Founded 3x, Invested in 50x+ am a VP at Antler Australia and recently launched a preseed fund, AMA

Matthew Browne
40 replies
Hey Product Hunt! My name is Matt Browne, I've been an avid reader and commenter on Product Hunt recently and am falling in love with what this community stands for and wanted to give back by answering any questions the community may have. I am a 3X Founder including one exit (donesafe.com, whispli.com and upflowy.com), an angel investor in over 50 startups, founding Venture Partner of the Antler startup generator in Australia and Managing Partner of a new pre-seed fund - Black Nova VC that is a by founders, for founders fund that backs pre-revenue founding teams building the next generation of B2B SaaS with a focus (not exclusively) on Aussie and Kiwi founders. Areas I can help with: Pitching investors pre and post revenue Ideation and validation Go-to-market (Enterprise, Mid-Market, PLG, CLG) Managing Priorities The three runways of a founder (Cash, Equity and Why) Cofounders / investors / board members / team formation I'll be answering questions until late evening and then again early morning tomorrow Sydney, Australia time to ensure I cover as many timezones as possible, ask away

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Kay Pengelly
Upflowy: Build & optimize flows.
Hi Matt, thanks for this AMA! Founding a company (or even being part of a startup) takes a lot of energy. How do you manage to maintain your energy so that you get what needs to be done, done? My biggest struggle is the mountain of work that needs to be done vs what I can realistically achieve in a day. Do you have tips on how you've managed this?
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Matthew Browne
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@kay_pengelly That's an awesome question - energy maintenance is a big part of the "why runway" I often talk about when coaching founders. For me one of the biggest life changes I made was segmenting my weeks into my calendar and working hard to stick to a routine. For example, I block out Monday morning from 6am - 9am to plan out the primary focus points, Wednesday is fully blocked out to enable me to be selective on what meetings I take and also to ensure I have lunch with my wife and Friday afternoon I work hard to clear the backlog so I can get some better rest and relaxation over the weekend. I think the underlying principle is it's very hard to strike a perfect balance in life but planning / focus drives execution and that goes for your energy levels as well.
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Sean Greenhalgh
I highly recommend having a chat with Matt. I have been lucky enough to have had the opportunity to borrow his time multiple times to ask my questions. Would highly suggest any other startup founders and/or people thinking about starting a company take this opportunity to ask some questions!
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Matthew Browne
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@sean_greenhalgh2 Thanks Sean, appreciate the love!
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Mike Fitzbaxter
Co-Founder and Product Builder
Hey Matt, thanks so much for pulling this AMA together, I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Can you share with us what you consider to be your biggest learning on building products/companies that customers love? Is there one thing in particular that stands out as a "must"?
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Matthew Browne
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@mike_fitzbaxter1 Hey Mike, thanks for the question, the biggest lesson I personally learned here is also quite a simple one but one I underestimated with my first company Donesafe. Coming from a domain expert background, I thought I knew it all and would build a product customers loved without asking enough of them what they actually wanted. Turns out we spent 2 years hardcoding something that went in the bin and had to rebuilt from the ground up. The best companies I have backed attack solving the problem with humility, as product builders we are both the servants and sherpas for our customers, building a community of people that love what you do is easy when you spend more time listening to the customer and thinking through how to delight them and reduce friction in every interaction.
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Guillaume Ang
Upflowy a tool to build & optimize flows
Hi Matt, what's the impact of a successful ProductHunt launch on a fundraising process from an investor perspective? Would you wait to conduct a raise after the launch?
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Matthew Browne
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@guillaume_ang1 Awesome question, I think Product Hunt is a great reference point for investors who want to know what a community of makers think of one of their peers products. I wouldn't neccesarily wait for a successful product hunt to back a founding team but have definitely started meeting with founders on here if they are outside of network - it is an awesome place to meet new potential investments.
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Adam Bosnjakovic
things that go beep in the night.
Hey Matt, great to be able to ask you questions! Trying to achieve your goals is something we don't always want to do for many reasons. One of them is we are afraid of failure and risk but without risk we cannot succeed. How do you manage risk?
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Matthew Browne
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@adam_bosnjakovic Thanks for the question Adam, it's funny, in my early career I was a "risk manager", these days an an early stage investor I have a very different perspective. For me I now like to picture "what is the worst that can happen" and use that balanced with a "where does the reward appear in relation to the risk in comparison to all of the other decisions I am making" - at the end of the day, the worst outcome for not trying is death and death is one of the only things for certain in life - sorry that got deep.
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Cheryl Mack
Investor. Geek. Vino lover.
What are you best tips for managing all three of your founder runways at the same time, when they are interdependent and always changing?
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Matthew Browne
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@cheryl_mack great question Cheryl! The reality is managing all three is important to your ability to build something great and as one fills up, another one depletes e.g. when you raise money your why goes up thanks to external validation and your cash improves due to the investment but your equity depletes (and if too quickly may also deplete your why more heavily than the increase due to external validation). Personally, the "why" runway is number one because with a strong enough why you will overcome challenges of filling cashflow and managing equity.
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Jessica Walker
Hey Matt, great to read some of your earlier responses. My question is, what is the best way to get a startup in front of a VC if you don't have any warm intros? Thanks!
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Matthew Browne
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@jessica_walker6 Personally I hate the whole needing warm intros piece - at Black Nova VC we accept inbound from anybody and love to meet ambitious founders who come from outside of network (especially if they are outsiders more broadly). I personally would love to see the death of the warm intro however for funds that do require them I suggest put in the effort to build trust - interact where they interact, give before receiving and try to standout - a good example, I sent a fully configured flow in the VC brand to the investors we wanted to attract for Upflowy.
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Gerardo Contreras Vacca
Co-Founder and CMO at Remote Social
Hi Matt, thanks for this AMA. Would love to hear about your experience when setting up and rolling out pricing/billing for a new product. Where would you normally start?
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Matthew Browne
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@gerardo_contreras_vacca1 Pricing is one of the many bains of a founding teams life, the strategy is different dependant on your sector and acquisition strategy, for Enterprise, I typically find being fluid in the early days and getting a sense of the budget a customer has for a chosen problem, in mid-market and one / two stage selling businesses I typically suggest starting where the market is and moving to value based pricing and for PLG companies, AB Testing your pricing is a great strategy to work out which converts better.
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Stewart Barrett
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The question I have always wondering with serial entrepreneurs, do you have an end? Is it to outdo yourself with the next goal bigger, better, more exposure? Solving a specific problem? Early retirement? This potentially leads to the question of the why about what your are doing and the motivations behind it.
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Matthew Browne
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@stewup Deep question and I love it - for me I love business models, I love construct hacking and get a lot of satisfaction of creating something out of nothing and seeing someone get joy out of it. A deeper, underlying motivation for me is accumulating enough option capital to be able to truly make a difference and solve some massive problems - one close to my heart is the inequality in crossing the digital divide for Indigenous Australians.
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Stewart Barrett
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@matthew_browne1 Love it.. I want to say early retirement, but knowing what I am like I will never retire. My retirement will be a 1 year off in Spain.
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Mariah MacInnes
Founder of Content Queen.
Hey Matt. Thank you for this AMA. I am keen to know your experience with finding co-founders. What do you think is the most important thing when it comes to finding the right co-founder? I have thought about this in the past but am not sure what to look for!
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Matthew Browne
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@mariah_macinnes I've had a few co-founders in my time, co-founding is often as deep of a relationship as getting married. You are tied together by mission, money and time thus making it super important to find the right human/humans. For me it is important to have a "why" fit, a complimentary skills fit, a trust fit and a empathy fit, getting the right balance of this will set you up for a better chance of success.
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Mariah MacInnes
Founder of Content Queen.
@matthew_browne1 Oh yes so true! Love this, especially around tied mission and the "why". Thank you for sharing this insight.
Mitchell Orme
🏅 Thankyou 4 supporting Upflowy to #1🏅
Hey Matt! I'm still quite wet behind the ears when it comes to entrepreneurship and beginning one's own company. I've been enjoying working in the startup world, and it's so impressive to see the leaders rise up within a company and seemingly take on the world. When did you first venture out on your own in terms of starting your own company, and how did you manage the stress, the fear, and the likely imposter syndrome that would've come up? I can't imagine you feeling any of those early-stage jitters anymore
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Matthew Browne
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@mitchell_orme There are always some butterflies whenever I do anything new (including this ;) In the early days I was fortunate enough to be able to build my first startup alongside experienced operators and I was the "new kid", I also was able to run it as a side-hustle initially, keeping my corporate employment whilst building at night and on weekends. The fear kicked in when I quit my day job, that was the scariest decision I had made to date, going from a corporate salary to living off minimum wage (especially as I had kids to think of), that really focuses you and I was able to shake it off. Having good communities, mentors and co-founders really helps to overcome things.
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David Theodorou
Founder of Experience Digital
Hey Matt, I'm putting together a pitch deck for a company that I'm putting together called Availabled... What would you suggest the format be and what would get the most attention from potential investors?
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Matthew Browne
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@experience_dave Great question Dave, I'm a big fan of the YC style pitch deck for pre-seed companies and for slightly more progressed businesses, my favourite write up is by Chase Roberts and can be found here: https://chsrbrts.medium.com/the-... Which ever path you choose, ensure to have low friction in consumption, keep the narrative flowing and ensure the data backs up your story!
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Matt Collis
Hey Matt, good of you to put on this AMA - thanks! Keen to hear your thoughts on B2B SaaS pricing. What's your approach, and how much effort goes in at each stage from pre-revenue toward PMF?
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Matthew Browne
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@matt_collis Hey Matt, surfacing some of the answer I had to a previous question - the strategy is different dependant on your sector and acquisition strategy, for Enterprise, I typically find being fluid in the early days and getting a sense of the budget a customer has for a chosen problem, in mid-market and one / two stage selling businesses I typically suggest starting where the market is and moving to value based pricing and for PLG companies, AB Testing your pricing is a great strategy to work out which converts better. Some additional thoughts, in an ideal world, pricing would be a fair split between the value you provide and the value the customer recieves. Typically pricing at the earliest stage starts with a discount on the competitors or taking inspiration from like products to like customers. You will often iterate this at least three times between Pre-seed and Series A, hopefully by Series A you have enough data to only make minor adjustments to core pricing strategy - I'm a big fan of the content from the team at Price Intelligently - https://www.priceintelligently.com/
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Matt Collis
@matthew_browne1 Awesome thanks for that Matt. The number of iterations required over that 'timeframe' is a useful reference. Will check out more from PI too. Cheers!
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Alex Millar
Founder of Hudled
Hey Matt, thanks for taking the time to do this AMA, these responses are really interesting. How important is it to have a technical co-founder when building a SaaS startup. When you look at the team slides in an investor deck, do you see this as a red flag if there isnt a CTO/co-founder with significant equity Cheers Alex
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Matthew Browne
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@alex_millar Each investor is different here, for me personally, it depends on how deeply technical the problem being solved is and whether the team would be at a disadvantage without a technical co-founder. e.g. a business building a product that is more about go-to-market execution may get away without having a co-founding CTO and can hire for this. Where as a business that is creating a computer vision product for detecting process defects would absolutely need a top technical co-founder on the founding team.
Tony
Hi Matt, Thank you for your time. I am currently coming to the end of the Beta for my new Mobile App, and I am about to launch at the end of the month. I have self-funded the project to this point, however, I am now looking for investment, to market, build future releases and continue to grow. There are a few avenues to take; friends & family, accelerators, VC's etc. What would be your advice around best next steps at this stage in terms of investment? Also, I wanted to get your take on convertible notes vs SAFE notes - what would you recommend? Thanks, Tony
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Matthew Browne
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@tmann7 Thanks for your question Tony, to answer your last question first, I love the simplicity of the SAFE note for both founders and investors and when a fair cap and discount applies it is a great mechanism for founders to use to close a pre-seed or launch round. Awesome work self funding to launch, I always love a founder with a bit of financial skin in the game, accelerators are a great option if you are looking for advice, leverage and investment - you definitely get what you put in. Pre-Seed VCs coupled with Angels are a good option also - we love to back companies straight out of generators or accelerators but do occasionally back a company right at the idea stage, feel free to reach out via blacknova.vc if you are B2B focussed.
Tony
@matthew_browne1 Thanks for the reply Matt! Unfortunately I am B2C, but I appreciate the response. Are there any particular accelerators you would recommend for a post-launch app? I imagine they each have their own niche which they would be of benefit for. Thanks, Tony
Kirit Kundu
Hey Matt, awesome on you for sharing openly. I am building a b2b saas product and hyper focused on the pain point that I am solving. Are there any other aspects of the product that I should think about to ensure I can sell into enterprise without too much friction?
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Matthew Browne
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@kirit_kundu Hey Kirit, thanks for the question, when selling into Enterprise top down solving the pain point is definitely key but getting through Procurement and Tech DD is the harder part. On top of solving for the pain you will need to ensure you have a reasonably well documented API, connectivity with SSO, dev-ops strategies that line up with the needs of Enterprise security and reliability and features that enable role segregation by location, org and cost centre hierarchys as each business has it's own preference here. Outside of the tech itself, invest in getting ISO 27001 (or equiv) certified or demonstrate a path to certification so that you can hand over the many documents the team will want to consume.
Tim O'Neill
n/a
Hi Matt, thank you for the AMA. I am co-founder of an early stage B2C automotive start-up. We currently don't have an advisory board, or any non-exec directors, but are considering putting something in place. What is a typical method of "thanking" (rewarding) these kind folks? If equity or options, what % is appropriate / typical? Thank you
Matthew Browne
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@twro Great question Tim - I love the FI FAST v2 template from founders institute, it's a great method for setting out roles and responsibilities and ESOP for advisors
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Tim O'Neill
n/a
@matthew_browne1 perfect - I have just started mentoring at Founders Institute so will ask for a copy!
mirco vuchich
Just software engineer
The software development process is divided into several stages. The first stage is "conceptualization" with https://mlsdev.com/services/cust.... This is the stage in which designers define and create a vision of what the software will do. During this stage, a formal estimation of requirements is made. This is done through a variety of methods, including sketches, requirement elicitation, manual estimation, technical translations, reuse and modification programs, requirements-based modeling, and formal methods. After the requirement analysis is complete, requirements must be converted to actual code in order to satisfy the software development requirements.