Lost and Founder – Tales from Startup to Exit

April 04, 2019

Rand Fishkin grew Moz alongside his mother during the mid-2000s. Once they found some venture capitalist investors, Rand was ushered into the CEO role. Moz became a giant in SEO consultation. They raised millions of venture capital and built an impressive reputation.

Rand tells me what it was like being CEO of such a big company. He talks about the pressure of venture capitalism and how his thinking changed during his time with Moz. The balance of customer service and the bottom line tend to weigh out differently when investors are involved. Rand expresses his opinion about venture capital and private equity investments. He also encourages alternative funding paths and explains his involvement in TinySeed, a startup accelerator.

Rand is currently working on a software called SparkToro. The goal is to help marketers and businesses research their audience and target market. He has made some major changes to his approach to SparkToro and he’s very honest about what he learned from his time at Moz.

What you will learn:

● What was Moz and how it began.
● What happened when venture capitalist investors approached Moz.
● How venture capital investments change the business.
● Rand’s push into the CEO position.
● How the attitude toward SEO changed over time.
● The reasons Rand left Moz.
● How he coped with the exit.
● The unfair stigma of self-funding.
● The benefits of venture capitalism.
● The benefits of private equity.
● The 2 mindsets a founder can have after an exit.
● Why Rand is involved in TinySeed.
● What SparkToro is doing differently than Moz.
● Ask yourself, what do you need to feel successful?


I’m really excited for Rand and the future of SparkToro! Rand’s story reminds me of the basic questions you need to ask yourself when you are planning your company’s roadmap. Why are you in the business? What is your main goal? How do you find capital and potential partners? Do you like your partners? Ask yourself all of these things.

Links and Resources:

GEXP Collaborative
Rand on Twitter
Rand on LinkedIn
Lost and Founder by Rand Fishkin
Small Giants by Bo Burlingham
Finish Big by Bo Burlingham

About Rand:

Rand runs most of the show at SparkToro. He was formerly co-founder and CEO of Moz, co-founder of Inbound.org, and author of Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, but he does have a bit of a chip on his shoulder, and is deeply passionate about making SparkToro a great company (at least, by his own peculiar standards).

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