Welcome from the founder

Welcome! We are a group built by and for founders, so everything stems from things we would like to have as founders working to build awesome products, teams, and companies. 

Entrepreneurship is at times challenging, lonely, stressful, and isolating. You won’t find the answer to all your problems or any silver bullet solutions here, but we hope that the community we build can be fun, help you avoid mistakes others have made, and build healthier calmer companies.

There are many different kinds of remote/online communities and we have taken a few opinionated approaches here to accommodate some of the unique aspects of who we have here and what they’re trying to do.

Here are a few principles:

  • Everything is optional.
    First and foremost you’re goal as a founder is to build a great product for your customers, build a happy and healthy team, and grow your business. We recognize that everything we do here is going to secondary in importance. This is not high school, attendance will not be taken, and you should always feel free to skip anything without apology.
  • All you can eat buffet.
    We want to accommodate a wide array of interests and preferences about how this community should run. So rather than run a rigid curriculum, we approach it as an all you can eat buffet where we will provide a lot of different ways to engage and get value from the community and you are free to pick and choose what works for you.
  • Constant experimentation.
    This is all new and uncharted waters for most of us. We’ll be constantly introducing new ideas, keeping what works, and ditching the ones that don’t. Expect some levels of constant change and iteration and please give the Earnest team feedback on what’s working and not.
  • Mentorship.
    A lot of the value of community is about the relationship directly between founders. But a good portion of it is based around mentorship (connecting founders and mentors). Everybody should read our approach to mentorship to appropriately set expectations.

Once more, welcome to Earnest Capital. Now let’s get to work.

Crafted in earnest,
Tyler Tringas
Founder, General Partner

Defining Success at Earnest Capital

From the outset, we know that Earnest Capital isn’t your typical source of capital and that’s by design!

To that end, we want to be transparent on how we judge ourselves. The main metric we measure ourselves on is based on the standard NPS question:

Based on your experience working with us, how likely are you to recommend Earnest Capital to another potential founder?

Earnest Capital: Main Value Metric

 

We believe that that’s the best possible way to help all of our portfolio founders succeed: by adding so much value that you’re running to tell all of your network to consider us as they bootstrap their companies. 

As of April 2020,
Earnest Capital has an NPS score of 93/100,
where n = 14 responses).

Setting “Expectations”

We know that everything we ask of you is secondary, as it should be. We want you to focus on building the best company possible. 

With that in mind, here’s what we think about in terms of “expectations.” 

  • We will do as much as we can to help you remove roadblocks to your growth. 
  • We will be transparent with everything we are working on to support you, the portfolio founder. 
  • We’re a growing firm so we’ll be trying out lots of different ways to better serve our founders so we want your feedback on what’s working and what could be improved. 
  • We want to hear from you on the big stuff, the little stuff, the good stuff and (especially) the bad stuff. We’re a team! 

Check-Ins

One of the main ways we can help you is by checking in. These check-ins* are not mandatory but we’re firm believers of staying up to date with every company so we know what mentors, resources, and tools to send your way to accelerate your growth. 

Earnest leverages check-ins in 4 ways with their own objectives: 

*Please note once more: these are not mandatory but they really help us allocate our time and resources to best support you. The more you let us know, the better we can help. If you know of a better way to check-in, do let us know

All Founder Zoom Call

Type Description Frequency Objective
All Founder Check-in Zoom Connect all portfolio founders Mondays at 1 PM EST Share highlights, lowlights, and help wanted among the portfolio

 

Notes

Every week, currently Monday at 1p ET, we run an All Founders Zoom call. All founders are welcome to join. We run through giving each founder a few minutes to update on what has happened in the past week, any challenges they are working through or questions for the group. 

Group discussion is definitely encouraged but given the size of the group, we’ll frequently have to cut them short and suggest that we continue a particular line of discussion afterward in Slack/Basecamp.

The current best way to access this is:

  1. Head to #founders in Slack (founders-only private channel) and type “/events list”
  2. Click the “Export Events” button
  3. Choose “Export All Events from the This Channel
  4. You will receive a DM from Eventbot with instructions on how to add this to your calendar app of choice

Office Hours

Type Description Frequency Objective
1:1 Office Hours Direct conversations with Tyler Ad-hoc Interact with the Earnest team on an ad-hoc basis

 

Notes

We strongly encourage scheduling one to two 1 hour check-ins with the Earnest Team (Tyler or Sibi) that’s up to you, the founder, to reach out & schedule.

In general, we are finding that it makes sense to have a slower frequency of check-ins over time with 2 or 3 per month early on and slowing to once a month over time.

Micro Weekly Check-in

Type Description Frequency Objective
Micro Weekly Check-In Bot Brief thoughts from founders sharing about last week’s work, what help is needed and how you’re feeling (shared via Slack) Mondays at 8 AM EST Helps the Earnest team understand what questions you may have so we can address them

 

Notes

Every Monday, all founders receive a notification asking a few questions about your week. Please fill this out but please don’t take more than 10-15 minutes on it. The idea here is to give the Earnest community a heartbeat on what you’re working on, how things are going, and how we can be helpful.

Founders and mentors are all welcome to join the one or all sessions.

AFC Sessions Available: 
 
#1: Mondays, 9 am EST (3 pm in London; 10 pm in Japan) 
#2: Mondays, 1 pm EST (6 pm in London; 2 am in Japan)

Monthly Investor Updates

Type Description Frequency Objective
Monthly Investor Updates Standardized via Visible Monthly on the 1st of every month Provide updates to the mentor/investor network

 

Notes

We have an account with Visible that let’s all of our portfolio companies use it (for free) for monthly investor updates. These are not mandatory but are highly encouraged and founders should feel free to include any other investors they have or key advisors they feel comfortable sharing with.

The best time to do this is usually the first week of the month right after you get your metrics for the previous month. Visible is basically an email tool but it also syncs with your metrics services like Chartmogul or Quickbooks so you can easily sync/chart key metrics and include them in your updates.

Most founders stick to a simple format of

1/ Highlights for the month
2/ Low lights for the month
3/ Any asks or ways to help
4/ graphs of key metrics.  

Working with the Earnest Capital Team

Tyler Tringas
Tyler Tringas
> Founder, Partner
Sibi Murugesan
Sibi Murugesan
Head of Platform
Najva Sol
Najva Sol
Head of Community

Working with Mentors

Earnest Capital has a growing network of incredible mentors that can functionally help with many aspects of building a bootstrapped company.

Unlike other funds, every mentor within Earnest Capital is also an investor in the fund. This incentivizes all parties to help the portfolio grow, creating a triple-win situation!  

We’ll continue to add more mentors over time. 

See the full directory here.

 

Mentor Office Hours 

From time to time the Earnest team will schedule a Mentor Office Hours. The format we’ve settled on for now is to schedule a session with one mentor, start a Basecamp thread ahead of time for questions, have an open 1-1.5hr Zoom where any founders can join and ask questions, Tyler or Sibi will guide the discussion and also ask questions on behalf of founders who can’t join, and then we record the session and make it available in Slack and via the private podcast.

The goal of these sessions is really to be an introduction to the particular mentor, an overview of their expertise on a few topics, and jumping-off point for scheduling a deeper 1:1 session with a particular founder via follow-ups.

 

1:1 Mentor Sessions

Most founders will get the most value out of a 1 hour one on one session with an individual mentor. These are both some of the valuable things you can get out of the community but also the most unstructured. We primarily leave it up to founders to tell us when they feel a 1:1 session would be most valuable.

We have quite a few mentors that all have incredibly different availability, time zones, interests. The Earnest team will often recommend sessions and make direct introductions but please if you would like to speak to any Earnest mentor directly either ask Tyler or Sibi to facilitate an intro or just send them a message directly. We frequently check in with the mentors and to a person they always ask us how they can spend more time and energy helping founders. Do not be shy.

  • Send an email beforehand with details on what you would like to discuss. 
  • Give the mentor reminders and context on your company including metrics to indicate the stage of the business (eg MRR, headcount, # years in business, etc)
  • Be courteous with scheduling. You’re busy and they’re busy, so try to provide multiple times that could work or a Calendly/x.ai link for easy scheduling.
  • You’re generally welcome to record the session (eg via Zoom) but please always ask first

Tools & Resources Used

We utilize a wide array of tools within Earnest Capital. Each one has a specific function to keep everything clear. 

Tool Function Link
Slack Real-time collaboration between all three parties (Portfolio founders, mentors, Earnest team) https://earnestcapital.slack.com/
Basecamp Deeper discussions about a wide array of topics among all three parties https://3.basecamp.com/4142808/

 

Notes:
The core remote community on Earnest revolves around our group Slack and Basecamp. After a bit of early experimentation, we’ve settled on running both of them in parallel, although both have some overlapping features like threads and direct messages. 

The main differentiation is that we primarily use Slack as the place for synchronous day-to-day hanging out and developing conversations and ideas. Basecamp is the place for longer asynchronous threads and discussions.

We purposefully keep our Slack on the free plan, so everything you write there will eventually go into the Slack void. If a discussion starts to become something we’d really like to keep, build on, or refer back to in the future, it should be started or moved to Basecamp.

Each of these has mirrored spaces that are 1/ public for all founders and mentors 2/ separate spaces for founders-only and mentors-only. Make sure you’re in the right one when you post!

Etiquette & Code of Conduct
We have a pretty simple “Don’t Be a Jerk” code of conduct. Investment by or in Earnest does not guarantee you access to this community and we will absolutely boot anybody that engages in abusive behavior. 

Make this space your own. Feel free to create channels, start threads, introduce yourself via DM to new people. It’s yours to make what you want of it.Don’t take ourselves too seriously. Have fun. Gifs, weekly updates from the hiking trail, funny tweets are all encouraged.

Building a company can sometimes be lonely and stressful so feel free to use this space for stress relief and hanging out too.

Notable Slack Channels
Most of our Slack setup is pretty normal but there are a few channels that we use in particular ways.

#updates:
The updates from each founders’ responses to the Weekly Check-in Bot (see below) are piped into this channel as a stream. The Earnest Team will often use this channel to take follow-up action and flag certain mentors to take note of updates or requests.

#founder_requests:
Obviously founders can make requests anywhere, but the Earnest Team will particularly monitor this channel and prioritize requests that come in here.

#newsletter:
Drop any links or announcements you want included in the monthly Earnest newsletter.

#boost:
Want the group to help you promote an announcement or retweet you. Drop it in here.

Note: #boost and #newsletter are open to mentors and their own company announcements as well.

Tool Function Link
Visible Streamline company update communications to relevant networks (e.g., investors, customers, employees, etc) https://visible.vc
Memberspace
(An Earnest Capital portfolio company!)
Access to gated content You’re already using it!
Zoom Video conferencing for All Founder Calls, Office Hours, etc. https://zoom.us
Internal Private Podcasts Share Earnest Office Hours, The Origins Podcast, company updates, and more

Subscribe to Earnest’s internal private podcasts!

Listen to The Origins (“How I Built This” for Earnest companies)

Listen to Office Hours (discussions with Mentors) 

For day-to-day communications and private messages

Explore the Earnest Capital Slack
(For new founders/mentors, we’ll be sending you an invite shortly)

For crafting and sending monthly updates (Founders only)

(For new founders, we’ll be sending you an invite to Visible)

Our global community of like-minded founders with mastermind groups, discussions, and workshops. In partnership with SureSwift Capital. 

(For new founders/mentors, we’ll be sending you an invite in the next 24 hours)

Deals & Perks

An additional advantage of being an Earnest Capital portfolio founder is exclusive access to deals and perks from leading players. 

We’ll continue to add more deals & perks over time. 

See full list of deals & perks here.

FAQ

  1. Where does my company go from here?

    Every founder has a different path but, usually, they reach out to a few mentors to get connected on any pressing issues (let Tyler or Sibi know if they can help)!

  2. What if I stumble upon a great company that I should introduce to Earnest Capital for potential funding? 

    That’s great! We’re always looking to invest in more founders building the future. You can send them to our website to apply or connect them directly to Tyler. 

 

Additional FAQs to be added over time.