CO-FOUNDER COLLISIONS

You’ve worked side-by-side with someone for over a year: iterating over and over again until you have your MVP, bootstrapping your way to your first users and revenue, arguing over how to best present your app in the stores, working all-nighters to get your investor deck just right, networking from coast to coast.  And just when the pressure reaches a new height, the little grievances compound and you’re contemplating ending the whole thing before your startup rocket ship has a chance to take off. When looking at statistics for marriage in the U.S., where between 45–50% of couples will divorce, and comparing marriage to a co-founder relationship, it kind of (sadly) makes sense.  If founders take the time to talk through issues rather than allow every discussion to devolve into a battle, there is usually a good chance that an amicable solution can be discovered. There’s no perfect formula for finding the best possible co-founders. However, you can arm yourself with knowledge and take precautions where possible, and boost your odds of success.  Read More >>

TOILET PAPER STARTUP RAMPS UP ROLLS IN WAKE OF CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

The coronavirus pandemic has led to the panic-buying of one item in particular: toilet paper. This sudden demand for what some are calling “white gold” is proving a challenge, and an opportunity, for one fledgling family business in Maine, where the paper industry has seen some hard times. An abundance of skilled paper workers is one reason an American decided to use his life savings to launch a new toilet paper factory in Bangor, Maine, a small riverside city probably most famous for its association with several Stephen King horror stories, including as inspiration for the setting of It. But new enterprises are notoriously unprofitable. The entrepreneur says so far, they’ve only seen money “go in one direction”: out. There are signs of a turnaround. In February, he said Tissue Plus almost broke even, and with demand for the most important paper in the house only increasing, he’s predicting that the company will break even, and maybe even turn a small profit.  Read More >>

SPEED, POWER, AND FLOW: USE SURF CRITERIA TO RATE START-UPS

To measure the value of a company, traditional valuation models look at certain variables, which tend to be quite objective and concrete, such as traditional assets or at least some mature state of revenues or cash flow.  While some models are more complex than others, most of them rely heavily on assumptions and some level of acceptable and shared semi-rational delusion regarding what value truly means. However, start-ups are in a different world. Not the world that is, but rather in a world that may be. Valuing them sometimes seems more an exercise in imagination or gambling.  How does surf relate to start-ups? In our analogy, the speed-power-flow criteria of surfing competitions can help us evaluate three fundamental dimensions of start-up competitiveness and success. The speed-power-flow triad provides a quick, yet reliable way to assess the go/no-go value of a start-up, as well as more comprehensive valuation of its potential. Investors do not have infinite resources or risk tolerance to invest in any or all start-ups. They have to spot, accurately and correctly, the best quality start-ups within each wave.  Investors can also profit from the speed-power-flow framework to select and invest their assets in quality start-ups with a high probability of success.  Read More >>

WHAT YOUR BUSINESS CAN DO TO HELP THE COMMUNITY DURING THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS

Business leaders are struggling to keep their organizations afloat and employees safe while the novel coronavirus sweeps across the globe. At the same time, many are also searching for ways to help within their communities and beyond.  Of course, not every company has such a clear service to share. Still, there are likely creative ways that almost any company can be of use to those in need. There are three questions leaders can ask themselves to determine how they might use their resources and expertise to help their communities.  The first question is ‘What do we do?’ What is your core business and how can that be of use to the community? The second question is ‘What do we have?’ Business leaders think about what resources they have that could be of use elsewhere. Not every company has such a clear service to share. Still, there are likely creative ways that almost any company can be of use to those in need.  The third question is ‘What could you do?’ This might mean producing something that feels a bit adjacent to the core of the business but would aid others in your community.  Read More >>

WHEN DO WE IDENTIFY WITH THE BAD GUY?

It is human nature to want to see ourselves as the heroes of our own story. So, in ways large and small, we work hard to maintain a positive self-image. Indeed, research has shown that one way we do this is by actively avoiding comparisons with people who are similar to us but who also possess negative characteristics.  Yet, new research from the Kellogg School of Management suggests one context in which we are surprisingly willing to explore our darker selves: the world of fictional villains. The researchers suggest that, within the safe confines of fantasy, we’re able to explore our dark side without fear of negative consequences. Villains provide an interesting window into learning about parts of the self that we don’t normally explore.  Humans are surprisingly willing to explore the darker selves in the world of fictional villains. Why do we feel drawn to our dark doppelgangers? One reason is that similarity is inherently attractive; it creates a common base for understanding and learning. The other factor is that villains provide an interesting window into learning about parts of the self that we don’t normally explore. A lot of people who are actually good human beings who would never want to be bad in the real world, may see fantasy as a means to entertain it.  Read More >>

BEING CREATIVE IN THE FACE OF CRISIS

One thing that we know for sure is that change is inevitable. And it often comes when we least expect it.  Creativity is born from anguish, just like the day is born from the dark nights. It’s in crisis that inventiveness is born, as well as discoveries made and big strategies.  Being creative isn’t a natural human response to stress. But fight-or-flight response isn’t the only option. Panik, blame, and fear doesn’t help you solve anything. What does is collaboration, focus, choosing thinking over reckless reacting and working toward changing things for the better.  In her talk “How to Lead When You Don’t Know What You’re Doing” Tea Uglow makes a good point. When she was asked how she should be a leader, she honestly said “I don’t know”. And to be honest, no one does. “It’s really simple. It’s really straightforward. You just do it. Right, you have values, you have beliefs, you have ideas, you share those ideas, you drink lots of coffee, you talk to people. You just do it. And then you do it again, and again, and again…”  Read More >>

TMT: THE UNIT FOR SUCCESS

The right mix of experience and innovation generates a great start-up top management team.  The pre-entry experience of the top management team tends to affect its initial strategic choices. This experience also tends to affect the ability to access complementary assets, other resources (including the acquisition of talent) required to succeed in the industry. It tends to affect the evolution of the team itself and the eventual survival of the firm.  A diverse group is more likely to learn. Equipped with a learning mindset, it is more likely to adapt and therefore succeed. Rather than focus only on start-up founders, we also need to value the entire management team. Dynamic capability and cognitive flexibility allow teams to revise their ideas about products and the marketplace, helping them find new paths in a shifting environment.  In sum, it is critical for entrepreneurs to develop the cognitive flexibility to adapt to new and changing environments. Much of this cognitive flexibility seems to be related to broad experience in prior industries as well as learned experience. For those who may not have such experience, there is still great hope of success. Being aware of the need to change and being open to it may be the most important quality of all.  Read More >>