Slow and Steady. Pauses Good morning. Intro: I’m Mick Liubinskas, co-founder and web-strategist at Pollenizer. I want to start by thank Jason for pointing out how crazy founders are. I’m going to encourage you to be less crazy and improve your chances of creating a winning business. It’s a tough but crucial lesson. It’s one I really want to give. Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen the start-up environment in Australia picking up pace and I really want to keep it going. But one thing I have seen time and time again in start-ups is a lack of focus making a tough job harder. So today I’m focusing on focus. I want to hammer home it’s importance and when you get back to your garage tomorrow or your desk tonight, I want you to be thinking who you can be doing to focus yourself and your business. Brutal and relentless focus. An example to start. Yell out if you can guess what web business I’m talking about. 4 years ago, an application started out with just 3 features and an intial target of less than 20,000. Less than four years later, that company is valued at more than a billion dollars. Can anyone tell me what application that was? NEXT
Energy. This picture was taken when I got my first computer, an Atari. Since then I’ve been a geek and seen my fair share of technology businesses succeed, fail or more often than not - just plain under achieve. And one of the primary differences between the 3 options, is the companies ability to focus. My time at Kazaa, peer-to-peer file sharing company, despite becoming the most downloaded application ever, was still an under achievement due to lack of focus. We diluted our energy across applications, web sites, search, affiliate programs, selling content and there was also this little legal case that was a bit distracting at times. Now at Pollenizer, I work with start-ups everyday and my mission with them is to not let them fail or under achieve due to lack of focus. Some of them are here today and I’m sure they’ll attest to that. So let’s get started with why you absolutely need to focus.
Be enthused Why Focus - You’re little, they are big.. Google, Microsoft, eBay, Fox Interactive, Amazon – 10,000 Computer Science PHD’s, 20% time, Billion dollars R & D fund. “ I just raised 10k, and we’re going to be google search but better’ Even if they are not doing it now, they are big and can replicate a broad offering quickly – being focused will make you faster. They will see you as competition if you go too broad. They might buy you out if you are doing one thing well. Meebo Blue Pulse – found a new niche.
Lots of energy. Slow and Steady. Pauses The only way to really focus is to test, measure and refine. Don’t have a 3 month dev programme that has feature stacked after feature. Allow 50% of your time to improve the core, until you hit your critical mass number. The number that shows that your core utility, your web engine is cranking. If your dev schedule looks like this: Feature 1, Feature 2, Feature 3 Then you’re unfocused. It should be Dev f1, Test f1, Improve f1, Test F1, Improve f1, dev F2 Mig33 – threw their first version in the bin, tried a second and nailed the 3 rd .
Go crazy. Slow and Steady. Pauses You can’t afford to do it all well. Limited time. Limited budget. Limited testing. – Unless you have done it before, you are spending half your time learning, which means you have no time to spare on too many things. Juggling.
Lots of energy Refocus
Wild energy. Focus on a small set of customers and deliver outstanding results to them. The more focused you are, the more value you’ll create and the easier it is to move customers. To get some action. Focus also helps you keep your product simple, which also increases it’s chances of adding value and being adopted. We underestimate what it takes to really win a new customer. You have to be significantly better to break through the barrier of stagnation and friction. Aim for double value. Zapr – simple product, but it’s an innovation, difficult concept.
Lots of energy Focus is about sequence. It’s not about only ever appealing to 50 perfectly targeted customers. It’s about picking that first group of customers who have a massive need for the core utility you are going to give them and are accessible. They must also lead nicely into your next target segment. Facebook started at Harvard. Nailed them, then moved on to Yale and Stanford. They didn’t go from Harvard to the world. They went step by step. One at a time. It’s like chess, you have to think ten moves ahead but you must play one move at a time. Social utility – built individual value, group value, then community. You can’t skip it otherwise you have an empty party. Booking Angel – they focused on restaurants first, then trades people, and are now looking at getting to the states. They didn’t do them all at once.
Slow and Steady. Pauses
Lots of energy Find your purpose. This is the long term vision. What drives you past the initial focus. How do you find it? It’s not “Sell to Google” “Or make millions off ads” Find a single key metric. So for Amazon, it might be purchases per user per month. I You have to know what to do and where to go after your core utility is cranking. You need to know what’s next.
Lots of energy Focus on the right thing. Nintendo Wii – are we a gaming technology company, or are we a fun company? What are we trying to create.
Lots of energy 100’s of new start-ups. How are you going to differentiate yourself? How are you going to get tracking? How are you going to get media attention? 1 in 100 ideas actually get acted on. 1 in 10 acted on get seed funding to really have a shot. 1 in 10 get to VC funding. 1 in 10 are home run hits 1 in 100,000 You must focus, focus, focus.
Lots of energy Core Utility Don’t leave the core, until it’s cranking. Until you have it right. Scouta TV and Recommendations ventures – cutting back. Viocorp – needed to focus. Cut the extras, focused on the core and got profitable in under 3 months.
Lots of energy. Slow and Steady. Pauses Sacrifice – you can’t hedge your focus bets. You have to piss someone off. All things to no-one, or something special to a few people. If the word AND is in your target market and it’s broadening your aim, then it’s hedged. If you have to treat any two customers differently, you are diluting your attention and the end value. Atlassian – enterprise software. Didn’t go for the big end of town. Stayed focused.
Lots of energy Turn the crank. You don’t need to advertise, just get a 50 people loving it. If you’re friends don’t try it and love it, strangers won’t. But make sure they really love it, not just tell you they like it. Stop worrying about getting more people to your site until you know they are going to come out happy the other end. Be relentless. The Podcast Network – Cameron Reilly, patience, build it slowly. Reiterate: How to focus; Find your purpose Test, measure, refine. Turn the crank.
Research Building Prototypes Technology Operational Team Business Development Establish Dedicated Tech Team Marketing Management Angel/Venture Capital Raising Seed Capital Raising Strategy Incubation Customer Development Idea Starting Early Growth Fast Growth Technology Focus Research Building Prototypes Technology Operational Team Establish Dedicated Tech Team Business Agile Practice / Lean Development: Scrum & XP: coaching and implementation Pollenizer Methodology Focus – Design - Build Technology & Product Marketing
Go Read! <ul><li>Eric Ries - Lean Startup / Minimal Viable Product </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>http://www.startuplessonslearned.com/ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Sean Ellis - Metric Driven Marketing </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>http://startup-marketing.com/ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Steve Blank - Customer Development </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>4 Steps to the Epiphany – book. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>http://www.steveblank.com/ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Jerimiah Owyang </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>http://www.webstrategist.com/ </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Andrew Chen </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>http://andrewchenblog.com/ </li></ul></ul></ul>
Photo References: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dcassaa/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/bjmccray/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/25318921@N07/2461652609/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/melyviz/160269050/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/ihtatho/627226315/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/statusfrustration/134388320/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/buck82/7855198/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/pazit/2400635021/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/theopenseas/182775698/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/valeriebb/296470096/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/54122508@N00/317904727/ Mick Liubinskas Mick Liubinskas Mick Liubinskas Pollenizer.com [email_address] @liubinskas FOCUS OR F A I L