I recently replied to a post on Being Founder-Centric. The author is from New Zealand and is discussing some of the issues they have with their startup ecosystem. As you can imagine they have many of the exact same issue that we are facing. I hope this article can stimulate a conversation around what we can do to create change. It seems we’ve all found plenty of time to define the problem. I’ve included a little excerpt but the entire article is worth a read.
Being Founder-Centric (Dec 4, by Rowan Simpson)
…What’s missing in all of that? Motorways are not much use in the absence of cars!
Sadly, no matter how much you might want it, you can’t will an innovative eco-system that generates new companies into existence, you have to let one grow. As Dave ten Have said recently, entrepreneurial activity doesn’t come from central planning. So, while it seems like a lot is being done, in my opinion at least, it is mostly splashing and thrashing and not much forward momentum for the people that all of this is supposed to be helping.
The questions we should be asking in each case are:
Is it needed?
Does it work?
Will it get to those who need it?
Will they use it correctly when they get it?
Let’s consider each of these initiatives in the context of this idea-product-impact chain…
Andy White (@LeanStarter) says:
Excellent read, very well thought out description of the problem. However, I’m left wanting for more detail in the solution.
First, You should know you are not alone. These issues are the same ones being faced in a majority of first world countries. There’s an established infrastructures that’s been in place for many years. Those involved are struggling to understand how they can keep their infrastructure and adapt it with these new techniques. It’s a classic innovators dilemma, unfortunately they will not be able to successfully adapt due to legacy scared cows that will keep them from true innovations.
The good news is there’s a better way. As you mentioned, the Lean Startup philosophies are helping to define how to create a customers centric business. The book Nail It then Scale It, takes this structure and wraps it with a systemic process model that can be executed and measured against.
Startup Weekend is also another great opportunity. Most of this has been covered in the above comments. It’s not typically about creating a new business. However, it does take a team through the process of creating one allowing them the understand the process better, build out team dynamics, and see first hand how potential investors look at a deal. To get all this knowledge in one weekend, plus the opportunity to build new relationships it’s truly amazing.
The old model is broke, the fact that we even still have business plan competitions is the clearest sign. Where are the Business Model Competitions? These could be held over a weekend with the focus on customer development and modeling. Working with a one page Business Model Canvas creates a focal point that can’t be achieved by an old business plan. Get to know your customer, identify their pain, and then create a hypothesis for the solution… test, repeat. Given the right focus these steps can be executed in a very short amount of time.
The answer to the question exists. We just need to eat our own dog food and connect with our customers to identify their pain. Stop the “build it and they will come philosophy” and start working with entrepreneurs to create solutions that provide real benefits.
A founder-centric community can be built within a startup ecosystem.