Starting up

In: Entrepreneurship / 9 comments

22 Jul 2010

I’m not a fan of the so-called “for dummies” guides, but many times reading a list of actions or of positive / negative examples can give you ideas or save you from making mistakes that others made before you. So, I thought I’d tell you about something I read here, and that fits pretty well with the mistakes generally made by entrepreneurs. The article speaks about the phases of building a company.

  1. The company (they say $15k – $25k; here we would probably do it with $1k-$2k – own money, family)
    • Step 1: Check the idea with the others – What seems absolutely necessary for you is not always relevant in reality to your potential clients
    • Step 2: Build the Team – It is good to join forces with other experienced people who are compatible with you;
    • Step 3: Build a Business Plan – Understand the market and how you fit in it;
    • Step 4: Name – Although it sounds stupid, the name of the product is one of the most important aspects;
    • Step 5: Incorporate the Company – This to us is simpler in theory because it’s clear you want an LLC. But in real life, it could be more complicated than it is for them:-( .
  2. Prototype (they say $100k – $500k; here we would probably do it with $10k – $50k – own money, family, possibly Business Angels)
    • Step 1: Make sure you don’t steal patents – it is interesting to patent technology, but you might want to do it one step later for reasons related to costs. In our case – OSIM (State Office for Inventions and Patents);
    • Step 2: Build a Board of Advisors – Formalize your network of company “friends”, those who can help the most;
    • Step 3: Develop the Prototype– Iterative process; your product’s first confrontation with the world.
  3. Beta Product ($500k – $1M; here we would probably do it with $100K – $200K – Angel Investment, perhaps a Seed Venture Capital)
    • Step 1: Hire people – here you begin to build the team and the culture you will rely on in the future;
    • Step 2: Create your Back-office – space, accounting, servers, telephones, etc.
    • Step 3: Launch the Beta test – test everything with real people;
    • Step 4: Reevaluate the Business Plan – OK, now let’s stop and see what we did. Reevaluate the plan in accordance with what you learned until now.
  4. The Commercial Product ($1M – $3M; here we would probably do it with $200k – $1M)
    • Step 1: Build a new Board of Directors – Expand and refine your network of friends according to the newly learnt needs;
    • Step 2: Develop a Marketing and Sales Plan
    • Step 3: Sell! – No comments 🙂

The article is interesting to read (even if it dates back to 2006, it is still relevant today), providing many details about actions that are parallel to the main flow (how much, when and where to take money from, different tools you need for each phase, case studies). What I found interesting is that it shows different phases that we kind of skip, even if we are often aware that it would have been better to go through them. Seemingly meaningless aspects such as market understanding and sizing, studying the competition, the lack of a Board of Advisors around the company, and often times even the lack of a Business Plan can be lethal and kill a good idea.

Good luck now…

(English version by Teodora Popescu)

Original Romanian version

Starting up

Nu sunt un fan al materialelor “for dummies”, dar de multe ori lectura unor liste de actiuni sau a unor exemple pozitive / negative iti poate da idei sau te scuteste de greseli pe care altii le-au facut inainte. Asa ca m-am gandit sa povestesc despre un material pe care l-am citit aici, care se potriveste binisor cu greselile facute in general de antreprenori. Vorbeste despre fazele de constructie a unei companii.

  1. Compania (ei zic $15k – $25k, probabil ca la noi se poate face cu $1k-$2k – bani proprii, familie)
    • Pas 1: Verifica ideea cu altii – Nu intotdeauna ceea ce tie ti se pare absolut necesar este in realitate relevant pentru potentialii tai clienti
    • Pas 2: Construieste Echipa – E bine sa-ti unesti fortele cu alti oameni experimentati / complementari tie;
    • Pas 3: Construieste un Business Plan – Intelegi piata si cum te incadrezi tu in ea;
    • Pas 4: Numele – Desi pare stupid, numele produsului este unul din lucrurile extrem de importante;
    • Pas 5: Infiinteaza Firma – Asta la noi e mai simplu in teorie, ca e clar ca vrei un srl. In viata reala insa s-ar putea sa fie mai complicat ca la ei 🙁 .
  2. Prototipul (ei zic $100k – $500k, probabil ca la noi se poate face cu $10k – $50k – bani proprii, familie, eventual Business Angels)
    • Pas 1: Ai grija sa nu furi patente – interesant de patentat tehnologia, dar poate vrei sa o faci un pas mai tarziu din motive de costuri. La noi – OSIM;
    • Pas 2: Construieste un Board of Advisors – Formalizeaza reteaua de “prieteni” ai companiei, cei care te pot ajuta cel mai mult;
    • Pas 3: Dezvolta Prototipul – Proces iterativ, prima confruntare a produsului tau cu lumea.
  3. Produsul Beta ($500k – $1M, probabil la noi se poate face cu $100K – $200K – Angel Investment, poate un Seed Venture Capital)
    • Pas 1: Angajeaza oameni – aici incepe constructia echipei si a culturii pe care te vei baza in viitor;
    • Pas 2: Creeaza Back-office – spatiu, contabilitate, servere, telefoane, etc.
    • Pas 3: Lanseaza produsul beta in teste – testeaza totul cu oameni reali;
    • Pas 4: Reevalueaza Business Planul – OK, acum sa ne oprim sa vedem ce am facut. Reevalueaza planul in conformitate cu ce ai aflat pana aici.
  4. Produsul Comercial ($1M – $3M, probabil ca la noi se poate face cu $200k – $1M)
    • Pas 1: Construieste un nou Board of Directors – Extinde si rafineaza reteaua de prieteni, conform cu nou aflatele necesitati;
    • Pas 2: Dezvolta un Plan de Marketing si Vanzari
    • Pas 3: Vinde! – Fara comentarii 🙂

Materialul e interesant de citit (chiar daca din 2006, este inca actual), avand multe amanunte despre actiuni paralele cu fluxul principal (cat, cand si de unde sa iei bani, diverse unelte de care ai nevoie pentru fiecare faza, studii de caz). Ce mi s-a parut interesant este ca arata cateva faze pe care noi le cam sarim, chiar daca de multe ori suntem constienti ca ar fi fost bine sa le facem. Elemente aparent fara insemnatate, ca intelegerea pietei si dimensionarea ei, studiul competitiei, lipsa unui Board of Advisors in jurul companiei, ba chiar de multe ori lipsa unui Business Plan pot fi letale si ucid o idee buna.

Hai bafta…

Comments

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Paul Coman

July 22nd, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Eu sunt adeptul filozofiei ca primul obiectiv si prima prioritate a unui business este sa vanda profitabil un produs.

Tot ce nu este strict necesar pentru vanzarea profitabila a acestui produs cade in plan secund. Dupa sistematizarea acestui proces ne putem gandi si la telefoane, birouri etc.

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Adrian Balcan

July 22nd, 2010 at 1:28 pm

In legatura cu patentele, OSIM-ul acopera doar tara noastra sau mai mult de atat? Daca faci un produs ce se vinde pe o piata internationala ai nevoie de ‘protectie’ si acolo.

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Cristian Pascu

July 22nd, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Asta e din seria celor care se bat cu alde 37Signals. Balsamiq.com a demonstrat ca se pot face milioane de dolari si cu o investitie de cateva mii.

Eu am plecat cu cateva sute de dolari si cu vreo 5 luni de lucru in timpul liber. Daca eram disciplinat puteam si mai repede. Carenta majora a fost expertiza de a creste afacerea. Am stat cu capul in nisip si am bagat la features fara sa imi dau seama ca nu asta imi va creste afacerea. Am acum, dupa un an si un pic, aproape 600 de clienti dar as fi putut avea mult mai multi.

Acum, eu nu inteleg un lucru, despre ce fel de produs comerical vorbim daca chiar si la noi iti trebuiesc minimum $200k? Startup e numai atunci cand iei o gramda de bani ca sa lucrezi 1 an si ceva la un produs inainte de a vinde primului client?

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    Ncu

    July 22nd, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    La un moment dat iti dai seama ca nivelul vanarilor/cresterea companiei nu mai depinde neaparat de calitatea produsului! Ci de cat de buna e echipa de vanzari, de cat de bun e siteul, de cati reselleri ai, de in cate tari esti prezent, de numaru de conferinte la care prezinti, etc… .

    E un moment dur/greu de acceptat dar e bine ca l-ai avut devreme! 🙂

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Scoala de soferi Iasi

July 22nd, 2010 at 8:08 pm

nu mi-e foarte clar de ce spui ca trebuie 1-2 k doar pt infiintarea companiei. Nu e prea mult?

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GECAD Group