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NCRC Entrepreneurship Workshop

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The workshop I gave for the National Collegiate Research Conference on January 24, 2014 at Harvard University.

The workshop I gave for the National Collegiate Research Conference on January 24, 2014 at Harvard University.

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  • So at the last Lean Startup Conference, Justin Wilcox - the founder of Bounce – came on stage and said:
  • I can understand how you might get confused because there’s a lot of similaritiesThey’re both WAY more fun then having a jobThey’re both easy to obsess overThey both cost a SHIT load of money – especially in terms of opportunity costBut… here’s the thing. With a business, you MAKE more money then you give up
  • I can understand how you might get confused because there’s a lot of similaritiesThey’re both WAY more fun then having a jobThey’re both easy to obsess overThey both cost a SHIT load of money – especially in terms of opportunity costBut… here’s the thing. With a business, you MAKE more money then you give up
  • I can understand how you might get confused because there’s a lot of similaritiesThey’re both WAY more fun then having a jobThey’re both easy to obsess overThey both cost a SHIT load of money – especially in terms of opportunity costBut… here’s the thing. With a business, you MAKE more money then you give up.SO – we’re going to talk about how to start a BUSINESS today
  • Dream teamFeel for who’s here
  • Startups are in a raceYour job as an entrepreneur "Discover a Business Model that works before you run out of money & time" (then scale it)
  • And these are the guys that are still around.The stats for new products are pretty bleakAnd all of these products started as these GREAT IDEAS in the founders mind.I’ve got this idea for an app… it’s gonna be awesome. It’ll have puppies, cuz puppies are so cute. And BABIES cuz everybody loves babies.It’ll be fabulous. So they go off, heads down, build it out, launch it on the app store….
  • This is really scary because when we think about how we measure progress at something…We say, are we on the right track? how are we doing according to the plan?But if sticking to the plan means we’re going to fail…
  • When you look at a lot of successful companies today – they didn’t at all start off intending to do what they turned intoPayPal started as a way to “beam” mobile payments between PDAs – but it turned out the world wasn’t yet ready for mobile payments in 99Flickr started as massively multiplayer online role playing game – but it turned out the photo sharing feature was the most fun element of their gameInstagram started as a gamified foursquare called Burbn. They actually developed the entire app for iPhone but it just felt too cluttered and overrun with features. So they essentially started again from scratch and just pulled in the photos, comments and like features. And boom: instagramhttp://thenextweb.com/insider/2011/09/13/10-great-tech-company-pivots/
  • But this is really confusing, right?The way that we figure out if we’re on track or not in any venture… even that word “on track” refers to whether we’re tracking against our planIf tracking to the plan leads to failure…. What do we have to guide us?
  • What we need to do is take a very scientific approach to creating our businessesand I’m a little nervous talking about scientific approach in a room that’s probably full of scientistsBut we need to recognize that the ideas we start with are only guesses – or hypothesisAnd so we need to test these hypothesesAnd use what we learn from those tests to guide us in the right direction.(rather than sticking blindly to our initial plan)Which means what we end up with won’t always look quite like our initial idea – especially for what product we buildBut if we’ve got a strong vision then we can stay true to that
  • So at the last Lean Startup Conference, Justin Wilcox - the founder of Bounce – came on stage and said:
  • A lot of times when I ask people if they have any ideas for a startup, they feel a lot of pressure to come up with something that sounds really sexy. But it’s not about that. This like isn’t a popularity contestPaul Graham actually wrote an article a few months back called How To Get Startup Ideas.And what he said was… the trick to thinking up a startup idea is NOT to try to think up startup ideas.The trick instead, is to look for problems.And ideally, problems that YOU have yourself. Because then you fully understand.
  • Have people write their idea down on a 3x5 cardHave some people share theirs
  • Once you have your idea, what you want to do is… start smallThis sounds really counter-intutive, but the way to distinguish yourself is to start really small.Go super nicheThe smaller the market, the more precisely you can pinpoint – what’s their painpoint, how do I reach these people? How do I create a solution that specifically resonates with them – even when it’s really minimalAnd you start there, your goal should be to dominate a VERY SMALL MARKET (think Facebook with Harvard, or Bill Gates starting with BASIC for Altair… cuz there was a lot of people with Altairs)Once you’ve done that, you’re no longer an unknownAnd now you can BUILD on that small success to start going after larger and larger markets
  • I like to actually back up a little and start by JUST thinking about – out of the gate, what customers am I going after & what problem do I think they have that I want to solve for them?So, for example, if I talk to someone who’s doing a recipe app, I’ll ask them “Who’s your customer?”And most of the time they’ll say “oh, anyone who cooks”And I’ll say ANYONE who cooks?And they say, YEAH! I want to go after the most people possibleAnd I’ll say Okay…. What problem are you going to solve for themAnd they’ll say something like “Well I’m going to help them find recipes”HuhASK: Who hear cooks? Who isn’t able to find recipes?(right, there’s this whole thing called Google out there)
  • So don’t do this – don’t try to go after the worldIt’s really uninterestingIt’s kind of like those people who try to get everyone to like them and so they end up just being… really boringInstead – you can come at this from a couple of directions.First, you can go deep on customer and you can ask yourself “who are MY people?”There’s probably a REASON you’ve got this vision of what you want to do.It’s probably something you’re passionate about. And I just don’t believe you’re passionate about something as broad as “anyone who cooks”But MAYBE… you’re really passionate about people who LOVE cooking, it’s not their day job just something they love… so we’ll call them “Amateur gourmet chefs”And then we can ask, what’s a problem I can solve for them. Well, maybe… they love making fabulous food for their friends & family and need help with that.(Maybe not, but now we at least KNOW who are target is so we can go out and talk to them about it)Another way to come at this is to start from the problem side….So, when I think I of food, I think everyone is always trying to lose weight. So, that’s a problem we can aim to solve.Then we ask ourselves, ok, who are we solving this for?We could say “dieters”, but… if EVERYONE is trying to lose weight, that’s sort of like saying “everyone who cooks” so let’s narrow that downI work with a lot of college students, so maybe it’s “dieters in college” and then you can get specialized about how to help them making healthy choices from their college dining halls – maybe you even have a database of the foods available at your college and the exercise options…And now suddenly we’re becoming more interesting then this plain vanilla “Recipe App”
  • So don’t do this – don’t try to go after the worldIt’s really uninterestingIt’s kind of like those people who try to get everyone to like them and so they end up just being… really boringInstead – you can come at this from a couple of directions.First, you can go deep on customer and you can ask yourself “who are MY people?”There’s probably a REASON you’ve got this vision of what you want to do.It’s probably something you’re passionate about. And I just don’t believe you’re passionate about something as broad as “anyone who cooks”But MAYBE… you’re really passionate about people who LOVE cooking, it’s not their day job just something they love… so we’ll call them “Amateur gourmet chefs”And then we can ask, what’s a problem I can solve for them. Well, maybe… they love making fabulous food for their friends & family and need help with that.(Maybe not, but now we at least KNOW who are target is so we can go out and talk to them about it)Another way to come at this is to start from the problem side….So, when I think I of food, I think everyone is always trying to lose weight. So, that’s a problem we can aim to solve.Then we ask ourselves, ok, who are we solving this for?We could say “dieters”, but… if EVERYONE is trying to lose weight, that’s sort of like saying “everyone who cooks” so let’s narrow that downI work with a lot of college students, so maybe it’s “dieters in college” and then you can get specialized about how to help them making healthy choices from their college dining halls – maybe you even have a database of the foods available at your college and the exercise options…And now suddenly we’re becoming more interesting then this plain vanilla “Recipe App”
  • The really important thing is that you want to be looking for painkiller, not a vitamin.You don’t want a nice to have.Nobody is going to use a product from a startup they never heard of for something that might be nice.The only reason they’re going to take a risk on you is because they have a REALY big problemAnd they’re kind of desperate for a solution And so you can come in with your really scrappy minimal product and they’ll still love you.
  • Have people write their idea down on a 3x5 cardHave some people share theirs
  • The question is what’s the smallest thing you can put out there to test Initially – biggest thing you can do is just get out and talk to people!
  • The best way to do this, especially early on, is to get out of the building and TALK to peopleMake sure it’s people who are in your customer segment & interview them to see if your assumptions are right
  • I like to do this with a story(probably NOT a story about how to conceive a child – because that would just be awkward)You want like a 1 minute story. Best if it’s personal or about someone close to you.Emily is an undergrad at BU. She gained some weight in her 1st year that she REALLY wants to take off. She knows she should be staying under 1400 cals/day but gets most of her food from the dining halls where she has no idea whatsoever how to measure calories in anything.So she takes her best guesses, but she isn’t really losing the weight & she’s not even sure if she’s making the right choices or not so it’s frustrating and she keeps just giving up because she doesn’t know what to do.So… I know we probably don’t any undergrad dieters in here. So you would be the wrong people to tell this story to.But perhaps if you’ve ever tried to lose weight, something in this story might resonate with you.So – 1st off, make sure you when you sit down with someone to first verify that they are in your target customer segmentAnd then when you tell them the story, ask if it resonates.Often times, if you’re at least in the right ballpark, even if it doesn’t resonate it will REMIND them of something… so if they say no, not really – ask if it reminds them of anything and then listen to what problem they do describeAnd then you can, as you talk to more people, tweak your story so it more closely matches what they’re sayingYour goal here is to get to the point where you have a story in THEIR words, that resonates with them, so as you go up to more and more people in your customer segment they’re nodding their heads YES, this totally resonates.
  • And what you want to take away are, what are the TOP 3 problems they’re facing.(weight gain, feeling out of control because don’t know what choices to make, temptation)Which is the most important (that’ll help you prioritize which features you need first when you build your product)
  • And learn how they’re solving those problems today.For 2 reasons:You have to come up with something that they’ll feel is BETTER than what they’re doing today if you want them to switch to you. So you need to understand WHY they’re doing what they’re doing today & what they feel the limitations are.You want to verify that they ARE doing something to solve the problem today. If they’re not, that tells you it might be a little painful – but, they can live with it. They are today.
  • Idea, customer, problem – those are the basicsBut there are some other things you’re going to want to be thinking throughYou don’t want a huge business plan – because we know that’s just going to be proven wrong pretty quicklyWhat you want instead is a business model canvas – something where you can get the key concepts down on a single 1 pager and easily changeI like LeanCanvas – an easy way to do this online.I kind of start from the outside and walk inAnd then do the bottomWhat other assumptions are you making in here and what can you do to test those?
  • Which of course leaves you with more assumptions… so think about, what are some small experiments you can do to test these?I’m going to share some that I’ve seen….
  • A simple one is a landing page – say you want to reach your audience online. One way to test if you’re able to reach those people and pull them in with your messaging is to do a landing page, can you get people to your page?And then once they’re here, can you peak their interest enough for them to sign up?
  • A great example of this was dropbox who put a short, scrappy video of what they were doing out and overnight, got 75,000 signups
  • You can also see if you can get not just an email address from them but actual moneyKickstarer can be a really good option if you’re doing a consumer product that has a lot of upfront costs(set a goal, only build if you hit the goal)
  • There’s something called a concierge test – if you’re providing some kind of service that you want to automate for peopleTry doing it manually for a few people and see how it goes.This is an awesome way to get real time feedback from people on what is going to work and what isn’tSo when you build your product out you really understand what are the most important features and what are the gotchas in how you implement it
  • Zappos wasn’t sure if people were going to buy shoes on line or notSo they didn’t want to buy shoe inventory before they figured this out – obviously.So they took pictures of shoes from local shoe stores & posted those pictures online in exchange for agreeing to purchase the shoes at full price from the local stores
  • GetAround– they let you rent your car from other people.They weren’t sure if people were even going to be WILLING to give their keys to strangersSo their 1st MVP was to go to a small university that had about 100 people – students/faculty/staffAnd see if even in this small community people were willing to hand their car keys over to strangers
  • Which is more impressive? You built out proven technologies? Or hard data points? (revenue, customers, signups, partnerships w/ key players)—> it’s not always about writing code.  If you have a REALLY WELL DEFINED CUSTOMER/PROBLEM, much easier to figure out what the ESSENCE is (don't just jump into coding)
  • Something really important as you’re gathering all of this information and talking to all of these people with different ideas and motivesAnd a billion things are flying at you…..Is to FOCUS!
  • This is really scary because when we think about how we measure progress at something…We say, are we on the right track? how are we doing according to the plan?But if sticking to the plan means we’re going to fail…
  • This is really scary because when we think about how we measure progress at something…We say, are we on the right track? how are we doing according to the plan?But if sticking to the plan means we’re going to fail…
  • Which is more impressive? You built out proven technologies? Or hard data points? (revenue, customers, signups, partnerships w/ key players)—> it’s not always about writing code.  If you have a REALLY WELL DEFINED CUSTOMER/PROBLEM, much easier to figure out what the ESSENCE is (don't just jump into coding)
  • When we look at startups and are trying to figure out which ones are going to hit it big – there’s typically 3 dimensions people look at: Team (who’s working on the startup), what market you’re going after & what product you’re buildingCurious what you guys think – who thinks Team is most important? Market? Product?I could probably make arguments for any of the 3 but one rather compelling viewpoint is from Mark Andreeson, founder of Netscape, prolific investor Who says MARKET – meaning, who your customers are, trumps allIf you’ve got a great market, they’re so desperate for a solution they’ll put up with a not very great product put out by a team making all sorts of mistakesIn a terrible market, you can have the best product in the world and an absolutely killer team, and it doesn't matter -- you're going to fail.And so the most important thing you can do, is to figure out WHO your market isAnd then to deeply understand those people.
  • When we look at startups and are trying to figure out which ones are going to hit it big – there’s typically 3 dimensions people look at: Team (who’s working on the startup), what market you’re going after & what product you’re buildingCurious what you guys think – who thinks Team is most important? Market? Product?I could probably make arguments for any of the 3 but one rather compelling viewpoint is from Mark Andreeson, founder of Netscape, prolific investor Who says MARKET – meaning, who your customers are, trumps allIf you’ve got a great market, they’re so desperate for a solution they’ll put up with a not very great product put out by a team making all sorts of mistakesIn a terrible market, you can have the best product in the world and an absolutely killer team, and it doesn't matter -- you're going to fail.And so the most important thing you can do, is to figure out WHO your market isAnd then to deeply understand those people.
  • Once you achieve that alignment, it’s what Mark Andressen calls Product/Market Fit.It means when you’ve clearly identified WHO your customer (or market) is and clearly identified the RIGHT product that’s going to resonate with themHe says In other words people are so chomping at the bit for what you want to provide, it becomes really clear WHAT product you need to be delivering them
  • The last thing I want to talk about is hustleBecause as you’re doing all of this you’re going to need resources – you’re going to need to bring people on as you build your team, you’re going to want to attract partners & advisors, you’re going to want to raise money….
  • A great entrepreneur is like the pied piperThey have this uncanny ability to make people follow them even when it seems there should be NO reason for people to do that.2 aspects of this:Know the right people to go after - Team members/co-founders/advisors: figure out who the ideal person is, find them, stalk them – get to know all about them, find a way to meet themBe able to very clearly articulate your value prop. Things that get people excited – traction, team, social proof/buzz
  • And I believe that the way you start is by KNOWING why you are uniquely positioned to kick ass

NCRC Entrepreneurship Workshop NCRC Entrepreneurship Workshop Presentation Transcript

  • Abby Fichtner @HackerChick Harvard Innovation Lab Entrepreneurship Workshop
  • @HackerChick your startup isn’t business it’s hobby @Justin_Wilcox a a
  • @HackerChick your startup hobby business fun obsession cost lots $ @Justin_Wilcox
  • @HackerChick your startup fun obsession cost lots $ @Justin_Wilcox $150K salary opportunity cost hobby business
  • @HackerChick your startup fun obsession cost lots $ @Justin_Wilcox profit $ hobby business
  • @HackerChick
  • @HackerChick@HackerChick
  • @HackerChick out of9 new products fail 10
  • @HackerChick Single Biggest Predictor of Failure? Don Sull, "The Upside of Turbulence” Sticking to Initial Business Plan
  • @HackerChick
  • @HackerChick@HackerChick
  • @HackerChick@HackerChick Experiment
  • @HackerChick build to test Michael Grinich, Inbox small things bigideas
  • @HackerChick Photo Credit: Poe Tatrum@HackerChick idea
  • @HackerChick IF someone else can steal your idea and you at it beat THEN you are not the right one to be building this.
  • @HackerChick ?What’s your idea ? What do you uniquely bring to it
  • @HackerChick small Start
  • @HackerChick Brainstorm Customer Problem anyone who cooks can’t find recipes
  • @HackerChick Brainstorm Customer Problem dieters need to lose weight anyone who cooks can’t find recipes in college ^
  • @HackerChick Brainstorm Customer Problem foodies dieters need to lose weight anyone who cooks can’t find recipes in college ^
  • @HackerChick
  • @HackerChick@HackerChick
  • @HackerChick ? Who is your customer ? What is the problem
  • @HackerChick Testing Your Assumptions
  • @HackerChick Customer Interviews Photo Credit: Zimthiger (Flickr)
  • @HackerChick@HackerChick
  • @HackerChick What are the Top 3 Problems?
  • @HackerChick How are they solving those problems today?
  • @HackerChick@HackerChick Lean Canvas: http://LeanCanvas.com Business Model Canvas
  • @HackerChick More Assumptions!
  • @HackerChick Landing Page
  • @HackerChick@HackerChick
  • @HackerChick@HackerChick
  • @HackerChick Concierge Test
  • @HackerChick
  • @HackerChick@HackerChick
  • @HackerChick ? What’s your riskiest assumption ? How can you test it
  • @HackerChick FOCUS!
  • @HackerChick “Creating a quality product doesn’t come from years of experience… Suzanne Xie, Founder Hullabalu
  • @HackerChick Suzanne Xie, Founder Hullabalu …it comes from a laser focused view of the one thing that you & your team are going to do better than anyone else.”
  • @HackerChick ? What is most important for to work on you right now
  • @HackerChick ? What do you want to show ? What makes you stand out
  • @HackerChick market team product
  • @HackerChick market team product
  • @HackerChick “In a great market – a market with lots of real potential customers – the market pulls product out of the startup.” - Marc Andreessen Product/Market Fit
  • @HackerChick@HackerChick Hustle!
  • @HackerChick A great entrepreneur is like a pied piper… traction team social proof/buzz
  • @HackerChick@HackerChick Know why you are uniquely positioned to kick ass
  • Abby Fichtner http://HackerChick.com Office Hours at Innovation Lab: http://ohours.org/HackerChick Thanks!