Ideas for entrepreneurs
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Ideas for entrepreneurs
Serial entrepreneurship is constant learning. Here's what I found impacting.
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From silicon valley to europe and back again. In 3 startups.

My story of entrepreneurial failure and success on both sides of the Atlantic. Or how I discovered entrepreneurship as a Stanford grad student, moved back to Eu
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

These are the slides of a talk I gave to TechWeek in Chicago back in June and again in San Francisco in July. I often get asked how I became an entrepreneur and what it's like so I felt I would also share it on SlideShare. And I remember vividly this image of a roller coaster that came to my mind as my first joys as an entrepreneur seemed to be somehow immediately followed by great pain. And on again.

Enjoy the ride! 

Special thoughts and thanks to the former and current team members of Musiwave, Goojet and

Update: Wow! SlideShare just made it presentation of the day. Honored.

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Is Silicon Valley still a meritocracy?

Is Silicon Valley still a meritocracy? | Ideas for entrepreneurs |
A Reuters analysis of the 88 Silicon Valley companies that received "Series A" funding from one of the five top Valley venture firms in 2011, 2012, or the first half of 2013 shows that 70 were founded by people who hailed from what could be described as the traditional Silicon Valley cohort.
Guillaume Decugis's insight:
"In Silicon Valley start-up world, pedigree counts" concludes Sarah McBride after analyzing data on startup funding. But aren't these types of connexions precisely the reason for success of the VC model in the first place? If other tech hubs have a tough time replicating Silicon Valley, isn't that because SV VCs leverage relationships they built over sometimes more than a generation? While this happened decades ago here, we're just starting to see in Europe the first successful founders becoming VCs or super angels or the first successful startups produce the next series of entrepreneur. I'm not surprised these relationships prove to be key to success. But one thing we must not overlook is that they are not inherited or reserved to a caste. It takes time but most SV successful entrepreneurs had to build them - none were born with it. Isn't that the definition of merit?
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Start with deceptively small things (to implement Frighteningly Ambitious Startup Ideas)

Start with deceptively small things (to implement Frighteningly Ambitious Startup Ideas) | Ideas for entrepreneurs |

"Let me conclude with some tactical advice. If you want to take on a problem as big as the ones I've discussed, don't make a direct frontal attack on it. Don't say, for example, that you're going to replace email. If you do that you raise too many expectations. Your employees and investors will constantly be asking "are we there yet?" and you'll have an army of haters waiting to see you fail. Just say you're building todo-list software. That sounds harmless. People can notice you've replaced email when it's a fait accompli."

Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Last year, Paul Graham threw ideas that could be the way for the next Googles and Apples. But what I particularly love is the conclusion piece on tactics that I quoted above.

At, we are absolutely not building a new search engine.

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Two Models of Success for European Startups

Two Models of Success for European Startups | Ideas for entrepreneurs |
In the 18th century, the French philosophers invented l’esprit critique. Centuries later, it seems we French people value criticism over a lot of things – such as enthusiasm, for instance.(...)But we also gave the word entrepreneur to the world and, now more than ever, we have opportunities to dream big.
Guillaume Decugis's insight:
This is a post I was invited to write by TechCocktail's Kira Newman in response to her own on why Facebook couldn't have started in Paris. Will this might be true, I felt her conclusion was based on false premises and I wanted - for a change - to show how European entrepreneurs (and French ones in particular) can beat the odds. Even if in some cases, it means relocating part of the company like we did in San Francisco.
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The future of venture capital in one chart

The future of venture capital in one chart | Ideas for entrepreneurs |
The dramatic drop in the cost of creating a company over the last decade ($2 million in the late '90s to maybe $5,000 today) has had an obvious effect on the venture capital world.
Guillaume Decugis's insight:
Interesting chart (followed by a great analysis and example) by Erin Griffiths on Pandodaily though a little misleading as only focusing on seed rounds. While seed rounds have definitely become cheaper, they're only part of the money a company will need over time. Still, the world of VC's have changes as startups evolved from being hardcore tech projects to apps and websites. This by the way reinforces the objections of those who believe Silicon Valley (and tech hubs all across the world) are not focusing on the real problems anymore : the ones Space X, Tesla or the Gates Foundation embrace.
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The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship

The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship | Ideas for entrepreneurs |

No one said building a company was easy. But it's time to be honest about how brutal it really is--and the price so many founders secretly pay.

Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Though the article goes to some extreme examples, I don't know a single entrepreneur who didn't go through the ups and downs described here. And these low moments can be depressing indeed.

My take on this has been to consider than the good as the bad we're part of the same thing: something was happening (vs nothing). And that was what I wanted in the first place: make something meaningful of my life. But I have to admit I share what the author describes and that affect many founders: it's hard to speak about your tough times as they happen even with friends and family.

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The Ultimate Cheat Sheet For Starting And Running A Business

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet For Starting And Running A Business | Ideas for entrepreneurs |
“No joke. This is going be a bullet FAQ on starting a business. If you're a lawyer, feel free to disagree with me so you can charge someone your BS fees to give the same advice.”
Guillaume Decugis's insight:
Funny and witty though I disagree with some of the points. Worth reading anyway because these questions will always come up when you start a company.
EZIA's curator insight, November 14, 2013 7:55 PM

Really like the direct points in this article - No BS

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How to Convince Investors

How to Convince Investors | Ideas for entrepreneurs |

When people hurt themselves lifting heavy things, it's usually because they try to lift with their back. The right way to lift heavy things is to let your legs do the work. Inexperienced founders make the same mistake when trying to convince investors. They try to convince with their pitch. Most would be better off if they let their startup do the work—if they started by understanding why their startup is worth investing in, then simply explained this well to investors.

Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Rejection is frustrating. Here's an insightful post by Paul Graham on what you can do about it when it comes to being funded by VC's. 

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Steve Jobs Stole Your Thunder -- Now What? Lessons On Reinvention

Steve Jobs Stole Your Thunder -- Now What?  Lessons On Reinvention | Ideas for entrepreneurs |
Imagine that you've got a rising band with catchy tunes and moptops -- then you notice these guys got on the Ed Sullivan Show ahead of you. Entrepreneur Guillaume Decugis had such a moment, and he had to readjust.
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

I met Rob Asghar a few weeks ago and we discussed among other things our pivot from Goojet to, when it is appropriate to pivot, when not and what happens when you realize your orignal strategy just won't work. 

This is how he very nicely wrote it up mixing music and surfing metaphors: two of my favorite topics! 

Leadership&Management's comment, September 7, 2013 8:08 AM
Your page is very rich and interesting.
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(Insanely) great advice by Paul Graham to entrepreneurs: Do Things that Don't Scale

(Insanely) great advice by Paul Graham to entrepreneurs: Do Things that Don't Scale | Ideas for entrepreneurs |
One of the most common types of advice we give at Y Combinator is to do things that don't scale.
Guillaume Decugis's insight:
While this might be counter-intuitive, this is great advice by Y combinator's Paul Graham and in particular an answer to the famous question I always have: "how did you get your first users?"Reminds me of the early days of where Marc, the team and I probably recruited manually our first 1,000 users and the founders were doing support. Something we didn't stop doing by the way even though we've recruited more people to help us now. We also found that grew on a viral loop - as people use, they bring more and more visitors to their pages, some of which decide to sign up and use themselves. But at the beginning we weren't sure of that and we signed up a lot of people ourselves, guided them through the experience, answered their questions and helped them make the most of the very basic version we had.
Benoit Arnaud's comment, July 17, 2013 10:27 PM
The curve looks like your traffc growth!...
Guillaume Decugis's comment, July 18, 2013 2:25 PM
He he - nice catch Benoit ;-)
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The Startup Universe: awesome data visualization

The Startup Universe: awesome data visualization | Ideas for entrepreneurs |
Uncover new stories and make sense of the complex relationships between startups, founders and Venture Capitalists with Visually's Startup Universe
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Pretty awesome data visualization by based on CrunchFund data. Would love to see exits in there too but gives a reallly interesting view of the VC/Startup/Founders graphs.

Ivan Berlocher's curator insight, October 8, 2013 1:46 AM

Fantastic Visualization!

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Survivorship Bias

Survivorship Bias | Ideas for entrepreneurs |

The Misconception: You should focus on the successful if you wish to become successful.

Guillaume Decugis's insight:

This is a long but great and beautifully written post by David McRaney. His story starts with the way the U.S. applied statistics to win the war through the example of measures taken to augment the odds of survival of bombers. 

The Maths geniuses of what was not yet "Big Data" came out with many recommendations that proved essential, one of which being to fight survival bias. If - like WWII Air Force officers - you had observed that most bombers returning from missions over Germany were crippled with bullets holes along the wings, around the tail gunner, and down the center of the body, where would you recommend adding protection?

If the answer's not trivial to you (or even if it is), read this.

And as McRaney extrapolates, this also explains why "All the Startup Advice You Read is Wrong" as Twitter co-founder Ev wrote.

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Why you can’t find a technical co-founder

Why you can’t find a technical co-founder | Ideas for entrepreneurs |

"Hey, I’ve got this great idea for a startup…do you know any developers who might be interested in working with me?"

Guillaume Decugis's insight:

As Elizabeth Yin, the co-founder of LaunchBit who wrote this on Andrew Chen's awesome blog, I also hear that very often.

Now what's great is that she actually acted upon this and surveyed developers about what would be their reasons for jumping ship and become a technical co-founder. 

The key to her great insights is one word: traction. To sell to your future co-founder, "you, as a non-technical entrepreneur, are not selling a dream or the vision.  You are selling traction."

Now, how do you get traction without even building a product? That's what she explains in the rest of her post building on some of the lean startup ideas. Enjoy the read! 

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The Series A Round is the New Series B Round

The Series A Round is the New Series B Round | Ideas for entrepreneurs |
The venture industry is awash with talk of the “Series A Crunch”, where it’s getting progressively more challenging for seed companies to land follow-on financing. In my short two
Guillaume Decugis's insight:
Insightful post by Andreesen Horowitz's Jeff Jordan that starts by an observation that companies competing for series A today are much more developed than they used to. Thank the lean startup movement and the decrease cost of consumer web startups for that. So how should entrepreneurs adapt to that? What are the things they should be conscious of?Advice from a VC on how to effectively raise money should always been taken with a grain of salt given they're of course not impartial on this but all of Jeff points are at the very least good elements to think about.
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5 Stories Every Entrepreneur Should Be Able To Tell

5 Stories Every Entrepreneur Should Be Able To Tell | Ideas for entrepreneurs |
Nothing has the power to engage people like a great story. From a carefully crafted elevator pitch to the perfect customer testimonial, a great narrative can propel your brand and business like
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

A great... story by Leah Busque, TaskRabbit's founder. 

Which are yours?

Russell 's curator insight, June 25, 2013 6:52 PM

In the end, there is only a story, badly told, or made to stick. See and's comment, July 17, 2013 9:18 AM
What a great post. There is something magical in storytelling, especially when people write about their passion's curator insight, July 17, 2013 9:34 AM

This is the story of a brilliant entrepreneur, Leah Busque. She is passionate about her business, she lives and breathes it. And it shows. 


What is your story ? 

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Tell a four-word story.

Tell a four-word story. | Ideas for entrepreneurs |

Forget the elevator pitch. You only get four words. 

Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Great tip by James Buckhouse : startup entrepreneurship as storytelling.


Share ideas that matter

John Thurlbeck, FCMI FRSA's curator insight, June 19, 2013 11:07 AM

Now here's a great idea to develop your leadership and mental acuity! Tell your story in just FOUR words! The technique is simply explaniend and it will really make you think carefully about who you are and what business you are in ... so give it a try!


By the way ... my first effort ... "Helping you solve problems!"

Lori R Sacks's curator insight, June 22, 2013 12:18 PM

It's been established that people don't read entire articles or posts. This is a good way to capture the attention of those who do and those who don't

CATHLEEN SLONE's curator insight, June 24, 2013 9:05 AM

If you write a longer story, the door cracks open to ambiguity #innov8u #careers #entrepreneurship #knowyourstory #marketing

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All the Startup Advice You Read is Wrong

All the Startup Advice You Read is Wrong | Ideas for entrepreneurs |
There are two big problems with reading about what made other companies successful: 1. Correlation is not Causation 2. Everything depends
Guillaume Decugis's insight:
But as Ev explains in this brilliant post on medium, "you should read some anyway". For ideas and inspiration. Couldn't agree more. He even goes as far as criticizing the "hire only A players" rule which has always been pissing me off to the point where I feel it became the "I want a world in peace" of the Valley. Of course you want a world in peace and only A players. But what if you can't?
Jek Zhg's comment, June 19, 2013 11:37 PM
which startup advice may be right? correlation is not causation
Benoit Arnaud's curator insight, July 25, 2013 2:00 AM

I confirm!... It's all about people, and we have no deep reasearch about entrepreneurs' skills...

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Five little rules for lean thought leadership

Five little rules for lean thought leadership | Ideas for entrepreneurs |
Don't think of thought leadership as rocket science — think of it as rocket fuel. Continue reading →
Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Nice recap by K. Tighe on what it takes to show thought leadership. Practical tips that make sense: visions deserve to be shared.

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Marc Andreessen: Not every startup should be a Lean Startup or embrace the pivot

Marc Andreessen: Not every startup should be a Lean Startup or embrace the pivot | Ideas for entrepreneurs |

The Lean Startup has become somewhat of a bible for Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, but famed investor Marc Andreessen notes that sometimes founders misappropriate the ideas or don’t apply them correctly, resulting in some common problems he outlined.

Guillaume Decugis's insight:

What I've always find fascinating in Silicon Valley is its capacity to not get stuck in one dominating thought model. The Lean Startup model wa an eye-opener for many entrepreneurs - including me. It's a fantastic model for Web software companies. But as the brilliant recent interview of Elon Musk at the All Things D conference and this other Andreesen interview remind us of: big projects are not always compatible with the lean startup model.

Andreesen also explains why the lean startup model is not an excuse not to do marketing (something that I'm a firm believer of as I had a chance to explain during the last startup product summit) and that accepting failure is not the same as encouraging it - something that reminded of a controversial HBR article on that topic.

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Reach Escape Velocity through Lean Content Marketing Marketing

Getting Traction Lightning Talk #12 Startup Product Summit San Francisco

Guillaume Decugis's insight:

I've been asked by Cindy Solomon, the founder of the insightful Startup Product Talks to talk about the difficult relationship between product building, marketing and getting traction. I've often found a lot of people were confused about the following questions:

- how do I launch a product to make an impact?

- should I advertise? 

- should startup not do any marketing?

There are myths around these questions, particularly in Silicon Valley which is still a very engineering-driven culture ("build it and they will come"). But while advertising can be crack for startups, marketing is a must-have as I'm glad prominent SV figures like Marc Andreesen clearly states. 

So what type of marketing then? Well, among other things like product marketing, community management, user support which are all essential, I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce the new concept of Lean Content, an approach to content marketing that we've started to discuss during our meetup groups since the end of last year. I believe startups can efficiently build their brands through content and here are some examples showing how.

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New college grads: Don’t sell your time for a living

New college grads: Don’t sell your time for a living | Ideas for entrepreneurs |

Jobs suck. At least the traditional version of a job, in which you do something you sorta hate, from 9-5p, and are paid for your time to just grit your teeth and do it. Let’s call this the “sell your time” version of a personal business model: You sell your time to an employer, and they pay you for that time.

Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Couldn't agree more. Life is too short not to make something you're passionate about. But even better, what I learned is that the true risk is not taking any. I discovered that not instantly but through a double step process:

- As a grad student at Stanford, I discovered that most of the successful entrepreneurs who came to speak in the insanely great entrepreneurship class of the Engineering School had failed. Not always of course but they had at some point. To someone who thought starting a business was like playing the lottery, this was a revelation and it completely changed my horizon.

- 15 years later when economic disaster struck and left a lot of people I knew jobless while they were supposed to be safe in good, solid, established companies. 

Selling your time is perfectly respectful. But whether it's plan A or plan B is the real choice.

Jek Zhg's comment, June 19, 2013 11:39 PM
don't sell you time to the living.?
Jek Zhg's comment, June 19, 2013 11:39 PM
don't sell you time to the living.?
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Social products win with utility, not invites

Social products win with utility, not invites | Ideas for entrepreneurs |

The things that worked years ago- importing addressbooks and blasting out invites, no longer work today.

Guillaume Decugis's insight:

Very interesting analysis by Sangeet Paul Choudary on Andrew Chen's blog on how social products don't get traction by claiming to be a community anymore. 

Being quoted in the article as a example of this new type of products made me happy and proud: we've been careful to craft an experience on that didn't overwhelm people. While we are fundamentally a social product and have high ambitions for helping our users build their communities of interests, we know that very few people feels like they need yet another community. So we wanted to deliver an experience where new users would clearly see initial value (saving time, good looking content hub, cross posting to social networks) without the need to have a community, then reinforce the value over time (be discovered, grow their audience) independently of the social dimension of the platform while still helping them all along the process but in a seamless way to discover their community of interests.

Beyond that post, our data have validated this in a couple of ways:

- the more people use, the more they use it: the number of scoops per week increases over time since sign-up.

- social and content discovery features make users seamlessly get a bigger and bigger community of follower/followees over time. 

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Why Serial Entrepreneurs Don’t Learn from Failure

Why Serial Entrepreneurs Don’t Learn from Failure | Ideas for entrepreneurs |

Everyone admires serial entrepreneurs for their pluck and persistence, but they pose a big risk for the investors who fund their dreams. Our research shows that instead of learning from mistakes, serial entrepreneurs are just as apt to be overoptimistic after failure as before.

Guillaume Decugis's insight:

While I'm not sure I agree with everything these authors are writing (but hey, I'm biased...), I recognize a trait that serial entrereneurs have: what else that overoptimism can drive serial entrepreneurs?

Something I've realized several times is that many of my friends capitalized on their successes by moving from one job to another in a similar field (think successful banker in firm A moves to firm B to start similar practice or successful CFO in company C is recruited to undertake the same cost cutting / restructuring for company D).

I don't.

Don't take me wrong: I feel like I learned a lot from my first startup, probably even more from my second (which failed and led to our pivot) and now still every day.

I also became "bankable" from having a first success: I'm not naive about that. And I was able to raise money much more easily the second time than the first. 

But this is experience building, network building and not what I mean by capitalizing on your success. Very little rules that were true in my first startup (a B2B digital music platform for Mobile Operators called Musiwave) still applied for Goojet - which was still mobile but B2C and in a post-telco-domination world where the App Store ruled. I also often feel that the only reason has known success so far is because we reinvented ourselves by learning many things (lean startup concepts, design, social engagement, communities...). In a way, it felt a lot like starting from scratch - which is also what makes it fun (I know, I'm a contrarian...).

By chosing a job which is about inventing new things, serial entrepreneurs also have to re-invent themselves. And yes, overoptism is highly recommended in that case.

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I’m a CEO, and I’m on the support team | UserVoice Product Blog

I’m a CEO, and I’m on the support team | UserVoice Product Blog | Ideas for entrepreneurs |
To paraphrase a bearded man I saw on TV: I don’t always handle customer support requests but when I do - I love it. Here’s why.
Guillaume Decugis's insight:
You could say it's quite natural that Rich White - who's the founder & CEO of user support Saas company UserVoice - drinks his own cool aid. But I've found this super important for any b2c founder to go through. Not just at the beginning but regularly even as the company scales. This is something we've been super aligned on with Marc, my co-founder: we both love doing support once in a while. I've also exchanged about this on several occasions with many founders and I can clearly tell a difference between those who and those who don't.
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The Corrosive Downside of Acquihires

The Corrosive Downside of Acquihires | Ideas for entrepreneurs |
For the past 5 years or so Google, Facebook and a handful of tech industry giants have been quietly buying scores of early-stage startups for their talent.
Guillaume Decugis's insight:
Never been a fan of acqui-hires though I totally respect teams and founders who go through that. Probably because I've been through an integration before and this was the worst time of my life even though I had all reasons to be happy (this was by all measurements a successful exit). But Mark Suster makes a bigger point on what the danger of acqui-hires are.
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Curated by Guillaume Decugis
CEO of @Linkfluence (#AI for #SocialListening and #marketresearch). Entrepreneur (@Scoopit, Musiwave, Goojet). Engineer-turned-marketer. Rock singer.
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