Startup-ing for Dummies
When building a product, it is natural for all the IB students to take a pen a draw all the possible variables of that product. Now imagine a company being opened by IB students. I believe on its first day the company was already brainstorming its marketing strategy, the very seed stage of a product, an organization chart and business canvas and so on.
In real life, things are a little bit different since not everyone has the proper business education (and that doesn’t necessarily mean something). At Jumble, when we started dividing ourselves into projects, and no matter what, we knew from the beginning that we are a startup. Everything regarding our operational style and all that was indicating this. But regarding our imagine, the biggest challenge was to know how would we want to show ourselves to the world. Should we become known for being a startup or should we appear to be more credible a look more like a company?
That was a very difficult question. Our main idea was to initially work with management and sales internationalization consulting. That reminds us all the good old fashioned and over saturated consulting industry. How could it be that a brand-new startup having one month of existence, pass the imagine of a credible company instead of a group of young colleagues working from a university-related environment. One thing that helped us immensely: From day one, we had the definition of our product very clear, so that was one problem less to worry about. The main challenge was on how to pass to traditional clients the credibility we did not have yet.
I had for many years hanging on my shelf, this book called the startup owner’s manual. I remember reading on its first page something like: “Don’t read this book at once, it’s more like a car manual that needs to be consulted from time to time”. It fitted perfectly the exact moment my consulting business needed some consulting on how to consult. That sounds great!
Our main goal, was to create a process of blending our image ideas with a credible and reliable customer development process. Blank and Dorf’s framework was developed in that way:
- Customer Discovery: develop hypotheses and test them with customers.
- Customer Validation: test sales, see if people will buy, and see if you can scale up.
- Customer Creation: marketing.
- Company Building: transition to a sustainable enterprise.
But that’s where the magic starts. Whenever we were developing our hypotheses and testing them with the customers. We were able to do it so greatly (many thanks to the book) that the customer felt secure and it sounded like we were a newer generation of a reliable company stablished in 1964. We did that by having a nice-looking website (based on a combination of style analysis of many other consulting companies’ websites), having well drafted proposition documents, great legal contracts and so on. So basically, putting our most effort in the construction of a pleasant experience for the customer discovery. The client could understand what we were about in our first meeting and that was a valuable experience.
The book is a great recommendation for sure, considering that it covers almost all the problems and variables of opening a startup. Another valuable thing is the number of mistakes the will list in the book. One that caught my attention and was great part of the creation of our project in jumble is the assumption that a startup should be able to be profitable from day one, instead of building a sustainable business. Startups don’t have time for that, so you should go out there and make it profitable from day one.