Course Curated By: Dr. G. Danford (London Business School MBA, Helsinki School of Economics PhD)


Before Starting Session

The only proven method for measuring learning is to take a pre-quiz and post-quiz of the content.

[WpProQuiz 33]

Content: Maximizing Success

  • Four things which maximize your chances of success.
  • How to define the user feedback engine.
  • The value of metrics (KPI’s).
  • The major downsides in a startup.
  • Why passion is essential.
  • Applying concepts covered.

Learning Moments

  • There must be easier ways to become wealthy?
  • ‘Work on your product, talk to users, exercise-eat-sleep, and do very little else’.
  • Look for ideas, especially in things you care about. BUT…test, test, test.
  • Build your business based on distinctive competence.
  • The number one role of the CEO during all of the blood-sweat-and-tears is ‘managing your own psychology’.
  • If you are not passionate about what you are building, you might as well ‘pack up your bags’ right now!
  • ‘Serendipity is a bigger part of startup success, than Strategy’
  • there are things that every startup founder can do to make success more likely happen.

 

1. Idea vs Execution

 

Dustin Moskovitz (Co-founder Facebook) & Sam Altman (Y Combinator) 

Dustin left Facebook in 2008 to co-found Asana. Forbes reported Moskovitz to be the youngest self-made billionaire in history, on the basis of his 2.34% share in Facebook.

A startup is much harder than one might ever have thought. There must be easier ways to become wealthy? Therefore, one should start only if they feel obsessed by a particular problem, and they think their startup company is the best way to solve that problem. ‘The passion must come first’. Ideas do matter however, great execution is much more important than the Idea. BUT ‘a bad idea is a bad idea,’ and great execution of bad ideas will also lead you to failure. If you must, and you have a number of ideas, focus on the idea that you’re thinking about every day. When thinking about that idea, you have to think first of all about the market (audience, needs, trends, demand and appropriate supply).


 

2. Making Products The Market Love

To build a successful company you must first turn your idea into a great product. Therefore, step one is to build something that the market will love. The Y Combinator Message to every startup entrepreneur is: ‘work on your product, talk to users, exercise-eat-sleep, and do very little else’. A good way of knowing that it might be a success is when you get word-of-mouth growth. To achieve that, it is essential that you build a user feedback engine (processing information transforms user feedback into product decisions). The startup company is going to build whatever the CEO decides to measure, so deciding on the key success metrics (KPI’s) from the beginning (based on user data) is essential. Fanatical founders who focus on quality, details, support etc. succeed more frequently than ones who only live on ideas. 

 

Great Idea = Great Product? Sam Altman (3:00)

NOTE: this video will start and stop at the pre-assigned times 14:27-17:49


 

3. Five Things To Not Forget!

Bill Gross has founded more than 125 firms. What did Bill learn from that experience?

  • Pursue Your Passion: look for ideas, especially in things you care about.
  • Test-Test-Test: test your proposition and adapt to the learning.
  • Listen-Listen-Listen: learn from your customers…then turn that into knowledge.
  • Complementary Skills: work with people who balance your strengths-and bridge weaknesses.
  • Stick With It!: ridicule followed by, opposition, and then self-evident.

 

5 Success Factors (1:30)

Bill Gross, Founder, Idealab

NOTE: this video will start and stop at the pre-assigned times 13:43-15:07


 

4. Ten Profit Commandments

  • Build business based on distinctive competence.
  • Develop and deliver a superior value proposition.
  • Don’t startup before you have a profitable business model.
  • Take charge of money and control it.
  • Create a profit-based reward structure.
  • Recognize and hire lightning in a bottle.
  • Create profit centers to to scale your business.
  • Augment profits with proprietary technology
  • Build a financial war chest for strategic advantage.
  • Behave ethically.

 

User Growth vs. Profit Growth? (8:30)

NOTE: this video will start and stop at the pre-assigned times 12:31-21:05


 

Take a Pomodoro Break for a few minutes (reflect & relax)

See Video: Pomodoro Time Management Technique


 

5. The Ugly Side of Startups

There is also an ugly side to being a company founder (stress, responsibility, 24×7). At the start you spend most of your time with your nose to the desk/computer, and focused. In many ways your are stuck because for a founder to leave the company is un-cool, and might result in a black-eye for the rest of your career. The number one role of the CEO during all of the blood-sweat-and-tears is ‘managing your own psychology’. At one point you even need to have the challenging conversation with yourself ‘what does it mean if I don’t start this company?’. At that critical point, it is essential to have the passion and conviction that you really have ‘something’, and that the ‘something’ is critical. Often that ‘something’ is pushing you out into the world (‘beating you on the chest’). That’s the feeling you are waiting for when you start a company. That feeling is the moment when you know’ you have to do it.

 

Although the potential financial rewards are strongly correlated with the impact you will have on the world, you need passion to fight through the challenging steps of becoming an entrepreneur. That passion is transparent’ and helps when you start recruiting others to the startup. That passion must be based on;

  • The world needs IT (what ever the product/service/solution is you envision)
  • The world needs YOU (because you are going to make a unique contribution to that space)

 

Stress and Anxiety: Dustin Moskovitz (3:00)

NOTE: this video will start and stop at the pre-assigned times 30:30-34:02


 

6. You Can’t… Not Do It

“Passion is one of those intangibles that drives an entrepreneur, gets them through the good times, the bad times, and ultimately dictates their success. If you are not passionate about what you are building, you might as well ‘pack up your bags’ right now, as your startup will never work. Passion cannot be taught, it must to be instilled into the DNA of your entire company, starting with and fueled by yourself: the Chief Cheerleader’. ~George Deeb

 

So Do It: Dustin Moskovitz (2:30)

NOTE: this video will start and stop at the pre-assigned times 41:07-43:35


 

7. Luck Matters

‘90% of the people I’ve asked have said that Serendipity was a bigger part of their initial success than Strategy’

According to Darren Rowse (ProBlogger), strategy does play a part in success…but often serendipity (happy accident) comes first.  Are some people are more prone to serendipitous experiences? Darren feels that some startups just seem to get lucky however, there are things that every startup founder can do to make success more likely happen;

  • Avid Learning: Successful entrepreneurs often started with something or someone agitating the founders to step out of their comfort zone, and to do something that was a little ‘left field’.
  • Fascination With Problems: Successful entrepreneurs bring passion to what they do – rather than letting passion determine what they do.
  • Always Practicing Curiosity: Successful entrepreneurs look for things they want to happen in their lives, and they leap at them rather than let them slip by.
  • Experimenting Prolifically: Successful entrepreneurs are always trying new things, pushing boundaries and asking ‘what if’ questions. If you’re always trying new things you’re more likely to try something that clicks.
  • Watching for Sparks: Successful entrepreneurs are always looking for the next big thing… which is often a little thing waiting to be noticed.
  • Creating, Initiating and Constructing: Successful entrepreneurs are responsive.
  • Quick to Pivot: Successful entrepreneurs are continually evolving.

Some people believe luck is random or based on personality, but Darren believes luck is a choice. We can all choose to increase the chances of lucky things happening to our startup by cultivating these conscious habits listed above. Therefore, you can begin to choose and develop your own luck!

 

Seven Habits (6:00)

Darren Rowse (founder ProBlogger)

NOTE: this video will start and stop at the pre-assigned times 3:20-9:15


 

Conclusion

  • Great execution is much more important than the Idea. BUT… ‘a bad idea is a bad idea’.
  • Build a user feedback engine (processing information transforms user feedback into product decisions).
  • Listen-Listen-and Listen more: learn from your customers…then turn that into knowledge.
  • Develop and deliver a superior value proposition.
  • You need passion to fight through the challenging steps of becoming an entrepreneur.
  • You are the ‘Chief Cheerleader’.
  • begin to choose and develop your own luck!

 

[WpProQuiz 44]

 

Slide Decks:

Sam Altman, Maximize Success

Dustin Moskovitz, Maximize Success

Recommended Readings:

Advice for Ambitious 19 Year Old’s

Good and Bad Reasons to Become an Entrepreneur


 

NEXT Session 4/20: BUILDING PRODUCT

CONTENT: How to build product (Andora Cheung, co-founder, Homejoy), innovation accounting (Eric Ries), minimal viable product (MVP), Prof. Bill Burnett (Stanford) on design thinking, getting customers, types of growth (sticky, viral, paid etc.), the Yin & Yang of startups and more. LINK TO 4/20 BELOW

Presenter: Adora Cheung (Co-founder, Homejoy)