On Startups

by Sebastien Mirolo on Wed, 14 Mar 2012

Between all the overly hyped articles covering launch events, plancast postmortem is a refreshing must read.

Time for change

Something in the world bothers you and you are set on fixing it. Whatever project you are starting, at the end of the day, only the final product matters. None-the-less in the meantime, it is all about the team. Culture eats strategy for lunch. People and dreams do matter so always ask yourself what is the best vehicle to bring change to this world? A corporation is only a way, not a reason to do something.

People, aspirations and leadership are at the heart of any human endeavor. The more you look, the more you listen, the more you learn, the better you will become at turning ideas into shared dreams and ultimately actions.

I am personally a huge buff of quotes from tv shows and movies. Story telling is an art that presents complex ideas very effectively. In that respect Startup Lessons From 17 Hard Hitting Quotes In Moneyball is wonderful, as well as, Five Leadership Lessons From James T Kirk.

Great by choice is a remarkable book, a thorough study in the foundations of success. The book is very well written and if you believe that "Following the belief that leading in a fast world always requires fast decisions and fast action is a good way to get killed." printed on the inner cover, you will definitely enjoy the rest of the book.

As bonus here are a few articles I read in the last weeks on the subject of building a culture of innovation: Even a Giant Can Learn to Run, Ten ways to build a business culture like Apple, The five qualities of a remarkable bosses and The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time.

Investors

Well now that you pondered the implications of running an ambitious project, it is time to realize: Nothing beats traction. Short of a lead paying customer, investors will look for social proof. Subtle differences between an angle investor and an angel advisor give clues on the level of commitment of other people to your project. A long list of well-known advisors is great but also shows none were interested enough to make a step forward.

Like most people, investors can't say no so always tune in and be ready to read between the lines. On the flip side, there are a lot things entrepreneurs never confess to their VCs.

Kickstarter and others have enabled capital to flow from micro angels. A step up, AngelList has freed enormous amount of capital from multi-millionaires. Be careful though that many freshly made Angels will look for shiny toys. In some way, a hot startup is like a brand new ferrari, something to brag about to their friends, so for now the game is rigged towards companies that can hit the techcrunch homepage on a regular schedule.

Investors can't make a company but they can break it; if you do not have a project that is meant for a circus show, you are better off focusing your efforts on building a product, acquiring a customer and/or breaking even as soon as possible. Angels that will pursue liquid or "no-news" investments are not legion but they exist. As your revenue grows, you will stumble upon such individual naturally.

Conclusion

A last reminder, It is often as hard to build a one million than a one billion business so focus on a Really Big Problem and "Think Profit".

by Sebastien Mirolo on Wed, 14 Mar 2012


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