Saturday, May 23, 2020

Why 100K college tuition is coming

The next one to fail would be a US school.  With the international students retreating, and with the supply chain and manufacturing not coming back, the United States schools would be saddled with high salary levels from the bygone era.  The schools would find it hard to survive unless they charge sky high tuition one way or another.  If they don't, some schools would have to go. 

The solution is to bring the research to a high level and bring the industry manufacturing back!!  the schools need to learn to live lean and the professors need to learn to work on applied innovative problems rather than just pie in the sky research.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Why "Lean Startup" model is already dead

Many people embraces the book "Lean Startup".  It is a book that formalizes an approach to entrepreneurship and innovation.  Basically the four steps outlined are:
1. Identify a problem, think of a solution;
2. Make an MVP to address the problem;
3. Test the MVP to the audience;
4. Improve it.

The author is clearly trying to make a movement out of this book.  It is an "agile" innovation model suitable for solopreneurs and perhaps small organizations.   It is very appealing to young people, who are most likely without jobs, without experience, without management maturity, and without too much detailed skills outside of coding websites and APPs.  Now, this is good for letting a lot of young people get involved.  But it is also missing on many important points.

Point One: Solving a problem and offer the solution model is dead

If a customer has three problems, and you solve his/her number two problem, the customer would not care.  If you go around offering things like charity to complete strangers through social network - I know it will not work.  There are ALWAYS exceptions.  Amazon is started by one person.  ExciteHackers is started by one person, and so on.  This "get rich quick" scheme is very fulfilling good news in bad times, I understand.

Point Two: The "Make it and they will come" model is dead

The world really has everything.  If it does not have something, you need to make it in a heart beat through a factory, not in your "garage".  The only way to startup a business in the future is to have experience in the market and understand the problem completely, and offer a solution that will both disrupt and benefit the entire ecosystem.  This way you can be accepted by the customer and the network.

Point Three: All ideas are good, only a few can penetrate to the market.  Startup success is based on two important factors - whether sales will fall and whether the network allows you to access the audience.  This is what kills the majority of startup ideas

The "lean startup" book will bring a lot of people out of the woodwork and start to tinker and trying to "ask for opinions".  These group of people will be very disappointed in the end.  Although experience is priceless and it is always to have some experience, many young people would be missing the important timing to learn through jobs and excel at "boring work" first.  In the end they will not be able to recover.

So be careful.  "Lean startups" is a good book, but it emphasize a "guess and projecting" scheme and a "get rich quick" fantasy.  The worst, is that this has a lot of following - the serious voice in the silicon valley is drowned. 

If you like Lean Startup, treat it as a very very good appetizer.  Read other more serious books that do not go into the "chicken soup" category.  I recommend "Traction" and "Zero to one".  They are written by much more experienced veterans who suffered from the setup of the market acceptance. 


The idea that you can do a customer survey and get opinions is wrong - people will tell you all kinds of feedback and suggestions, and in the end whether they buy it or not, whether they give you the price you want or not, is the unknown left for the very long end of the startup journey.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

#StartupDiagrams #startupBingo #startupreadiness checker and #startup idea strength checker

The website has released the latest tools for startup entrepreneurs.  These can be used for checking the strength of an idea and the chance it will be funded.  It can be used to identify for an entrepreneur if he/she is ready.  #teensharks also defined a nine-step startup process.

#teensharks #startupreadiness checker
#teensharks #startup IdeaStrength checker.
#teensharks nine step process for startup

A startup process takes nine steps.  Whether you are a silicon valley high tech or a local restaurant. 

Step 1: Ideation and conception.

Step 2: Build a minimal viable model to prove it can be made, even if not at commercial scale.

Step 3: Obtain seed funding and go into business.

Step 4: Validate that sales can happen.

Step 5: Raise funding to facilitate growth.  Don't just "boot strap" it because it is too slow and can not guarantee barrier.

Step 6: Prove that the concept can enter market.

Step 7: Obtain profitable operation that is continuous.

Step 8: Build barrier of entry fast.

Step 9: Scale up the operations and grow.

Use your idea against the check list.  If you satisfy one criteria, put a stamp.  The more stamps, the higher quality your idea is and the higher chance it will be funded.

When you startup, check if you are ready.  Check six directions:
Front, back, left, right, top, and below.
Check front for sales validation and aspiration;
Check back for barrier and copycats/competitors;
Check left for allies;
Check right for market channel penetration ability;
Check top for ceilings;
Check below for footing and potholes.
For example, if an idea has no ceiling, and you completely have no ally and no understanding of market or operational details, the chance you are ready is extremely low.  Get a mentor or coach or guide.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Straight Talk for Startups: Table of Contents of 100 Rules

The Straight Talk for Startups is a book that veterans can appreciate.  It is so full of wisdom from years of operations.  Unfortunately beginners who are most vulnerable may not appreciate the contribution.  Here is the Table of contents for Straight Talk for Startups.

Cover of Straight Talk for Startups
Straight talk for startups
By Randy Komisar and Jantoon Reigersman
  1. Starting a venture has never be easier exceeding has never been harder
  2. Try to act normal
  3. Aim for an order of magnitude improvement
  4. Start small but be ambitious
  5. Most failures result from poor execution not unsuccessful innovation
  6. The best idea originates from founders who are users
  7. Don't scale your technology until it works
  8. Manage with maniacal focus
  9. Target fast growing dynamic markets
  10. Never hire the second-best
  11. Conduct your hiring interviews as see if you're an airline pilot
  12. A part-time game changer is preferable to a full time seat filler
  13. Manager team like a jazz band
  14. Instead of a free lunch, provide meaningful work
  15. Team of professionals with a common mission makes the most attractive investment
  16. Use your financials to tell your story
  17. Create to business plans, an execution plan and a aspiration plan
  18. Know your financial members and their interdependence by heart
  19. Net income is an opinion but cash flow is a fact
  20. Unity economics tell you whether you have a business
  21. Manage working capital as if it were your only source of funds
  22. excellent exercise district its financial discipline
  23. Always be frugal
  24. To get where you are going you need to know where you are going
  25. Measurement comes with pitfalls
  26. Operational setbacks require swift and deep cutbacks
  27. Safe surprises for birthdays not for your stakeholders
  28. Strategic pivots offer silver linings
  29. Don't accept money from strangers
  30. Incubators are good for finding investors but not for developing business
  31. Avoid venture capital unless you absolutely need it
  32. If you choose venture capital pick the right type of the investor
  33. Conduct detailed due diligence on your investors
  34. Personal wealth is not good investing
  35. Choose investors who think like operators
  36. Deal directly with the decision makers
  37. Find stable investors
  38. Select investors who can help future financings
  39. Investors syndicates needs to be managed
  40. Capital intensive ventures required deep financial pockets
  41. Strategic investors pose unique challenges
  42. Raise capital in stages as you remove risks
  43. Minimizing dilutions is not your fund raising objective
  44. Don't let a temporary fix become a permanent mistake
  45. Pursue the lowest cost capital in light of your circumstances
  46. Escape the traps of venture debt
  47. Choose one of four approaches to determine how much money to raise
  48. Always have your aspirational plans ready
  49. More ventures fail from indigestion since from starvation
  50. Never stop fundraising
  51. Venture capital moves in cycles
  52. Fund raising takes more time than you think
  53. The pitch must answer the fundamental questions about your venture
  54. Make it personal
  55. When pitching carefully read the room
  56. Use white papers for deep dive follow-ups
  57. Prepare your financing document ahead of time
  58. Obsessively drive the close
  59. Consistent communication is important in convincing investors
  60. Milestones can solve irreconcilable valuation differences
  61. Liquidation preference will change your outcome safe
  62. Do not take rejections personally
  63. Boards are deliberation bodies not collection of individuals
  64. Conflicts of interest and conflicting interest are elephants in room
  65. Your board should be operational rather than administrative
  66. Small boards are better than big ones next one
  67. Lead investors ask for board seats quantify them first
  68. You need a lead director
  69. Add independent board members for expertise and objectivity
  70. True board diversity is a competitive advantage
  71. Each director must commit to spending meaningful time
  72. Review director performance regularly
  73. Your chief financial officer has a special relationship with your board
  74. The founder should choose the best CEO available
  75. Find a coach
  76. It is the CEOs job to run efficient productive meetings
  77. Don't oversell your board
  78. Board agenda should look like this
  79. Prepare thoroughly for board meetings
  80. Use your daily management materials for board meetings
  81. Too many unanimous board decisions is a sign of trouble
  82. Use a working sessions and committees to reinforce your priorities
  83. Your bored should spend time with your team
  84. Building companies to last, providing liquidity along the way
  85. Who liquidity is not limited to initial public offerings and acquisitions
  86. If you go public don't slip and fall
  87. Investors and management's interest in liquidity often conflicts
  88. Individual needed liquidity too
  89. Your evaluation will have a local maximum
  90. Ventures aren't just bought they can also be sold
  91. Choose an acquisitor, don’t wait to be chosen
  92. If you want to sell your business you need to know the decision-makers
  93. Determine whether you are a good fit for acquisition before contacting them
  94. Know your acquisitor’s acquisition history in detail
  95. Make yourself visible
  96. Build a relationship with potential acquisitions don't cold call
  97. Be ready when they are
  98. Success is not linear
  99. Prepare for your lucky break
  100.  Learn the rules by heart so you know when to break them

Hear the author's interviews:

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Three critical processes that an entrepreneur must understand

An entrepreneur, whether a high school student or a recent college graduate or a seasoned professor, are all the same.  They have never been to the industry and never explored markets in detail.  It is important to understand three processes:

(1) The process of going from idea to a merchandise;
(2) The steps between a product and the buyer;
(3) The migration of a person's knowledge.

These three represent the flow of (1) objects; (2) money and value; and (3) person.  It is very important for a would-be entrepreneur to know where exactly he is, where his knowledge is, and where the industry and market is.

A person's maturation from book learning to career to business to creation-learning.

Dr Chang Liu
Migration from an idea to a merchandise.

Then it is important to understand the life cycles of a startup ...

Innovation is to build relationship and simplify life

After the CORE blog in wix, Add on points that I may forget
To solve a problem or satisfy a need is not necessary.  Like being a roast beef chef.

A founder builds relations.

A relation is to easy other people's life.  Make somethings simple.  Easy.

innovation = change x big
start = new biz x new company x founder transformation

Startup and innovation are both business domain, not knowledge domain.

Business is to provide value in exchange for cash tips.
Starting business is to build
A startup business is not a business yet.

is to survive
is to quit job

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Surely Incident - from technology innovation and commercialization

The book "Surely Incidents" with the Chinese title of “一万个万一”, published by Tsinghua University press, is now available for on-line download of the PDF.

The author is Dr. Chang Liu.  He is especially interested in helping technology folks find a path to commercialization and startup.
Dr. Chang Liu