Category Archives: Entrepreneurship

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 >>

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 >>

HOW YOUR START-UP CAN SURVIVE A WORLDWIDE PANDEMIC

With the Covid-19 virus now a worldwide pandemic, if you’re leading any startup or small business you have to be asking yourself, “What’s Plan B? And what’s in my lifeboat?”  Social distancing and a declared national emergency have had an immediate impact on industries that cluster people. Shutting down the economy for a pandemic has never happened.  If your business model today looks the same as it did at the beginning of the month, you’re in denial. Through the last three financial crashes, the biggest mistake CEOs made was not making draconian cuts to expenses quickly enough.  In every major downturn, inflated valuations disappear and the few VCs still writing new checks find it’s a buyer’s market. Prepare for a long cold winter. But remember no winter lasts forever, and in this moment, smart founders and VCs will be planting the seeds for the next generation of startups.  Recognize that your investors will act in their interests, which may no longer be yours. Take action now, but act with compassion.  Read More >>

HOW WILL THINGS BE DIFFERENT WHEN THIS IS ALL OVER?

We should not expect that the resolution of the Covid-19 epidemic will be a return to a 2019 reality. Many organizations are understandably focused on reacting to and coping with the short term challenges presented by the unfolding epidemic.  A rebound of demand is inevitable, and using high-frequency data proxies for the movement of goods and people, production and confidence, we can see that it is already beginning to happen in China. In China, the stock indices of all sectors dipped sharply in parallel, but after this initial shock, different sectors recovered at different speeds. Some, such as transportation and consumer durables, continue to be depressed; most are already recovering to pre-crisis levels; and others, like software and healthcare equipment and services, have already exceeded their pre-crisis levels.  There is opportunity in adversity in every business. It may seem callous to stress opportunity in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, but leaders have an obligation to look ahead, to anticipate and meet new customer needs, to evolve their strategies and organizations, and in so doing sustain the prosperity of their enterprises.  Read More >>

ZEBRAS AND CAMELS: NEW ALTERNATIVES TO SILICON VALLEY’S UNICORN OBSESSION

Many investors proclaim to be unicorn hunters. They are not stalking mythical animals but looking for companies that will reach valuations of over $1 billion. “A new kind of startup founder will emerge,” predicted LinkedIn’s co-founding editor Isabelle Roughol in LinkedIn’s 20 Big Ideas that will change your world in 2020. Roughol sites the Zebra manifesto, written by entrepreneur Jennifer Brandel, which makes the case for companies that focus on building sustainable profits at reasonable speed. Brandel chose the zebra to present her point because “zebra companies are both black and white: they are profitable and improve society. They won’t sacrifice one for the other.” Alexandre Lazarow, author of Out-Innovate: How Global Entrepreneurs from Delhi to Detroit are rewriting the rules of Silicon Valley talks about the camel. Camels companies are “organizations that can capitalize on opportunity but can also survive in a drought.” Alternatives are a response to high profile market failures. They are also arising because the Silicon Valley model of fast growth at all costs is simply not available to many entrepreneurs.  Read More >>

HOW LEADERS SHOULD NAVIGATE LONG-TERM UNCERTAINTY

Entrepreneurs and change managers may ultimately be selling a dream, but that’s not what stakeholders are buying. To obtain the money to build their dreams, founders must solicit the very people who can least afford the luxury of dreaming: high-stakes investors. Investors are not the sole stakeholders who require continual convincing. Founders must repeatedly replenish their employees’ faith in the future value of stock options or risk losing top talent to competitors offering more money and job security. In new ventures, the general psychological tendency toward emotional contagion does not apply. Founders may believe they are selling a dream, but that’s not what their investors are buying. Ultimately, these patterns of behavior serve as a self-reinforcing positive feedback loop. Innovative managers use emotional self-regulation to curate their attention and maintain emotional equanimity. As a result, they won points for being, “very, very tough in business dealings”.  Read More >>

3 WAYS YOU’RE MESSING UP YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH

A great elevator pitch can go a long way, but many people make common mistakes. Elevator pitches last about ten seconds, and it is crucial to make a good impression. The first mistake people make is that their elevator pitch is too vague. Adding compelling adjectives can make the pitch more engaging. The second mistake is that people tend to focus on themselves instead of how they can help a client. Potential clients care about what someone can do for them to help them achieve their goals. It is important during an elevator pitch to share what can benefit the client, to give one the best choice of gaining their business. The third mistake people make is that they make their elevator pitch too long. It is important to leave the listener wanting to hear more.  Read More >>

Ready For Meat Grown From Animal Cells? A Startup Plans A Pilot Facility

Memphis Meats, a California based company, plans to build a pilot production facility to grow meat from animal cells. They have funds raised from high-profile investors including Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Kimbal Musk, as well as two giant players in the animal protein and feed space: Cargill and Tyson Foods. The company says its latest funding round has brought in $161 million in new investment. Memphis Meats is still technically made from animals, but helps fight against the environmental impact of livestock agriculture. Read More >>

5 Tips for Pitching Your Startup to Investors

Venture capitalists sit through hundreds of pitches a year. Entrepreneurs can make the most out of the opportunity by having their pitch stand out and have enough information to be taken seriously. If executed properly, entrepreneurs can obtain enough capital to jump-start their businesses. By cutting to the chase, investors can lean-in and gain interest right away. Having a specific potential market will increase the venture capitalists’ confidence in the company. Endorsements from fellow team-members in the company is endearing, and something investors like to hear. Automating demonstrations can prevent awkward glitches that can arise. The secret to funding is to have a buffer: ask for double the amount needed.  Read More >>

How To Measure The Performance Of Your Remote Startup Team

Hiring remote workers gives access to talent and cost savings. Remote workers tend to accomplish more in less time, experience lower levels of stress, feel more connected with their colleagues, and are less likely to quit their job. Today, no matter the location, budget or the skills needed, as long as there is an internet connection, a team can be built and managed. Remote employees can come with challenges as well. Without proper management, transparency, low reliability, poor communication, low productivity, and security issues can arise. Drawbacks can be avoided by hiring to delegate, having expectations quantified and qualified, and by shortening evaluation cycles. Read More >>