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Lessons from a successful but un-scalable startup

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Frans Nauta takes us through his startup journey. He covers his successes and his mistakes, ultimately making a great series of recommendations for budding entrepreneurs. Frans emphasizes the importance of organization, proper planning, and sustainable work as the tools to building a great company.

This content was produced for the 2011 Amsterdam Fall semester of the Founder Institute by Founder Institute mentor Frans Nauta, entrepreneur and innovation expert. Follow him on Twitter to learn more:
https://twitter.com/fnauta

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Lessons from a successful but un-scalable startup

  1. 1. Lessons from a successful but unscalable startup October 11th, 2011 The Founder Institute, Amsterdam
  2. 2. Lessons from a successful but unscalable startup October 11th, 2011 The Founder Institute, Amsterdam @fnauta
  3. 3. 1993 1997 1999 2000 2003 2005
  4. 4. Startup = Greatest tool to realize your dream
  5. 5. My dream: Catalyst for a smarter country "Vision in action": • Think Tank creates new vision for Netherlands • Translates it into projects • Help with kickstarting projects • Give them away • Organize learning around it
  6. 6. My dream: Catalyst for a smarter country "Vision in action": • Think Tank creates new vision for Netherlands • Translates it into projects • Help with kickstarting projects • Give them away • Organize learning around it Target: 2002 elections knowledge economy is central in coalition agreement
  7. 7. On the The Founder Institute scale • Meaningful: certainly, but on local scale • Enduring: hardly • Technology: no
  8. 8. Digital Playground
  9. 9. Lesson: Ask for real commitment
  10. 10. 2002: Fit • We got a 'CFO' • Restructures in first month • Businessmodel clear - From Sponsor-model, to Consultancy, to service- & projectbureau • Research in other countries, such as Finland • First substantial profit
  11. 11. 2003: Mission accomplished • We create Knowledge economy hype • and we become a hype • Knowledge economy is part of the coalition agreement • I start working in The Hague as secretary of innovation for the Prime Minister
  12. 12. Lesson: Acquisition is not holy
  13. 13. Lessons on money • Avoid what seems easy money (subsidy, sponsors), it makes you stupid and creates huge transactional costs (and find a launching customer) • Even if you think money is not important, you still need a scalable business model, or you will get bored
  14. 14. Lessons on me • Startup is the best way to discover your strengths and weaknesses, make sure you find great people to cover your weaknesses • Working > 80 hours structurally is not cool, it means you're not organized effectively and wearing yourself out • A startup is a marathon: see yourself as a top sporter, and take care of yourself that way
  15. 15. Lessons on people • It's amazing how easy it is to get people to listen to you if you truly believe in something • Your team is by far your most important asset, so never accept anyone in the team because he's 'a friend of a friend' or because he's just 'OK' • Find truly great coaches and mentors (not famous ones, they are to busy)
  16. 16. More lessons • Look outside the Netherlands • Design is crucial, the love for detail shows you are really serious about your dream • You'll be pretty incompatible with large organizations after doing a startup

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