VP Blog

You once had a business idea…

That one idea that clicks.

I have worked with/around tons of smart people over the years, and one thing that eventually happens is they see opportunities for business everywhere. The tough job of picking one idea aside, they are then faced with the reality (read as “almost impossible task”) of getting from the idea stage to the business dynasty they imagined it will become.

Most times they don’t.

Ideas typically start out as something that you stumble on, then it begins to nag you, and comes back to you even when you ignore or discard it. Sometimes, even others close to you will realize that you are the best person to solve a particular problem. Some other people might have even attempted to run with it, but you will feel personally insulted at the way they attempt to solve the problem.

Google’s I/O 2017 video below is very visual about how ideas can work.

You once had an idea, right?

That’s why you’re reading — but that’s all it was, an idea. The process of transforming an idea to a business can seem daunting if you don’t start.

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the next best time is now! — Chinese Proverb

The All our lives we have been taught about business this way;
– get a brilliant idea
– work out a perfect 20+ page business plan
– find investors
– build business
– get rich (or die trying)

But building a business is hard — so hard that often, passion and talent are not enough, you have to be sure that there is a business in the first place before sinking your savings and your inheritance in a non-starter.

Here’s a more practical way to go about it;
– get a brilliant idea (to be done by you, typically in the shower)
– think of whose problem you’re solving — i.e. customers* (to be done by you alone or with a smart friend)
– talk to these people to confirm that you are solving the problem right (to be done outside your house with said people — never done alone)
– create an MVP — a small version** of what your solution will look like, offer customers and ask them to use and possibly pay (to be done alongside prayers and fasting)
– apply learnings and build product when you are certain your product fits the market (to be done by you and smart friend(s))
– please don’t die trying, accept failure, learn from it, and move on (to be done by you)

Do I imply that you throw caution to the wind and not plan? No. Please plan, but do not spend all month, or year, planning — there is no point writing a business plan that is unusable, or written on the premise of things your customers don’t need. So rather than write, act. Rather than postulate theories of what customers want, go out and interact with them.
PS: Not sure how to approach customers? Read this.

Notice that there is no direct mention of investors in this approach I suggest. That’s because investors are not there to help you start a business, they are there to help you grow it.

You once had an idea, now go build the business!

*Customers used very loosely here — is typically 1 or more different customer segments
**small version is relative — read about MVP’s here

Drop a line in the comments or reach me @folasanwo on twitter

VP Blog

5 reasons why blogging is great for your startup.

According to a survey carried out by NetCraft, the number of websites on the internet has approached about one billion; while this is good for the information technology sphere, it is getting harder for startups, who are new entrants, to get visible in the already saturated space on the internet. To entice people to visit your site, you must have great content — and your information must be helpful enough to retain them. The best way to do this is by blogging. We’ll look at 5 reasons why blogging is great for your startup.

Customers like to believe they are closely knitted with founders, it gives them some form of confidence: writing articles and blog posts creates a connection between the writer and the reader — therefore, while you build an amazing company, you should build an amazing blog too!

Let us journey through five benefits of blogging;

Blogging can interest investors

Venture Capitalist and Investors are constantly searching for potentially great businesses to invest in — aside from the fact that blogging helps give you a lead through search engine optimization, it gives the investors’ confidence in your start up when they see how much information and mastery you have in your industry.

It can help you build a customer community

Blogging will help you build a brand — a brand customers will get attracted and glued to; and it will further heighten expectations about your product or service offerings. Once you have a community that seems ‘loyal’ to you, you are rest assured of some form of followership.

It can define you as a thought leader

Customers are not only looking for products or services; they are also looking for information about your offerings. People will come to your blog because they are looking to find answers to their questions. You then become trusted, and respected.

It can help you get that co-founder and employee

People with skills you need are also on the lookout for founders who need their skills. Blogging helps to build a form of relationship between potential co-founders and employees before they begin to have detailed conversations about their potential engagements

It can generate organic traffic with content marketing

People will naturally tilt to your start up when they know that they would get relevant information on your blog. This is a sure way to build trust within a selected industry. Content marketing will help you draw in and retain traffic.

Some founders cannot write, or they are not dedicated and consistent enough to blogging — nevertheless, the benefits of getting a blog up as a start-up is tremendous. In fact, blogging is at the centre of all your digital marketing endeavours. You see why you should start a blog today?

Let’s get to work!


Series V


By Kayode Oyewole

I probably spend more than 90 percent of my time reviewing products and talking to startups. One of the things I find myself saying most often is: “your product needs to be 10x better than the closest alternative.” Okay, great, but is it ever that simple?

Do you have what it takes to build a product that’s ten times better than what currently exists? How do you even go about that? We can assume the products we use today were not built by idiots — they are often really smart people. So, building something exponentially better than its closest alternative requires a fundamentally different way of thinking. Elon Musk puts it nicely:

“I think it is important to reason from first principles rather than by analogy. The normal way we conduct our lives is … we reason by analogy. We are doing this because it’s like something else that was done or it is like what other people are doing… it’s like slight iterations on a theme.”

According to Musk, First principles “is a physics way of looking at the world…what that really means is that you boil things down to the most fundamental truths…and then reason up from there…that takes a lot more mental energy.”

When solving a problem, entrepreneurs often look at competing products or existing ways of doing things and try to make it all “better”, by adding features to what already exists. But this rarely leads to success. Those competitors can just as easily add those features, and there will be no real reason for users to even try your product. Worse still, you may come off looking like a clone with added features.

One way to get around this is to consider the outcome you want to achieve, and ask yourself, “How would I think about this problem if these existing products did not exist? How would I build this solution if nothing else was doing the ‘job’ before? What’s the best way to solve this problem without any preconceived ideas?” I‘d argue that the car was invented using First principle thinking, because an improvement to a cart is not a car — it’s a faster horse!

Rest assured, this is difficult and uncomfortable: our thinking processes are bound by convention and analogy to prior experiences. Those are safe. But often, the best way to solve a problem is not to improve on what exists, it is to create an entirely different (better) solution. And often, the largest rewards are reserved for those who solve the hardest problems.