Human Debt

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.

For Startups at the Scaling Stage - What are the Biggest Icebergs?

For Startups at the Scaling Stage - What are the Biggest Icebergs?

In our last blogpost, we discussed the biggest debtbergs in the Growth stage. This blogpost is focused on the Scaling stage. The startup is selling something. It is moving to a growing venture in terms of products, customers, and employees. It may have the opportunity to get more significant funding through angel groups, and perhaps even A-round funding with venture capital investors. Significant investments in product development and support, marketing, and sales may follow. It likely now has a board of directors as well as one or more advisory boards. It is trying to accomplish extraordinary growth, or become a “Gazelle” (check the glossary in the book to find out more). Scaling requires moving from experiments to having known processes to escalate sales. Once again, the biggest challenges change across our Oceans of debtbergs…

For Startups at the Launch and Growth Stage - What are the Biggest Icebergs?

For Startups at the Launch and Growth Stage - What are the Biggest Icebergs?

In our last blogpost, we discussed the biggest debtbergs in the MVP stage. This blogpost is focused on the Growth stage. The startup is selling something and has moved from one to a number of paying customers. Hopefully by now, there is a team in place and an advisory board. It may even be seeking some type of outside funding. At this stage, the startup is balancing making progress in the Human, Marketing, and Technical Oceans simultaneously. So, the biggest debtbergs now include…

For Startups at the MVP Stage - What are the Biggest Icebergs?

For Startups at the MVP Stage - What are the Biggest Icebergs?

In our last blogpost, we discussed the biggest debtbergs in the Pre-Revenue stage. This blogpost is focused on the MVP stage. As a reminder, at this stage a startup has begun building its management team, is developing an MVP (Minimally Viable Product), and is engaging with customers for proof of concept. But, it probably is self-funded or has friends and family for financial support. Now, the biggest debtbergs to avoid have changed from the Pre-Revenue stage…

For Startups at the Pre-Revenue Stage - What are the Biggest Icebergs?

For Startups at the Pre-Revenue Stage - What are the Biggest Icebergs?

Our goal in The Titanic Effect: Successfully Navigating the Uncertainties that Sink Most Startups is to help startups steer around hidden debts, or debtbergs, on their path to success. These debtbergs arise because there are decisions startups have to make where the best possible path is uncertain. And, the consequences of these choices are like icebergs in that they are only partially visible. In the book, we detail 33 different debtbergs a startup might encounter, across the four Oceans of Human, Marketing, Technical and Strategy choices. As we’ve started using these materials with different audiences, we’ve recognized that the biggest, most dangerous debtbergs vary based on the stage of the startup. So, this blogpost and the next three detail the biggest debtbergs to manage at each stage of a startup. Check out the biggest debtbergs at the Pre-Revenue stage…

The Many Shades of “Proof of Concept,” your PoC

The Many Shades of “Proof of Concept,” your PoC

In a prior blog, we discussed the difference between PoPs (Points of Parity) and PoDs (Points of Differentiation). Now it is time to talk about PoC—Proof of Concept. While this seems relatively straight forward, there are actually many nuances to and perspectives on what constitutes “Proof of Concept.” Understanding how to frame and set expectations about PoC is an important discussion for the budding startup.

What to Look For in Startup Advisors

What to Look For in Startup Advisors

It’s clear that startups cannot “go it alone.” First, a founder needs to be coachable - learn more about coachability at our previous blogpost on Foundersplaining. They need supporters to help them get connected to employees, customers and investors. If you want to understand more about how and why supporters (we call them venture advocates) help startups, check out our academic article – Venture Advocate Behaviors and the Emerging Enterprise.

It takes a Village…or at least a first Podcast!

Well actually, it takes a venture ecosystem to help startups flourish. Our academic research  explores venture ecosystems and how founders can create positive momentum, even when they don’t have a lot of financial resources. The reality is that founders must rely on the help of many others in the venture community to get feedback

Taking the Plunge -- When to Hire the First Employee

Taking the Plunge -- When to Hire the First Employee

Starting a company can be awesome, especially in the ideation phase—when everything is blue sky and possibility, and nobody has to worry about making payroll. But no founder or even founding team can be successful going it alone. Eventually you have to hire others to help you get the job done and move from a fantastic idea to a real company. So when do you know you are ready for that first hire?