to send their respective apps — one free, and one paid — into the App Store’s top charts. And more importantly, how did that paid app keep climbing the charts, earning a developer who’s clearly a well-known scammer, a lot of money?”


Categories: Gaming, Growth Hacking

Flappy Birds – the numbers behind the success

February 19, 2014 Leave a comment

@zachwill dissecates the number of reviews of Flappy Birds and brings *some* light into the “overnight success”.

Flappy Birds App Store reviews growth

In late December and early January, I’m guessing Dong Nguyen probably usedsome sort of service to download/rate Flappy Bird on the App Store. The end goal was probably to generate some buzz for a game that originally had been released at the end of May and then updated in September for iOS 7. With six months of nothing happening on a game he had made in a week’s spare time, a marketing experiment around the holiday download season couldn’t hurt.

It worked. Flappy Bird started getting over 20 reviews a day (sometimes a whole 5 reviews in a single hour). At the time, this had to be somewhat encouraging. I mean, with weeks of nothing happening, 20 reviews every day from the end of December until the beginning of January had to be a good start.


Categories: Gaming, Growth Hacking

Monetizing Western mobile gaming Apps in Japan

February 16, 2014 Leave a comment

If you’re in the mobile gaming industry, you’ll want to be big in Japan…

“Japan is now the best-monetized market for iOS and Android games in the world (…) Clearly, this market has great potential for Western game developers — but so far, few of them have had much success there.

Indeed, according to App Annie’s 2013 report, the local products dominate the Japanese market Nine of the top 10 most downloaded iOS/Android games were made in Japan, with Temple Run 2 the lone Western entry; worse, none of Japan’s 10 best monetized games are from the West.

Many of my Western colleagues assume this deficit is due to language and cultural barriers and the country’s historically strong video game industry. And while those are certainly factors, other variables are at play — and Western developers need to better address these to greatly increase their odds of succeeding in Japan.


In-app payments predominate: Japanese gamers are much more likely to make in-app payments in their favorite games than their counterparts are in the West.

Social networks are deeply integrated with mobile games:

Because Japan’s local social networks are so large and essential to mobile games, it’s crucial that Western developers integrate them into their titles. As with Twitter and Facebook worldwide, Japan’s social networks are a powerful way of driving organic viral growth. Japanese players particularly enjoy competing in mobile games with their friends, so adding an SNS-integrated leaderboard is an excellent way to engagement and encourage organic promotion. For similar reasons, aggressive customer support is also essential: In Japan, when a mobile game is buggy or frustrating, people will quickly communicate its failings across the country’s social networks. If you don’t immediately quell user anger, retention rates will rapidly drop.


Social networks are also important for driving monetization in Japan, because unlike the West, Japanese gamers are quite willing to make an IAP which will give them an edge against their competitors. Also unlike the West, Japanese players also enjoy cooperative IAPs — virtual items friends can buy together to enhance their efforts as a team.


While Western games tend to earn the most revenue from their most competitive players, Japanese developers generate higher average revenue per user (ARPU) by catering to other player types: In addition to the Achiever, this include the categories I identify as Explorer, Socializer, and Killer. Each has a different style of play and motive for monetization, and analytics are indispensable for identifying each. (For instance, a player who invites a lot of friends to join a game likely fits in the Socializer category and is probably more inclined to purchase player-to-player gifts.) Analytics can also track how successful a specific IAP item is and help you adjust price and functionality accordingly. As you might imagine, this strategy also requires offering a wide array of different IAPs for different categories of player, so deploying these via cloud is also highly recommended.


Work with local publishing/deployment partners

At the moment, the top three foreign applications in Japan are Clash of Clans, Candy Crush Saga, and Hay Day, and their success in Japan should be instructive to other developers: King.com is the first Western publisher to advertise on Japanese television, promoting Candy Crush Saga with a spot starring a well-known local actress. The Japanese launch of Clash of Clans and Hay Day (from Finnish company Supercell) was supported by investment and resources from Japanese telecom giant Softbank and GungHo, one of Japan’s top five mobile game companies.”


What’s hot in VC-land

February 1, 2014 Leave a comment

Boris Silver, from FundersClub, names the hot areas for the tech VC sector. With how many are you currently involved?

  1. Drones
  2. Bitcoin
  3. Wearables
  4. Big Data
  5. Crowdfunding
  6. Quantified Self
  7. 3D Printing
  8. The Internet of Things
  9. Mobile
  10. Virtual Reality