Why And How To Do Townhalls?
One of my favourite times of the week is our weekly townhall on Fridays. Today was Townhall # 21. Here is the why and the what when it comes to Townhalls at Metric:
- Early startups grow so fast, things get lost in translation, for new hires especially.
- A townhall let's people come together and hear directly from each other.
- It humanizes processes and other departments, so there's no 'us' Vs 'them'.
- It allows for a platform to teach and be taught concepts that you may otherwise not hear of.
- It reminds all of us what the bigger vision is, and creates avenues for serendipity.
Here's what we do:
- First 20 minutes is a 'talk' around a concept, quote, book or video. Most of these have been delivered by Omar Parvez Khan, some by our CoS Zohaib Hasan Khan, and a few by team members. Anyone can sign up to do this. The discussion that follows is extremely insightful and always lively.
- Reflections by two randomly selected team members: they talk about their weekly win, failures and learning! Always fun!
- Company metrics are then shown, discussed and celebrated. Full transparency and accountability.
- Finally, we have one person from every department give their department updates, sharing what they did the past week. This allows everyone to have very open conversations around each others work. People get to learn how other departments work. Most managers let different team members deliver this so everyone gets to share their work, and own it.
All of this happens within 1 hour, give or take 10 minutes.
There is always lots of laughter at our Townhalls, but also a lot of resolve. I have personally learned something new every single week. SO glad Omar introduced them to Metric! And special thanks to Usman Sheikh and High Output Ventures, where Omar learned about them.
As VCs who have been on the receiving end of investor updates, Omar and I knew what we wished we could see in them. As an early stage investor, you’re investing in the founders. You’re investing in their ability to think, to receive market signals, to sift through advice, to constantly pivot, to build new muscles, to reflect, to strategize, and to execute. Most investor updates don’t offer any insight into the founders mind, and thus can feel top level. Usually resulting in more questions than answers.
Here's how our monthly update is structured:
- Our investor update starts with a section we call ‘shower thoughts’. Omar and I take turns writing this, and it is literally what the title implies. These are our pure, unadulterated thoughts about the past month. How ‘what happened’ connects with us as humans on this journey. It’s almost a page out of our journals. It also provides context for the rest of the update.
- ‘Shower thoughts’ sets the stage for the next section, which is titled ‘What’s been happening’. This is a list of everything that was of importance over the last month, and includes context and reasonings for each line item. This is the meat of the update.
- The third section is ‘Key Metrics and Vitals’, and these are charts and tables showcasing the metrics we value. This includes GMV and Revenue (met all our quarterly targets [dance]), downloads, user bifurcation, and the number of countries and cities Metric is currently being used in (84 and 581 WOOHOO), along with burn rate and runway. Most of the investor updates I receive are just this section.
- The next three sections are asks and CTA - “In Focus” highlights what's critical for next month, “Challenges” talks about what we are struggling with (and we ask for help), and “Shout-outs” is gratitude towards those that helped us during the month (with intros, mentoring sessions, etc).
Our investor updates are vulnerable - which feels a little scary in the start, because after all, you’re sending these out to investors. As founders it sometimes feels like we need to be acting a certain way at all times - like we have all the answers, we know precisely what we’re doing, we do nothing wrong. But in emerging markets the learning curve is steep.
And if you can’t share your true reflections or be your genuine self with someone, you should not get into a ten-year long relationship with them. We love that we are able to do this. We LOVE getting responses and thoughts back from our investors. One day, win or lose, we will post these updates somewhere for others to enjoy.
Also - when I build my next fund, I may ask to see a previous investor update as part of DD. I think there’s so much that an investor update can say beyond just the metrics/vitals.