Even in the best of times, starting a business is like running a marathon with the odds stacked against you. In a global recession, you also have to endure the headwinds of reduced consumer spending and more selective investors. If legs of steel were essential before, they are absolutely critical now. You may also need a new strategy.
Many startup founders swear by the Lean Startup method, popularised by serial entrepreneur and software engineer Eric Ries in a 2011 book of the same name and taught in business schools and accelerators around the world. The method entails finding out customers’ problems and needs, obtaining feedback and building a minimum viable product (MVP) to test demand. The idea is to learn quickly and iteratively through experimentation and feedback, and quitting or pivoting when the original idea falls through. But there is a way to improve the Lean method itself. Read More >>
2019 was a record year of venture capital funding for start-ups in emerging economies from Latin America, Africa to Southeast Asia. This year, well, it’s safe to say the money is not exactly sloshing around, and the pace is likely to remain depressed well into 2021. Even though Covid-19 has opened up many possibilities, in edtech and fintech for example, entrepreneurs in developing markets will have to work harder to secure the resources they need.
In a Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal special issue I co-curated with Maw-Der Foo and Brian Wu, researchers highlight how emerging market start-ups mobilise resources under conditions a world apart from those in developed economies. Entrepreneurs in developing economies – as well as developed ones – would find insights contained in the issue’s eight papers helpful in these lean times. What stood out in particular are ideas on how to do more with less as well as tapping community and other ties to obtain resources and reduce costs. Read More>>
Today, amidst all that is happening in our country and the world, is the best time to launch a business. The economy right now is fertile ground for entrepreneurs and business owners. Interest rates are as low as they’re ever going to get. Millions of people are looking for jobs, which means labor markets are abundant. The rise of “working from home” has opened a larger pool of talent to choose from when hiring. And most importantly, major industries are showing their vulnerabilities—which means opportunity for entrepreneurs savvy enough to invent new, compelling solutions. Health and wellness products are certainly going through a major push right now. Many businesses outsource manufacturing to other countries: China and Mexico being two of the most common. But depending on how trade wars continue between America and these other countries will heavily impact many businesses here in the states. Ecommerce is quickly establishing itself to be the best and easiest way to launch a product and/or business. But especially for entrepreneurs looking to launch a new product or venture in the world today, you are far better off starting online and then pursuing any kind of brick-and-mortar distribution later on down the road. Read More >>
From finding the right analogy to tapping into FOMO, learn how to sell your ideas to potential supporters. Innovation is built on great ideas, usually about solving a customer need. Successful innovation, the sort that makes fortunes and sometimes change lives, is also built on financial and other kinds of support to implement those ideas. For a brilliant innovator like Nikola Tesla, getting that support might be the harder part. We call this the innovator’s paradox: the more novel, radical or risky the idea, the harder it is to acquire the necessary resources. The good news is, you do not need to be a born salesperson to overcome that barrier. Few things signal the viability of your idea to your potential backers as much as how much you’re prepared to stake on it. That might include investing substantial financial resources or giving up a lucrative job. Committing is particularly effective when the innovation is complex or when details cannot be fully revealed because the innovator wants to protect trade secrets. Read More >>
America is currently experiencing what some are calling a “startup boom.” That’s right — even with a raging pandemic and an ugly recession, America is seeing a boom in the creation of new businesses. Most of these new businesses are seizing opportunities created by the weird coronavirus economy — an economy where people don’t really want to do stuff face-to-face anymore. The largest area for new business creation is online retail. Of course, at the same time, we’ve seen a massacre for brick-and-mortar retail — and we don’t know yet whether these new businesses will fill the job void. Moreover, many of the new businesses are just people who were laid off and were forced to strike out on their own. But with these important asterisks, it may be good news that new businesses are growing out of the ashes of old businesses. The lack of business creation during the Great Recession, was a big reason that it took so long to recover. Fingers crossed it’s different this time. Read More >>
It’s counter-intuitive for people to start new businesses in an economic downturn, but startups are prying open new market opportunities that coronavirus pandemic lockdowns have created. New business applications, which is the Census Bureau’s tracker for startups, grew 38% in the week ending Oct. 24, compared with the same week a year ago. The increase is in line with an upward trend seen since late May. In fact, Census data shows a new high for that week since 2007. It’s counter-intuitive for people to start new businesses in an economic downturn, but startups are prying open new market opportunities that coronavirus pandemic lockdowns have created. New business applications, which is the Census Bureau’s tracker for startups, grew 38% in the week ending Oct. 24, compared with the same week a year ago. The increase is in line with an upward trend seen since late May. In fact, Census data shows a new high for that week since 2007. It is not immediately clear if those numbers are triggered by the government’s economic stimulus programs contained in the $2.2 trillion CARES Act of March. Startups can ride out that uncertainty if they have the right approaches. Read More >>
Starburst Aerospace announced 14 startups and one consortium invited to share proposals for addressing important space-related challenges facing the United States and the United Kingdom at International Space Pitch Day, an event to be held in November at the virtual Defense Space Conference 2020. During International Space Pitch Day, the participating agencies will be ready to award contracts immediately to the companies. Starburst named the U.S. and U.K. companies that will be part of the first Allied Defence Accelerator at Oct. 27 at SpaceCom 2020. Plans for the Allied Defence Accelerator were developed by the U.S. Air Force, U.K. Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, and the U.K. Defence and Security Accelerator. Additional Allied Defence Accelerator partners include Starburst, the U.S. Space Force Space and Missile Systems Center, the U.K. Ministry of Defense, U.S. Strategic Command, the Royal Air Force, and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory. Read More >>
Becoming a successful entrepreneur requires the right combination of factors, impeccable timing and often sheer luck. Many of these entrepreneurs want to develop and grow their businesses. There is a huge misconception that the reason why they’re unable to do that is a lack of desire, or because of capital constraints, which is certainly an issue. Many of them do want to make a better life for themselves and their communities, but often lack the knowledge and skills to improve their businesses. Finally, do the learning benefits carry over into entrepreneurs’ future businesses? This question is essential because even if an initial business fails, and we know most of them tend to, many entrepreneurs can take the knowledge and skills they develop and apply them towards their future businesses. Thus, the knowledge they learn during the incubation process could result in a lifelong improvement in their ability to continue to create valuable organizations. These are essential questions to address in future studies that can inform both incubator program designs and policy choices regarding how to support entrepreneurs. Read More >>
The Valley’s most valuable product is the contrarian thinking that fuels its innovation culture. World-famous companies that have never turned a profit. A sprawling homeless epidemic cheek by jowl with some of the wealthiest zip codes in the world. Techies who are more likely to bond at Burning Man than at golf courses. Silicon Valley seems to make little sense from the outside. Silicon Valley start-ups have received the lion’s share of US-based venture capital funding over the past 10 years. Yet, many visiting executives struggle to find a foothold because they can’t seem to find the magic formula that makes Silicon Valley tick. Good ideas that look like good ideas are too obvious. Others are probably working on them already. Take Airbnb, a classic good idea that seemed terrible at first pass. How do you check guests’ backgrounds? How do you insure hosts against theft or damage? How do you ensure cleanliness and safety for guests? How do you confirm the accuracy of ads. All of these questions seemed like existential threats to an online marketplace for nightly sublets. There are also flat-out rules against subletting in many cities. Silicon Valley loves to shrug off perfectly good reasons why an idea won’t succeed. Now is also the best time to set foundational values aligning with sustainability, peace and justice. Read More >>
Over the last 10 years, investment in startups focused on the areas of “elder care” and “home health care” has increased. At the same time, investors are eying new opportunities in the space. Reframing technologies so seniors can live their best life, be active and prevent health mishaps while staying in their own home is the key, say experts we interviewed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines the concept of “aging in place” as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently and comfortably, regardless of age, income or ability level.” Forward-thinking health plans and venture capital groups are incubating solutions in this space right now, so we will likely see interesting services being spun out of some health plans. Read More >>