STEP 6: Why You Should Rethink Doing a Launch

(This is the 5th post in the series 6 Steps to Startup Launch. You can find the introductory post here, and the previous post here.) Ah. I remember our own "launch" back in 2006. It was a grand thing. We booked a room at Discovery Suites for half a day and we invited a number of corporate managers to a free "product launch" of our Flexible Benefit services in STORM. Since we didn't really put in a lot of cash in the venture when we started, this was a major, major expense for us. We filled the room with people carrying important-sounding business cards. And yeah, we felt like we had it made. Of course, it was a flop. Not one person in the room bought our product. If anything, we just … [Read more...]

STEP 5: Change or Die! Tips on Iteration

(This is the 5th post in the series 6 Steps to Startup Launch. You can find the introductory post here, and the previous post here.) After getting feedback from your customers about your MVP, it's a simple matter of following the feedback, right? Of course, there is always more than meet the eye (ugh). Let's go through some product iteration guidelines! 1) Don't just blindly follow the feedback, reflect You need to take a step back, reflect carefully about the feedback, and determine how you want to use it in changing your MVP. No, there isn't a formula as to how this can be done. It all depends on your particular product, market, and feedback results. This is why it's always a … [Read more...]

STEP 4: Don’t Listen to Steve Jobs: You HAVE To Gather Data

(This is the 4th post in the series 6 Steps to Startup Launch. You can find the introductory post here, and the previous post here.) There are some entrepreneurs who feel they can totally shun the customer research process and instead feel they can rely purely on their product instinct. Then they quote Steve Jobs, who famously said that "Customers don't know what they want until they see it." Well for one, chances are, you are not Steve Jobs. Two, Steve did do a ton of product research: Apple 3, The Lisa, and his Next Computer, even the Apple G4 Cube computer (done after he returned to Apple) were complete, utter failures in the market. I'm willing to bet he learned a TON of things … [Read more...]

STEP 3: The Key To Startup Victory Is The MVP

(This is the 4th post in the series 6 Steps to Startup Launch. You can find the introductory post here, and the previous post here.) So you have your idea and you have your team. Now all that's left is to start, right? To your credit, a lot of you will say, "not yet," because you know that a blind leap is risky. You know that those who purely rely on gut and instinct are either foolhardy or have oodles of money to spare. "Look, before you leap." And so lot of us startup founders find ourselves looking first. We do a lot of "market research" and get info about market share the competitor's 5-P's, and the like. Some of us even do surveys which asks questions like: "Our product … [Read more...]

STEP 2: The MOST Important Thing: Picking Co-founders

(This post is part of the 6-Steps to Startup Launch Series. Introductory post is here. Step 1 is here.)  Very first question: do you really need co-founders? Short answer is: no you don't. You can own 100% of the equity. If you need people, you can instead hire them. One of the entrepreneur/VC's I follow, Mark Suster, recommends starting this way. I've also encountered entrepreneurs here in the Philippines who absolutely will not relinquish any equity under any circumstance. One of the startups I founded, Searchlight, was a deliberate attempt go through startup process by myself, in a grand experiment of sorts. So do I recommend going at it alone? Nope. Why? One key reason … [Read more...]

STEP 1: Pick a Product and a Market

This is the 2nd of a series of 7 posts about the steps to launching a product. You can find the introductory post here. Step 2 is here.  So you want to launch a startup. First thing to do is to pick out an idea. Its sounds simple, but I do know that for a lot of us, this can be pretty challenging - its either we have too many ideas or none at all. The secret is to choose to commit. If you have too many ideas, and its already bogging you down, force yourself to commit to a few ideas and eliminate those you feel lukewarm about. For those who feel "none of my ideas are exciting," I find that this is usually a confidence thing. You have to take a deep breathe, box out all the negative … [Read more...]

Launch Your Startup in 6 Steps

So you a want a startup map? Here's one. This 6-step process is heavily influenced by my own experiences, and 2 canonical entrepreneurial books: Steve Blank's 4-Steps to the Epiphany, and Eric Ries's Lean Startup. Both obvious recommendations. Again,  please note the differentiation here between a startup and a small business. Here we go. For a lot of us beginners, our idea of a startup goes like this: we have an idea, we build a product, market it, and then wait and see if it sinks or swims. So essentially, we take a guess and see if it works. This process IS risky, because if you invest a lot of money in the product development and the marketing, and it fails, that's it - … [Read more...]