Recently. I gave a talk to an Investment Class at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. There were about 80 students and the majority had an undergraduate degree in Engineering and were pursuing their MBA in one of the premier management institutions in India. The topic was “Startups – from Lightbulb to Execution”. At the outset, I asked my audience as to how many of them saw themselves as entrepreneurs. Not one hand went up. At this point, the Professor opined that in India you have be a High School drop out to start a business(quite true) and that these kids will go work for him rather than do their own startup. I knew I had a challenge on my hands. I had to motivate this group to buy into starting their own business. Undeterred, I told them that after my talk, I will revisit the same question.
My strategy was to tell them a series of stories on how ideas and vision come together to make a successful company. Long story short, after my talk, about 5 hands went up when I repeated my question and a few are still in touch with me via email. I am sure I would have converted many more if I had read The Art of the Start V2.0 and used some of the material from this book in my talk!
The first time I heard Guy speak was at my son’s High School on Entrepreneurship. The audience consisting mostly of sophomores (and their parents) lapped up everything that was said, including Guy’s seamless weaving of stories within stories and then gracefully exiting back (like a well behaved C program).
The book is a compelling read and starts off by describing the three essentials for a successful startup experience – Opportunity, Expertise and Passion. I have also heard of a successful startup being like a three legged stool whose legs are Technology, Finance and Marketing but I like the way Guy explains it. Being part of a few startups myself, I agree 100% with his observations. His takeaways such as If you make meaning, you’ll probably also make money are spot on. Add to that lines of wisdom such as choose your co-founder like you would choose your life partner is priceless.Some of the questions he asks are thought provoking – for instance, how does one pick a business model? By answering the following two questions:
- Who has your money in their pockets?
- How are you going to get it into your pocket?
Startups are not for everyone and it is a well known fact that only 1 in 10 succeed. With so much risk associated with it, we still see these coming out of the woods (at least in the Silicon Valley) and I suspect it has to do with people like Guy who can infuse his readers with enthusiasm and drive to enjoy the journey and the results will follow. There is some overlap from his book, “The Art of Social media: Power tips for Power users” but it is intentional because Social Media is the new marketing platform for startups.
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