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Real Engines Of Growth Have Nothing To Do With Growth Hacking

Real Engines Of Growth Have Nothing To Do With Growth Hacking | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
Imagine you're a 17-year-old girl at a well-to-do high school in Los Angeles, and you just discovered Snapchat. Until that moment, every time you thought..
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Very interesting analysis debunking the myth that one single growth hacker could fix any startup's lack of growth. The secret of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat? A deep understanding of their users' psychology and motivations. Plus a perfect execution to make it frictionless and simplement to understand and tell. 

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Ideas for entrepreneurs
Serial entrepreneurship is constant learning. Here's what I found impacting.
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So you think you know your business model?

A mentor master class I've been doing for The Refiners, the cross-boarder acceleration program for foreign founders in Silicon Valley. Business models are hard to define for entrepreneurs because as a startup this is precisely your #1 mission: research (in the R&D sense), experiment, pivot and ultimately find a scalable business model for your company.

Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Sharing some of my war stories that I shared earlier this week with entrepreneurs from The Refiners' accelerator program. And trying to come out with some kind of methodology to address the key questions around defining a business model. 

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The 10 Things I’d Tell My Younger CEO Self to Do Better Next Time

The 10 Things I’d Tell My Younger CEO Self to Do Better Next Time | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
The 10 Things I’d Tell My Younger CEO Self to Do Better Next Time. What are the Top 10 things I’d tell myself to do better, if I could go back in time?
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

SaaStr's Jason Lemkin shares some great lessons in that post. I can definitely echo to some of them but I actually found I've been at times too slow on big decisions (his #1 tip is to slow them down). While I agree that rushing things on impulse can be bad, some of my mistakes came from not reacting soon enough when things were bad. And ignoring - or wanting to ignore - signs that they were.

 

What are the things you'd be doing better next time? 

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Ian Berry's curator insight, October 30, 8:06 PM
All good advice
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Why non-Bay Area startups struggle to find investors here

Why non-Bay Area startups struggle to find investors here | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
Raising money is hard. And it’s even harder if you’re an entrepreneur from outside the Bay Area. Entrepreneurs from outside of Silicon Valley often struggle to raise money here. There’s issues with culture and style, differences in expectations, as well as our emphasis on growth over monetization. I’m reminded of this every time I travel …
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Excellent summary by Andrew Chen on the cultural gap when it comes to fund raising in Europe vs Silicon Valley.

 

On the positive side, I'd add that, coming from Europe where access is often hard and networks often closed ones, I was surprised by how accessible VC's were. It doesn't mean they'll invest easily though, unlike what most foreign founders still think and as Andrew Chen explains in this post. 

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ava smith's curator insight, September 30, 10:50 PM
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Ready to scale? Not if you haven't gone through these 3 steps first

Ready to scale? Not if you haven't gone through these 3 steps first | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
The Startup Genome analysis, which investigated 650 Internet startups, found that “premature scaling is the most common reason for startups to perform poorly and lose the battle early on”.
Guillaume Decugis's insight:
Great summary of what premature scaling is. And how to ensure you validate the right steps before attempting to scale.
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Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, September 18, 10:27 AM

..."Premature scaling, thus, is a startup killer. But what, exactly, is premature scaling?

And how can you prevent it from leading to the death of your company? In this article I’ll provide detailed answers to these two questions as well as outline various key strategies for successfully growing your business."

ava smith's curator insight, September 22, 12:14 AM
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Why startups shouldn't do launches

Why startups shouldn't do launches | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it

Here's a common question I get from startups, especially in the early stages: when should we launch? My answer is almost always the same: don't

Guillaume Decugis's insight:

As we're developing a new product with the Scoop.it team, I was re-reading this great post by Eric Ries on the fallacy of product launches for startups. This was also the topic for one of the roundtables I participated to at the recent CrossLink capital's Alpha Summit.

 

As startup people, most of us have dreamed of doing an Apple-like product launch. Get on stage, capture attention, unveil something amazing, etc...

 

But most startups don't have the opportunity to mobilize attention in a big way like Apple or other big companies do. Unless they have a big personal brand, founders won't get huge attention for their new babies - however beautiful they think it might be. 

 

Perhaps more importantly, Apple-style launches mean getting products 100% ready and flawless which - for software startups - is terribly wrong. To quote LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman: "If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late."

 

Finally, even a good launch is temporary. Great startups succeed by getting long-term, sustainable growth.

 

Not 15' of fame. 

 

I failed at this several times but we got one right with Scoop.it's launch-that-wasn't-a-launch. Instead of trying to get massive PR coverage we couldn't get anyway, we launched a private beta, reached out to influential people who cared about the content curation problem, got them to use our first version which led them to blog about it and iterated the product for close to one year before finally opening the doors.

 

4 million users later, I think of this of our most successful launch (that wasn't). 

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Can you really be a lean startup if you're an AI company?

Can you really be a lean startup if you're an AI company? | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
It once would have seemed like a crazy barrier to get large amounts of data, but startups are finding all sorts of creative ways to do it.
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

The hype on AI is real says FirstMark Capital's Matt Turck. But he warns that big data is one of the key drivers. If you don't have access to large data sets, you can't train any AI to learn anything. So as he notes, there's a lot of talent recruiting, data gathering and then learning and fine-tuning before you can launch a product. The lean startup approach of "launch, fail fast and learn" therefore doesn't work. 

 

To which I'll add another point. Will you eventually own the data stream your AI relies on to learn? If you do then great. But if you don't, how defensible is your future business if your data comes from Facebook or Google API's?

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The end of Silicon Valley's monopoly on talent

The end of Silicon Valley's monopoly on talent | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it

"Today, it’s quite common to meet startups who house their product and engineering centers in Portland, Vancouver, Toronto, Beijing, Waterloo, Paris, or London. Some companies are even relocating their headquarters to these geographies after getting off the ground in the valley."

Guillaume Decugis's insight:

When I was studying engineering and thinking about going to grad school, I had my own version of the American dream. I had done a short internship in a Silicon Valley company, I had visited the Stanford campus and I had one obsession: I wanted to come back and be a part of this ecosystem. Because this is where people knew, this is where tech talent and knowledge resided. 

 

So 20+ years ago (closer to 25 now... damn...), I went to grad school at Stanford and it changed my life. I discovered so many things that weren't even discussed or taught in European universities that I couldn't list them all.

 

Today, this situation has changed completely as Tom Tunguz explains in this post. Make no mistake though: Silicon Valley is still unrivaled for tech in many ways. Ecosystem, access to funding, tech culture (with its pros and cons as recent coverage unfortunately showed), go-to-market, scaling, market access, etc... But one thing is very different from 25 years ago: great engineering talent doesn't need to be in Silicon Valley to be great. 

 

I've tested that first-hand being a French founder in San Francisco with an engineering team based in France. Very frequently, I meet peers who will tell me about such and such new technology that's trending in Silicon Valley. And of course, I tell my team about it. But almost systematically, they tell me they've known about it for months or tested it and sometimes implemented it already themselves. The Internet makes the world smaller but it makes the tech world an even tinier little village as engineers are now hyper connected.

 

Tom adds a new point to this which is the economic equation. All of us foreign founders in Silicon Valley have felt what he explains very personally. We all have rising costs, budgets which are getting harder and harder to balance and - unlike our peers who grew up in the Bay Area - a clear understanding of how much attractive the alternative is economically. 

 

When I relocated 6 years ago to San Francisco with an engineering team based in France, it felt very exotic. I kept explaining that yes, we have good engineers in France - not just bakers, winemakers and luxury clothes designers. Now, when I say my engineering team is based in France, it looks smart. 

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The Only Metric That Matters

The Only Metric That Matters | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
One question I get asked a lot by founders and product managers I meet is “Are my metrics good enough?” This might refer to good enough to raise money, or good enough to keep working on a feature or…
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Yes, there's only one really. But where it gets tricky is understanding how to measure it and more importantly what to do about it. 

 

I've found myself it's easy to crunch a lot of data and feel you're understanding things where actually talking to real people is irreplaceable. There are lots of things data don't capture that people will explain. 

 

And it's when you start hearing the same story over and over again that the pattern becomes obvious. As well as the data... and the way to improve it. 

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Ian Berry's curator insight, June 26, 8:58 PM
Excellent thought provoking case studies in the slides and questions
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Here’s how likely your startup is to get acquired at any stage

Here’s how likely your startup is to get acquired at any stage | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
Let’s say you randomly selected 1,000 seed-stage startups based in the United States. How many of those would go on to raise a Series A?
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Interesting stats from TechCrunch. Even though I'm not sure many entrepreneurs really care about the odds of success. 

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Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, May 22, 6:22 PM

The dwindling curves of #startup success...

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The Utter Uselessness of Job Interviews

The Utter Uselessness of Job Interviews | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
We use them to try to “get to know” people. It doesn’t work.
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Recruiting is hard. And if you had any doubt about this, science has now proven it: by combining random interviews in a series of tests, researchers have found that interviews can not only be irrelevant to detect whether a candidate will perform in his/her job but it can also be counterproductive. 

 

Are you using any tests in your recruitment process?

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Growth hacking is bullshit

Growth hacking is bullshit | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
Growth is the lifeblood of startups. Growth is what differentiates Snapchat from hipster coffee shops. It’s the difference between revenue-less Instagram and The New York Times. It’s why investors…
Guillaume Decugis's insight:
Awesome read by Intercom head of growth that captures a lot of what I've been experiencing myself. Local and micro optimizations are not enough to build a long-term growing product.
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SaaS Pricing benchmarks by OpenView Labs

SaaS Pricing benchmarks by OpenView Labs | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
After surveying more than 1,000 software executives about their SaaS pricing habits, we've uncovered some alarming gaps. View the results here.
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

OpenView Labs' Kyle Poyar finds that these figures demonstrate a lack of maturity by a lot of SaaS companies in their pricing strategy. 

 

Their survey is really nice and will make you think about your own approach to pricing if you're in SaaS. 

 

My own thoughts while I took the quizz is that pricing is indeed a key element of the mix and is often not tested enough. But for some legitimate reasons too: it's quite hard to do solid A/B test on pricing when you're in early-stage phases as you'll probably won't have enough data to produce significant results quickly. And when you're beyond that phase, it can be perceived as harder to change. 

 

But at the end of the day, this is inspiring data and should inspire you to design some interesting pricing experiments. 

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Why VCs Should First be Startup CEOs

Why VCs Should First be Startup CEOs | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
Venture Capitalists who are serious about turning their firms into more than one-fund wonders may want to have their associates actually start and run a company for a year.
Guillaume Decugis's insight:
Nothing beats having been in the trenches according to Steve Blank. And because starting a company now requires less than a year and $500k, he suggests to make it part of the VC-partner training program.
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Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, January 4, 12:06 PM

Great idea. Get some experience in the field.

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What It’s Like to do YC Demo Day as a VC then as an Entrepreneur

What It’s Like to do YC Demo Day as a VC then as an Entrepreneur | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
Last year I participated in YC Demo Day as a VC. This year I’m participating as part of “the batch”.
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Where you also learn that asking the right questions as a VC is not that easy.

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Why I turned down $500K, Pissed off my investors, and Shut down my startup

Why I turned down $500K, Pissed off my investors, and Shut down my startup | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
I just did what no startup founder is ever supposed to do. I gave up. It wasn’t even one of those glorious “fail fast and fail forward” learning experiences. After seven months of hard work and two
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Cut your losses or pivot? Great question... And a really really hard one to find out. "Errare humanum est perseverare diabolicum."

 

In this post, Tom Romero details the product / market fit flaw of his product he analyzed and decided not to fix. should you be always analytical in that decision? Can you be? 

 

There are situations when you won't be able to analyze. For instance, when it's about pivoting to a totally different project - as we did pivoting form Goojet to Scoop.it - you don't have data or facts to analyze. You just have the motivation, the inspiration or the feeling that it's the right thing to do. Startup history - from Paypal to Slack and Instagram - shows us that some total reboots have succeeded to create unicorns. 

 

But Tom definitely has a point. To take our same example, we tried to fix Goojet multiple times before giving up and rebooting to a total pivot. Could we have cut our losses earlier by understanding Goojet - as a product and not as a team and company - could not be fixed? Most probably. 

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You can't A/B test your way to product/market fit

You can't A/B test your way to product/market fit | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it

At small-scale, intuition and research trumps statistical analysis.

Guillaume Decugis's insight:

A/B tests are statistically significant only with large numbers. You can play with Optimizely's tools (picture) or use this one by RJ Metrics or even this other one. Doing that, you'll rapidly convince yourself of a simple mathematic truth: it takes a lot of events to achieve 90% confidence - something early stage startups usually don't have. 

 

tom Tunguz makes some great points but the other mistake I've made (and see other do) is to believe you can A/B test a whole UX. A/B tests are good to determine the impact on a direct conversion: typically whether or not landing page A converts better than landing page B. But when you start to look at indirect events like retention or activity level, it becomes very hard to tell. What's worse: it even gets polluted when you have a lot of activity. 

 

So while A/B tests are great and should be used, they're not the way to find product / market fit - interviews and qualitative research are - and they're not the magic answer to everything even at a later stage when you're trying to optimize revenue, usage and retention.

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Cross border startups finally have a dedicated acceleration program: the Refiners

Discover The Refiners - Cross border accelerator in San Francisco for foreign startups to thrive in the Silicon Valley
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

It's so hard and time-consuming to understand everything about Silicon Valley while you relocate and run a startup with a part of your team back at home. Cross-boarder startups needed an acceleration program badly. Now they have one thanks to Geraldine Le Meur, Carlos Diaz and Pierre Gaubil. Well done, guys and go Refiners!

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Is the Tech Bubble Popping? Ping Pong Offers an Answer

Is the Tech Bubble Popping? Ping Pong Offers an Answer | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
Falling ping-pong table sales give a peek into the economics of Silicon Valley, where the right to play table tennis on the job is sacrosanct
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Big data correlations at work :-)

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Why and how startups should leverage content marketing

Content Marketing for Startups by Susan Su. What is content marketing? Content marketing is any marketing that involves the creation and sharing of medi
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Is content marketing for established companies only? 500 Startups' Susan Su says no and articulates how to embrace it from an early stage.

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Guillaume Decugis's curator insight, April 28, 2016 10:40 PM

Startups should be focused and there's a tendency in Silicon Valley to be "product-only" companies while in early stage. But building a product without customer feedback is a recipe for disaster so marketing is not a late stage activity. And as Susan Su from 500 startups articulates very clearly in this webinar, content now prevails over ads in many ways so that your best bet as a founding team to get your first users, collect feedback and iterate from your MVP might well be content marketing. 

 

The thing is content is complex and time consuming so entrepreneurs embracing it need to be efficient. This webinar gives a great list of recommendations on how to do that and be a lean content marketer.

prepareexcitable's comment, August 19, 2016 1:14 AM

This is so great!
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A Minimum Viable Product Is Not a Product, It's a Process

A Minimum Viable Product Is Not a Product, It's a Process | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it

An MVP is not just a product with half of the features chopped out, or a way to get the product out the door a little earlier. In fact, the MVP doesn’t have to be a product at all. And it’s not something you build only once, and then consider the job done.

Guillaume Decugis's insight:

JB from our engineering team shared this today and it's a must-read post for any entrepreneur and early-stage startup team member as finding product/market fit is one of the toughest things to do. 

 

Making assumptions about your market and customers is easy, proving them with the least amount of resources and time is hard.

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What entrepreneurs should do before writing a single line of code

What entrepreneurs should do before writing a single line of code | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it

"Why would you invest energy and resources into the development of a product, instead of doing research and coming up with a solid plan and strategy for going to market?"

Guillaume Decugis's insight:

There's a saying that goes: "don't sell the bear's fur before killing it". But there's one that I prefer and that applies to entrepreneurs: "why bother killing the bear if you haven't sold the bear's fur yet?"

 

When I became an entrepreneur 16 years ago, building technology was not as easy as it is today. No AWS, much less ready-made Saas software, etc... So we didn't have the temptation "to build it and they will come".

 

But today, as Bram Kanstein explains in this post, it's easy to forget about doing your research and rush to building a product. 

 

He makes an essential point about understanding the problem solved, current alternatives, etc... and his post is a great read. 

 

But I'll go even further: for a lot of entrepreneurs, finding and building a community and an audience first can be a very valuable exercize. If a successful product can only be built by researching and understanding very well a precise problem and need from a group of people, then identifying that group and making useful connexions within that group is a great first step. In other words:

 

- Don't [build a product] > [find the problem it solves ] > [find the target group that has the problem]

 

- Do [connect with a group that have things in common] > [understand their #1 challenge] > [build a product].

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Oliver Durrer's curator insight, March 16, 2016 4:20 PM

There's a saying that goes: "don't sell the bear's fur before killing it". But there's one that I prefer and that applies to entrepreneurs: "why bother killing the bear if you haven't sold the bear's fur yet?"

 

When I became an entrepreneur 16 years ago, building technology was not as easy as it is today. No AWS, much less ready-made Saas software, etc... So we didn't have the temptation "to build it and they will come".

 

But today, as Bram Kanstein explains in this post, it's easy to forget about doing your research and rush to building a product. 

 

He makes an essential point about understanding the problem solved, current alternatives, etc... and his post is a great read. 

 

But I'll go even further: for a lot of entrepreneurs, finding and building a community and an audience first can be a very valuable exercize. If a successful product can only be built by researching and understanding very well a precise problem and need from a group of people, then identifying that group and making useful connexions within that group is a great first step. In other words:

 

- Don't [build a product] > [find the problem it solves ] > [find the target group that has the problem]

 

- Do [connect with a group that have things in common] > [understand their #1 challenge] > [build a product].

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The no-BS guide to understanding Saas churn

The no-BS guide to understanding Saas churn | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
There are many ways to calculate churn & each tells a different story about your startup. Ask yourself these 3 questions about how you calculate churn.
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Thourough explanation on the various ways to calculate churn but that's the end of the post which is the most valuable to me: what is the churn you can avoid vs the one that's really unavoidable?

 

It's easy to think churn is unavoidable but unlike death and taxes, a lot of churn isn't certain. Some of it can't seem easy to avoid but analyzing it can inspire you new actions with positive outcome for you startup.

 

For instance, I've been through the realization that many very small businesses end up failing - one of the examples Steli mentions in his post. Realizing this made us consider moving up market which tend to be more stable but also have bigger budgets which is how we ended up creating our B2B version alongside our freemium plans

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Roman Temkin's curator insight, March 16, 2016 1:07 PM

Thourough explanation on the various ways to calculate churn but that's the end of the post which is the most valuable to me: what is the churn you can avoid vs the one that's really unavoidable?

 

It's easy to think churn is unavoidable but unlike death and taxes, a lot of churn isn't certain. Some of it can't seem easy to avoid but analyzing it can inspire you new actions with positive outcome for you startup.

 

For instance, I've been through the realization that many very small businesses end up failing - one of the examples Steli mentions in his post. Realizing this made us consider moving up market which tend to be more stable but also have bigger budgets which is how we ended up creating our B2B version alongside our freemium plans. 

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Why early-stage startups should focus on their super-fans (and not casual users)

Why early-stage startups should focus on their super-fans (and not casual users) | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
Advice to startup founders: Don't try to make everyone happy. You want to focus on the 1 percent most engaged users of your product and make them ecstatic.
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Couldn't agree more with what Jordan Stone explained at the Launch Festival as covered by my friend JD Lasica in this post.

 

Why should early stage startup do that?

 

Consider the following: what do you do as a customer of a product when you're reasonably happy vs when you're excited beyond expectations?

 

In the latter case, you'll do a lot more than use the product again: you'll go out of your way to tell your friends about it. You'll post on Facebook, you'll share the excitment. 

 

As a French guy who lives in the US, I have to send money back and forth regularly. Which means EUR/USD Fx transaction costs and wire fees that used to be up to 10%. Recently I discovered TransferWise, a peer-to-peer foreign exchange service that cuts these 10% to 1% or less. And provdes a super smooth experience. What did I do? I posted on Facebook with my community of European expats and of course this generated a lot of attention as they all have the same problem. I'm pretty sure a number of them will use the service. 

 

Would I have done that if I thought their service deserved a B or even an A-? 

 

No. 

 

That's why you should launch an MVP and then iterate based on your power users.

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Marc Kneepkens's curator insight, March 5, 2016 8:07 AM

Guillaume Decugis's comment:

"Couldn't agree more with what Jordan Stone explained at the Launch Festival as covered by my friend JD Lasica in this post.

 

Why should early stage startup do that?

 

Consider the following: what do you do as a customer of a product when you're reasonably happy vs when you're excited beyond expectations?

 

In the latter case, you'll do a lot more than use the product again: you'll go out of your way to tell your friends about it. You'll post on Facebook, you'll share the excitment. 

 

As a French guy who lives in the US, I have to send money back and forth regularly. Which means EUR/USD Fx transaction costs and wire fees that used to be up to 10%. Recently I discovered TransferWise, a peer-to-peer foreign exchange service that cuts these 10% to 1% or less. And provdes a super smooth experience. What did I do? I posted on Facebook with my community of European expats and of course this generated a lot of attention as they all have the same problem. I'm pretty sure a number of them will use the service. 

 

Would I have done that if I thought their service deserved a B or even an A-? 

 

No. 

 

That's why you should launch an MVP and then iterate based on your power users."

 

Powerful!

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Focus on your own shit

Focus on your own shit | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
My eyes crack open. 7am. Roll over. Grab my phone. Start scrolling… Wake up, check Product Hunt. Shit: someone just launched software really similar to my product (and we’re still in beta). Browse …
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

As a startup founder, it's easy to get distracted by competition. We're in a fast-moving world and yes, other people make stuff too.

 

But the reality is that competitions rarely kill startups. While lack of focus certainly does.

 

To quote Paul Graham: "If you make anything good, you're going to have competitors, so you may as well face that."

 

So should you keep your head buried in the sand and not pay attention to the outside world? 

 

Aboslutely not. 

 

My own method for dealing with competition is to focus on customer needs: understanding not just their short-term needs but also their long term ones as well as their challenges is the best way to stay relevant and not having to worry (too much) about competition.

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Should you relocate your startup overseas to Silicon Valley

Should you relocate your startup overseas to Silicon Valley | Ideas for entrepreneurs | Scoop.it
Think about it as running uphill versus running downhill. You expend the same amount of energy in both cases, but if you’re running downhill, you go much farther.
Guillaume Decugis's insight:
Great recap of what moving to Silicon Valley can mean to your startup. Note that Emil doesn't mention "raise money more easily" as one of the reasons for moving. But the wealth of talent and experience is impressive. And can indeed make you go faster - like gravity does.
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Jeffrey Yazwa's curator insight, March 11, 2016 2:20 AM
Great recap of what moving to Silicon Valley can mean to your startup. Note that Emil doesn't mention "raise money more easily" as one of the reasons for moving. But the wealth of talent and experience is impressive. And can indeed make you go faster - like gravity does.
Curated by Guillaume Decugis
Co-Founder & CEO @Scoopit. Entrepreneur (Musiwave, Goojet). Engineer-turned-marketer. Skier. Rock singer. http://scoop.it/u/gdecugis

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