Building a B2B Startup? Here are 5 of the Most Crucial Lessons I’ve Learned

Building

I hope my previous post got you more interested in taking a longer look at building a Business-to-Business (B2B) startup. If you're interested in plunging into one, here are 5 of the most crucial lessons I've garnered in building B2B's for almost one decade now (Can't believe it!): 1) Doing Lean Startup? You cannot use a traditional "MVP" If you aren't familiar with Lean Startup Methodology, then please buy Eric's book as soon as you finish this post. Essentially, the book says that you have to validate your assumptions about the product and the market systematically before you spend money on building. Specifically, it suggest building a "minimum viable product." This is … [Read more...]

Six Powerful Reasons Why Your Next Startup Must Be a B2B

twotango

To B2B or not to B2B? Ah. This is the question. For me the answer is clear. With all things being equal, if you are a Philippine-based startup, you should try building a B2B first. Let me get my obvious bias out of the way first - I am primarily a B2B guy. Most of startups I've been involved with - STORM, Strata, Stream Engine - have been B2B's. (the notable exception is JGL) Waitaminit! What do mean by B2B again? You can generally classify as startup as being a B2B (Business to Business), as opposed to a B2C (Business to Consumer). A B2B company sells to other companies (also called enterprise business), while a B2C sells its wares directly to consumers. I think there is an … [Read more...]

How Failing 2,032,198 Times Helps You Succeed

worstmistake

We've heard it so many times for entrepreneurs - how you have to know how to fail in order to succeed. I wanted to dissect how exactly this is so. How exactly does failure help you succeed? My first instinct in answering this question is to look at my own entrepreneurial journey. Has failure helped me? When asked this question, my reply is almost immediate - yes, it has helped me tremendously. It's not just because of the sheer learning that happens afterwards (though this is big as well, and is the basis for the lean startup movement) The great thing that failure has given me is the stomach for it. Having failed so many times before and knowing first-hand what the … [Read more...]

STOP CHRISTMAS SHOPPING! (and other different ideas to help Typhoon Yolanda victims)

stop

Coming from a weekend retreat, I only recently saw footage of the utter devastation wrought by Yolanda. For a good hour, my wife Pauline and I were just silently watching, with a hand on our mouths. I've never seen this kind of footage from Ondoy, Habagat, or even the recent 7.2 Bohol earthquake. It was heartbreaking. I have some friends with families in the regions affected who still cannot call to confirm whether or not their loved ones are alive or not. It was also particularly shocking to see our countrymen resort to looting. I think this is the very first time I've heard of this happening, even if we seem to be hit by a disaster every quarter. This is one proof for me why … [Read more...]

On Scaling, the Recent SOFTCON, and the Wonder of Technology

flexproducts

Recently, I took a picture of the weekly FLEXIBLE BENEFIT products we received in our office and now had to deliver to our clients: There were hundreds of items ordered in a span of a few days. It was the very first time I've seen this many orders made in our system. We had to find a room to keep all the items secure. The problems we're facing in STORM now are very different from what we've faced over the last few years. Before, we would just be consumed mostly by sales and developing the technology further. (and you know, startup stuff like "where the hell do we get the money for next month's payroll?!") Now, while the above-mentioned things are still supremely important, we … [Read more...]

My Year in the Philippines: Reflections On Starting Up and Development

Miarayon, Bukidnon, Philippines

I've been in the Philippines for almost exactly a year now. Oh, what an incredible ride it has been so far. Within the year, I've had so many different experiences from starting things up with JGL to a brief stint at co.lab to being part of the launch of Ashoka Philippines.  Life has been unpredictable. I've been exposed to so many new and different ideas. So many different people. I've gained a sense of belonging in a country that has opened my eyes to the world. The year has really been such a gift and a strong driving force of change for me. I remember the days when I only had one peso in my pocket. I remember the days when I was so desperate for blog content that I would write … [Read more...]

Why Sales Isn’t Always King (when to say no to sales)

fallen king

Our Brief Fling With Payroll More than a few years ago, when STORM was finding out first hand that we still needed to educate the market about flexible benefits, we were scrambling on ways on how to generate more sales. I had an idea. "Let's offer payroll!" My several justifications were many: to be known as both a compensation AND benefits services company, "payroll wasn't rocket science", and the idea that we could just use the current system we developed internally to run it. Because there were many competitors, we couldn't put quite a big enough margin per sale. So I figured, we could make up for it with a bit of volume. Our minimum price was around P15-20K per month for a … [Read more...]

Ah! Open Coffee! (October Edition Postscript)

Group pic! SMILE!

I have to admit, I was worried about the 2-month absence of Open Coffee. Would we lose momentum?  Would people still go?  Will the pitches be just as good?  It turns out, my fears were unfounded. I thought October Open Coffee was super! For starters, after the 2 months, it was great to see the holdovers / familiar faces (around 20 or so, you know who you are) who keep on coming back. You practically feel like family. Next, I thought, we just had the MOST DIVERSE SET OF PITCHES we've ever had. And if you've been to Open Coffee before and heard the pitches, you'd know this is saying a lot. Let's see.... We had an OFW-children's support group, a fashion data aggregator, … [Read more...]

Why Startups ARE For Everyone, part 2

everyone

(Part one of this series can be found here) In part 1, I talk about how the combination of how EVERYONE having something special to offer and the current technology infrastructure now enable ANYONE to build her own startup. So the question is: why isn't everyone rushing to do so? Here are 3 factors why: 1) The Information Gap The first reason is simply ignorance. We live in a society where our school systems still (by and large) marshall us and train us for the corporate and factory environment. For a typical college graduate, her primary (and chances are, only) professional concern after graduation is "to get a job." The thought of pursuing her own thing and standing … [Read more...]

Why Startups ARE For Everyone, part 1

freedom

"Startups aren't for everyone." I've written this considerably in this blog. (very prominently here) We've also heard it uttered by every other entrepreneur, it seems, right? "Entrepreneur you say? Well, ho ho ho! You have to have a unique skill set: a combination of cast-iron will, uber-magnetic charisma, the ability to laugh in fear's face, and space-age technical skills. Oh, and you need to be stupendously lucky." (I guess in a way, talk like this validates what we've done and makes us feel good about ourselves a bit) Lately, however, I'm starting to feel differently. I think startups are for everyone.  Before you hurl tomatoes at me (especially existing entrepreneurs :), … [Read more...]

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