America’s Most Successful Startups: Lessons for Entrepreneurs by Max Finger, Oliver Samwer

Summary

  1. How to start, build, grow a successful venture

Key Takeaways

  1. Types of opportunities – paradigm shift, new product / business model / me-too product
  2. Opportunity recognition – markets that change and are receptive to change, badly understood (big and misunderstood), fast growing, incumbent players cannot move, little competition
  3. Process of Opportunity Recognition – intuitive, analytical
  4. Seek a mission-critical pain killer, not a vitamin
  5. Be extremely specific in defining your customer
  6. Great entrepreneurs tend to be generalists – breadth > depth
  7. Founders need to understand the market, product, and execution. Need to be focused on value creation, not control
  8. Risk Identification and Elimination – raise money to reduce key risks – market, technical, people, financial
  9. Decision making – the implementor should be the decision maker
  10. Flexibility – In the planning process, understanding the variables is more important than the plan. It is as important to understand the other players’ plans as it is to figure out your own plans
  11. Focus is paramount – with limited time and resources, specialization is key – should be saying “no” to 9/10 things
  12. Focus and speed are a startups’ key advantages
  13. Split every problem to its smallest atomic problem
  14. Be as useful as you can to others, have vision, form win/win alliances
  15. Focus all your efforts to satisfy the first 20% of the market segment. the others will follow
    1. Design partners, best references, proven success
  16. People – overqualified so the company can grow into their skills
  17. Processes must be scalable – at some point speed becomes a liability and the need to build systems to scale operations becomes obvious
  18. Management needs to live 3-6 months in the future

What I got out of it

  1. Interesting that Oliver Samwer, of Rocket Internet, started his entrepreneurial career from an academic angle. He certainly doesn’t abide by all the lessons – culture, for example – but fascinating to see the lessons he pulled out and applied (ruthlessly)