Connect with us

Archives

The Great Mobile App Migration of March 2020

Published

on

Mobile App Migration

Over the last few weeks as many in the world have been in lockdown, there has been a temporary “mobile app migration” happening. There are new apps downloaded and they replaced existing apps on the “home screen”.

While some of these apps are likely temporary use, for e.g. I have 6 “conferencing apps” – Zoom, Uber Conference, Webex, Google Hangouts, Blue Jeans and Goto Meeting. That is because of the many people I have conference calls with – each company seems to have chosen a different web conference solution.

Other apps seem like they will have staying power – Houseparty, for e.g. which has games, networking and video conferencing all built into one app to keep in touch with friends and relatives.

Houseparty

The apps that have moved away from my “home” screen, which I expect will come back once the crisis will be behind us include – Uber, Lyft and all the airline apps from Delta, Alaska and United.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Archives

Creating Artificial Constraints as a Means to Innovation

Published

on

By

Artificial Constraints

Many of the entrepreneurs I know have created new innovative startups thanks to real constraints they had. For example, I was hearing AirBnB’s Brian Chesky, on the Corner Office podcast and he mentioned that when he and his cofounder were trying to get some money to get started and the only way to keep afloat was to “rent” their air bed they had in their room. That, then led to Air Bed and Breakfast, which is now AirBnB.

This was a real constraint they had – no money to “eat” so they had to make it happen somehow.

I have heard of many stories of innovation where in the protagonists had real constraints of either financial, technology, supply, demand, economic, social or any number of other characteristics.

The interesting story that I have also recently heard of how Facebook has “pivoted” from being a desktop offering to getting a significant part of their revenue from mobile is how they were given the arbitrary constraint of only accessing Facebook via the mobile phone.

So there are ways that you can create “artificial” constraints to force innovation to happen.

Most larger companies and some smaller ones as well, have to constantly find ways to create artificial constraints – to find a way to innovate and be more be a pioneer.

While some constraints are good – lack of funds at the early stage for example and lack of resources, there are entrepreneurs that are stymied by these constraints and those that will find  a way to seek a path to go forward.

I think this is a great way for you to think about innovating in a new space. If you have constraints, find a way to use it to your advantage.

Continue Reading

Archives

Perseverance with the Ability to Pivot on Data: 21 Traits We Look for in Entrepreneurs

Published

on

By

Perseverance with the Ability to Pivot

There are 5 key inflection points I have noticed which makes founders question their startup, to either make a call to continue working on their startup, pivot to a new problem or quit their startup altogether.

It is at these points that you really get to know the startup founder and their hunger and drive to be successful. I don’t think I can characterize those that choose to quit as “losers” or “quitters” because of many extraneous circumstances, but there is a lot of value that most investors see in entrepreneurs who face an uphill part of their journey to come out on the other side more confident and stronger.

These five inflection points are:

  1. When you have to get the first customers to use and pay for the product you have built after you have “shipped” an alpha / beta / first version. Entrepreneurs quit because they have not found the product-market-fit – because the customer don’t care about the product, there is no market need, or the product is really poorly built, or a host of other reasons.
  2. When you have to start to raise the first external round of financing from people you are not familiar with at all. Entrepreneurs quit because while it is hard to get customers and hire people, it is much more harder to get a smaller set of investors to part with their money, if you do not have “traction”, or “the right management team” or a “killer product”.
  3. When you have to push to break even (financially) and sustain the company to path of being self sufficient. Entrepreneurs quit at this stage because they have now the ability to do multiple things at the same time – grow revenues and manage costs, and many of them like to do one but realize it is hard to do that without affecting the other. So, rather than feel stuck they decide to quit.
  4. When you have to scale and grow faster that the competition – which might mean to hire faster, to get more customers, to drive more sales, or to completely rethink their problem statement and devise new ways to grow faster. Entrepreneurs quit at this point because they are consumed by the magnitude of the problem. They overassess the impact the competition will have on their company, give them too much credit or focus way too much on the competitors, thereby driving their company to the ground.
  5. At any point in the journey, when the founders lose the passion, vision or the drive to succeed. Entrepreneurs quit a these points because they have challenges with their co founder, they don’t agree with the direction they have to take, or encounter the “grass is greener on the other side” syndrome.

While I have observed many entrepreneurs at these stages at  discrete points in time, I have also had the opportunity to observe some entrepreneurs in the continuum, and I am going to give you my observations on 3 of the many folks I have known, who, have quit.

Perseverance separates great entrepreneurs from good ones
Perseverance separates great entrepreneurs from good ones

One went back to college to finish his MBA after getting a running business to a point of near breakeven, another found the business much harder than he originally thought he would and got a job at a larger company and the third was just unable to have the drive to go past 11 “no’s”‘ from angel investors.

Over the last 8 years, if I look at my deeper interactions with over 90 entrepreneurs, who I would have spent at least 100+ hours each, I would say that of the 24 people that are not longer in their startup, the one thing that stands out among the ones that persevere is that it is not “passion” or “vision” at all.

It is the inherent belief that they are solving a problem that they believe is their “calling”. They also don’t believe that there is any other problem that’s worth solving as much, even though there may be easier ways to make money.

So most of my questions of entrepreneurs to test whether they will pivot or quit are around why they want to solve this problem (which I am looking to see if they know enough about in the first place) versus any other one.

The answer to that question is the best indicator I have found to be the difference between the pivots, the leavers and the rest.

Continue Reading

Archives

Continuous Visible Customer Validation: Using Do, Doing Done to Customer Development

Published

on

By

Customer Development

There are multiple methods to keep track of your projects and priorities. Here is one technique I used when trying to keep track of customer validation. This approach works best when teams are in one single location since it is visually appealing and easy to update.

It is called the Kanban method of Do, Doing and Done. A visual dashboard, which I used colored post it notes for, comprises of 3 buckets of work:

1. Do – has all the items that need to be still done.

2. Doing – what you are currently working on

3. Done – what’s finished

Typically we update and refresh the items each week – sometimes daily if there are enough changes, but a week is ideal.

Do Doing Done Kanban Method
Do Doing Done Kanban Method

Some folks have mentioned using Trello or Kanbanize. I have not, so I cant recommend them.

Once you understand how to segment your startups customers and you understand the 3 most important steps to segmenting your customers, most people start to put a framework for validating customer segments.

As I mentioned previously, the elapsed time for these 5 steps, in my experience lasts from a 4 weeks to 3 months on average.

The most important item to remember is that the method works best for discrete, defined tasks that take a short period of time. If your item takes many weeks or months, you have to break it down into simpler steps. Customer validation or pricing strategy cant be a step. Pricing strategy has to broken up into price tiers, price testing, pricing validation, pricing research etc.

When validating customer problems, you are trying to understand the following questions:

  • Is this a real problem? Is is a big enough problem for them to look for a solution?
  • What will it take for them to adopt a solution? Adopt my solution?
  • How much will they be willing to pay to adopt?

I have used post-it notes as a great way to segment the steps in the process and use colors to validate different items I need to:

In the customer validation I put forth a process comprised of 5 steps:

1. Secondary research

2. Primary research with insiders

3. Proxy market sizing

4. Online validation

5. Customer interviews

The best way to use color is to put these various “sources” into different colors. So, influencers may be blue, proxy sizing sources may be yellow, etc.

When you get to the customer interview step, you are likely finished with the previous steps, so you can color code segments of your customer with different colors.

So “Segment A” will be yellow and “Segment B” will be green and so on.

The reason for colors is then you can put them all into a board at the end and find a way to look for patterns that correlate.

The big advantage of the visible productivity map is that everyone is motivated to make changes to the charts so you can see progress daily. Try it and let me know if it works for you.

Continue Reading

Trending