“We don’t make movies to make money, we make money to make more movies.” – Walt Disney
Steve Blank – Defining the Scalable Startup:
A “scalable startup” takes an innovative idea and searches for a scalable and repeatable business model that will turn it into a high growth, profitable company. Not just big but huge. It does that by entering a large market and taking share away from incumbents or by creating a new market and growing it rapidly.
Saturday’s Kiva Dev Garage was a huge success with a great turnout and real progress on both some existing and entirely new projects. We had people working on iPhone and Facebook Apps, a Kiva loan browser, and lots of other cool things. My team worked on a WordPress Widget that is both really easy to install and hopefully really compelling and will lead to more people lending to Kiva Entrepreneurs. Check out this great video from the event:
I’ve been reading a LOT about how to increase learning speed in startups and how to shorten feedback cycles to quickly see what is working and what isn’t and to then iterate on that. Because of this I found the following bit about decision/feedback loops in the military from Free Range International extremely interesting:
“According to Boyd, decision-making occurs in a recurring cycle of observe-orient-decide-act. An entity (whether an individual or an organization) that can process this cycle quickly, observing and reacting to unfolding events more rapidly than an opponent, can thereby “get inside” the opponent’s decision cycle and gain the advantage. Frans Osinga argues that Boyd’s own views on the OODA loop are much deeper, richer, and more comprehensive than the common interpretation of the ‘rapid OODA loop’ idea”
That rapid feedback loops are important in many areas makes perfect sense but I really liked how if you replace “opponent” in the paragraph above with “customer” you get a basic version of rapid learning for startups – except that you’re trying to make something they want instead of killing them. There’s a lot of other processes and approaches startups can learn from other fields.
We do not celebrate our successes enough. When your moving quickly to create something big and meaningful, you sometimes forget to celebrate along the way. I am constantly looking at ways to reinforce the good work done by our employees. For example, if a customer has said something positive about the company, I take it back to the employees. I explain to them how their work furthered the company strategy. If an employee or team was singled out, then I make sure I talk to them and again relate it back to our strategic goals. Talking about current successes and relating it back to strategic goals is a great way to reinforce the belief in the company’s vision. People need to be constantly reminded that their work contributes to the company achieving its strategic vision.
This might same like stuff from the first lecture of Obvious 101 but when you’re in the middle of a startup and you have 50 things to do every day and more coming in every day you often forget to take a step back and really think about what you’ve accomplished. Additionally, the type of people that startups often attract are so focused on their work and just doing a great job that they don’t realize the importance of what they’ve just accomplished. At Apture we bought Champagne for celebrating our “official launch” (the one with lots of press) in June 2008 and it’s still sitting in the office unopened because we spent that entire day fixing bugs and revving the product and the same happened with every other release we do.
Dan is exactly right in pointing out how important rallying around a success is for your team spirit (and your own) and taking the time to celebrate is (almost) as important as releasing awesome products that people love. Oh, and Dan thanks for taking us all out to lunch this week, I think we came up with some great ideas!