Bonus Episode

BONUS: How to Architect the Future

With Max Simkoff, Founder and CEO at Doma

By Ashu Garg


Max Simkoff, founder and CEO at Doma

This is a special bonus episode of B2BaCEO featuring one of Foundation Capital’s own CEOs, Max Simkoff. In 2016, Max founded Doma, a real estate transactions startup, out of our San Francisco office and Foundation led his Series A. Just last week, less than five years later, Doma started trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

You can watch the full story of how Doma went from proof-of-concept to public company in our new video series, “Diary of a Startup.”

But this episode of the podcast focusses on what Max learned it takes for a FOUNDER-CEO to build a great company. Max walks us through all the critical first steps, even the seemingly trivial ones, for starting a business. He gets into the minds of VC investors and what founders need to do to really impress them. And he lays out, in no uncertain terms, who exactly is and isn’t a real entrepreneur.

I. The Recap

According to Max, these are skills you should sharpen as a new founder/entrepreneur:

  • Hone your public speaking skills and learn to explain complex topics

  • Have a strong command of your company’s financial data and information

Max knows firsthand the sacrifices that come with starting your own business; the grueling process of fundraising, living without a salary, finding your first customer. And not everyone is as lucky as Max. As he puts it, “the reason most people don’t start companies is because it’s really, really hard.” There is no such thing as “wanting to be an entrepreneur,” either you’re doing it, or you’re not. That’s what sets founders apart from everyone else.

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Establish the Easy Stuff First

Who are you banking with? Where is the office? How are you tracking your expenses? Max recommends making the small decisions as easy as possible because the problems only get harder as you scale.

Fear is Motivating and Having Doubts is Normal

If you aren’t constantly examining your decisions as a CEO, you’re crazy. Even as a (now) public-company CEO, Max questions certain moves. However, he has never once thought about quitting. In his opinion, you have an ethical and fiduciary responsibility to your investors to step down if you are toying with the idea of quitting.

The Best Ceo’s are Not Great at Any One Specific Thing

As a founder/CEO, you feel a lot of pressure to know all the answers. But, according to Max, you don’t have to. You just have to know when it’s time to hire great people who can help you fill those gaps.

For every founder who took out a second mortgage or went without a salary for two years on their way to becoming a huge success, there are 100 founders who did the same thing and their business failed.

Max simkoff, founder and ceo at doma

The Definition of an Entrepreneur

According to Max, being a founder is in your DNA. Or, as he puts it, there’s something wrong with your DNA. This person has grit and an extreme aversion to risk. So when they have an idea, they can’t not do it.

Published on 08.03.21
Written by Ashu Garg

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