Categories
Startup Strategy

Why Startups Fail

You might not remember ANKI Robotics, an hardware and AI startup featured onstage at an Apple event in 2013. Well, this company folded yesterday and had to fire 200 employees after burning through $200 million in capital funding (including Index Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz). And ANKI was not idle in the market, it was generating around $100 million in revenue since 2017. This is not small potatoes!

Anki demo at Apple WWDC 2013 Keynote.

So, why do I write about their failure? To point that even backed by smart money and having access to Apple as a key PR partner, your future as a startup is never guaranteed? Sure. But, I think that it’s a more simple story. The story of the usual cautionary tale on why startups fail.

Categories
Startup Strategy

Startup F#ck-Ups

Just assessing every day how the narrative on startups has been reversed in Europe from « This is how we’re going to save the economy! » to « What is this mess? ». The message we’re not changing entrepreneurship a Startup Weekend at a time seems to be getting through. This also correlates with the growing number of tech clusters and incubators in Europe that get in touch with us.

startup fuckups - quote magazine
October 2018 cover of the Dutch QUOTE magazine.

As always the swing of the pendulum will probably go too far back on startups. But as an optimist contrarian, I trust it’s time to get back in there even more actively.

As I wrote just days ago, there is really nothing new to learn about startups launch, growth and scaling up. But seriously, how we organize the support (as private or public entities) is to be redesigned all over Europe.

One key step would be to stop trying to nurture projects at a local scale. This leads to cities miles away from one another to compete together to nest more startups than the other. That they would want to do that is understandable (local jobs, etc) but that states and the EU promote it, is madness.

Categories
Innovation Strategy Startup Strategy

Are we still learning anything new about startups or are we just pretending from now on?

After years of working with every kind of startup programs — read: incubators, accelerators, tech clusters, public tech transfer, universities, entrepreneurs’ networks, corporate platforms, and various EU initiatives — I keep asking myself: are we still learning anything new about startups?

For early stage startups there are basically only three things to remember:

  1. If you’re a one-man startup you will fail;
  2. Spend time working on tech and product, instead of seeing where the market has a problem and you fail;
  3. Don’t start working in English and you will never scale (that one might be blunt and would deserve a full article, but yeah, essentially this is what is going to happen).
Categories
Startup Strategy

What constitues a good startup problem

Most of the startups participating in one of my trainings are initially shocked at the inordinate amount of time I spend working on ‘the problem’. I’m certainly not alone there. Everyone who is regularly dealing with startups gets eventually frustrated to see how they concentrate en masse on building a product and not focusing on what the market actually needs. And while anyone who ambitions to shake a market’s status quo shouldn’t be too pragmatic, as much rationality as possible should nevertheless prevail. But, very few are the startups committed from launch to tackle a clear-cut problem.

Categories
Startup Strategy

The fundamentals of opposable marketing

I’ll be giving another Executive MBA class this week in Paris, which is an activity that I fairly enjoy — and if I may say so, my students too. Such three-day classes are usually very educative for me. They always keep me in touch with what most professionals still find difficult to grasp in the logic of launching innovative businesses and sustaining them later on.