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Why We Plan Our Entire Business In 5-Day Sprints


  

There's an incredible amount of magic in having very little time to get things done.

That's why at Startups.com, with over 200+ people, we manage our entire workload based on what we plan on getting done by Friday. That's it. No long term planning sessions, no confusing Gantt charts or Trello boards. Just 5 days to get stuff done.

And damn it's effective.

Less Time = Less Room for Excuses

The problem with creating longer planning cycles is that every additional day, week, or month decreases the visibility and accountability for a single day of work. Our focus needs to be reducing the amount of time we can cheat on our time.

Imagine we wanted to lose 10 pounds this year. At lunch, we can order a cheeseburger, because hey, we have all year t...



Article

Forget Inventing New Ideas, Try Improving What's Out There


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While the novelty of creating the next Facebook sounds amazing, the truth is we don't need to necessarily invent a product to bring a new innovation to market.

If we look closely, we'll see that some of the fastest-growing companies out there — Uber, Casper, Dollar Shave Club and dare I say it, WeWork — are all based on ancient business models with a new twist.

Start With This: "What's Wrong With Current Products?"

Look, Uber didn't invent taxis — they just simply asked, "What's broken about the taxi business?" (Well, the limo business initially but who's tracking?) Any of us would be hard-pressed to find an existing product or service that couldn't use a ton of improvement.

What customers care most about is the improvement. Maybe that's ...



Article

Does Having a Diverse Team Really Matter?


  

When it comes to building a startup, you are who you hire. Not only do the people you bring onto your team determine the direction and destiny of your product; they also shape what it will be like to come to work every day. So as you get started on the process of “who” your startup is going to be, we want to make sure you’re thinking about something major: team diversity.

What is team diversity?

Team diversity refers to differences between members of startup team. Those differences can include demographic differences (like age, race, sex, ethnicity), personality (extrovert, introvert, and differing Myers-Briggs types) and functional (as in skill sets, like engineering, design, copywriting, and marketing).

Types of diversity

When we think a...



Article

Will Someone Steal My Startup Idea?


  

The myth of the "stolen startup idea" somehow continues to live on, despite an insane lack of proof to the contrary. The thinking goes that if someone else hears our idea, they will simply take it and create a billion dollar business from it.

On paper (and in movies) that can happen. In reality, it's basically a Sasquatch myth.

Just having an "idea" for something accounts for nothing. Great companies aren't built because someone had an idea for something that no one else thought of — we all have novel ideas.

Great companies are built through an insane amount of dedication and execution that (rarely) leads to a big outcome.

By the way, plenty of people had the idea for a social network — and built them — before Facebook was ever "stolen."

...


Article

Everything You Need to Know About Product-Market Fit


  

What is product-market fit?

While the term “product-market fit” gets thrown around a lot in the startup world, it’s not always very well understood. In fact, we can’t even agree on who created it! Some people say that the concept of product-market fit was first developed and named by entrepreneur and investor Andy Rachleff. Others give credit to famed investor Marc Andreessen, who at the very least popularized term product-market fit when he wrote about in a 2007 blog post. He said, “Product-market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.”

In other words: You could have an amazing, sophisticated, well-thought out idea — and people just don’t get it. (Think: That first focus group for Pied Piper on HBO’s ...



Article

Should Big Competitors Scare Me?


  

Think of big companies like the Death Star.

On the outset, it's a planet killer. But its weakness, (other than a really questionably-architected ventilation system), is that it moves at a glacial pace.

I spent 10 years running a digital agency working with these Fortune 500 giants like BMW, Best Buy and Eli Lilly.

What we don't see on the outside is how impossible it is for these companies to move internally and how we can use that lack of mobility to our advantage versus worrying about our home planet of Alderaan getting blown up.

Big Companies Face Inward, Not Outward

The first thing we need to know about big companies is that their culture is almost always faced entirely inward.

That means their staff, unlike ours, spends more time co...



Article

Everything You Need To Know About Pitching Investors


  

The investor pitch. It's feared. It's desired. It's terrifying.

But don't worry: We've got you covered. Here's everything you need to know about that all-important investor pitch.

What should your investor pitch include?

Invisu.me Co-Founder and CEO Donna Griffit is a master pitcher who has helped countless founders distill their pitch down to exactly what they need — and nothing they don’t. She had the opportunity to sit in on a private pitching event where a delegation of startups had the opportunity give a five minute pitch and receive direct feedback from a group of top-tier Silicon Valley VC’s. (So top tier that she can’t even say who was there but, trust us, you will want to memorize this section before your next pitch.)

Here’s what ...



Article

What's Product Design?


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What is product design?

Product design is the entire process of taking a product from idea to customers — and everything in between.

“There’s a widespread misconception that design is all about aesthetics,” product designer Eric Eriksson writes. “Most people don’t seem to understand that it’s about solving problems instead.”

There’s another, more limited, definition of product design which we’re not going to explore in detail here. But basically, that other definition is talking just about how a product looks and functions. For the sake of product design for startups, we’re focusing on the more holistic, process-oriented definition.

What’s the difference between product design and product development?

While product design is part of produc...



Article

10 Aspects of Starting Up That You Shouldn’t Dread


  

Question: What is one part of starting up that was easier than you anticipated?

Finding a Support Network

“A support network of other entrepreneurs will make any journey a lot more enjoyable—and a lot easier, too! By joining key networking groups, like YEC, and moving into a co-working space, building a support group of like-minded entrepreneurs after starting ZinePak was easier than I would have imagined. I never expected to make so many close friends so quickly!”

Brittany Hodak
ZinePak
@brittanyhodak

Forming the Business Entity

“What I initially believed would be the most difficult part about starting a business for myself, which I would say is the process of coming up with and registering a name, filling out the prope...



Article

What Is Product Differentiation?


  

What Is product differentiation?

Product differentiation is process used by companies to clarify the differences between their products and other products on the market. Those other products can include competitors but also a company’s own products, to prevent overlap between the offerings. The goal is to find a product’s unique selling point (USP).

Why is product differentiation important?

Product differentiation is important because it makes your product stand out from the crowd! It’s easier and easier to create a company or sell a product or connect directly with factories in China these days. So what makes your housewares product or dating app or SaaS product different from all of the other housewares products, dating apps, and SaaS pr...



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