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Do you have a Dashboard for your Company?

September 21, 2009

Largely due to self-imposed constraints (as an EIR at Mayfield and a “mentor” for Carl Nichols’ EWMBA 295A class at the Haas School of Business), I can’t really blog about some of the really cool ideas I get to review and the bright individuals I have the privilege of working with. IOW, my blogging has been bogged down. That said, there are a few abstract topics I am going to jot down as time permits.

dashboardBoth at Mayfield and Haas, I’m frequently asked by entrepreneurs about objective criteria by which an investment can be evaluated. This is a very broad question and there are no easy answers for early-stage companies. It often comes down to intuition about the market, the team, technology underpinnings and proposed business models. However, mid/late-stage companies do have a variety of parameters one could review. Not surprising, the same tools that a CEO uses to run a company can be used for building an investment thesis as well.

Here is my “1-page” dashboard. Each line item is owned by someone on the exec team and serves as a living document that can be used for internal management meetings, board meetings and, of course, investor meetings. There is always the alternative – a wing and a prayer.wing_man

Market

  • 1-line market & industry description
  • Direct competitors
  • Indirect competitors
  • Outliers and/or market dynamics that could be disruptive

Business

  • Revenue & Forecast
  • Sales Pipeline
  • Partners and/or Channels
  • Regions (regional differences that can impact)
  • Legal issues, if any (patents, copyrights, other)

People (& Locations)

  • HR (headcount, issues if any)
  • Locations
  • External (Board of Directors, Board of Advisers)

Product

  • Current/shipping products
  • Roadmap 12-18 months out

Financials

  • Cash Flow & (if applicable) Zero-Cash-Date with & without revenue
  • Top parameters from Balance Sheet
  • Top parameters from Income Statement

Your mileage may vary, based upon your company’s unique situation and market it’s operating in. Feel free to adapt from here and leave ideas so others may benefit.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Adam Blum permalink
    September 21, 2009 6:44 pm

    This is really good. Fills a big gap. I think I need my own dashboard. Can you get me a Haas intern (Go Bears) on it?

  2. Harsh Singh permalink
    September 22, 2009 5:55 pm

    This is nice. I just feel that Technology should also be added as one of the heading.

  3. Atul Sharan permalink
    September 22, 2009 6:53 pm

    As a Haas alum I can tell u I hv never heard of a dashboard. See, this is what happens when u spend too much time in the VC world. You forget what it is to run a real start-up. That’s it, with this post, I am never going to be able to raise VC $ again. Hopefully this impulsive post will self-destruct before 11am tomorrow when most of your ilk show up to work and log in πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    Author comments: As I stated earlier – there is nothing wrong with a “wing and a prayer” model. Many a successful startup has done it that way! πŸ™‚

  4. The Wing Man permalink
    September 29, 2009 8:19 pm

    I hope this was meant to be a joke. This is true VC dashboard – Static. Dashboard usually change rapidly but this one can be the powerpoint from the last board meeting.

    Maybe you want to add a few things to add some dynamic content

    My VC’s latest ideas
    My CEO coach’s last deep thought
    My latest golf sore
    Seconds to my next funding event
    My frequent flyer miles
    Minutes to next lunch meeting

    I love the picture of the real dashboard, with the RPMs up but the speed zero.

    Are Ramneek Bahi, Mayfield ka namak kha ke bhi ….?

  5. October 2, 2009 10:51 pm

    Nice post– the trick I often find is getting this disparate information that is measured by different people or groups in an organization into one common dashboard and that the company leaders take ownership of the data, and don’t pass the buck or constantly question the data.

    But once get past that, discipline and consistency is absolutely essential.

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