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Showing posts from August, 2015

Minimum Viable? Maybe It’s Minimum Learnable or Saleable Instead

I’ve written a few articles about Minimum Viable Products (MVP), and after deliberating with various entrepreneurs about what they believe is their MVPs, I wanted to do more research about the concept.
I found an article by Vishal Chandra called “Understanding Minimum Viable Product : MLP vs MVP vs MSP” referencing not just an MVP but two other Minimums: Minimum Learnable Product (MLP) and Minimum Saleable Product (MSP).
Eric Ries, author of the Lean Startup, defines a minimum viable product as the initial step to begin the learning process as quickly as possible – paramount to the central idea of the ‘build-measure-learn’ feedback loop.
Vishal distinguishes what an MVP is by defining the two other types: Minimum Learnable Product – the minimum product needed to learn what will need to be built for the MVP. These can include designs, articles/ blog posts and the conversations that flow from them, surveys, etc.Minimum Saleable Product – the minimum product that motivates customers to p…

The Rite of Passage (and Hubris) of Entrepreneurship

I sometimes ask those who meet me what their perceptions of me are, especially initially. Two years ago, I constantly heard responses saying I was “intense”. At that point, I realized I was highly opinionated on how to do things and was vocal about it. I overlooked certain faults believing I wouldn’t fall prey to others’ mistakes despite countless advisors saying otherwise (i.e. taking too long to launch, difficulties of equal ownership and responsibilities between partners, etc.).
Now, I’m a more seasoned entrepreneur. I now advise many entrepreneurs and startups, and I find myself giving similar advice to the ones I received. Even though many entrepreneurs ask for advice, however, I know most won’t listen to ideas contrary to their beliefs. I get it. There’s a certain air of confidence about entrepreneurs with their visions and a rite of passage they must go through.
Now when I advise others, I focus on one or two areas, so at least they have a single big take-away. At least then,…

Starting Out or Long-Term, Maybe It's Not About Innovation

In my last post Want Work? Start a Relationship, I touched on having a strong brand. I want to follow up on branding because when people ask me about finding work, they ask wondering if they can do the same or how to start a business in general.
When I was getting my MBA at Emory, I was working on two startups – Body Boss Fitness and Beachscape (as a Co-Founder and as a consultant, respectively). Getting started at Emory, my classmates (and others today) were interested in how I started. Many would lament the lack of ideas to start a business.
However, you don’t necessarily have to have a new, innovative idea to start a business. I’m not saying not to be disruptive, but businesses start every day without disruptive products or services.
Opportunities for wealth are many and large enough that grabbing even a sliver can reap meaningful returns personally, professionally, and yes, monetarily. The most critical element starting and especially sustaining long-term growth is branding.

Want Work? Start a Relationship

I get many questions on how I find my consulting opportunities. Since Body Boss, I’ve been working different consulting gigs from supply chain consulting to website development to product management and the like with clients from Canada to local retail companies to startups.
My simplistic response: “have great relationships”.
Quick thoughts on finding opportunities: Maintain relationships. My previous life as a consultant in a startup firm allowed me to get amazing experience working with decision makers. Many of those same people want to work together again and again.Say hello. I get many opportunities from just simple introductions to strangers in everyday places. For example, I met a woman at Starbucks who later introduced me to her boyfriend who wanted to redesign his digital assets for his retail store.Be flexible. I’m a generalist, and it’s been my advantage to work with companies in many capacities. For example, I have two recent opportunities in front of me: 1) technology co…

The Finance of Startups: For Dummies (Part 9.5 – Examples of a Safe)

I wanted to continue on my last post considering the simple agreement for future equity (“safe”) by reviewing a couple examples of how a safe works.
As mentioned in the last post (Part 9 – Raising Funds through a Safe -- follow to understand the concepts), there are a few combinations safes using levers such as discounts and valuation caps (or cases with neither which likely includes an MFN provision). Let’s walk through a few examples: Example 1: No Discount, Valuation Cap
Post-Money Valuation Investor Invests in Safe $100,000 Discount Rate None Valuation Cap $5,000,000

Post-Money Valuation New Investment through Series A Equity Financing $1,000,000

The Finance of Startups: For Dummies (Part 9 – Raising Funds through a Safe)

A friend looking to raise money recently told me a new form of raising money I hadn’t heard of before referred to as a Safe (simple agreement for future equity). A safe is a mechanism Paul Graham and his YC partner and lawyer Carolynn Levy created as an alternative to convertible notes – refer Finance of Startups: For Dummies (Part 4) for a short description of convertible notes.
Safes are meant to remove the clutter and complications of convertible notes in that they are not debts themselves. Instead, they are agreements for rights to the purchase of future stock – goal is to convert safeholders into stockholders. Convertible notes can be highly regulated via their maturity dates, interest rates, etc. Safes, on the other hand, have no maturity date and as they are not debt, are not beholden to regulations regarding interest rates.Safes remove the complexity of having to extend maturity dates as there are none (vs. convertible notes).Safes are converted to equity at specific events suc…