Thanks to my fellow mindful-tech entrepreneur Pamela Day for the invite to Startup Grind conference this week in Silicon Valley. It's a 40-city event series in 15 countries to inspire, educate and connect entrepreneurs.There were many takeaways, from practical to philosophical, out of mouths of founders and incubators and investors, including The Lean Startup Method's Steve Blank, entrepreneur-turned-VC Mark Suster, and Udemy's cofounder Gagan Biyani.
Below are some of the big ideas I jotted down:
On selling: Harvard biz prof and author of "How will you measure your life" Clayton Christensen talked about achieving product/market fit (a core aspect of selling) as being able to identify what job your customer wants to get done.
Never mind the purchaser personas "who's my customer" issue, what is it that your thing serves their need by being, by doing?
Example: I need something to do during my commute that I can do with one hand, something that fills my stomach, something that doesn't spill or make a mess in the car, something that takes the whole 45 minutes to consume. This is the job done by a milkshake bought by a guy first thing in the morning. He's not buying it and comparing the price, or the flavor, to other milkshakes. He's comparing it to options like a banana (too fast, smelly, the peel!) and a donut (sticky fingers, not filling). When you know why they choose you and your product or service, you can better get that message out there about it. "So thick it takes 45 minutes to drink". (Or, develop product to get the job done).
Enter with great products, competitors will eat you. If you enter with slimmed down specs, they flee upmarket. (This is good to know, since many of us are in that boat of not being able to compete with established players...)
On founding a venture: ventures fail when they run out of $ -- and then can't keep going.
(The money thing is not the end itself!) They fail when the founders run of out energy to keep doing it. We need to take care of ourselves so we can keep doing this.
Also, survivors of dysfunctional families can operate at chaos, which makes them successful entrepreneurs.
Same was said about ADHD people. Regarding the psychological conditions for entrepreneurship, see this article on PandoDaily about the link between bipolar spectrum and entrepreneurship --"Building businesses can be a great way for hypomanic entrepreneurs to apply their energy and creativity."
Entrepreneurship is not job, it's a calling. Like being an artist, composer. We're driven to make something happen out of nothing. We need to make decisions out of passion, not fear.
From a now-billionaire who started by tutoring ppl at his house after work: Think big start small. Portion of your earnings belongs to creation of your future. You can only earn if you save.
The cycle of entrepreneurship, Carlos Martins says, is: Strategy->Plan->Execute->Assess->Correction->start again.
That correction -->strategy part is where businesses fail since what worked yesterday may not work today, what works today may not work tomorrow.
And from the brilliant guy behind icanhascheezburger: cultural relevance is resonance.
Creation no longer binary, says Ben Huh, my favorite speaker of the conference since he's talking about my culture-view of the Internet. It spans a spectrum of create, curate, remix. Internet culture will make the rock stars of tomorrow.Being weird doesn't mean you're alone. Internet and social media is matchmaking, surfacing connections previously unavailable.
Relationships are now matched to your interest. Let your fans tell their story not yours. There are more of them than us, Huh says. Don't try to outshout them.
Rather than big social where we get our cues from big brands, ICanHasCheezburger is little social. We stand for something little and let our users build messages around our brand.
Embodiment of Internet culture is user driven, rather than transactional. I want you to understand me. We want to express our best selves and expression allows you to do that. It's like we're playing SIMS with our own identity.
I participate therefore I am. Now we can consume a world that is more personal and more real, have real convos with real people, our world view tweaked and challenged by our peers.
Other speakers let us know that people will try to discourage you.
Listen double hard to people who disagree with you on a particular point, you might be missing something. Otherwise, only listen to people who have successfully done this thing you want to do. Disregard other status signifiers like power & prestige & pedigree, these aren't good reasons to follow their advice.
There was also talk of outgrowing your mentors, and not giving away your power to partners and investors just to be "fair" or because you're flattered they want in on your thing.