Featured photo credit: Kristin Smith
With the success of Mark Zuckerburg and many other entrepreneurs, forming a startup is no longer limited to college students looking to change the world. The technology is available today, if you have the right idea and are determined, you can build the next big thing.
Unfortunately, the journey from idea to marketable product is challenging. For a rookie entrepreneur building your network and knowing how to determine if someone is taking advantage of you are two of the toughest lessons for anyone to learn.
In light of the increased interest in entrepreneurship, many investors, businesses—and other relevant parties—have begun forming accelerators as a way to help aspiring entrepreneurs rapidly execute their ideas in sheltered environments. Although the concept is novel and in many cases entrepreneurs greatly benefit, accelerators aren’t for everyone.
In this guide, discover the evaluation process, and key considerations, to determine whether an accelerator is a good fit for your startup. If it is, I’ll also have some tips on how to increase your chances of getting accepted.
One of the hottest topics in the entrepreneurial space today are accelerators because they are associated with providing aspiring entrepreneurs with all the resources they need to get their projects going, without requiring the individual to build up their own networks over an extended period of time. The most common characteristics of accelerators are that they provide participants with: capital, mentors, a community of like minded peers, and much more. As the name implies, accelerators are intended to help entrepreneurs from day one ramp up their companies.
Accelerators are intended for startups to achieve rapid growth—with most sessions typically lasting either three or six months.
Read the rest of this guide at Envato Tuts Plus Business
Recently Fast Company posted a short blurb claiming to provide tell startups how they can validate their startup in one day. The solution – before you go out full force putting together a business and assembling your venture, pause and make sure you ask your potential customers for their opinion on your concept and figure out the weakest link of your idea a.k.a. “riskiest assumption.”
While this is good advice and is on the right track, I’d have to add that based on my experience working with startups, when I first hear a client’s idea, the question, “What value does your product bring to the market?” Does wonders in throwing even the most prepared entrepreneur off his game. Sadly, upon asking that question, the entrepreneur will usually be at a loss of words or will simply reply with a less than stellar assumption such as, “We allow this person to do [whatever] on their smartphone but no one else does,” or “Our social network doesn’t exist anywhere else.”
Well, when it comes to ventures such as those, usually it pays to ask “Why isn’t anyone in this space already?” Sometimes the answer is obvious, sometimes it isn’t – either way, “Well, we thought of this first!” Isn’t a valid answer in my book.
The accessibility of technology today is a double edged sword where people are often coding pointless apps and wasting hours of productive time on dreams that will never be achieved – all because they’re constantly flinging crap against the wall and seeing what sticks. Although I’ll only speak for the software sector because that is my specialty, there is an epidemic today where people code first and ask questions later.
Sure, development methods such as Lean and Agile emphasize developing a product rapidly and then refining it, but there is a big difference between actually making a legitimate attempt and simply shooting blanks. If you’re doing the latter, I highly suggest you choose a different career now because you’re not likely to get past destroying relationships with friends and family when you borrow cash from them and fail to pay them back.
Just because you’re not an artist is no longer an excuse for you to avoid the topic of user experience when creating any type of project. Today it is crucial for all project managers to have a grasp of basic design concepts because without a proper interface, it is impossible for customers to use your product. Fortunately ensuring your product has a proper user interface doesn’t require you to be an artist.
When I first chose to review UX for Lean Startups: Faster, Smarter User Experience Research and Design, I originally expected to end up with a book filed with diagrams, sketching tips and other artsy topics however I was pleasantly surprised to discover much of the book focused on many common sense tips. Add in an excellent sense of humor by the author, and the book took what could’ve been a boring topic and turned the book into a very informative and easy to understand read.
For those unfamiliar with the lean business development methodology, although it is a vast field, it primarily contains many common sense steps to ensure that business development projects avoid having waste added to them. In a nutshell the process boils down to constantly asking “does this add value to the consumer” before implementing features, and ensuring that through rapid test cycles glitches are corrected early on before they cause significant expenses. If you haven’t read it already, I highly recommend The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses as a must read to fully understand lean methodology.
Going back to “UX for Lean Startups” by Laura Klein, Klein’s work is an excellent complement to the previously mentioned book because it helps you to take your refined project and ensure that the look and feel isn’t cluttered and overwhelming. While it won’t teach you to make your site look pretty, it ensures that you have a usable site. Without usability your product is literally useless, which is why I highly recommend the book for anyone looking to launch a new business.
Disclosure: For purposes of this review I was provided with a free copy of UX for Lean Startups. Aside from the book I was not provided with any other compensation.
Charles / Business, Startups / Activision, agile, clients, customers, development, EA, failure, franchise, game studios, gaming, kickstarter, lean, management, marketing, Microsoft, pivot, PlayStation, series, Sony, Valve, video games, Wii, XBox / 2 comments
Last month the tech news website Read Write Web published an excellent article titled ReadWriteWeb DeathWatch: Electronic Arts which provided an excellent summary of the many mistakes game studio Electronic Arts made which started its demise.
Since then, things have not improved for the high end game studios, which have been on a seemingly endless spiral. A recent announcement from crowd funding site Kickstarter declared 63% of all projects that crossed $1 million dollars were games. In all, the games category of Kickstarter leads the way in funding with $50 million pledged for various projects. Additionally the games category has jumped from the eighth most funded category to the top spot in just one year. A more complete overview of the statistics can be found at the official post.
Going back to the main issue of the demise of major game studios, the reason behind the demise of the giants is primarily because studios are ignoring the wants and needs of their customers. By constantly cranking out sequels with little added content, gouging customers with ridiculous pricing schemes, and also making games difficult to play on average computers (due to high resource requirements) the game studios have alienated customers and backed themselves into a corner which will be hard to get out of.
Indie studios have been picking up the slack in game production mainly because distribution can be done via the internet, greatly reducing costs. Additionally games today do not require top of the class graphics for success. The unexpected success of Minecraft and the long lasting success of the Half-Life series, first released by Valve in 1997, of which the game engine is still used to date for various mods and even recent releases by the company.
Sure, graphics can be important for gamers, but the cases mentioned above show that the biggest factor in a game is having a solid story and decent gameplay. Companies such as Activision and EA have made the mistake of latching onto a few franchise games – and then rehashing the same old concept but in different packages. This is especially shown in the sports games released by EA, while Activision has taken criticism for milking their Call of Duty series dry.
While the big name studios have millions of dollars in legacy costs due to the structure of the corporations; indie studios have the ability to be agile. By operating on modest budgets and only using resources they need, they are able to focus on quality rather than paying for the fluff that comes with being a large conglomerate. Just like the tale of David and Goliath, size does not determine the success of a company any more. In today’s economy agility is key, and indie studios and emerging developers are going to be the ones who best fit the bill.
Additionally with the advent of the Android based Oyua gaming console, many developers will now be able to deliver their games to a TV without having to deal with the licensing hassles associated with traditional systems created by Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony.