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10 Challenges for Emerging Market Startup Ecosystems

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slides from my talk at PreMoney Bahrain (Dec 2015)

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  • Thanks for the insights, Dave! The "STOP building product features; START growing customers" is something that I am constantly repeating in my head, but isn't always landing. Thanks for the reminder! ;)
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  • a lot of these are these are true in the land of the "rise of the rest" here in the US as well. too many non-urban startup communities have tunnel vision on the world at large and don't understand growth - why it matters, what it means, and how to get it. everything seems to start and stop with the "great idea".
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10 Challenges for Emerging Market Startup Ecosystems

  1. 1 0 C H A L L E N G E S F O R E M E R G I N G M A R K E T S TA RT U P E C O S Y S T E M S @ D A V E M C C L U R E @ 5 0 0 S TA R T U P S 5 0 0 . C O
  2. Dave McClure
 Founding Partner & Troublemaker, 500 Startups 00’s & 10’s: • VC: Founders Fund, Facebook fbFund, 500 Startups • Angel: Mashery, Mint.com, SlideShare, Twilio • Marketing: PayPal, Simply Hired, Mint.com, O’Reilly 80’s & 90’s: • Entrepreneur: Aslan Computing (acq’d by Servinet/Panurgy) • Developer: Windows / SQL DB consultant (Intel, MSFT) • Engineer: Johns Hopkins‘88, BS Eng / Applied Math
  3. • What is 500? – $200M under management – 100+ people / 30 investing partners / 18 Countries – 2500+ Founders / 250+ Mentors • 1300+ Portfolio Co’s / 50+ Countries – Wildfire (acq GOOG, $350M) – MakerBot (acq SSYS, $400M) – Viki (acq Rakuten, $200M) – Simple (acq BBVA, $117M) – Credit Karma (~$3.5B) – GrabTaxi ($1B+) – Twilio ($1B+) – Ipsy – SendGrid – VivaReal – Udemy – Zozi – The RealReal – Virool – BarkBox – Tradesy 500 Startups
 Global Seed Fund & Startup Accelerator
  4. 1 ) T H E R E A R E N ’ T M A N Y I N V E S T O R S . M O S T O F T H E M A R E E V I L O R S T U P I D . • low valuations and crappy terms: “51% for $100K” • supply vs. demand problem; fewer investors than startups, lack of competition = no urgency, • NO to business plans / revenue projections • YES to mktg plans, expense projections • wins & exits => FOMO, competition increases
  5. 2 ) T H E R E A R E N ’ T M A N Y E N T R E P R E N E U R S . M O S T O F T H E M A R E C L U E L E S S . • more mentorship, more founder experience • product management, design & UX, growth hacking & marketing • changes after 1st gen founders exit -> 2nd gen startups
  6. 3 ) T H E R E A R E N ’ T M A N Y C U S T O M E R S . M O S T O F T H E M D O N ’ T PAY. • no longer true; 3B+ smart phones; massive mobile market • increasing internet availability + rising consumer GDP • improved payment & logistics • local/regional markets are BIG • access to global markets easier
  7. 4 ) S TA RT U P S D O N ’ T H AV E T R A C T I O N , A N D N O I D E A H O W T O G E T I T. • Growth Hackers -> DISTRO • STOP building product features; START growing customers (via online platforms) • unit economics: CAC vs. CLV, timing of revenue & expense, conversion metrics • find profitable, high-volume customer acquisition channels that convert to KPIs, learn how to grow them
  8. 5 ) T H E R E A R E N ’ T M A N Y E X I T S . M O S T O F T H E M A R E S M A L L . • where are the unicorns? • acquirers crossing borders to find talent (US, EU, China, Japan, etc) • non-tech companies acquiring startups for innovation • global companies looking for emerging market footprint • local -> regional -> global growth
  9. 6 ) I N V E S T I N G I N R E A L E S TAT E I S B E T T E R B E T T H A N I N V E S T I N G I N S TA RT U P S • startups aren’t real estate! • real estate doesn’t go up forever • most startups fail completely • but a few startups grow up to be unicorns • use real estate to lower risk, drive liquidity
  10. 7 ) M O S T A C C E L E R AT O R S S U C K . A N D T H E Y ’ R E G O I N G T O D I E . S O O N . • Accelerator economics are tough. • Most startups fail. Most wins are small. Big wins take time (5-10 years). • Most accelerators are under-staffed, under-capitalized, short time horizons. • Accelerators should verticalize, focus on industry-specific expertise, get corporate / academic / govt sponsors • Create operational capital via investment; use real estate to hedge risk, be creative
  11. 8 ) E M P L O Y E E S D O N ’ T U N D E R S TA N D E Q U I T Y. F O U N D E R S D O N ’ T G I V E I T T O T H E M . • equity should be distributed widely among team (not just founders and management) • when exits happen, a thousand angels are born • US: PayPal, Google, Facebook • CHINA: Alibaba, TenCent, Baidu • MENA: Souq + ? • create equity culture, angel investor culture
  12. 9 ) M O S T S TA RT U P S N E V E R G O G L O B A L . M O S T T H AT T RY W I L L FA I L . • startups have to start SOMEwhere • some local & regional markets are BIG India, Turkey, Brazil, Indonesia, MENA • 50-100M customers good place to start • hard to jump to global markets without local market MVP, product/market fit • you don’t need to go to Silicon Valley, get Silicon Valley to come to YOU.
  13. 1 0 ) M O S T F O U N D E R S & I N V E S T O R S D O N ’ T T H I N K T H E Y ’ R E A S G O O D A S S I L I C O N VA L L E Y. • Silicon Valley isn’t a place, it’s a State of Mind. • Most startups in Silicon Valley came from somewhere else (PayPal, WhatsApp, FreshBooks) • The biggest problem isn’t lack of experience, it’s lack of confidence (for both investors & founders) • You’re Good enough. You’re Smart enough. Get Going!

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