“The market is so small you have to think international” – Mattias Miksche, CEO, Stardoll (TWIST#343).
Sweden has like 9 million people. They don’t think they need to “go global”. They start thinking global. The local market is too small. It’s not like the USA.
I’ve said the same thing about Malaysia (and Singapore) before: why are you building locally if you’re a web-shop? Build, test, prove yourself, but make sure you’re global. 28 million people separated by different language needs will ensure you don’t have much larger than the population of Sweden when it comes to launching a product.
So don’t think about going global after a year. Think about being global from day one.
No rules in this game | Derek Sivers: “Gurus will say what you can’t do or must do. They mean well, but they’re wrong.
For every rule they tell you, there’s an exception. They are just telling you their specific past, not your specific future.
There are no rules in this game. You change them as you go.”
(Via Derek Sivers.)
Derek is talking specifically about the music industry. I think this applies to more than just the music industry. This is sage advice that applies to any industry.
Remember, be open to advice, but be influenced by none.
I cannot say this better than Dustin Curtis can, so read it: What a stupid idea.
They saw the future and they built it. But for some reason, my first reaction to their earliest attempts wasn’t to give them the benefit of the doubt–it was to immediately find problems and then dismiss their ideas.
The future is extremely hard to see through the lens of the present. It’s very easy to unconsciously dismiss the first versions of something as frivolous or useless. Or as stupid ideas.
We all talk about being disruptive, but how many people say things like “the relational database market is a $9bn market, I want to reduce it to a $3bn market and take 1/3 of that”? Saying is one thing, having the vision is another. That was me paraphrasing Marten Mickos (former CEO, MySQL – exit $1bn) speaking to Danny Rimer (partner, Index Ventures).
I live by the mantra that the best way to predict the future is to engineer it (via Alan Kay) and that the future is wide open.
I read with great zeal the article about Y Combinator in the NYT titled: Silicon Valley’s Start-Up Machine. I think there are a few important takeaways, especially with people trying to build this kind of thing elsewhere.
- People take the $100,000 at a 7% stake because of the whole experience. Advice from seasoned entrepreneurs (like pitch improvements, etc.). The importance of the network they bring (which is hugely underestimated by many clones). Dumb money remains dumb.
- “The general public doesn’t understand start-ups at all,” Buchheit said. “They’re mystified how a company with no revenue can be worth a billion dollars. It’s because of this power law: If a company has a 1 percent chance of being a hundred-billion-dollar company, then it’s worth about a billion dollars. That kind of thing doesn’t happen in your normal life experience. If I get a cup of tea, it’s a cup of tea — there isn’t a chance that it’s actually made out of solid gold. But that’s how this works.” – direct quote from Paul Buchheit
- “One of the reasons,” he said, “is because there’s nothing else to invest in. If you have money, there’s nothing to put it in. Bonds return nothing. And the stock market — what public company do you feel reasonably assured is going to go up at historical norms of 8 percent a year? It could all just fall apart. . . .” If, on the other hand, you discover the next Google, you can increase your investment by “a thousand X.”
Nothing else to invest in. Interest rates in the USA are low. In Malaysia (or Singapore), you have property as an investment that should return more than 8% per annum. Refer to my old post about the startup ecosystem in Malaysia.
Its nice to see lots of funds and accelerators pop up, but without the experience, the lack of vision, and other investment vehicles that return sufficiently, I’m not sure how even the angel incentives help.
I’m not a fan of Louis Vuitton. I just don’t like the monogram, mainly because it is so heavily counterfeited that you can’t spot a real from a fake. Some key takeaways from LVMH unit sales growth disappoints:
- “It depends on aspirational demand and new consumers.” This is true for all luxury products. Austerity measures, economic downturns, etc. will hit you where it hurts.
“The risk of ubiquity is that . . . the consumer, seeing the same products everywhere, all the time, starts to perceive a brand as being too common,” said analysts at HSBC in a note published in January.
So if you’re a luxury brand, exclusivity is important too. A fine balance for growth vs. exclusivity is key it seems.
Seth Godin is spot on in Where are your assets? Please go read it.
Do work and get paid once. Build an asset and get paid for as long as it lasts.
Key takeaways: real estate pays regularly, stocks are the promise of a later payoff (maybe a little more regularly with dividends). Build your brand by overdelivering to earn trust. Ensure you’re always building value (people miss you when you’re gone). Gain expertise – don’t do the same thing over & over again. These apply to companies as well.
The picture shows a boxed set of Red Hat Linux 7 & 8. Shortly thereafter they became RHEL & Fedora. Red Hat built assets and look where they are now – listed on the stock exchange and arguably one of the largest companies in opensource. Cygnus started with no more than $6,000 in capital, had a great exit to Red Hat and formed much of the basic underlying toolchain.
A salesman would say, “always be closing”. I think the mantra should be: always be building assets.