Archive | June 2012

Startup Weekend: What to expect? How to prepare?

The Startup Weekend Series: This entry is part of a series of blog posts about attending a startup weekend event. These posts will help those people who have never attended a weekend hackathon or those wishing to maximise their experiences.

As startup communities continue to grow, so do the frequency and popularity of hackathons and startup weekends.

Various profit and not-for-profit groups have flooded this space offering startup weekends around the world.

Google and The Kauffman Foundation have got behind the “Startup Weekend” brand offering an open source approach to helping people get involved. So far they have held many successful events including London Startup Weekend, Seattle Startup Weekend, Barcelona Startup Weekend plus cities further abroad like Amman and Tunis … the list goes.

The events attract a mixture of experienced, inexperienced, technical and non technical enthusiastic participates to compete over a weekend (usually 54 hours) to build and present the best ‘next big thing’.

So, what can one expect? How does one prepare? Should I attend?

Over the next few weeks we plan to compile some hints, tips and general info that will hopefully help out the next wave of participants.

If you have any resources to share or your own experiences, please drop us a line.

To wet your palette here are some articles on startups weekends, pitching advice, and podcast on what to expect:

1. Startup Weekend FAQ – A set of helpful question and answers.
2. Pitching advice for Startup Weekend – Simple and effective tips for preparing your pitch.
3. Podcast with the CEO of Startup Weekend – An insight of the Startup Weekend events and organisation.

More Startup Articles

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones

The original office building of Samsung Sanghoe in Daegu

In April Samsung overtook Apple and Nokia in the first three months of the year to become the world’s largest smartphone vendor. This ended Nokia’s amazing 14-year run as the largest maker of all phone handsets by volume.

This is all very impressive for the former South Korean dried fish and noodle business started in 1938. It was only in the late 1960s they entered into the electronics industry. So how exactly does a small Korean food company evolve into one of the world’s largest electronics companies?

Reading through the company’s history on Wikipedia and their own corporate website, the following points stand out:

+ Established by son of a wealthy landowning family, Byung-Chull Lee
+ Dropped out of University
+ Used inheritance to open a unsuccessful rice mill
+ Established a trucking business
+ Business grew into food wholesaling and noodle manufacturer
+ Prospered post World War 2 (end of Japanese Rule)
+ Forced to relocate/pivot due to Korean War – stared a sugar refinery business
+ Diversified into insurance, securities, and retail
+ Founder strong believer in industrialization and domestic economies
+ A joint investment in the group of companies ended due to differences in management style
+ Samsung enter the electronics industry, producing black-and-white television sets
+ During the 70′s they enter the telecommunication hard industry

By the 90′s they had extensive investment in a variety of businesses becoming the leading manufacturer in many fields, including chip sets, display panels and even engines. Not a bad history of events for a company that is only 74 years old!

Reading through articles on the company, the breadth of products and services is outstanding. It is questionable whether such diversity and pivoting would still work today? Whatever the case, Samsung has the experience to compete with the best in the world – smartphones or dried fish…

Links:
Hacker News Discussion
More Startup Posts

Image Credit: London Korea Links – Will Samsung Electronics innovate again?

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Be the First to Like Us on Facebook

We recently announced our foray onto Facebook. It is difficult to ignore Facebook with 900 million active users. Unfortunately we are yet to get much of a following. Therefore this is a shout out for support.

Simply log onto Facebook and visit our page. Invite your friends and share your views on entrepreneurship, startups and technology.

And don’t forget, we are also on all the other mainstream social media site – please get invovled:

twitter.com/SparknLaunch

plus.google.com/SparkNLaunch

facebook.com/SparkNLaunch

sparknlaunch.wordpress.com/feed/ (RSS)

stumbleupon.com/stumbler/sparknlaunch

technorati.com/SparkNLaunch/

sprouter.com/sparknlaunch/

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus

Business Guru Advice For Startups

Being a guru is a real balancing act…

Waqas Ali, a Pakistani based startup entrepreneur made the new years resolution not be fooled by bad advice. He pledged:

“…I shall not be fooled again by gurus…”

It got us thinking about the massive volume of startup guidance and advice being published and preached. How much can be relied on? How much can be applied to your startup?

The usefulness and accuracy of advice varies greatly. One size does not fit all. What worked for one business may not work at all for another. Another problem is that bad or misleading guidance may lead you down the wrong track and waste your time and efforts.

We certainly praise those that share their experiences and enjoy the open discussion. However one must be aware of the dangers of taking advice that is not tailored specifically to your circumstances. Ultimately careful judgement is required to pick out and implement the best and most applicable advice for your own startup. Ensure any advice can be actioned and be measured.

Below is a sampling of commonly shared cliched startup advice, inspired by the Quora question: What popular startup advice is plain wrong? How many of the above do you full/partially agree of disagree with? Do you have some more quotes to add to the list? Leave us a comment below.

On Motivation:
+ Don’t give up too easily
+ Never give up
+ Be Careful
+ Take the plunge
+ Quit your day job and throw everything you have into it
+ All you need is passion
+ Do what you love, the money will follow

On Success:
+ You need to fail first before you succeed
+ Some startups are successful after long periods of failure
+ They were lucky by being in the right place, at the right time

On Being an Entrepreneur:
+ Being an entrepreneur gives you freedom, free from the constraints of working for others
+ You have to be in silicon valley
+ Join an accelerator/incubator/academy
+ You do/don’t need a qualification

On Advice:
+ Ignore all startup advice
+ Follow all startup advice
+ Don’t blindly believe another successful entrepreneur
+ Advice from the more technical team members is going to be technically biased
+ Advice from consultants is going to be focused on consultant deliverables rather than real deliverables

On Business Development:
+ Build it and they will come
+ It’s already been done
+ It’s impossible to compete with Microsoft, Google, Facebook…
+ Be first
+ Don’t worry about learning the ‘business’ side of things because you can bring on a partner to handle that
+ Start business development as soon as possible
+ You don’t need a business plan
+ Do your homework and make sure that the problem you think you’re fixing really exists

On Technology:
+ You need a technical co-founder
+ You need to know how to code
+ You can’t outsource the product
+ Do/don’t outsource
+ Keep technology and business separate

On Launching:
+ Just setup a landing page and collect emails
+ Launching is an event
+ Iterate rapidly and don’t worry about scaling

On Funding:
+ Startups have to raise venture capital in order to succeed
+ Your time (sweat equity) doesn’t have any value
+ Do not raise funding as great businesses are all about bootstrapping
+ Venture Capitalists have an interest in big exits and therefore will mislead you
+ Take lots of debt now

On Revenue:
+ You don’t need revenue
+ Go ‘freemium’

On Lean:
+ Lean startup means keeping costs low
+ Lean startups change their business plan every five minutes
+ The first thing to validate is your solution
+ Lean startups are internet Startups
+ Quality is not important in a Lean startup
+ First build a Minimal Viable Product

Links:
Hacker News Discussion
More Startup Posts

.

You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

The real people behind eLance…

Rob Fitzpatrick, a London based tech entrepreneur is the latest startup industrialist sharing all as he stumbles through his very own bootstrap adventure. Via his 10k GBP Bootstrap Challenge Rob pledges to earn income from things he has built.

He writes:

“I want my income to come from things I’ve built… so I’m betting £10k that I can build a portfolio of products which is profitable enough to live off before running out of money… The challenge continues in public until I’ve either quintupled my money or have lost it all… “

This is a very ambitious but noble challenge and aims at the heart of most (if not all) entrepreneurs. We all want to build something ourselves and ensure it’s profitable. We are not driven solely by money, but profit means viability. We are not driven by selfishness, but by passion.

To succeed he will need focus and perseverance – the two likely characteristics he probably hopes the public platform will help drive out. It is certainly one way to push yourself to pursue your startup.

There are many other entrepreneurs who share their experiences. Some in retrospect but others in real time while it happens. It reflects the startup communities openness and typically serves as a warning light for beginners of what to avoid. Many successful stories usually highlight the many failures along the way.

For more on ‘learning from others’ check out one of our earlier posts. Also, keep up with the Bootstrap Challenge at the links below.

Good luck Rob and all other bootstrappers.

Links:
The 10k GBP Bootstrap Challenge
The Startup Toolkit

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You might also enjoy:
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ Lessons Learned From A Hacker News Traffic Spike

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

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