Lean Startup

Are You Qualified to Drive the Boat?

Randy Nelson, author of The Second Decision, is a speaker, a coach, a Qualified Entrepreneur, and a former nuclear submarine officer in the U.S. Navy. He co-founded and later sold two market-leading, Randy Nelsonmultimillion dollar companies–Orion International and NSTAR Global Services. Randy now runs Gold Dolphins LLC, a coaching and mentoring firm to help entrepreneurial leaders and CEOs become Qualified Entrepreneurs and achieve their maximum potential.

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Are You Fit to Be an Entrepreneur?

Randy Nelson is a speaker, a coach, a Qualified Entrepreneur, and a former nuclear submarine officer in the U.S. Navy. He co-founded and later sold two market-leading, multimillion dollar companies–Orion International and NSTAR Global Services. Randy now runs Gold Dolphins LLC, a coaching and mentoring firm to help entrepreneurial leaders and CEOs become Qualified Entrepreneurs and achieve their maximum potential. Randy is my guest for next week’s podcast where we talked about his new book, The Second Decision. Qualified Entrepreneur

An excerpt from the podcast:

Joe: The Second Decision, maybe is kind of out of place. Maybe it’s something you should read before you make the first decision.

Randy: You know, it’s great, it’s a great point. I got interviewed last week, and here’s how I answered the question. They said, “Who do you think should read the book?” I thought, “Tell you what, I’m going to answer it two ways. I think the people who need to read the book are the people who are in the middle of building a business. They may not necessarily like what they hear or read in it, but they really need to read it.” Some of them when they start to read they’ll say “Oh, that’s a lot of work, and I’m not sure I want to involve myself in all that.” I think the people that will absolutely read it are the people who are about to start because they’re soaking up as much knowledge as they can, and they want to know how to build a business. I think the people who are just starting will read it and say “Boy that makes all the sense in the world.” The people who are in the middle of the fight, they’re going to look at it as a little bit of work because they’re not necessarily doing these things right now.

Joe: I think it’s interesting that you break it apart into that leader, role player and creator because what I see a lot of entrepreneurs do is when they start out in a company they end up hiring a mirror to themselves, if there’s someone like themselves because they just can’t get it all done. They just need someone like them, they think. What you’re doing is you’re setting in place, those areas that they need support even if it’s just a relationship to be able to talk to. I look at not only about who I am but also who I need to surround myself with.

Randy: Yeah, and it goes back to the definition of self-awareness which is you’ve got to become aware where your shortcomings and weaknesses are hurting the company and then understand how to either overcome or compensate for them. This is the difficult part for entrepreneurs is I think to get that self-awareness, that be a little vulnerable because we love self-confidence as entrepreneurs, that’s what makes us great. With a little vulnerability and understanding we don’t have to know everything, and then it because a little easier to at some point. I’ve built two businesses from scratch to exit but I have turned both over because it came to a point in the company’s operating cycle that I knew I wasn’t going to be the best guy in the next five years to run the business. It was becoming a little bit operational and that wasn’t my absolute strength and love so I turned over my first business at thirteen years and my second business in 12 years and the person who came into that business was much better than me at that point. That allowed me to go back and start another business.

Becoming an Entrepreneur: Realizing Commercial Value Versus Technical Value

The Purdue Foundry focuses Purdue’s vast resources to accelerate and improve advancement of Purdue ideas and innovations that are changing the world. My podcast guest next week is Juliana Casavan a Training Manager at Purdue Foundry where she creates and facilitates workshops that concentrate on first step of looking at a business and helping them identify their value proposition.

Related Podcast and Transcription: The First Step of Looking at a Business

Excerpt from the podcast:

Joe:  What do you find is the biggest light bulb that comes out for someone? Is it different for everyone or is there something like that ‘aha!’ moment that they experience when they go through your training?

Juliana: You know I think it’s really different for everyone, but I would say it’s really in the first two weeks. The program is six weeks long, and it’s a once a week session that’s three hours at a time and then they have a lot of homework and validation they have to go do afterward. But in those sessions, I think it’s those hard realities that we kind of face when they maybe realize that the customer that they thought they were going to go after first is not the best fit, or maybe not even interested. Sometimes we find out that they’re just not even interested in what they have, that’s when we have to really pivot and figure out who the next available customer is or the best customer. But yes, it’s really those first two weeks just kind of changing their train of thought because they’re researchers, they’re technologists, they’re academia, their focus is more on that aspect. So really getting them to just kind of change their brain in the way that they think and bringing more about the commercial value versus the technical value.

Joe:   And when they see that, do you find that they scale down from this idea that they’re going to save the world or solve world hunger and all ones that they’re looking, that they really have to concentrate on that guy across the street and then sell the one person?

Juliana: It’s very much that realization that you have to be laser-focused on that customer, and you have to gain that first customer before you can go anywhere else. A lot of times from that actually, we have technologists that find out that maybe this business aspect is not for them and they become the chief technology officer instead and we help them find a CEO to come and fill that role, because they find that they’re really just not interested in that part. They want to focus on the big picture of what they’re trying to do versus focusing on just that one specific customer.

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Startup Training at Purdue

Juliana Casavan is a Training Manager at Purdue Foundry where she creates and facilitates workshops that Casavanconcentrate on the first step of looking at a business and helping them identify their value proposition. Purdue Foundry is a hub to transform innovators into entrepreneurs. It is a place that Purdue faculty, staff and students find fast, effective ways to move their ideas to the marketplace. The Foundry focuses Purdue’s vast resources to accelerate and improve advancement of Purdue ideas and innovations that are changing the world.

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How Important is a Brand for a Startup?

Joe: Well, in a startup world, where you’re kind of always marketing towards customer development and product market fit and, we stay pretty focused in that. Is there an ‘Aha’ moment for a company or a time when we start shifting gears and start thinking about their brand?

Laurel Mintz: I think that that’s a conversation you should be having in the very beginning. There’s a couple of things that we find as an agency are really non-negotiables and developing a brand is definitely one of those because it’s the first impression that any consumer or client has about your company, and you want to make sure that that evokes the right kind of message. So, we have a lot of our companies go out and do kind of some brand building exercises where they come up with adjectives and descriptors and wave that they want their brand to come across and the feelings and the emotions behind the look and feel of their brand. And, I also think that the word brand is kind of muddled in the marketing conversation, so it’s important that people understand the difference.

Joe: So, it’s difficult to shift a brand, isn’t it, can a startup really know what their brand is?  Do they have to know what it is?

Laurel: I think it’s important to understand the brand or at least what you want the brand to be initially. But, I think the beauty of the startup world is that you can pivot so quickly when you’re a small, nimble company that’s the beauty in it, is that you are out there experiencing the world reflected through your brand and your company and if you see some things working or some things not, you know, a good leader in a startup or even in an emerging company knows how to pivot the message and the brand quickly.

Joe: Does the marketing guy sit on the back side roll his eyes when that’s going on because he’s got all his energy and time developing a brand, and he’s like ‘Okay’?

Laurel: Well, I think, I guess my question to you is ‘what do you think a brand is’. So, is a brand to you the overall entire look and feel or is a brand something bigger in your mind?

Joe: Well, I think that brand incorporates the vision a little bit, doesn’t it? I mean it’s the look and the feel but it’s who I want to be and who I want my customers to be.

Laurel: I think that is exactly right, and I think that a brand, the look and feel of the logo, for example, can remain the same even if the market is shifting. So, I think when it comes to pivoting for a startup, for example, it’s about shifting the messaging and the targeting in terms of where your dollar spend is going for marketing rather than changing the brand itself. Does that make sense?

Related Podcast and Transcription: A Marketing Conversation with Mintz

Laurel Mintz, CEO of Elevate My Brand is a renowned marketing professional with both an MBA and JD. Her company works with global brands such as Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Nestle, and Popchips. She’s an expert on everything marketing, digital strategy, social media, and events.

Marketing with PDCA (More Info): Targeting what your Customer Values at each stage of the cycle will increase your ability to deliver quicker, more accurately and with better value than your competitor. It is a moving target and the principles of Lean and PDCA facilitates the journey to Customer Value.

Where Learning Becomes Doing: Purdue Foundry

Purdue Foundry is a hub to transform innovators into entrepreneurs. It is a place that Purdue faculty, staff and students find fast, effective ways to move their ideas to the marketplace. The Foundry focuses Purdue’s vast resources to accelerate and improve advancement of Purdue ideas and innovations that are changing the world. My podcast guest next week is Juliana Casavan a Training Manager at Purdue Foundry where she creates and facilitates workshops that concentrate on first step of looking at a business and helping them identify their value proposition.

Excerpt from next week’s podcast:

Joe:   We’re all familiar with the software and Apps guys, and with those being developed using the Business Model Canvas and Lean Startup. I think most of us get that, we see how that’s developed. But you discussed some things where the idea is like five years, six years out of trying to prove some of this technology, that to me seems very challenging.

Juliana Casavan: Yes, it is. To me, it’s one of the coolest parts of the jobs because I get to see these technologies that won’t be the market for however long it takes them to get through FDA approval. It’s kind of an 8 to 12 year trajectory for FDA approval most of the time, I kind of get to see these things like super early when they’re just at the lab bench coming up with their proof of concepts kind of phase. It does create a challenge for us because the runway is so long, so as far as how long they stay with us or the client and the customer, is very much extended because we work with them through that entire process.

I find that the core principles Lean Launch and business model canvas, the methodology still applies though. They need to get an understanding of the industry and how does the industry operate in their sciences. If they have a cancer therapeutic, they need to understand how Merck, and Pfizer and Eli Lilly actually make these decisions about who they’re going to acquire or how long are they going to wait to actually do an acquisition, what are they looking to see with the technology before they would be willing to start having those conversations.

We really get to kind of see the early phases of that and the early developments and we start conversations obviously much earlier in that industry than we do with the software and Apps because that’s very quick to the iteration.

Joe:   The main difference, it’s a much longer program, do you take a different type of ramp, a different type of acceleration with something that extends that far out?

Juliana: No, we really don’t. Actually the approach is very much the same. They go through the LaunchBox program, still just the same 6-weeks program, and again it provides some kind of orientation to the world of business and commercializing their technology versus publishing a paper about a finding kind of thing. Then they go the entrepreneur and residents just as they did before, and the entrepreneur and residents just works with them for a longer period of time. It’s pretty much what happens.

We really look for more funding for them. We know that the software and App companies need funding as well but the high sciences where we’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars of investments before they actually even gain their first revenue kind of situation. It’s just more preparing them for that kind of value depth with funding and making sure that we’re filling it in and providing them the resources that they need.

Marketing with PDCA (More Info): Targeting what your Customer Values at each stage of the cycle will increase your ability to deliver quicker, more accurately and with better value than your competitor. It is a moving target and the principles of Lean and PDCA facilitates the journey to Customer Value.

 

Has Your Branding Changed? 0

Laura Busche ‘s book is based on the Lean StartupTM  principles and is titled; Lean Branding (Lean (O’Reilly)). It is part Laura Buscheof the Lean Startup series of books by O’Reilly. I found her perception of marketing very aligned with mine and at the very start of the podcast asked her to differentiate her way of thinking versus the more traditional ways.

Related Podcast and Transcription: Branding Your Startup

Joe:   It’s very much different than what we’d say a Kotler book on marketing or the more traditional marketing branding books.

Laura:   I’ve read the Kotler books. They are actually…it’s how you start, so principles of marketing, marketing management, all these concepts. The real challenge for me was to bring these concepts to a level where anyone can use them to grow their startups. So it’s more of a tactical book, I’d like to think of it as a handbook. It has more than 100 tactics, it has case studies, examples, templates, checklists, all the kind of thing that you want to have when you’re just getting started and it’s definitely not the kind of book that’s here to introduce complicated theories, it’s rather here to show you how they can be applied. It’s also different from your traditional marketing book because I’m bringing in some insights from design; I’m bringing in some insights from psychology which is my background. I’m a business major and then I did some design management work and now I’m doing research in psychology, so it’s bringing together all of these disciplines and I like to think that that’s exactly what entrepreneurs need to use these tactics.

Joe:   Well I think you bring some interesting concepts there because so much of marketing today is influencing behaviors that’s let’s say in changing behavioral pattern to develop some sustainability, some use in the product anymore.

Laura:   Exactly. Marketing is so influenced by consumer psychology, it’s almost entirely an application of consumer behavior principles but there’s also some interesting things happening from the design end. Designers are starting to use more agile research methods, so rather than just doing all these old focused groups that nobody seems to like or use anymore, it’s becoming this environment where we can explore with ethnography, and we can do interviews, and we can discover consumers that way and it’s just so interesting and that’s one of the largest principles behind the book.

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