Sunday, July 14, 2013

10 Internet Startup tips from the Silicon Valley trenches (Part III)

7. 100% "committed as one" when you have to raise funds and even when you don't

As you have decided that raising funds is key to getting your startup to the next stage of growth, you must be 100% of your time on it. And so should all of your startup teammates.

That's the reality, investors do not invest in part timers, they look for solid returns on investments (typically 10x in less than 5 years) from solid, high perfoming teams of united talents who know how to work together and be continuously adaptive to relentless startup changes.

"We have to work together, that's the only way..."

My take on this point that I have confronted with some of the brightest minds I have met along this journey is that you also need to be 100% committed to your startup even if you are not looking for funds. It is extremely complicated, no matter how smart you are, to create and scale an Internet/Mobile startup for growth, regardless of where you are operating from.

Being one, 100% of your time, is top important if you want to win and hope to sustain the win.

8. Be cognizant of the bullshit revolving around design and live with it

Let's face it, if you are solving a huge problem on a poorly designed site, you can at least get to major startup traction and start scaling.

I have asked the question to many, many leaders at well known startups and high growth tech companies, no one is able to quantify in any way the relative importance of design to the hundreds of other decision influencing levers that the startup CEO has to push and pull.

Closer to my personal experience, I had the honor to be exposed to one of Steve Job's executive leaders who has now become a VC in the Silicon Valley. We had opted to co-create the design of our site with our target maket directly (principle of co-creation to reduce product/market friction), the resulting design was not trendy as per the Silicon Valley current design standards. However, we had had hundreds of extremely positive feedback from our target market, the lifeblood of shareholders' value to any startup.

When I asked this executive the following question: "Do you design to align with investors' current tastes or for your target market?", the executive said "If you want to build a great company, you indeed design for your target market".

I'll leave you with this as food for thoughts, there is a lot of subjectivity around design and I encourage you to be aware of the latest UXD best practices (design including user experience, you cannot separate the two, design is a way of thinking, a way of delivering value for the target market) and seek to work with the best talent out there. Besides, you can engage with amazing talents through crowd-sourced platforms (99 designs, eLance, odesk and the likes) at a fraction of traditional cost but before that...

9. Solve something or you are nothing need to make sure you are solving an unmet need, a real something otherwise you are nothing.

This tip should be last on the list to grab what is left over from your dimming attention after this novel but I decided to put it here because even academic programs geared towards "entrepreneurship" will mention that to you upfront.

That's the fundamental of startup venture, to change the world you need to solve a big problem.

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