Start-up class - Lecture #1
The first lecture on How to Start a Startup had been posted a few days ago. What follows in this post is the lecture video and my notes. Do watch the video first and then read my notes.
The first lecture video was pretty basic but fundamental. I think that everyone starting-up must watch the video and I am sure that most of us didn’t give proper thoughts and did skip thinking about some of the important details when starting up.
A startup is a combination of four things - Idea, Product, Team and Execution.
This is the first step when trying to start-up. We know all about this. Or do we?
- A good idea is better than a bad idea. Recently, there have been a lot many discussions on Ideas don’t matter. Execution is everything. But a good idea has a better chance of succeeding than a bad idea given other things remain constant. However, it’s often difficult to comprehend whether an idea is good or bad. Many good ideas begin looking bad. Thinking about an idea with some parameters in mind could be a surprisingly good whetting process.
- Plan on the idea - Do not jump into the first idea that you get. Plan it. Though planning does not provide any concrete value per growth for the startup but planning the idea simplifies it and results in a better plan of execution. If you start on an idea without even a little bit of planning, chances are that you fumble on how to proceed. There are a lot of unpredictable things in a startup - some predictability is a good thing.
- Think about the market - The market is the one thing which is almost completely out of your control. When whetting an idea, what most people do is that they look at the current market scenario. However, your successful startup is in the future. Rather than looking at the current market scenario it’s almost always better to look at how the market will grow in the future. The growth of the market most directly affects how your startup will grow.
- Why Now? - Always answer the question Why Now? Why do you need to work on this idea now. Could it wait for a couple of years? Timing, very often, ends up mattering a lot.
- Start with an Audience - Most startup founders go about fleshing the idea and then looking for the appropriate audience. However, one should first seek the audience, study what they want and then build the supply.
The product is what you are predominantly selling. For an early stage startup there is nothing (and nothing) more important to get a product which users love.
- Product is the most important in the early days of the startup. If the product sucks, then everything else will fail no matter what. In the initial days, there are only two things that you should doing - working on the product and talking to initial users. Everything else will come later. Focus on getting the product to a market-fit stage.
- Make a product which initially a small number of users love rather than building something which a large number of users merely like. Optimise on the amount of love your product gets.
- If the above is true, then your product should initially grow via word-of-mouth. (It will not take you to huge numbers maybe but initially to see a 10% growth rate, you need to add 10 users weekly if you have a initial customer base of 100). If the product doesn’t grow initially by word-of-mouth, the product probably is not something users love. People spread word about things they love (this gives them content to talk to when meeting other people).
- Start with a product which is simple and provides a clear albeit small utility. It’s easier to get love for a product which solves one thing really well as opposed to getting love for a complex product which users are not sure which problem is it aiming to solve.
- Working on the product is also one of the most fun parts in the startup lifecycle!
Start thinking about your idea now. Go. I’d happy to brainstorm on your idea if you want a sounding board. You can reach me via email.
By - Sid Saha