Mistakes You Are About To Make
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Mistakes You Are About To Make



Problems all first-time entrepreneurs face. Talk given at Thiel Foundation's 20 Under 20 program, based on course corrections of the 2011 class.

Problems all first-time entrepreneurs face. Talk given at Thiel Foundation's 20 Under 20 program, based on course corrections of the 2011 class.



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  • Lean Startups – Eric RiesFour Steps to the Epiphany – Steve BlankVPNet: 9months, $4m, team of engineers to get to first iteration
  • “I need to focus on the technology”
  • Press quotes, writeup on Tech Crunch, accolades all don’t matterStartup Genome: scaling too early is the biggest cause of failure (74%)
  • Ideas are a dime a dozen; execution is everything
  • Most companies have been involved with made changes.IncentAlign 3 pivots:IT resource allocation -> Sales resource allocation -> Sales visualization -> sales force optimization

Mistakes You Are About To Make Presentation Transcript

  • 1. MISTAKES YOU‟REABOUT TO MAKEBill Huntbill@thomlex.com
  • 2. Why This Talk?Worked with 10 of the first FellowsThese are the biggestareas of course correctionI observed.
  • 4. I Want My Idea to be Perfect!“I better dedicate lots of time to planning and getting it right.” Right?
  • 5. Plan Less, Do MoreIf you work everything out up front • You will waste time on un-important parts • You will miss important parts
  • 6. Learning LoopsReduce the time to learn by tightening loops
  • 7. Build an MVPBe small and focus on the real valueFocus on early adopters. • NOT full-featured • Potentially uglyRemember: This is an experiment, wherethe goal is to validate thebusiness model
  • 9. I Have a Great Idea! “I need to hunker down and build it.” Right?
  • 10. Your Idea is Only a HypothesisYour Idea is a first-stab at what you believethe market needs.Treat it like an experiment, not a long-term plan.
  • 11. Markets are DiscoveredTypical thought process: “I have an idea. I need to build it and convince people to buy it.”Reality: A market need exists. You need todiscover what it is.
  • 12. Before any human knew that 1+1=2, it was already true. Someone didn‟t invent additionand convince others. They discovered an existing principle.
  • 13. Your Only Goal:Discover What the Market Needs
  • 14. IN THE DARK
  • 15. My Idea is Wicked Cool! “I better keep it a secret.” Right?
  • 16. Stealth is Generally Really BadMany first-time founders think “If I tell people, someone will steal my idea.” “I need to highly refine my idea or even build a complete offering before showing the world.”The value you gain by sharing your idea is enormous.The risk you take is minimal.Getting someone to steal your idea is really hard. Try it.
  • 17. Get FeedbackShare your vision - keeping it secret will fail!Speak with confidence, but be listening for what is brokenGetting others involved gets them engaged and makes them part of the process
  • 18. Talk to People that MatterYour friends will all say you have a cool ideaFind the people that will have to pay money for your idea tosucceed • Potential customers • Investors • People who have a vested interest in saying „no‟. (or „yes‟ if you have what they need).You need potential customers to say something like “If only I had the XYZ widget, I would buy 50 today. I need a solution to my problem and XYZ has the best/only way to solve it.”
  • 19. Feedback SpecificsGet real feedback! “Would you use this?” “Would you pay to use it?” “What is most interesting to you?” “What is not important to you?” “Do you use a competitive product?” “What do you pay?”Bad is Good There are bad spots in your idea. The faster you can uncover them, the better.
  • 20. Trial Close Them“If I can deliver this, would you buy it?”
  • 21. Understand how the money flowsWhich party actually has the need?Do they have money?How does the money flow today?
  • 22. Be Prepared to Change9 of 10 Ideas are Crap – be open to change!It‟s rare that a successful company ends up where it started
  • 24. It‟s My Project!” “I better do it all by myself.” Right?
  • 25. Get a Co-founder• Distribution of responsibilities• Peer pressure• Support• Idea validation
  • 26. Conclusion Plan Less – Do More! Engage Customers - Discover Your Market!Tell Everyone Who Will Listen About Your Idea! Get A Partner!
  • 27. Questions?Bill Huntbill@thomlex.com