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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-fo...
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...
Traditional method:
How Products Are Made
Concept /   Product       Alpha / Beta   Launch /
Idea        Development   Test...
Traditional Product Development:
 The Waterfall
          Requirements
                  Specification

Problem: known     ...
Traditional Product Development:
 The Waterfall
                           m
                               on
          R...
Traditional Product Development:
 The Waterfall
                          Pa
         Requirements          th
If...      ...
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   H...
Problem + Solution
Traditional Product Development:
 The Waterfall
          Requirements
                  Specification

Problem: known     ...
Lean Startup Product Development
                     Customer Development




Hypotheses            Problem: unknown     ...
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.

Sta...
People.
Choosing a co-founder is more
like choosing a wife / husband.
It’s nice to have complimentary
skills but the relat...
Start.
Start something or join a startup.
As a student you have advantages:
Spare time, low costs of living, no-
one cares...
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.a...
Read Online
ArcticStartup
www.arcticstartup.com

Hacker News
news.ycombinator.com

Mixergy (Videos with founders)
www.mixe...
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 / arct...
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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.

Published in: Business, Technology
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Notes
  • 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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Transcript of "Tales From The Startup"

  1. 1. Tales from the Startup Karri Saarinen, March 3, 2010 NESU Spring Conference Vaasa 2010
  2. 2. #nesuvaasa If you twitter about this talk http://bit.ly/nesu-karri Slides + all links
  3. 3. 1 The Process case: Flowdock 2 The Start case: ArcticStartup 3 Before The Start What to do?
  4. 4. ? Who is this dude?
  5. 5. 6 developer years designer of web stuff entrepreneur
  6. 6. Now Product Manager / Product / Customer / Co-founder Business Developer
  7. 7. Now ...And I study Business Management at University of Vaasa Product Manager / Product / Customer / Co-founder Business Developer
  8. 8. Introduction; What is a Startup?
  9. 9. startup: 1. a new organization or business venture
  10. 10. Really, a startup: Rather recent Product business High growth potential High risk / reward
  11. 11. Chapter 1; The Process case: Flowdock
  12. 12. Belief; 1 You need a great idea to start a business
  13. 13. The first idea of Flowdock: Time tracking for the enterprise
  14. 14. Fortunately we didn’t go there. Instead...
  15. 15. Flowdock, The best group messenger
  16. 16. Ideas change, it’s ok. People & execution matter more
  17. 17. Belief; 2 You need to do a business plan
  18. 18. We didn’t write a business plan. We contacted customers.
  19. 19. Business plans are not real. People are. Get out of the building!
  20. 20. “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” But nothing beats facts.
  21. 21. Belief; 3 You need to know a lot about your business
  22. 22. For a startup everything is unknown. Just deal with it
  23. 23. Product = Problem + Solution unknown unknown startup known known enterprise
  24. 24. Traditional method: How Products Are Made Concept / Product Alpha / Beta Launch / Idea Development Test Ship
  25. 25. Traditional method: How Products Are Made Concept / Product Alpha / Beta Launch / Idea Development Test Ship Where are the customers?
  26. 26. Traditional Product Development: The Waterfall Requirements Specification Problem: known Design Solution: known Implementation Verification Maintenance
  27. 27. Traditional Product Development: The Waterfall m on Requirements th Specification s or Problem: known Design ye Solution: known Implementation ar Verification s Maintenance
  28. 28. Traditional Product Development: The Waterfall Pa Requirements th If... Specification to Fa Problem: unknown Design ilu Solution: unknown Implementation re Verification Maintenance
  29. 29. How To Deal Better With The Unknown Problem (What your product will solve)
  30. 30. Steve Blank
  31. 31. Customer Development
  32. 32. Customer Development Customers Customers Customers
  33. 33. Customer Discovery: State your hypotheses Test “Problem” Test “Product” Verify: Iterate or Exit
  34. 34. How To Deal Better With The Unknown Solution (How you solve the problem)
  35. 35. We practice Agile / Scrum 2 weeks Plan Do Release Hypotheses Daily 15min Have something Insights meetings that works User stories Iterate
  36. 36. Problem + Solution
  37. 37. Traditional Product Development: The Waterfall Requirements Specification Problem: known Design Solution: known Implementation Verification Maintenance
  38. 38. Lean Startup Product Development Customer Development Hypotheses Problem: unknown Data Experiments Feedback Solution: unknown Insights Insights Plan Do Release Iterate
  39. 39. Where is Flowdock now? 500+ groups created 7 days to public beta
  40. 40. Ideas change You don’t need a business plan. You need customers. Embrace the unknown
  41. 41. Chapter 2; The Start case: ArcticStartup
  42. 42. 2007 Started a blog about startups & growth entrepreneurship in the Northern Europe
  43. 43. 2007-2009 4 guys No journalist background No business model No money Working on nights & weekends
  44. 44. What there was: People Passion Opportunity
  45. 45. 2010 2 guys employed full-time Well known brand Profitable Advertising, Events, Consulting, Product
  46. 46. 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.
  47. 47. 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.
  48. 48. 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
  49. 49. Chapter 3; Before The Start What to do?
  50. 50. 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
  51. 51. Read Online ArcticStartup www.arcticstartup.com Hacker News news.ycombinator.com Mixergy (Videos with founders) www.mixergy.com Paul Graham Essays www.paulgraham.com
  52. 52. Read Books Crush it! The Monk and The Art of The Riddle The Start
  53. 53. Thanks. email: karri@karrisaarinen.com twitter: @karrisaarinen slides + links: http://bit.ly/nesu-karri flowdock.com / arcticstartup.com
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