TWA terminal at JFK

September 15, 2013:  Our class this week enjoyed a regular semester presentation by Ash Maurya, author of Running Lean and an international lecturer on the lean canvas method of de-risking startups.   This gospel has been espoused by other noted authors and is regularly preached by advisors at every accelerator, incubator, or class on startupery (Bob Metcalfe’s term).  It’s an important concept to understand and use, and all our students are required to submit a lean canvas early in the semester.

ExxonMobil Office in Houston

September 8, 2013:  This past week featured the first episode of the Longhorn Startup Operators Studio, a monthly seminar I’m facilitating for senior operating executives of companies that have attained growth stages with some level of capital, 25 to 50 or more employees, $1M++ in revenue.  This invitation-only event drew well, and the discussion gravitated toward sales hires.   The next day in our regular Lab class Brett Hurt of Bazaarvoice fame was the guest speaker, and he also spent a good bit of time explaining his sales techniques in launching that now-public company.   There are almo

partyers dressed as chicken and eggs

September 3, 2013:  This post by Chandeet Shoudary on how Paypal and Reddit faked their way to traction is one of several I’ve read on that subject in recent weeks.  This is an obvious issue in P2P ventures where you need to bring along at approximately equal rates both the providers and consumers, or sellers and buyers, or whatever pairs you need to match for your offering to be valuable.

HP 75 computer circa 1982

August 25, 2013:  Steve Ballmer has been the story this weekend with the announcement of his pending retirement.  The 7% jump in MSFT shares on that news probably won’t be highlighted in his personal memoirs, but he apparently made some investors happy.  Personally, I’d give him credit for protecting the core franchises of Windows and Office while trying a few radical changes of late.  He wasn’t afraid to start making his own hardware in the Surface line, adding touch to the latest version of Windows, and even emulating Apple’s retail store concept.  The Surface Pro isn’t bad for a Microsof

Korean war photo public domain

August 18, 2013: My previous post talked about why it may be hard for you, even though you are a great communicator, to get things done when you must manage upward and outward and depend on the timely responses and actions of others outside your supervision.  As promised, here’s the same list this week but oriented toward achieving desired results from your own employees, particularly when you’ve achieved a bit of scale, say 50 or more.

Evelyn Waugh from Creative Commons

August 11, 2013:  Several experiences this week brought to the fore issues of dealing with other people as you try to grow your business.  First, let’s assume you are a capable, organized person who knows the appropriate ways to solicit responses from customers, vendors, investors, colleagues, and others not under your direct control.  You use clear, concise, no-nonsense terms and can communicate by phone, email, text, meeting, or even carrier pigeon.  If these assumptions don’t apply to you, then check back next week.

Stonewall Jackson at Chancellorsville a few days before his death

August 3, 2013:  Several years ago I met with a young entrepreneur already on his way toward building a glorious business, and he asked me a question I didn’t really expect:  “What should I be worried about?”  I was immediately thinking that if I were in his shoes, I wouldn’t be too worried about anything, but I decided to reply that just his asking the question demonstrated a healthy respect for the vagaries of business.  I recall telling him that he should probably be concerned only if he ever quit worrying.  All of us who have matriculated as entrepreneurs from startup to exit know how m

Smithsonian employees

June 27, 2013:  Earlier this week my post dealt with how managing your startup is dramatically affected when you actually have paying customers.  For most businesses, the commencement of revenues also leads to an increase in headcount.  You move beyond the comfort zone of your trusted founding team and must learn to accomplish things through people of varying skill sets and motivations who are mainly interested in a paycheck. 

a 17th century business with customers

Lean startup methods are all about customer discovery, gathering information to create a product that fulfills the needs you identify in this process, and then actually landing that first customer.  That’s when the fun begins, and it’s not all rosy.  Here are ten considerations that come into play at that milestone in the life of your startup:

knitting machine

July 14, 2014:  My agenda for July and August is pretty daunting, for which I am grateful, but that’s causing me to reflect on my personal workflow.  As you may have read in earlier posts, I’ve interjected a Google Chromebook into my otherwise pure Apple environment, but I’m also the tech support person for a Windows 8 touchscreen Sony that resides with me.  I actually rather like Windows 8, ONLY if used in the context of a touch screen, but I don’t think I’ll blend it into my personal IT infrastructure.  I accomplish my mission just by keeping its user’s cursing to a minimum.


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