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Competitive Edge
Creating your Unique Value Proposition to gain your Competitive Edge.
Curated by Marc Kneepkens
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Accelerators Are The New Business School

Accelerators Are The New Business School | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

It’s no secret that most startups fail. What’s a bit less obvious is that most startup accelerators also fail. While a few top-tier programs get the cream of the crop unicorns of the future, the hundreds of others struggle to attract teams that will produce the investment-grade companies on which their models so depend.

As the true business school of the future, most of them provide tremendous educational value to these budding entrepreneurs — who very well may produce a valuable company some day. Overwhelming odds are, however, that those initial projects that accelerators get a piece of, for their cash and time investment, aren’t the ones with which the entrepreneurs will ultimately succeed. For accelerators to survive long term, their business model has to change. Read more: click on image or title.




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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Some history and evaluation of the start up accelerator model.

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How to run better Marketing Experiments as a Growth Strategy

How to run better Marketing Experiments as a Growth Strategy | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it
How to run better Marketing Experiments to grow your business, using a Repeatable Growth Strategy to test and iterate for continuous improvement and...

Recently we were working with some clients, helping them look at their growth using marketing analytics. They all had revenue, and wanted to grow faster. They knew they could do better but needed help with these questions:

  • "where do I start?"
  • "what tactics should I use?"
  • "how should I measure my progress?"
  • "where should I focus?"

Maybe that seems familiar to you?

Read more: click title or image.




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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Studying the process of marketing and finding the best ways to get results!

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What I Learned Building A Startup like Dogster, Inc.

What I Learned Building A Startup like Dogster, Inc. | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

This just won’t work in paragraph form as nothing in a startup happens in a linear manner. It’s all happening at once, and the realization of any learnings come to you in no particular time frame after that.

In startup land, if you build a sustainable profitable business that is not growing greater than 50% a year, everyone will respect you individually, but few will respect the actual profitable, sustainable business. Seek their respect at your own risk.

If doing what you love (in my case making Internet products that help people connect) allows you to make a business out of it, you’ll end up hating what you created because all you get to do is manage a very complex, challenging business.

Once I created a successful service and business out of nothing I became a lot more scared of blowing it than anything else, when really I should have just been content that I had succeeded at each previous step. It’s important to yell out loud “I did it!” to no one in particular when you realize you achieved what what once a goal.

If you do not prioritize friends, family, loved ones, pets, plants, hobbies while working on a start-up they will decay and extinguish. All you will be left with is a startup. Read more: click image or title.






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"I loved working with Growthink. The staff are passionate about their work and committed to what they do in a way that can only be achieved when you love what you do. They helped keep us on track to achieve our planning goals. I am looking forward to continued success working with everyone from Growthink in the future."
- Venus Williams, Professional Tennis Player and CEO, V Starr Interiors


Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Welcome to #startup land. This article is written in the style that startups are managed: pretty much everything at the same time. It gives an impression as to what being part of a startup is like.

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15 Ways to Test Your Minimum Viable Product

15 Ways to Test Your Minimum Viable Product | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it
Once you have determined the hypotheses you need to test with your MVP, here are some of testing techniques you can use to get reliable data from users.

http://snip.ly/klvd

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Extensive article to check your #MVP

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Seven Startup Metrics You Must Track - Forbes

Seven Startup Metrics You Must Track - Forbes | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

The Seven Startup Metrics You Must Track
Forbes

Not spending enough time gauging your business’s progress can be just as harmful as wasting your time with needless emails or Excel sheets. You may be so focused on getting your business to the next level, chasing funding and finding the right talent, that you are ignoring developing metrics to monitor your success.

But without strategic planning, you’re lost. And you can’t plan if you have no frame of reference for where you are.

I’ve found that these seven metrics (which roll up into three top-level categories: sales metrics, customer metrics, and finance metrics) are good starting points.

To read the full article, click on the title or image.




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Via Kristine Santos, Martin (Marty) Smith, malek
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

If you want to creat an amazing business you have to keep track of your progress. Test, implement, adjust, keep on creating.

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Martin (Marty) Smith's curator insight, June 21, 2014 12:51 AM

Agree, our Triangle Startup Factory Funded startup is tracking most of these "magic metrics".

malek's curator insight, June 21, 2014 6:19 AM

Conversion to paid rate: if you started with a freemium model

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Startups Serving The 99 Percent Will Be the Next Billion-Dollar Companies

Startups Serving The 99 Percent Will Be the Next Billion-Dollar Companies | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

Many fast-growing companies in Silicon Valley have one thing in common: they cater to a small, affluent, urban population -- the 1percent. 

Residents in high-cost cities like San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles can order an array of goods and services from their mobile phones.

These startups, including Uber, Instacart and a host of food delivery apps like Munchery, GrubMarket, Blue Apron, and Postmates, eventually have plans to broaden their offerings to attract middle-income consumers. This is the classic trickle-down business model.

As Farhad Manjoo wrote in The New York Times, “The rich subsidize the rest of us — were it not for the suckers who spent more than $10,000 on early versions of the Mac, Apple might not have survived to build the iPhone.”

As a venture capitalist who has invested in both Chinese and U.S. startups since 2005, I’ve backed several companies leveraging the trickle-down model, such as GrubMarket. But, now I see it also makes sense for some founders to take the opposite approach: mass market first. Read more: click image or title.




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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

It makes sense: catering to the masses is immensely more profitable than to the happy few. Come up with the great ideas now and start executing.

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VC Chamath Palihapitiya Says He Has Cracked the Code for Making Startups Grow

VC Chamath Palihapitiya Says He Has Cracked the Code for Making Startups Grow | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

All startups want growth. They want more eyeballs, more traction, more signs that what they are doing is working. They worship at the foot of the mythical hockey stick graph. But growth is a fickle, unpredictable thing — sometimes great products die before reaching an audience. Sometimes companies find tricks to get tons of users, but after the tricks fade away, everybody leaves. You can’t count on growth.

Not according to Chamath Palihapitiya. The venture capitalist, whose claim to fame was starting the growth team at Facebook, said his Social+Capital Partnership now has a crew of growth experts that it deploys to portfolio companies. And he claims they can make just about anything grow. Read more: clcik title or image.



Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Most interesting are the comments under this article, like this one from Chris Neumann:

What other companies other than Remind 101 has this worked for?  Seems like this is just centered on Remind 101.

IMO, the "code" to "crack" is to figure out which people are getting the most value from your product and orient your marketing around meeting their needs.  Then, figure out which acquisition channels work best, and optimize those channels.  Just be data driven in every step, and you'll grow.  I do this for multiple companies on a consulting basis, and just getting the company to become data driven in their decision making is often very very difficult.  It's also hard to instrument things and collect the data in the first place, so that's why most companies aren't data driven.  In short, figure out what's working and do more of that.  Figuring out what's working is hard.


or this one from Raymond Duke:

There are a set of principles that you can use to grow a product or service. They've been used since a cavemen traded tiger meat for a new cave, to companies been sold for 1 billion dollars. Be wary of those who claim to have developed something "new" - because they are manipulating you. "Cracking the code" or using terms like "growth hacking"  is just like rotating an unbroken wheel.

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How we grew our startup to an early revenue stage

How we grew our startup to an early revenue stage | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

http://snip.ly/J6Fi 

If you are a very early stage entrepreneur, then the next 10 minutes reading this post will probably save you weeks of time.

Like you, we started out with just a vision in our heads and little experience in running a SaaS business. Most of the time we had little clue of what we needed to do to convert traffic into leads and leads into customers. We got some great ideas from experts in the field, but the amount of knowledge on Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) can be overwhelming sometimes, especially for early stage startups.

So we did what we like to call as ‘experiments’ on CRO rather than have ‘strategies’. Some of these experiments have worked brilliantly for us and well, some have failed miserably. So we are sharing our learnings with fellow entrepreneurs who are starting out. The idea is to share our experience with young entrepreneurs just like us and to convey the message that it is a good practice to go with your gut instinct and experiment with options.

Read more: http://snip.ly/J6Fi



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"It has been an absolute delight working with you and this will be just a beginning in my relationship with Growthink.
I am very satisfied with my business plan and financial plan. Your work is outstanding."
Michael Mundi
Mundi Homes

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Excellent article on metrics and testing. Read it and save plenty of time later.

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Little’s Law Is Big For Startups | TechCrunch

Little’s Law Is Big For Startups  |  TechCrunch | Competitive Edge | Scoop.it

Traffic, traction, growth. We all know that these terms are prerequisites to success. As we launch our startups we hope for initial customer acceptance, which would lead to traffic, traction and growth (TTG). In some cases, we’re willing to pay for traffic. In most other cases, we work around the clock to ignite organic TTG.

When we read about the successful co-founders of a Yelp, Pinterest, or WhatsApp, we find ourselves inspired by their drive and intellect, but we often leave wondering what it really was that gave these startups the astronomical TTG that we all want. There’s certainly no shortage of ideas and opinions about how one startup achieved success, but as analytical founders, the prescribed path from “good to great” often does not satisfy us. We crave more mathematical guidance.

One discipline to turn to in order to understand the underlying mechanics of business is operations research (OR).

OR principles not only guide us to optimize and run our businesses smoothly but also provide us with statistical analysis of underlying business concepts via modeling and simulation. One of the most interesting studies in OR which provides relevant guidance to today’s applications is queuing theory. And inside queuing theory, Little’s law is a hidden gem that gives us profound hints on where to focus to achieve superior traffic, traction and growth.

Queuing theory in its simplest terms tackles problems within the context of the following flow in a store:

Arrival –> Service–> Departure

In a queuing system, there are items that arrive at some rate to the system. Then they depart. An item can be a customer or inventory. When we think about it, this is exactly what we have on a website or app. Visitors arrive, they stick around for a while, then they leave. The most valuable company is the one with the most visitors that stay the longest.

Little’s Law says that, under steady state conditions, the average number of items in a queuing system equals the average rate at which items arrive multiplied by the average time that an item spends in the system.

Letting

L =average number of items in the queuing system,

W = average waiting time in the system for an item, and

λ =average number of items arriving per unit time, the law states the following:


“The long-term average number of customers in a stable system is equal to the long-term effective arrival rate multiplied by the average time a customer spends in the store.”

This statement sounds trivial. Its magic, however, lies in the simplicity that the relationship is not influenced by the service distribution, service order or anything else. It’s not influenced by the color of the site, the distribution of the content or the price of the product. The only thing that matters is how fast the visitors are coming and how long they’re staying. Everything else is secondary. Little’s law doesn’t only apply to queues in physical stores; it applies to networks and to any system where there’s a flow of items.

To examine a real-life situation, it’s safe to claim that Google, as a search engine, has the highest arrival rate of visitors, namely λ. But the visitors don’t stick around much. They quickly click through to another site via organic or paid links. Then they come back later for another search only to leave quickly. Google has done a phenomenal job at building up that arrival rate that made the company what it is today. But take a look at the acquisitions, research or any other top initiative at Google, and you’ll easily see that all of them target the second part of Little’s law: W, the average time a customer spends at a Google property, whether that’s email, phone, calendar or web browser.

According to Comscore, Google received about 13 billion search queries in March 2014. This translates to 433.3 million queries per day, 18 million per hour, 300 thousand per minute and only 5,000 per second. A quick comparison to Bing looks like this:

 

Number of search queries

TimeframeMicrosoftGooglePermonth3,600,000,000.0013,000,000,000.00Per day120,000,000.00433,333,333.33Per hour5,000,000.0018,055,555.56Per minute83,333.33300,925.93Per second1,388.895,015.43Per millisecond1.45

 

One wonders if Bing at any point exceeded Google’s 5,000 per second search rate. If yes, that’s good for Bing and bad for Google and it’s crucial to figure out why that jolt happened at that particular second. Investigating short bursts of higher-than-usual traffic leads to significant hints versus observing daily or monthly numbers.

Now consider Facebook. Facebook has both great arrival rate and time spent in “store.” But its customer arrival rate (λ) is not as high as Google’s. This is why all the top acquisitions and projects at Facebook target increasing the arrival rate. We visit Facebook a few times a day and stick around a little bit but then we quickly jump to a Google search.

Operation managers and entrepreneurs are more concerned with the throughput rate rather than the arrival rate. But the throughput rate is important only if there is arrival. Arrival is certainly a binary function without which there’s no usefulness. Once visitors arrive, the key metric to monitor is how fast they arrive, not how many.

Here are three implications of Little’s law as it applies to startups:

  1. For investors evaluating startups, it’s best to examine traffic figures at the lowest level of granularity possible. Even if the monthly uniques are low, surges in traffic at much smaller time intervals provide traces of higher value. The reverse is also true. Dips in arrival rates may suggest potential problems.
  2. For an entrepreneur, instead of focusing on the monthly stats, working on how to increase the searches per second is a healthier effort — particularly for those wanting to disrupt a certain market. The traffic numbers may be up and down and all over the place throughout the month, but it is the peaks of high traffic per second (or millisecond) that deserves the attention.
  3. It’s important to focus on why and how the influx of visitors surged in the smallest time frame available. Work to figure out ways to sustain that instead of focusing on monthly uniques.

Little’s law provides hints for social or viral growth, too, because in both cases, influence is spread out in short bursts as people visit the site/page/app almost all at the same time. Viral influx is the dream of a startup and after that, some level of stickiness is required to keep people around. But early traction trumps great content. Normalizing your metrics over time and looking at meaningful windows of time are a lot more useful than just looking at long-term averages.

If you’re hungry for analytical insights on traffic, traction and growth, look no further than queuing theory and particularly Little’s law. For those of you interested in the mathematical proof of Little’s law, here’s the link to Professor Little’s 2011 paper celebrating the 50th anniversary of his theory.


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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Startup experts talking formulas...

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