Tag Archive | project

Two Year Anniversary – Stop Crying

New Years 2014 Fire Works

The Spark n Launch Team celebrate with some backyard fireworks…

According to WordPress we just celebrated our two year anniversary – two years since we registered this account. Since our first blog post we have published over 100 articles and written another 100 draft posts. The site attracts traffic from around the world and continues to increase it’s readership. Thanks to all our loyal followers!

Unfortunately most of the traffic is spam bots, and the quality & frequency of our posts has diminished. Nevertheless we will try and keep up the web presence. If you’re interested in guest blogging or want some links shared, get in touch. Drop us a comment and share some love!

For those looking for some inspiration, check out some of our published posts below. Got a favourite post – tweet it!

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In The Beginning:
Hello world! *
Starting a Blog – Don’t expect any Shakespeare
Working for the “Man” (Draft)

WordPress Links:
About
Social
Glossary *****
Tools
Table of Content (TOC) *****

Startups – Lists:
The Top 100 UK Startups (2010)
The Top 100 UK Startups Revealed (2012) *****
The Top 100 UK Startups Revealed (25-50) *****

Startups – People:
Fabrice Grinda – Musings of a Serial Entrepreneur
Jason Calacanis talks to Alex Tew of Calm.com
The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Startups – Stories:
Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories *****
14 Year Old Girl: "Stop making excuses, make something awesome”
Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus *****
Samsung's Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
Lessons Learned – Be Your Own Boss *****

Startups – Lean:
The History of Lean Startup by Steve Blank *****
Startup Is Not The Same As A New Start Business
Building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in One Day
The Apprentice – Lean Startup Builds Minimum Viable Product in Two Days?
Building Your Minimum ‘Minimum Viable Product’ (MVP)

Startups – Weekends:
Startup Weekend: What to expect? How to prepare?
Startup Weekend: What to Expect?
Startup Weekend: How to prepare? (Day 0) *****
Startup Weekend: Lessons Learned in 54 Hours (Day 1) (Draft)
Startup Weekend: Lessons Learned in 54 Hours (Day 2) (Draft)
Startup Weekend: Lessons Learned in 54 Hours (Day 3) (Draft)

Entrepreneur:
The Year of The Entrepreneur – It’s YOU again

Business Ideas / Business Planning:
How to go from Idea Guy to Execution Guy? ****
Evaluate Your Business Idea – Evaluating your spark
Business Plans – "When you fail to plan, you plan to fail" (includes business plan template)
Starting Up – 9 Business Selection Criteria
Another Way To Plan – The Business Model v Business Plan *****
Step 1 – Where to Begin
How To Get Traction? Or Why Is My Startup Broken? *****
Thinking of Starting a Startup? 8 Sentiments To Think About ****

Customer Development:
Ghetto Testing the Viability of an Idea
A Smart Bear – Jason Cohen on Startups *****

People / Management:
Why Being a Deal Maker Matters To Your Team

Social Media / Blogging:
Twitter – Tweeting to your #audience
The Problem with Twitter – Social Disconnection by Stealth ****
Blogging: How Do You Promote Your Blog Posts? *****
Blogging: How To Get New Traffic To Old Blog Posts? *****
Blogging: Is Blogging Dead?

Social Media – Experiments:
Project Trout – Social Media Experiment #1
Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update
Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update #2
Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update #3
Technorati – Does the verification process work?
Technorati – Does the verification process work? (Yes it does!)
Social Media Experiment – Twitter, Google+ and now Facebook
Social Media Experiment – How we made it onto the BBC!

Brand / Marketing:
Picking a name – The importance of brand
Affiliate Marketing 101
Lessons Learned From 10,000 Page Views ****
Online Advertising Experiment with Google AdWords
Happy V Day – Seasonal Opportunities
The Zoo Project – A Fantastic Marketing Opportunity
Product Functionality Often Trumps Beauty

Traffic / SEO:
How do you get on the Frontpage of Hacker News? (4 Links in 1 Day) ****
Lessons Learned From A Hacker News Traffic Spike ****

Design:
Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) – Ugly Websites That Went Viral ****

Toolkit:
Helpful Startup Tools for Entrepreneurs – Q&As
Helpful Startup Tools for Entrepreneurs
Creating Your Very Best Startup Business Logo ****
Podcasts – Hearing and Learning From Others
Top Startup Podcasts – Learning From Listening
Weekly Digest #1 – How We Stumbled Upon Top Biz Resources
Weekly Digest #2 – More Golden Resources for Startup Entreprenuers
New Startup Lingo – More Buzzwords
The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #2
The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo
The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
Need Startup Advice? – Just Ask Online

Funding:
Crowdsurfing: Alternatives to Kickstarter
Kickstarter: Ouya raises $1million in 8 hours and 22 minutes ***
Ouya Breaks Crowdfunding Record – Exceeds Target By Millions
Startup Funding: I’m 15 With An Amazing Product Idea
Kickstarter Crowdfunding Now Available In Europe
Raising Money (Draft)
Working Full Time and Bootstrapping Your Business Startup (Draft)

Web:
Web Stats – Who is top of the league table? ***

Rants / Musings:
Why is everything broken? (Draft)
Getting Real – It’s a project, not a startup (Draft)
Web Two is awesome – Web 2.0 changes our surfing experience
The Public Image of Business People (Footballers versus Bankers)
To Code or Not To Code

Messages:
100 Posts – Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained
Be the First to Like Us on Facebook
Who Are We? About Us Page Updated in FAQ Format
Project Mackerel – Calling all Beta Testers
Project Mackerel – Calling all Beta Testers (Follow Up)
Blog Milestone – Lessons Learned From 50 Blog Posts
New Month, New Look – What Do You Think?
Blog Milestone – 30th Post – What it means? (Mostly nothing)
Project Mackerel – Please Sir… Complete our quick survey?
Upcoming Posts – Please Vote
Project Mackerel – Sneek Peek of Prototype

Weird / Unclassified:
It’s a numbers game – 11/11/11 @ 11:11:11
Happy New Years – Bring on 2012!
Random Generated Startup – Life gets easier (again)
Get hired with the help of your friend, Mark Zuckerberg?
The London Olympics 2012 (In Infographics)
Technology – Is a black pixel on or off? ****
Leap Year – 3 interesting facts about 29 February
April Fools Day – Some of Our Favourites
Friday 13th – 3 interesting facts
How the $16bn Facebook IPO looks like in cash (Image) **

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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.

Startup Weekend: What to Expect?

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.

First Day

Don’t forget a firm handshake and eye contact…

Image Credit: Career Girl Network

Prior Perpetration Prevent Poor Performance

A while ago we asked you what to expect from a startup weekend. We shared the below useful 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.

54 Hours Case Study

However if you need a little more information, Howard Kingston describes his 54 hours during a Startup Weeked held in London. In his Huffington Post article he shares his experiences when “300 ambitious entrepreneurs get into a room and have 54 hours to launch a business”.

It is a great case study on the weekend, and you can easily gain an appreciation for the 54 hours. Also, check out Youtube for video footage of past weekends.

Top Tips

What are the key learnings? Be prepared, be selective, be different, be available and add value.

1) Be Prepared

Understand the schedule.
Determine what you can offer your team.
Do some homework.
Be prepared to network, deliver a pitch, contribute to a team and stay up late!

2) Be Selective

From day one, try and focus on a single idea or product.
Join a team made up individuals you believe you can learn.

3) Be Different

Stand out with your idea or offering.
Normally the exciting ideas get the most attraction during the weekend.
Boring or safe options usually don’t attract the excitement.

4) Be Available

Be flexible, be available, be able to contribute.
Make sure you can help your team on the weekend.
Avoid disappearing to other events.
Commit to the full 54 hours.

5) Be Valuable

Even if you’re not a programmer, read up on methodologies and validation processes.
Check out some marketing tutorials.
Create the twitter account and facebook pages. Build the vibe around the venue with posters and handouts.

Inspiration

Good luck with your weekend. If you need some inspiration, just check out links below. Both offer some great inspiration. Remember you don’t need to create a new idea. Sometimes the best ideas are already out there – they just need someone to execute them.

+ Ideas Watch – A website for entreprenuers looking to share and develop ideas. Thousands of ideas available for discussion.
+ Flippa – Websites and applications ready for sale. Gain an insight into the website marketplace.

Got something to share? Drop us a line using the social media links below!

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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.

Crowdsurfing: Alternatives to Kickstarter

kickstarter_crowdfunding_financing

tl;dr Crowdsurfing platform Kickstarter successfully launched in the UK in late 2012. Similar platforms continue to appear. We list some of alternatives to Kickstarter.

Kickstarted

In November 2012 we wrote that Kickstarter had landed in Europe by extending it’s operations to the UK. In the first month jsut over £2million was pledged and over 400 projects launched. Super activity for the well known crowdfunding platform and a strong signal for the appetite outside of the US.

With crowdfunding proving such a hot bed for creativity and successful backing, copycats are always going to follow. Today we look at some competitors in the market.

Alternatives to Kickstarter UK

Not eligible for Kickstarter or looking for other similar platforms. Check out the following links:

+ ArtistShare – ArtistShare is a platform that connects creative artists with fans in order to share the creative process and fund the creation of new artistic works.
+ ArtistShare – Fundable is a crowdfunding platform that offers both rewards-based and equity-based campaigns for small businesses.
+ We Did This – The UK’s leading arts crowdfunding platform, dedicated to making great fan-funded art happen.
+ Seedrs – Seedrs makes investing in startups simple and rewarding.
+ We Fund – The first crowd-funding platform to emerge in the UK, focusing on creativity in all forms. They help people find (paying) audiences for their work.
+ Crowd Funder – Fund and follow creative projects and inspirational ideas.
+ Sponsume – Small stakes in big ideas.
+ Please Fund Us – Crowdfunding creativity.
+ Crowd Cube – Raise business finance through the world’s first equity crowdfunding platform.

Do you have any further suggestions or experience with any of the above? Drop us a line.

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You might also enjoy:
+ Kickstarter: Ouya raises $1million in 8 hours and 22 minutes
+ Ouya Breaks Crowdfunding Record – Exceeds Target By Millions
+ Startup Weekend: What to expect? How to prepare?
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
+ Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update #3

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.

Why Why Why Why Why – The Five Whys?

why why why why why five whys

Overview

We just finished listening to Mark Graban’s interview with Lean Startup author Eris Ries. The two talk about Taiichi Ohno’s influence on their lean methodologies.

Taiichi Ohno is considered to be the father of the Toyota Production System, which later became Lean Manufacturing. His written experiences at Toyota heavily influenced the manufacturing industries across the globe.

The two agree that Ohno’s books may lack the western style instruction many readers seek out however do praise the author on his alternative approach to manufacturing and it’s powerful application across all industries.

What stood out from the interview was Eric’s impressions of Ohno’s approach to root cause analysis – the five whys. The approach is a simplistic but powerful method of solving problems. Let us take a look…

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The “5 Whys” Problem Solving Approach

Essentially the five whys ask why until the cause of the problem is identified. This leads to the ultimate question – How do we fix this problem once and for all? You can keep asking why until you drive out all issues.

Here is an example (Wikipedia):

The Problem: The vehicle will not start.

First Why? Why? – The battery is dead.
Second Why? Why? – The alternator is not functioning.
Third Why? Why? – The alternator belt has broken.
Fourth Why? Why? – The alternator belt was well beyond its useful service life and not replaced.
Fifth Why? Why? – The vehicle was not maintained according to the recommended service schedule.
Sixth Why? Why? – Replacement parts are not available because of the extreme age of the vehicle.

Often we overlook the cause of problems; or shy away from asking the simple questions. Sometimes going back to basics can solve the most complex questions.

Did this help? Let us know.

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Top 100 UK Startups (2010)
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
+ Top Startup Podcasts – Learning From Listening
+ Helpful Startup Tools For Entrepreneurs

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.

How to go from Idea Guy to Execution Guy?

Startup Business Idea Execution

Great Expecations

You are always thinking up great ideas. Good, bad the ugly. Your bedside notebook is full of brilliant ideas to turn you into the next business billionare. One problem, you never execute any of these ideas.

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The Idea Guy

A recent question to Quora asked: How do I go from being an idea/vision guy to an idea and execution guy?

It strikes at the very problem many entreprenuers face. How do we get started? How do we take these ideas and make them real? Execution (good or bad) seperates the men from the boys…

Start Executing

Want to go from day dreamer to execution guru. Here are some steps. Be warned you may actually execute something!

1) Open your idea notebook – If you have one, open it to page 1. If you don’t have one, you ask yourself ig you really are the “ideas” guy.

Inc.com writes: “Get them out of your head and onto paper. Having all of this brilliance trapped in your brain is exhausting – it wants out!”

2) Choose an idea – Pick the easiet and smallest idea you have. Pick one.

3) Execute – That’s right. Give yourself one month to execute that idea.

Add a reminder in your calendar, stick a post-it on your front door. For the next 30/31 days you need to deliver.

4) Complete – If you executed the idea, congrate yourself and pick the next idea to execute. If you failed, keep going until the idea is executed.

5) Practice – Practice makes perfect. Keep refining your execution skills and proving to yourself and others you have atarck record of delivering.

Did these steps help? Did you execute? Let us know.

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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.

Starting Up – 9 Business Selection Criteria

Small Business and Startup Selection Criteria For Entrepreneurs

Last week we wrote about Fabrice Grinda, a serial startup entrepreneur. During a podcast interview he spoke about his experiences on building large successful businesses. On his blog he writes about his experiences and shares a wealth of knowledge.

One area of interest is his writings on business ideas and business selection criteria. Below we have summarised his approach to picking a business idea or market to enter. They are not a stringent set of rules but do present some strong points to consider when brainstorming your next startup.

9 Business Selection Criteria

1. At least $1 billion addressable market – May be easier to obtain funding and holds greater upside potential.

2. A valid business model from the beginning – This is having an understanding of how the business will generate money. The stronger the cash flows and balance sheet, the better chance of business longevity. Grinda later removed this criteria however increases the risk of the business idea.

3. Does not require more than $2 million in seed or $15 million in first round VC money – Any more, and the business may be too large for a startup to build.

4. An opportunity to be one of the top players (market or region) – Consider markets where large players do not hold strong positions.

5. A scalable idea – An idea that can be grown.

6. A business with little or no risk of margin compression – Beware of markets where customers and/or suppliers can controls revenues and expenses. These create variables you cannot control.

7. A business in a rapidly growing market – Share the success in fast growing markets.

8. An idea that you can execute or learn to execute – Focus on an area where you have a clear advantage.

9. An idea that you want to do! – Pursue a business you have a genuine interest or passion in.

Note: These criteria are taken from a 2005 blog post and may not suit everyone.

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Top 100 UK Startups (2010)
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
+ Top Startup Podcasts – Learning From Listening

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 Weekend: How to prepare? (Day 0)

A couple of months ago we asked you “what to expect?” and “how to prepare” for a startup weekend. Several readers replied and we are pleased to start sharing their responses. This is the second instalment of the startup weekend series (#1).

These posts can help others maximise the ultimate experience of building a early startup within a condensed period of time (while having fun!). The content may apply to any other accelerator weekend or hackathon.

Here are some tips for before the event:

1. Get Registered

The frequency of events is on the rise. However the popular events sell out quickly. Make sure you set a reminder and register early. If you miss out – join the waiting list or beg. If you cannot attend as a participant, maybe you can help out as a volunteer or mentor; or watch the final presentations.

2. Check the Schedule

Get hold of an agenda from the event or previous events. The typical format maybe:

Friday – Networking, ice-breaker, pitch idea, vote for top idea, form teams.
Saturday – Plan, design, discuss. Start building.
Sunday – Finalise product/prototype and presentation. Pitch to the judges. Prize giving.

3. Who are you?

The weekend has a strong dependency on you and your abilities. You don’t need to be a guru but you should be clear on where and how you can help (technically and interpersonally). Think about your strengths and don’t limit yourself. You may not know how to code, but you may be great at motivating the team or using Google. Every bit of enthusiasm and positive thinking helps during the 54 hours.

4. What do you want to learn?

Be clear on what you want to learn from the weekend. Look out for opportunities to gain that new skill. You will be exposed to a diverse range of experts and people working in the field. Utilise the chance to ask these guys some tough questions.

5. Networking

The event brings together a pool of talented and driven individuals just like you. A startup weekend gives you an opportunity to meet and impress like-minded people.

Get some business cards (name, phone number, email and twitter handle are sufficient). Check out the social media sites. Start speaking to those attending before the day and stay in touch.

6. Homework

Startup experts like Blank, Ries and Osterwalder have developed frameworks to plan and implement your idea or concept. Check out some startup methodologies and be prepared to draw on this knowledge.

The key things to know are how to generate an idea, evaluate an idea and perform some kind of customer validation. The Ash Maurya’s Lean Canvas and Jason Cohen’s articles on customer Validation.

7. Pitching – Part 1

This deserves a separate post. It can be nerve racking but ultimately prepares your for future pitches and gives you some control over the weekend (if you attract enough votes).

At some events half the room will pitch. The most business viable proposals are often forgotten. Designers and developers are keen to work on interesting and creative projects. Pitch something that will gain the interest of a team, rather than funding. Concepts that will utilise popular technology are always popular.

i) First, brainstorm your ideas down on a piece a paper by considering the following:

– Problems – What things do I see everyday that I want to fix?
– Pain Points – What really annoys me? What is totally inefficient?
– Random – Whatever else is on your mind?

Add:
– Customer – Who is your target market?
– USP – What is your unique selling point/proposition (USP)?

An example of a simple template – Four boxes for each idea (Problem, Segment, Pros, Cons).

ii) Second, pick you favourites and attempt to apply a solution. Think about how the prototype will look and what elements it will incorporate:

– Web based application,
– Mobile based application,
– Social networking site,
– Location based,
– Game based.

You will dive deeper into the product once you form a team.

iii) Thirdly, combine these thoughts and pick the best one or two.

Discuss these ideas with your friends, family and/or colleagues.

8. Pitching – Part 2

Now you have your idea(s), it’s time to build the pitch. Commonly you only have a minute to sell yourself and idea. Split your 60 seconds into these sections:

– Who are you? (5-10s)
– What’s the problem? (10-15s)
– What’s the proposed solution? (10-15s)
– Who are you looking for? (5-10s)

Remember to smile and be enthusiastic. Keep cool and don’t forget your in a friendly and open forum. You are not the only one a little nervous. Standing out will help people remember you. Silly hats or body paint may help.

At the end of all the pitches you should be given an opportunity to summarise the pitch on a piece of paper. Make sure it stands out and simply explains the main elements of your idea. Finally the audience will vote.

You may need to hustle people to get their votes or combine with others to gain enough votes.

Don’t get upset if you don’t get enough votes. Join a team where you can show off your skills and learn new things. After all, the weekend is all about learning and networking. The idea is not as important as the process.

9. Pack Your Bag

Pack a pen, paper, iPad, laptop, business cards, sleeping bag, enthusiasm… Get ready for an exciting 54 hours.

10. Resources

If you need more information, checkout the organisers website and social media pages (including YouTube). The below links may help as well.

Startup Weekend FAQ – A set of helpful question and answers.
Pitching advice for Startup Weekend – Simple and effective tips for preparing your pitch.
Podcast with the CEO of Startup Weekend – An insight of the Startup Weekend events and organisation.
More Startup Articles – Read more of our posts on startups.

Good luck and drop us a line. We would love to hear from you.

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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.

How To Get Traction? Or Why Is My Startup Broken?

The Mystery of Achieving Exponential Growth

tl;dr This post looks at how startups gain their initial traction. By studying previous successful startups (like Quora, Mint, Airbnb, Twitter, Facebook, Groupon) we realise that clever mass marketing techniques; and targeting niche markets are the real reason many grew so quickly. Going viral is harder than it looks.

The Problem With Your Startup

You’ve thought of the great idea, conducted various forms of customer validation, recruited your technical co-founder, pivoted twice and finally launched your Minimal Viable Product (MVP). Awesome! You are on the verge of making the headlines and dollars. You and your co-founder stare at the web analytics screen waiting for lift off… Something must be broken. You check your Internet connection and click refresh. You ask yourselves why no one is visiting your site? Why is no one buying our product?

The common question of gaining initiation traction is challenging one. Challenging because it fundamentally questions your business model. Going live or launching is the ultimate validation test. Did we build the right thing? Does anyone want our product?

Marketers are quick to advise you to “improve your SEO”, “interact on key social media” or “buy adwords”. Consultants will tell you to “revisit your business model” or “redraw your lean canvas”. While you appreciate their helpfulness, this advice doesn’t always translate to your business case or doesn’t actually work in reality.

How To Get Traction?

When in doubt, look back in time. While not the most reliable tool (history), it may well help you make your next intelligent step forward. Or it just proves that the big names of today faced a similar uphill battle.

Quora has endless questions on gaining traction. Enough to justify the section titled: How Did X Get Traction? Here is a selection of some of our favourite initial traction startup stories.

1. How did Quora get its initial traction?

Adam D’Angelo (Quora Founder) puts it simply: “We invited our friends, and some of them invited their friends, etc.” However this was back in 2010 and the site has evolved dramatically since then. A common thread for many startups is encouraging content creation. Sites that can encourage users to create content retains existing users and attracts new users.

2. How did Mint get initial traction?

Mint insiders go into detail of how they built their user base. Apart from having a great brand that solved a real problem, they leveraged a strong PR and marketing strategy that reaped high quality traffic.

A sweet domain name also helps, but usually comes at a price. Mint supposedly paid $2 million for the four letter address.

3. How did Airbnb get initial traction?

Solve a problem with a crazy idea. In 2007 San Francisco hotels were booked out. The buddying entrepreneurs saw an opportunity to rent out their floor space by throwing an “air” mattress. The concept blew up.

Dave Gooden suggests a rather more sinister approach to gaining traction. He describes a sophisticated mailing campaign via Craiglist.

4. How did LinkedIn get its initial traction?

Lee Hower (LinkedIn Founding Team) boasts impressive growth in users. Within 12 months they claimed 500,000 users!

We are doubtful of good luck and timing however… some claim the uniqueness of their product at that time explained the success.

Others suggest clever news article placements in the Wall Street Journal and Forbes Magazine helped gain attention.

5. How did plentyoffish get its initial traction?

A decade ago dating websites became the ultimate place to find your next partner. Many competitors appeared but Plenty of Fish remained in top spot.

The reason behind this success is likely to be Markus Frind’s (founder) smart approach to SEO and Google AdSense. His blog post describes the sites exponential growth.

6. How did Facebook gain its initial traction?

We’ve all followed the news stories and seen the film (“The Social Network“). Was it really down to the determination of one computer programming genius?

The early traction appears to have come collecting e-mail addresses of schools and students. The Facebook leveraged the network effect of well connected groups to gain traction.

They offered an attractive option for networks of schools and students to stay connected. As these networks already existed, they simply moved this targeted niche from older and isolated networks to the newer platform.

7. How did StumbleUpon gain its initial traction?

According to Brad O’Neill (First Angel Investor and Advisor) Stumbleupon was one of the very first add-ons to the Firefox browser. This early relationship helped Stumbleupon grow a significant userbase, as the functionality was integrated into their browsing.

Stumbleupon was one of five or six product ideas the original founders had considered.

8. How did Twitter get initial traction?

The tipping point for Twitter appears to be its showcase at the 2007 South by Southwest (SXSW) festival. Twitter displayed festival goers messages on large screens around the event.

However before this time, it is likely that the early adopters and a large network of bloggers did their part to spread the word.

9. How did Foursquare get initial traction?

One view is that a launch at 2009 South by Southwest (SXSW) kicked off their growth. Another view is that a city-by-city approach expanded as new users were added. By pushing growth in cities, a combination of city level growth and national growth promoted adoption.

However was it their prior experience with location based technology that triggered their real growth? Dennis Crowley (Founder) several years earlier had developed and sold a similar concept to Google (now Google Latitude).

10. How did Groupon get initial traction?

Groupon began life as the ThePoint, a community campaign site. It was only several iterations later that a simple experiment for pizza coupons on a WordPress blog validated their coupon based model. Or was it?

Andrew Chen suggests a more sinister strategy of realising a “temporary arbitrage in buying tons of demographically targeted ad inventory”. Groupon essentially leveraged a low cost of customer acquisition by buying up massive subscriber lists and then targeting them with marketing messages. The cost of acquisition quickly rose but by then Groupon had a large enough pool of customers.

Conclusions

It appears plenty of mystery exists around gaining early traction. However based on the above analysis, these top tips may help you gain your early traction:

+ Encourage content creation
+ Get a sweet four letter domain name
+ Build a sophisticated mailing campaign
+ Get published in a newspaper article read by your target market
+ Get the most out of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
+ Utilise the network effect
+ Be the first and be integrated into a daily tool (eg be that button on the top of every web browser)
+ Use early adopters and bloggers to promote your brand
+ Leverage prior experience (and networks)
+ Find a low cost of customer acquisition before others do

If you wish to share your own experiences drop us a line or leave a comment or join the Hacker News discussion.

Image Credit: Let A Thousand Nations

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You might also enjoy:
+ Need Startup Advice? – Just Ask Online
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
+ Top Startup Podcasts – Learning From Listening

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.

Jason Calacanis talks to Alex Tew of Calm.com

Jason Calacanis (right) talks to Alex Tew of Calm.com

tl;dr Alex Tew created the unforgettable Million Dollar Homepage at age 21. He is now working on Calm.com to help people reduce stress. He plans to build a strong brand online, gradually moving into an offline wellness business.

In 2005 at the age of 21, Alex Tew launched the The Million Dollar Homepage. The home page consists of a million pixels arranged in a 1000 × 1000 pixel grid. A 10 × 10 block sold for US$1 each. It was a genius idea at the time that launched Alex in the world of web startups.

Alex and co-founder Michael Acton Smith (of Mind Candy and Moshi Monsters) are now working on a new project called Calm.com to help people reduce stress. He spoke with Jason Calacanis on the always interesting This Week In Startups (TWIST) podcast.

(Check out our list of top startup podcasts.)

Jason loved the concept and the brand, keen to jump on board as the startup’s first investor. Jason seemed impressed by the fact the company has managed to score a lucrative four letter domain name. (Alex does not disclose the price paid but hints towards a high end five figure number.) “Calm” is definitely a clear and concise brand name.

The interview is worth checking out to hear the proposed business model – one of which is building a web based business that will eventually grow into an off line “wellness” company.

Will it work? Who knows? Good luck to Alex and Michael.

More information at their Angel List page.

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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
+ Top Startup Podcasts – Learning From Listening

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.

Kickstarter: Ouya raises $1million in 8 hours and 22 minutes

Update: Ouya raised $8,596,475 from 63,416 backers. Read more about Ouya and crowdfunding here.

Kickstarter is the well known crowd funding website for creative projects. Kickstarter has funded a diverse array of endeavours, ranging from indie films, music and comics to journalism, video games, and food-related projects.

They have gained attention from the growing popularity in crowd funding and the rapid pace at which participants raise money.

From the Kickstarter blog: Yesterday a video game project called Ouya became the eighth project in Kickstarter history to raise more than a million dollars, and the fastest ever to do so.

This is absolutely incredible and shows a lucrative opportunity for startups seeking funding. There are numerous resources online that provide a guide to crowd funding.

Ouya are not the only team to raise more than a million dollars. Here are the top eight by speed:

  1. OUYA — 8 hours and 22 minutes
  2. Double Fine Adventure — 17 hours and 30 minutes
  3. Pebble — 27 hours
  4. Wasteland 2 — 41 hours
  5. Shadowrun Returns — 7 days
  6. The Order of the Stick — 27 days, 5 hours
  7. Amanda Palmer — 27 days, 12 hours
  8. Elevation Dock — 57 days

And here are the top ten by dollars received in 24 hours:

  1. OUYA — $2,589,687.77
  2. Double Fine Adventure — $1,064,652.05
  3. Pebble — $863,132.92
  4. Wasteland 2 — $555,407.84
  5. Shadowrun Returns — $378,008.28
  6. Amanda Palmer — $223,348.50
  7. The Icarus Deception — $178,194.00
  8. Elevation Dock — $161,507.00
  9. Penny Arcade Sells Out — $151,221.17
  10. gTar — $138,891.00

If you wish to share your own experiences drop us a line or leave a comment or join the Hacker News discussion.

.

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
+ Top Startup Podcasts – Learning From Listening

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.

Top Startup Podcasts – Learning From Listening

There is an endless supply of information available for entrepreneurs. However reading articles and attending events can get tiresome. Podcasts offer an easy and relaxing way to listen and learn from others in your own time.

We have listed some of our favourite below. There are quite a few to choose from, so you may want to pick out the episodes that best suit your interest.

You may also be interested in learning how to create your own podcast.

1. Techzing Tech Podcast – TechZing is an informal chat show hosted by Justin Vincent and Jason Roberts. They release two shows per week discussing there own tech startup experiences and general ‘Hacker News’ type stories.

2. The Startup Success Podcast – Hosted by Bob Walsh and Patrick Foley. Bob is a consultant, microISV, author, BOS forum moderator and blogger. Patrick is an ISV Architect Evangelist with Microsoft.

3. Startups for the Rest of Us – Hosts Mike Taber and Rob Walling apply their 20 years of experience as software entrepreneurs and share those experiences to help listeners avoid the same mistakes they have made.

4. A Smart Bear – Advice from Jason Cohen, founder of WP Engine and Smart Bear Software.

5. Lean Blog Started in 2005 to host news, commentary, and discussion about “Lean” – the methodology and management system based on the Toyota Production System. Includes some good interviews with top Lean experts, such as Eric Ries (#115, #142).

6. Stanford University’s Entrepreneurship Corner – The university offers over 2,000 free videos and podcasts featuring entrepreneurship and innovation thought leaders.

7. HBR Ideacast – The Harvard Business Review produces a weekly audio podcast, bringing listeners the analysis and advice of the leading minds in management.

8. Mixergy – The Mixergy Mission is to “introduce listeners to doers and thinkers whose ideas and stories are so powerful that just hearing them will change you”. Bold and informative.

9. This Week In Startups (TWiST)Jason Calacanis hosts a fun and lively weekly podcast and video series focused on tech startups.

10. Venture Voice – A podcast that explores how entrepreneurs build their businesses and live their lives.

11. Foundation by Kevin Rose – Revision3 has emerged as the leading special interest video network, and has attracted top Internet video talent, advertisers and distribution partners.

12. Founders Talk – Founders Talk Founders Talk is an interview podcast all about awesome, in-depth, one on one conversations with Founders. Tune in for a new show every Thursday!

13. Techcrunch Founder StoriesTechCrunch is a leading technology media property, dedicated to obsessively profiling startups, reviewing new Internet products, and breaking tech news.

14. The Frank Peters Show – Interviews to help entrepreneurs learn what worked for those who were successful. “If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ll learn what makes early-stage investing attractive to angels. If you’re an angel, hopefully you’ll learn how not to lose your shirt.”

15. Freakonomics – Listen to economists Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner (co-authors of best selling book, Freakonomics) talk about about cheating teachers, bizarre baby names, self-dealing Realtors, and crack-selling mama’s boys.

Image Credit: Techyuva

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You might also enjoy:
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ A Smart Bear – Jason Cohen on Startups
+ Weekly Digest #1 – How We Stumbled Upon Top Biz Resources
+ Weekly Digest #2 – More Golden Resources for Startup Entreprenuers

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.

Lessons Learned From A Hacker News Traffic Spike

The Hacker News Middle Finger


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tl;dr Prior to 11 June 2012, only 2,645 visitors had visited our blog. One HN submission sent 2,958 visitors to our blog in one single day. This post documents the experience.

On 11 June 2012 at 14:00 GMT we submitted one of our blog post links to Hacker News. By luck or good timing this submission made it onto the Front Page. It didn’t stay there for long, but this is what happened behind the scenes.

For context we have sent plenty of other submissions to Hacker News, mainly out of curiosity to understand why some submissions go viral while others die a slow and lonely death. We were surprised this one made it through the noise.

We are recording this blog entry i) to share the details with anyone who may care and ii) we had only had 2,645 visitors prior to this event – we received 2,958 visitors in one day.

This experience confirmed that traffic doesn’t matter, good content is important and being unique matters. Otherwise your time and effort is wasted on your audience.

Anyway, here is the commentary:

+ First Hour:

1. Submitted Link to HN:

HN Link: Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus

..00:00 AM Sydney Time
..07:00 AM San Francisco
..10:00 AM New York
..14:00 PM London GMT
..15:00 PM London

2. Tweeted HN Link on Twitter:

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3. We retweet two tweets made by Hacker News bots:

(Link to Blog Post)

(Link to Hacker News)

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4. Traffic is slowing ticking up to around 200 visitors.

5. HN Link upvoted to 4 points in first hour, 2 comments.

6. Blog post is now on front page of HN (hangs around 20th position).

7. Site traffic hits 800 in first hour with approx 25 hits per minute.

8. Bulk of referral traffic now directly from HN frontpage (news.ycombinator.com), followed by other HN pages, Google Reader, Twitter.

9. HN Link disappears off front page.

10. Traffic flow continues at rapid pace.

+ Next Day:

1. Traffic flow takes a steep dive downwards. Record 281 visitors that is well above our previous average.

** Previous day had two links within HN discussions that directed traffic (250 day prior)
** Before this, traffic was barely ticking over (<20 visitors).

2. Few visitors navigated through to any other parts of the blog. One person reblogged the post, two others left comments.

+ The Aftermath:

1. Over the next 10 days we record c. 380 visitors. Still legacy referrals from the HN site, Google Reader and Facebook.

2. The visitors to the specific linked blog post had diminished.

3. Hopefully some positive lessons learned about running a blog.

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
+ 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.

The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3

This is the next update to our Startup Glossary.

A few months ago we launched our very own startup glossary to help others learn the lingo. This is the latest installment of the commonly used startup buzz words being used in the community. We plan to update the main startup glossary later in the week. Please contact us if you have any submissions or suggestions.

The following are some of the startup phrases or startup buzzwords we are aiming to include in future updates:

Early Majority
Innovators
Laggards
Late Majority
Long Tail
Low Hanging Fruit
Monetise
Ninja
Rockstar
Series A Financing
Sweat Equity
Startup
Stealth
Stack
Term Sheet
Traction
Vertical
Web 2.0

+ A +

A/B Testing

A/B testing, split testing or bucket testing is a method of marketing testing by which a baseline control sample is compared to a variety of single-variable test samples in order to improve response or conversion rates. (Source: Wikipedia)

At its core, A/B testing is exactly what it sounds like: you have two versions of an element (A and B) and a metric that defines success. (Source: Smashing Magazine)

+ C +

Crowdfunding

The practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet. (Source: Oxford Dictionaries)

Kickstarter is probably the most well known and largest funding platform for creative projects.

+ E +

Early Adopter

An early adopter, lighthouse customer or trendsetter is a person who embraces a given company, product, or technology before most other people do. Early adopters form an early element of the technology adoption life cycle, a model that portrays the spread of new ideas and technology. (Source: Wikipedia)

The other categories include:

Innovators
Early Adopters
Early Majority
Late Majority
Laggards

+ F +

Freemium

Freemium is a business model by which a product or service (typically a digital offering) is provided free of charge, but a premium is charged for advanced features, functionality, or virtual goods. The word “freemium” is a portmanteau combining the two aspects of the business model: “free” and “premium”. (Source: Freebase)

Funding

Funding or financing is when a business needs an external source of finance (or borrowings) where the capital needs of the business exceed its own available resources and those of any shareholders. (Source:Business Dictionary)

Well known venture capitalist (and co-founder of Ycombinator) Paul Graham outlines startup funding sources into the following categories:

Self Funded
Friends and Family
Angel Investors
Seed Funding Firms
Venture Capital Funds
Other – Includes grants

(Source: Paul Graham)

The amount of money you achieve from sources can vary, but may follow the below guidelines:

Angel Funding (usually equity) – £25,000 to £500,000
Commercial Lending – various
Venture Funding (usually loan, convertible loans or equity) – £500,000 to £5,000,000
Crowd Funding (usually direct investment) – £5,000 to £1,000,000

(Source: London Funding Conference)

+ G +

Gamification

“Gamification involves applying game design thinking to non-game applications to make them more fun and engaging. Gamification can potentially be applied to any industry and almost anything to create fun and engaging experiences, converting users into players.” Some startups utilise gamification to incentivise user engagement.

(Source: Gamification.Org)

+ H +

Horizontal

Horizontal is a term often used to describe ones business model or business strategy. In this context it focuses on the breadth of one’s product and market.

Horizontal strategies aim to sell a product across multiple markets (moving left to right across markets). Horizontal strategies may suit products that appeal to different sorts of customers, not just a single market segment or industry.

In contrast, vertical strategies aim to sell a product in just one market (moving up and down across a product).

(Source: Entrepreneurs Journey)

Human Capital

“The set of skills which an employee acquires on the job, through training and experience, and which increase that employee’s value in the marketplace.” It may be considered an economic view of a human being – in terms of knowledge and creativity contributions towards an organisation.

(Source: Investor Words)

Hyperlocal

Relates to a “well defined community with its primary focus directed toward the concerns of its residents”.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Current trends apply the terms when referring to applications that make use of mobile and GPS technologies. Such applications connect users to nearby products or services.

+ M +

Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

A Minimum Viable Product has just those features that allow the product to be deployed, and no more. The product is typically deployed to a subset of possible customers, such as early adopters that are thought to be more forgiving, more likely to give feedback, and able to grasp a product vision from an early prototype or marketing information.

(Source: Wikipedia)

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Did you enjoy this post? For more startup, business and technology posts visit our main page.

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.

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.

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