JGL Thursdays Unplugged v1 – So What Happened?

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Last week, we held our very first Thursdays Unplugged in the STORM office in Ortigas. I was with John, Gelo, and Ethel. We were supposed to be 5 people but the last participant couldn't make it at the last minute. In retrospect, it was better suited for 4 people - more on this later. So what happened?  I had no idea what was going to happen, so it was a bit awkward to start - it seemed too intimate at first. Then I laid the rules - 15 minutes per person, with an ideal 5-minute pitch, and then everyone can supply ideas and advice. And just like that, we started. It was pretty cool. Everyone had a very different idea, with each at different stages of the startup process. One was … [Read more...]

Soft vs. Hard Entrepreneurship and What to Prioritize

HARD vs SOFT

You can divide all the elements of entrepreneurship into two distinct categories: hard and soft. Here's what the HARD column can be populated with: Valuation Product-market fit Lean Startup Methodology A-B Testing Seed, Series A, Series B, Series C.... Pivot Runway Dilution MVP Growth Hacking Strategies Here's what the SOFT column can be populated with: Passion Founder Dynamics Culture Maturity The entrepreneurial spirit Mentors Perseverance Following the heart Following the dream Motivation Taking a leap of faith Now, ask ANY successful entrepreneur what the reasons are for her success. Do you think most responses will fall within the … [Read more...]

Introducing Thursdays Unplugged – And Why I’m Limiting It to 4 People

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While I like organizing events like Startups Unplugged or Open Coffee, where I really get my kick is when I go on one-on-one coffee-talks. In the bigger events or in some of the speaking events I've done, I may be able to impart knowledge and help out, but obviously, the learning cannot be customized to the individual. Sure, after the event there can be informal networking and getting to know people, but I don't really get to KNOW people that much. This is why I like doing one-on-one coffee-talks. More than just the startup idea, I get to know the entrepreneur's story. I get to know his motivations. I get to read body language. I don't just shoot from the hip and comment on just the … [Read more...]

The ONE book you need to read this year

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I'm a big fan of Reid Hoffman, Linkedin Founder and Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist. When he released Startup of You, a few years ago, I gobbled it up and came away quite impressed. He recently released The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age. Naturally, I grabbed a copy. As an HR guy who's also an entrepreneur, the subtitle piqued my attention even more. I chose to finish it off yesterday, during my Glenda-imposed house arrest when this tree blocked the only road going out AND took out the electric wires. (yes!) Now, I've read a lot of good books over the last few months. I've read a few page-turners (Hatching Twitter can only be described as Game of Thrones for … [Read more...]

I Forgot I Was On Vocation!

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The past few months have been some of the most rewarding for me as an entrepreneur. At the start of 2013, we made a crucial decision to split STORM Consulting, my startup baby, into two, distinct, laser-focused firms: STORM Rewards was going to focus on flexible benefits. I was going to lead the efforts as its CEO. STRATA was going to focus on HR competency frameworks. The big difference here was that I really wanted to source an independent management team to lead Strata - I didn't want to be involved in the day-to-day operations. In hindsight, it proved to be a very pivotal decision. (yep, focus is everything) Armed with a new business model which allowed it to offer Flexible … [Read more...]

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

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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

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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)

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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

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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...]

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