Mapping The Titanic Effect to the Theranos Debacle

Mapping The Titanic Effect to the Theranos Debacle

Some of our posts have provided general guidelines for what to avoid at different stages of a startup. This week, we’d like to dig into an example of startup failure and show how these icebergs are fatal. Let’s look at Theranos. 

You may know the overall story. It starts with a young, Stanford student (Elizabeth Holmes) who has a great idea: build a device that runs a wide range of tests on a single drop of blood.

How We Used An Old Writing Adage To Launch Our Product

How We Used An Old Writing Adage To Launch Our Product

Everything is storytelling.

 

Whether you're speaking to investors, pitching your services to clients, or pushing out a brand new product into the world, the ability to tell a coherent and compelling story will be at the heart of everything you do as an entrepreneur.

My startup, Reedsy, is a two-way marketplace that mainly connects authors with freelance editors and book designers. As you can imagine, working in publishing means that I’m never more than a conversation away from some solid storytelling advice —

Even Startups Need the Right Tool for the Right Job

Even Startups Need the Right Tool for the Right Job

Recently, we were doing a trail run at a state park. We tend to run for a reasonable amount of time. That means that we need to carry some sort of liquids to hydrate. For years, we’ve used a Fuel Belt to carry a couple of 8-ounce bottles we can sip from. But, we recently switched to a Nathan hydration pack. During my first run, I realized how much more pleasant and faster my run was with the new hydration pack. How can such a simple change have a meaningful impact on my run? 

Well, the two hydration options really have different purposes. We got the belts when we were mostly running on streets. But when we moved to trails, the bottles topple out when you run down even little hills. When this happens, and it happens alot, you have to stop, pick the bottle up, clean the dirt off the top, and then be prepared to get some grit in your mouth anyway. It’s manageable, but it takes time. Plus, no one likes dirt with their drink. The pack is just better for the trails – that’s where it was designed to be used.

Three Things Successful Founders Have Told Us

Three Things Successful Founders Have Told Us

We have had the pleasure of sharing The Titanic Effect framework at several venues recently with chapters of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs (@SoPEnet.org). We’ve shared the book with four SoPE chapters so far:  Washington DC, Orange County CA, Boston MA, and Indianapolis IN (@sopein). At these events, we have invited experienced life science entrepreneurs to share their stories with life science innovators. It’s always interesting to hear what other founders have experienced. We thought we would share some of the key takeaways from these events.

Focused—or Closed-Minded? There is a Difference

Focused—or Closed-Minded? There is a Difference

We are big believers in focus. As one serial entrepreneur we know is fond of saying, you can’t get anywhere by trying to “boil the ocean.” That is, if you try to do too much too fast you will fail. At the same time, one of our recent blogs explored the notion of luck. It highlights that a combination of mindfulness and directed energy can increase some types of luck to put your startup in a better position for success. Exploration is a key element of this part of the journey. So when do you explore and consider many alternative directions? When do you zero in on something and doggedly pursue it? How can you stay focused, without being too closed-minded to miss opportunities? This is a very delicate balance, and we thought a blog on the topic might be helpful.

It’s Smarter to be Lucky than it’s Lucky to be Smart

It’s Smarter to be Lucky than it’s Lucky to be Smart

Many of us are familiar with some version of this phrase that we’ve quoted from Pippin, The Musical. The idea is that if one is born lucky, they can acquire “smartness” through effort, over time. If one is born smart, that’s great—but you may never acquire luck. Of course, if you were born NFL Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, arguably you have the best of both worlds. 

There is some bit of luck in avoiding hidden debts. Missing icebergs (or “debtbergs”) is not justabout navigation. Luck, fortune, and icebergs are inextricably linked. We thought we would devote this blog to a richer exploration of luck in the entrepreneurial world.

Lessons Learned from Intrapreneurship and Entrepreneurship

Lessons Learned from Intrapreneurship and Entrepreneurship

Guest Blog by Sunny Lu Williams (sunny@techserv.io) 

At the book launch for The Titanic Effect: Successfully Navigating the Uncertainties that Sink Most Startups, Kim and Todd asked me to share my personal insights leading innovation activities both within my former employer of 13 years, Telamon Corporation, and now my own company, TechServ. Here are the 3 ideas I shared about how I manage the uncertainty to succeed:

Know your Role on the Rig– You have to start by knowing your own strengths and weaknesses. Then, build a team to supplement your strengths. Teams’ skill sets should enhance the whole, especially complementing where the leader is weak. Be flexible about what role you take on as a leader, working from your strengths…

Incubate, Accelerate, or Studiate? How to move your startup forward

Incubate, Accelerate, or Studiate? How to move your startup forward

We had the opportunity to share our Titanic framework and navigation tips with 10 sports-related startups @Techstars Indianapolis on Wednesday. First, this is a great place. Welcome to Indy, Techstars! We heard a lot of positive things about the Indy venture scene. 

In case you don’t know it already, Techstars is an international accelerator with over 4,000 alumni, accelerator programs in various industries, and venture funding. The sports-focused accelerator is new to Indianapolis, and hosting its first cohort. These startups vary across stages with some pre-revenue, some MVP, some with a replicable product and even a few that are starting to scale. They cover a broad range of sports application, from personal use technology, to team software, sports facility rentals, sports video management and even some sporting fashion. Check these companies out.

The session did raise a question some founders need to have answered. At some point in the evolution of your startup, you need to commit to and pursue the venture full-time. One way to “take the leap” is to join an incubator, accelerator, or perhaps a venture studio. But which one, and what should you expect?