Founders at Fail


Jon and Eli break down what it took to launch Betterment in the middle of the century’s largest financial crisis.


  • Nobody likes planning for the worst, but it proved critical to have a game plan in place if a co-founder ever left. When the time came, the transition went smoothly as a result.
  • As a first time founder, whatever your timeline for product development is quadruple it.
  • Tell investors what you want: how much you’re raising and how you’ll spend it. Without a game plan, initial inbound interest stalls.
  • When hiring outside counsel, press for specifics: what is their access deal flow? What terms makes sense for a company at your stage?
  • Establish a customer acquisition strategy because you’re not going to have a Techcrunch article every few months.
  • Begin recruiting before you need to: it takes 3 months to hire a good candidate.
  • Interview advice: people have to really want to build a company, not just work at one.
  • Finding office space: biggest lie is square footage in commercial spaces, bring a measuring tape.
  • Recruiting: in an interview investigate both behavioral and fit aspects of each candidate: why this specific company and why this role?
  • Select benefits to suit your employee’s needs: young people tend to go to the Dr. sparingly so high deductibles can be effective.

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This article originally published June 15th, 2012 on Founders at Fail.