The Process of Starting

Scott Francis
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It used to be “The Art of the Start” but increasingly it is all about the process of starting up, the Lean Launchpad, the Lean Startup. Not to worry, there’s plenty of Art in starting up.  But thanks to Steve Blank, Eric Ries, and others, there’s now some method to the madness as well. And even Guy Kawasaki’s work has really been about how to recreate the magic and make it happen again. And there are incubators working on this as well.  500 startups, Ycombinator, Capital Factory, TechStars.  One that is new to me is Tandem, which has a phenomenal record so far (8 of 9 is a pretty good batting average). Of course, it is a Business Insider article, so it doesn’t give away the secret sauce, but there are a few elements that are clearly working for Tandem:
  • Invest a bigger chunk of money for a bigger stake in the company.  $200,000 for 10%. I know some incubators take less equity but also put in a lot less money.  That extra capital gives their startups better runway to pursue the dream, but not so much that they’re likely to be wasteful.
  • 3 new teams a quarter.  That’s less than many other programs. They’re not a volume business, so they have time to focus.
  • Be ready to scale.  So they’re not looking quite as early stage as some incubators, and perhaps this helps them avoid some of the more spectacular miscues.
It’s been fascinating over the last decade to see so many efforts to figure out a better process for starting and incubating companies.  On the one hand are those trying to teach and understand the process academically – Eric Ries, Steve Blank, and others.  On the other hand are people trying to apply the methods – incubators and entrepreneurs.  

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