12 tenets for a successful Startup with @Annika at #Webcoast
At Webcoast 2012, Annika Lidne talked to us about 12 tenets for a successful startup. Unfortunately I can’t find the stream from it (bambuser), but you can check out the slides (also attached below). Annika have spent a lot of time working with startups, on her own and also she’s dived into figuring out what is making them successful through her project Swedish Startup Sessions. While I was still working at Flattr she came by for an interview.
Let’s move on to the tenets (or principles if you prefer)
- Live your passion
Live your brand. There are plenty of ways to live your brand, one of them can be to put on that T-shirt when going to the conference. Hopefully it’s an extra good looking one, but hey. It’s not uncommon for people to ask what you got printed on you if they don’t know it already. If they do recognize it they might come up to you and say that they like it, and it will spark a conversation. Look at it as a piece of the whole.
If you’re passionate about what you do people will notice it, notice you and remember you for it.
- Decide your scope.
Is it the galaxy you want to conquer or just the little lifestyle business?
If it’s the first, galaxy, there will be a bigger risk, more vulnerability. You can expect pressure from investors and similar. Even if the scope is big, remember to focus at a niche market first, for it to spread
The Lifestyle scope encounters a different type of vulnerability. Being small and maybe not commercializing in the same way as you can with a bigger scope means you’re vulnerable to change in the market and to competition in the same area a bit more.
- Create Product, not feature.
Dropbox is a feature, and not a product. This makes them fragile as a produkt. Yet they have 25million users. They could be vulnerable to simple product to change to a different service, think if Google would implement a similar feature.
Consider if you can lock in people, in a good way. How does your product work with API’s?
- Where’s the disruption?
Solve my problem don’t pitch your solution. Being first isn’t always right. Amazon is eating up the entire market for books, and now electronics.
The big dragons can help cultivate this, but the risk is too big so they don’t. Annika here recommends reading: The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen
- Get your customer laid, paid & made.
Gret products & compaies do 1+ of 3 things:
1) Get you laid (=sex), dating service?
2) Get you paid (=money), work related, service to make you spend less time on a task/optimize, affiliation?
3) Get you made (=power), twitter, klout, youtube?
I would add to this, that it can be either of the 3 above, or a combination, and I added examples after the commas.
- Find your minimal viable product.
Feature creeping (Extra features go beyond the basic function of the product and so can result in over-complication rather than simple design, Wikipedia) should be avoided. Reduce or remove things you don’t need. What do your customers really want? Probably not what you think, look it over and get some inputs. Maybe you already have a small base of early adopters ready to give you an idea of what the product they need is.
- Borrow and buy, don’t reinvent.
Find partners that you can jack into your system. Build as little as possible. Don’t reinvent the wheel. This can be about mailing, support system, knowledge bases and so forth.
- Create the WOW factor.
Do I need to elaborate on this, okay then. This is partly where you need to make yourself unique, look really cool or get the a great mascot. Combination of all can be done.
- Law of sustainable growth.
How do you make your product self growing? How do you get your customers to spread your product, build in a viral growth into the product. Personally I would say “INVITES!!” (which I had written as a comment), and you need to make it simple. Sometimes invite only beta can spark a want for a service, you always want what you can’t have. But treat it with care, be a bit careful with how you handle beta closed and open. Now this isn’t the only point of interest here, but it’s a good start.
Do your users want to show off your product to their friends? Do they want to link to something they have done on or with your site on their own sites?
- Create contacts before you need them.
Build the relationships early on. Create your social klout, build your network. Possibly even before you cracked the idea that you need for your startup. Then when the right idea comes along you will find yourself with people ready to back it, or rather you as a person for whatever project you’ll endeavor.
- Undercut the competition.
Half the price. Twice the experience. Sometimes the price can be higher, because there’s no other options. Pricing too high can cause trouble, too low can be seen as lack of value. Look at the competition, compare what you have that they don’t, are they real competition?
- Sunk cost fallacy.
Don’t trow good money after bad. Know when to stop. Make a pivot, find a new direction. Respond quickly. In the tech world, especially working with startups you need to be agile. Prepare for something that is exactly like what you’ve just created and am about to launch just before you do. Which direction will you take when you have to completely turn around a project that is almost ready for launch?
Video of the presentation in Swedish: