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Tales From The Startup
 

Tales From The Startup

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The goal of the talk was familiarize some Nordic university students about startup processes, starting things and pointers on how to learn more.

The goal of the talk was familiarize some Nordic university students about startup processes, starting things and pointers on how to learn more.

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  • Full Name Full Name Comment goes here.
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  • I like its colour, white, bule and red.
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  • I want to emphasize that the presentation was aimed and given to university students, so it may be rather simplistic in the terms of advice. (I really didn’t think that anyone would actually view these slides :)

    I agree with Aaron and Tuomas that business plans are not worthless, they have some use, but I believe that you should be skeptical of any advice. If you think that you will get some value out of a business plan, by all means, do one, but don’t do it because someone tells you to or tells you not to. Sometimes you actually even have to do it when applying for some grant or funding. Why I stated that ’You don’t need a business plan’ is because generally academics overvalue planning, and really they teach us to do different kind of business or marketing plans and other documents, not how to make great products or successful businesses. So I wanted to give dosage of skepticism for these students that don’t necessarily have their own experiences with business.

    The problem I see with business plans is the standard use and format of them. Usually the plan will have to consist of pages like description of the product, company financing, market summary, indirect effects, competitions, projections and other things. It’s also accustomed that in your plan, you will need to sound convincing and sure about these things even you’re not. You need to guess, make assumptions or even lie to make your plan to sound good. But also you might know that some things that you wrote are actually facts, but now you’re mixing truths with assumptions and lies. When you give this kind of document to someone, you’re not telling the truth. After a while even you might believe that what you wrote is true.

    Another thing is that writing a business plan is not necessarily that easy, small or a fun task. For startups that think about doing Minimum Viable Products and other sacrifices or ways to cut the time to the market and be front of the customer, should really think if writing some documents with no apparent customer value is that useful.
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  • Great presentation!
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  • Business plans are (imho) more appropriate after the initial customer discovery phase. Once you know what you're doing and have basic metrics on eg CAQ and LTV, a business plan is your roadmap for scaling a business that you know works. Writing a business plan before you have a verified business model is just putting a hypothesis to words.
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  • I'd argue that business plans are in fact worthwhile (hey, we need some way to succinctly communicate our ideas to people who might invest into our business) but the overall spirit fo the message is good: 'focus on the problems your businesses solve and get the input of the people who experience that problem (your customers.)'
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    Tales From The Startup Tales From The Startup Presentation Transcript

    • Tales from the Startup Karri Saarinen, March 3, 2010 NESU Spring Conference Vaasa 2010
    • #nesuvaasa If you twitter about this talk http://bit.ly/nesu-karri Slides + all links
    • 1 The Process case: Flowdock 2 The Start case: ArcticStartup 3 Before The Start What to do?
    • ? Who is this dude?
    • 6 developer years designer of web stuff entrepreneur
    • Now Product Manager / Product / Customer / Co-founder Business Developer
    • Now ...And I study Business Management at University of Vaasa Product Manager / Product / Customer / Co-founder Business Developer
    • Introduction; What is a Startup?
    • startup: 1. a new organization or business venture
    • Really, a startup: Rather recent Product business High growth potential High risk / reward
    • Chapter 1; The Process case: Flowdock
    • Belief; 1 You need a great idea to start a business
    • The first idea of Flowdock: Time tracking for the enterprise
    • Fortunately we didn’t go there. Instead...
    • Flowdock, The best group messenger
    • Ideas change, it’s ok. People & execution matter more
    • Belief; 2 You need to do a business plan
    • We didn’t write a business plan. We contacted customers.
    • Business plans are not real. People are. Get out of the building!
    • “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” But nothing beats facts.
    • Belief; 3 You need to know a lot about your business
    • For a startup everything is unknown. Just deal with it
    • Product = Problem + Solution unknown unknown startup known known enterprise
    • Traditional method: How Products Are Made Concept / Product Alpha / Beta Launch / Idea Development Test Ship
    • Traditional method: How Products Are Made Concept / Product Alpha / Beta Launch / Idea Development Test Ship Where are the customers?
    • Traditional Product Development: The Waterfall Requirements Specification Problem: known Design Solution: known Implementation Verification Maintenance
    • Traditional Product Development: The Waterfall m on Requirements th Specification s or Problem: known Design ye Solution: known Implementation ar Verification s Maintenance
    • Traditional Product Development: The Waterfall Pa Requirements th If... Specification to Fa Problem: unknown Design ilu Solution: unknown Implementation re Verification Maintenance
    • How To Deal Better With The Unknown Problem (What your product will solve)
    • Steve Blank
    • Customer Development
    • Customer Development Customers Customers Customers
    • Customer Discovery: State your hypotheses Test “Problem” Test “Product” Verify: Iterate or Exit
    • How To Deal Better With The Unknown Solution (How you solve the problem)
    • We practice Agile / Scrum 2 weeks Plan Do Release Hypotheses Daily 15min Have something Insights meetings that works User stories Iterate
    • Problem + Solution
    • Traditional Product Development: The Waterfall Requirements Specification Problem: known Design Solution: known Implementation Verification Maintenance
    • Lean Startup Product Development Customer Development Hypotheses Problem: unknown Data Experiments Feedback Solution: unknown Insights Insights Plan Do Release Iterate
    • Where is Flowdock now? 500+ groups created 7 days to public beta
    • Ideas change You don’t need a business plan. You need customers. Embrace the unknown
    • Chapter 2; The Start case: ArcticStartup
    • 2007 Started a blog about startups & growth entrepreneurship in the Northern Europe
    • 2007-2009 4 guys No journalist background No business model No money Working on nights & weekends
    • What there was: People Passion Opportunity
    • 2010 2 guys employed full-time Well known brand Profitable Advertising, Events, Consulting, Product
    • What Do You Need? People. It’s easier with co-founders. Find something you’re passionate about. Mostly forget money. Start something. Figure it out as you go.
    • People. Choosing a co-founder is more like choosing a wife / husband. It’s nice to have complimentary skills but the relationship is more important.
    • Start. Start something or join a startup. As a student you have advantages: Spare time, low costs of living, no- one cares if you fail, minimal commitments
    • Chapter 3; Before The Start What to do?
    • Meet with founders / go to events ArcticEvenings (Nordics) www.arcticstartup.com/arctic-evenings More Nordic events: www.arcticindex.com/events Aalto Entrepreneurship Society (Finland) www.aaltoes.com Open Coffee (World-wide) Google: open coffee Local events, conferences
    • Read Online ArcticStartup www.arcticstartup.com Hacker News news.ycombinator.com Mixergy (Videos with founders) www.mixergy.com Paul Graham Essays www.paulgraham.com
    • Read Books Crush it! The Monk and The Art of The Riddle The Start
    • Thanks. email: karri@karrisaarinen.com twitter: @karrisaarinen slides + links: http://bit.ly/nesu-karri flowdock.com / arcticstartup.com