Revenue Accelerator with Steven Hoffman

In this episode of the Revenue Accelerator Podcast, we have invited Steven Hoffman aka Captain Hoff. He’s going to give us a little bit of backstory about how he was crowned with that amazing title. Steve is the captain and CEO of Founders Space- one of the world’s leading startup accelerators. It was ranked number 1in terms of incubator for overseas startups by Forbes and Entrepreneur Magazine. He is also a venture investor, serial entrepreneur, and author of several award-winning books. He was the founder and chairman of the Producers Guild in Silicon Valley Chapter, served on the Board of Governors of the new media Council and was a founding member of the Academy of televisions Interactive Media Group.

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Starting in the entrepreneurial world


Steven wanted to explore his creative side. He went to Hollywood and got his master's degree in film and television from USC. Captain Hoff is his gamer handle. He was introduced to the founder of a game company called Sega which at the time surpassed Nintendo to become the number one video game company. But then Steven got the itch. He wanted to start his own game company. So he became an entrepreneur. He moved back to his home, which was Silicon Valley. Launch his first company, a game company that did really well with some crazy games and he went on to launch three venture-funded startups. He decided they'll get a space in San Francisco, call it founders space. And it became their startup incubator and accelerator.

VC funding


It is not for anybody who has a dream. Having the dream is not enough. Venture capital has very strict requirements. Venture capital looks for exponential growth. So if you don't have a business that can scale massively, and become one of these unicorns that everybody's talking about, venture capitalists literally won't take a bet on you.

Positioning for exponential growth


The thing you need to consider is don't do it yourself. Nobody built a billion-dollar business alone. If you want to set yourself up for doing a bigger company, spend 80% of your time finding the right people to bring.

Most startups succeed by focusing just on one thing. A major pain point, something that's driving your customers crazy.

How much of the doing versus positioning & marketing?


You have to have a high tolerance for stress. You have to be flexible. You have to have the resources to last at least a year. It takes a lot of trial and error. Things won't go your way. Everything you think of will take longer than you expect. So be prepared for all these things.


If you want to motivate employees, there are a few things you can do. Number one, if you hire people who are doers, who love to just get stuff done, self-driven people, these are people who you honestly don't have to do a lot to motivate. In fact, all you have to do is give them the freedom to do their job. And they usually do it pretty well. So if you give them that freedom, and you don't micromanage them, then they will perform.


If you want these amazing performers, don't be cheap, but you're probably gonna have to pay for it. So it's all in hiring. You really have to vet these people carefully, you really have to know who you're hiring for what position.

What is the right characteristic for a successful CEO?


The thing that defines a great leader is a couple of things. Number one, you have to know how to pick and motivate people like that. Everybody else can do different things, but especially of the leader of a company, you set the formula. You basically lay the foundation.


Number two, you need to be curious. You need to question things, you need to go into the world and say, couldn't this be done better? What if we did it this way? What are the competitors doing? Because only by getting more information, understanding more, and seeing the opportunities as they come up and taking advantage of them can actually build this great business and keep it great.


Number three, persistence. Can you stick with it? Do you get knocked down and do you just cry about it? Or do you just get up and say, that's a challenge. I'm going to cry, I'm going to try again, I'm going to smack my head against the wall again until I breakthrough. It's this combination of things that are really important.


If you've got to grow your business, you've got to push, you got to keep pushing the boundaries of what your business does. If you just stay in your lane, somebody else is going to be innovating. At a certain point, they're going to displace you like they're going to come in with something so much better that you just didn't see coming.

The rule for good management


Ask, Don't Tell. Do not tell a single one of your employees what to do. Every time you interact with them, instead of telling them, ask them. What do you think is the priority right now? What do you think you should be doing? How do you think you could do it better? And then listen. Are you having any problems? Are there things you need or roadblocks ahead that I could help you with? As a CEO by asking these questions, you now are getting information. Information you didn't have if you might have known.

People not investing in their business


A lot of people will not invest in non tangible things. They don't mind investing in hiring people. But a lot of them don't invest in getting their employees be trained to perform better.

Advice for CEO’s


When your business hits a wall, the answers lie in one place. You have to go and re-engage your customer. If you want to innovate on your business, you want to increase your revenue, you want to figure out new ways of adding value, you need to continually engage that customer. And that means not just servicing what you already told them that you do, but going to them again, and asking them, where are you struggling right now? What processes do you want to improve? What could we do better? What can we give you? Pay attention to what they're saying.

Resources Mentioned

Visit Steven’s website at: