About.me and Dell going solo

…well, sort of. About.me buys itself back from AOL and Dell buys itself out of the stock market. It seems being your own boss is tempting even for a large PC maker as Dell.

A trend? Not sure. But it could be that you lose agility and speed if you’re tied to a big owner or the tight rules of the stock market. Research has shown that companies get less innovative post IPO.

Disruptive innovation requires the freedom to make radical decisions. Don’t let your owner structure hold you back.

A blog post a day

Trying to keep up with posting one post a day to get the blog going and as part of the #blogg100 initiative by Fredrik Wass.

Think I’ve already missed a few days one day but it’s really good to get some tempo in the posting. Will do my best to skip as few days as possible out of the 100.

What is your speed paradigm?

How slow are you?

I read an article in a Swedish news paper about how the speed in which you reply to an email or SMS message is a status indicator. Slow replies means you’re more important and of a higher status. Since we once started a company focused on reach management (basically a muting service) the article caught my attention.

But as my good friend (and co-founder of the company) Nicolai pointed out, this is only true if you’re not living in a paradigm in which speed and information are of the absolute essence. If your goal is to preserve the status quo and change is rare, then yes, a slow reply means you’re keeping things as they are and protecting your status.

If, on the other hand, you’re on a trajectory of change and need to move fast, then a slow reply is counterproductive and prevents you from moving forward and acquire validated learning.

It all boils down to if the currency of status is time or information.

Perhaps this is a good measuring stick for if you’re working in an innovative, forward leaning organisation or in a stale and static one? Are your managers fast to respond?

What are your thoughts? Do you agree?

Everybody has a dream

Photo by: Adam Rifkin

My friend Christian once said: “entrepreneurship is about taking control of your own life”.

Of course there are many definitions of entrepreneurship but for the individual actually doing the work, taking the step, rolling the dice – and not studying entrepreneurship on an academic level – it is close to the truth.

I talk to a lot of people about entrepreneurship. I have started a few companies, had some minor successes and some failures, I’m not playing the big leagues in any kind of way as an entrepreneur but I have more experience in entrepreneurship than most people (even studied it on a master level). At the very least I have a strong passion for it and for what it can do to individuals and society at large (one reason we launched the Startup Dojo and why I’ve been doing various startup events).

So I often end up talking to people about their dreams.

What they really want to do if they didn’t do what they do now.

Most people have this dream of an alternative life. A different life. A better life.

It’s almost never about money or luxury, it’s more about a different lifestyle or being able to have an income doing what your passionate about.

But it almost always remains a dream.

This is what Christian referred to in the quote above. Taking control. Making the dream a reality.

Here’s the thing: entrepreneurship is about introducing (making) change and that always starts with yourself.

Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it requires hard work. Yes, you may have to take a financial risk.

But the way I see it, living your entire life without trying to fulfil your dream is the biggest risk of all.

The incredible Mojang and the acceleration of disruptive innovation

Photo by: Elias Gayles

It’s not every day you see a news article in Swedish on Hacker News, but the latest profit numbers from Swedish indie game maker Mojang came in yesterday and the startup community of Hacker News jumped in to discuss them.

It’s simply amazing that a small one man company can grow so rapidly. It wouldn’t be possible without the disruptive power of the web behind it. Everyone has a global audience by their fingertips (although it’s not easy to reach it).

If you’re working in a larger, more established business there’s an important lesson from the team at Mojang AB: your most fierce competitor may not even have moved out of the garage yet, but they can overtake your market faster than you can say “TPS report”. They can hit you where and when you least expect it. The only remedy is to embrace change and become an innovator yourself.

That’s the thing that fascinates the Hacker News community. Everyone (well, almost) in that community wants to be the one taking down a large company and disrupting their market. There are thousands of smart people out there working on something that may totally change the rules of the game YOU are playing right now. Watch out for the Mojang of your market.

The trillion dollar startup

By: Antti Kultanen

Steve Blank recently wrote a blog post about how Facebook is killing Silicon Valley. His argument is that too much money is “wasted” by being invested in startups with relatively trivial ideas and designed to make you click ads. The huge and rapid growth of social media has created enormous wealth in record time and the money is following at the expense of more long term investments like the cure for cancer.

While it can be argued that social networks that connect people really do add tremendous value to mankind, Steve has a point that we as a startup community can do better than generating clicks on ads.

Because, honestly, he’s right. You didn’t become an entrepreneur to sell ads. You want to change the world. Make it a substantially better place. Let us all aim higher!

The recent successful launch of the SpaceX vessel Dragon is a reminder of the fact that Big Ideas are still possible. The company Planetary Resources is another example of thinking big as are the driverless cars that Google is working on.

Technology provides us with so many potentially huge innovations. Somewhere out there is the first trillion dollar startup. Maybe it’s yours?

What do you think are trillion dollar startup ideas?

The Uncompany

By: Ryk Neethling

All the posts about the unconference Social Sweden Web Camp (SSWC) got me thinking. If there are lessons to be learned for every business from SSWC, then what do you call a company that already knows these lessons and lives by their rules?

An uncompany, of course.

An uncompany has a community of ambassadeurs, fans and followers, not customers.

An uncompany sees itself as a platform for others to create on.

An uncompany lives by an ethos and values that its community shares.

What else does an uncompany do? Any thoughts?

Take a step back

Photo by: F Delventhal

As an entrepreneur working with a startup at the early stage it’s easy to get fixated on one particular idea. The problem with this is that you’re basically laying all your eggs in one basket. If the idea doesn’t work, you lose the drive and the passion to move things forward. The startup dies before it even had a chance to get the wings in the air.

It is often a good idea to take a step and see the bigger picture. Your idea can be part of something much bigger.

For example, let’s say you have an idea for a location based game. You work hard to get the mobile app built and after months of work you finally release it. Soon you discover what most entrepreneurs discover when they launch after months of work.

Nothing happens.

No customers come running downloading your app.

No money come pouring in.

Don’t lose your spirit over this. Take a deep breath and a step back. Accept the fact that what you have done is just tested one possible direction out of many. What you need to do is find your larger mission. Maybe someone likes the app and tells you: “hey, I was looking for something like this for a birthday party for kids I was planning“.

This is an opportunity cloud! Making mobile apps for kids birthday parties – that sounds like a good, bigger mission. Now place your current app inside this box/cloud and treat as a part of a larger portfolio. Now you have a bigger arena to experiment in. Your goal is no longer to a build one app based on one idea but to become the leading provider of apps for kids birthday parties.

Of course you have to keep your focus and give the app some time to grow its user base but by having a larger mission you can go back and forward between different focus areas.

Some day you may have to pivot and choose another Big Mission, but until then, keep experimenting inside your opportunity cloud. And don’t let the disappointing user numbers of one particular app bring you down.

A new kind of web

By: Claire Thompson

This guy is getting it

After a few months with AngularJS and REST-APIs, I have to agree with this blog post. Yes, we’re in a new era of web development.

It’s funny how technology moves in cycles and this is apparent in how the center of gravity moves between the server and the client. For a few years now the center of gravity has been on the server. The client (the web browser in most cases) was just a dumb document viewer for HTML and media files.

With modern Javascript-frameworks, this is changing. The browser has become a first class citizen of the web stack, fully capable of managing state and most of the logic that used to be on the server.

What this means to people who are not geeks developers: expect richer, faster web sites much more like desktop applications than just documents. Expect an increased innovation tempo. Expect the web to come alive. Everyone working with the web (and that means basically everyone who does business in some way) need to grok this.

Look for cofounders, not ideas.

It takes two to tango.

One of the consequences of the 5P-model for startup evaluation (Product + Problem + Profit + People = Potential) is that finding the right people is much more important than finding the right idea. So important, in fact, that you might as well begin with finding the right people before you even know what to build!

Why? Because of the 4 Ps that make up the potential (Product, Problem, Profit and People), the people P is the hardest to change once you get going.

You can (and should) iterate and improve your product.

You can (and should) validate and test your problem.

You can (and should) experiment with different business (profit) models.

But once you start, you can’t change the people.

Of course you can always fire co-founders but it is a painful and expensive process, much more so than pivoting on your problem definition.

So, instead of waiting for the right idea, go look for someone that complements you and is equally passionate about building something.

Then find out what to build.

(Discuss on Hacker News.)

My name is Erik Starck and I work for Lean Forward. We help enterprises and entrepreneurs with innovation and growth. Follow me on Twitter.