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Archive for the ‘startup’ Category

Here it goes, here it is. The power of business is so important now, that the way we drive “relations” is no really efficient confronted with private efforts, taking markets, shares and business stakes. Long is sometimes the road for public diplomacy but the real angels now are more blue boss than politic icons. When you stare for example at Indian area and the crossroad to complicated relations with Pakistant, Russia and China in the same zone, we saw the importance of the last first trade exposition, focused with the influence of business private sector in the tough situation in stranger policy. More and more, economy and trade lead the diplomatic relationship in this area, and drive the international scene. Why?

The enforced moves with several organization (world trade, trade chambers, huge world companies with stakes strategy…) generate an interesting return on “investment”, more efficient than slow diplomatic shifts. the development of local markets, even if local represents in these areas, very important zones and high potential. Because trade shows real issues and useful outcomes to people, companies and organization while politic swamp into long and whispered relations, that bring on difficulty to advance safe, with no backtricks.

We can reinstall the famous quote “think global BUT act local”. Any fair and peaceful matter is now a kind few local acts of smart trade improvements that makes the wheel turning. And the most influencer as a ministry may be the trade minister of any regular and democratic country. Average class of citizen is growing fast in any corner of the world and is hungry for consumption, modernity and innovation. They in fact lead the growth and make the things happen: buy, share thoughts and opinions faster than any politic entity. The more we believe in our faith to local innovation and the fewest trade act, the more we step forward in a kind of silent diplomacy, finding its path to more exchange and democracy. Fair trade has been created as a volontee movement to go fairest and create fast, cheap and useful trade places in local, where politics never went anymore. Forget about stocks, think deals and moreover, connections between people, things and fair currency. And when polls comes in, be careful of “useful poll”, the one that creates employment and justice throughout the world.

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Small is beautiful…and useful, efficient now. Look at all those blue chips, coming from new economy, with light structures, skilled minds and clever intentions. We use to see big monoliths as never ending winners, champions in any industry. That used to…before the web. Web and linked technologies tumbled down lots of industries, because of disruptive ways of marketing, production, delivering. How can we consider software, technology or social networks could value so, in the middle of such big companies that build and need so much capital intensive? Past jobs disappeared on the effect of technological shifts or processes that completely changed the organizations, including big structures.

That makes this new subject about “size” of companies to be compared and valued, as new challenges in world commerce points out. But not only “size”, but also the ability of reaction facing the speed up of competition and focusing on abilities to compete on “time-to-market”, with great resources and know-how. In fact, the size might be the effect of several causes in growing up companies:

  • Raising the business and activity
  • Raising the R&D tasks
  • Complexity of processes, needs for controlling or middle management
  • In direct effect for human intensive resources needs

And we said “size” might be increased by the complexity of organizations, not directly focused on results and too much on means. To get an impression of what’s going on and the different leverages that could be used, it seems necessary to compare strengths and weaknesses of the two ways to do business. Having in mind that there is no “good” or “bad” but relevant with your activity, your business plan and the kind of business you’re in. You could be a startup in a whole big group and act as well. The simple fact to measure and value the differences between small and big structures make sense to the way you organize path to delivering.

And it seems startup models spread through all industries now, according to the fast moves from software and IT power. Having a different method to go faster and rethink the way doing “business” or simply create and deliver products or services. The “lean startup” or light structure company steps aside of traditional approach of:

  • Business plan
  • Financial goals
  • Design and building
  • Launch

Recovering some kind of instinct creativity with:

  • Hypothesis
  • Experience
  • Trials/samples/prototyping

Faster than ever in the creativity cycle and the way it can improve really on the go, the starting defaults and mistakes. No need to start with perfect products, but having in mind “testing and launching fast” instead of trying to do the best at first sight. The idea behind is to be more flexible and test any possibility, with several trials, formulas and prototypes to cover all situations before really launching. The different kinds of issues allow lots of consumer reactions, corrections and empower the experience cycle. Doing, building and destroying in short decision cycles make the whole creation experience more interesting and collaborative too. And these practices are particularly owned in startups spirit, where ideas run and go, as fast as the wind…Building, creating other combinations means agility and flexibility that big companies can envy, but don’t handle correctly.

This new method, named “pivoting”, in the lean startup concept, brings a new approach for innovation and collaboration between customers and teams, including fast innovation and reaction to dead end, studying more easily B plans. Big companies and schools, with the whole scrambled education system turn their eyesight to these behaviors as business cases and practices to hold, nurture and leverage. This makes another round for risk taking too, that is a huge danger in strong and long process for big companies, who then hesitate to innovate and launch new concepts. But we all know differences in appreciation of “risk” and failure: some fear and some learn, just this difference means a lot in an entrepreneurship environment and mindset. A culture where failure is considered only as a “bad side” is doomed to sleepers and followers. But meanwhile, if you risk often and fast, you’re in the know for an incredible venture of learning more efficiently than others. Because, instead of fearing yourself and your skills, you enforce them by example, mistakes and make it a “friend”. Not a loser, but a learning machine to enhance your creativity and trust potential.

The lean startup model knows to cope with it, so that it could be a strong model for biggest companies, out of order with creativity, flexibility and relevance.

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Yes it reminds me the famous title “I love Paris” covered by so many artists (Sinatra, Fidgerald…), written by Cole Porter in 1953, and Google could make it his new hymn, to prove and show his gratitude to France. Few days after a sparkling opening of their new Googleplex in Paris, they decide to gear up their settlements in France, for all French happiness, starting by President Sarkozy himself, who visited the new European HQ. Through his European presence, covering in France with “LeWeb” wide conference and its opening, Eric Schmidt had smart opportunities to enforce and insist on French American relation, strong, passionned and built since several years, through cooperation, respect and culture integration. There’s no mystery between the two countries, rythmed by the brotherhood relations between President Obama and President Sarkozy, who gave so many proofs of collaboration, mutual respect and strong position facing the recent crisis.

Dealing with its agenda, Eric Schmidt had a short talk with fellows of French-American Foundation, on 7th of december, with many people from different horizons. A smart and warm seance with french students, entrepreneurs, citizens, allowing the audience sharing thoughts, opinions and questions with Google’s chairman. We spent a cute but short time, enjoying the sense of humour of someone who deals with lots of challenges every day, straight to the point. He underlined and justified the choice of France as a new European and Middle-east settlement because of culture, talented and skilled people and that special taste of something sometimes called “arrogance”, that keeps French alive and probably unique. As a French citizen, I can confirm but prefer a “passion” side of this character

Mr Schmidt delivered some clues about how Google cope with the main issues he has to deal with: data privacy, creation protection, EU lawyers at Brussels ongoing affairs, mobile potential and some of the new big features, Google’s working on. He agreed with the fact they made some mistakes and must be very humble about the privacy: the “don’t be evil” quote from the ages might be a straight forward obsession, to get back to trust and loyalty. Musing all these subjects with all the following statements with:

  • the importance of being in France for a long time. Periods of doubt and untrustancy disappeared and i’ts time to build something stronger with the French ecosystem (schools, startups, VCs, engineering…). Trusting in the ideas system and relevancy, but saying there’s obviously a problem with “financing” ideas…in France
  • the challenge of globalization, where in fact they are with the sheer nature of the web itself. Passing through a nearly joke with “politics often act local while problems become global”
  • the increasing view and facts with mobile and smartphones that boost all the web uses and underlining apps. No, Google doesn’t plan to be a full carrier for mobile…but there’s an advanced work with the Nexus and so much more…
  • the fact that a company like Google changes the world, because “technology change expectations”. Consumer becomes much more clever, accurate and addicted to more services. the way it “changes” the world…
  • the cycles gear up now: increasing difficulty to see long term expectations and trouble relations with VCs and financial sources
  • the necessity of keeping that “don’t be evil” faith, beyond buzz and threats: building trust means protect from all, privacy and engagement from community
  • the digital fence and opportunity: freezing some industries but opening wide fields for innovation
  • the hard file with the “Hadopi” French exception, in a whole, plugged, wired and online world: protect the creation in a WWW more opened than ever…and punish pirats but not the tools that put, rank and organize the links to contents…“autocrats dream to turn off the internet, he said”
  • his three keys to success (personaly like it): Ideas, Team, Quick delivering
  • a shortlink to new ambitions with art and museum: Google Art Project

I spent a smart moment with a tremendous manager. One who can rock the world and lead great innovation, passion and engagement. One who could ignite the taste for entrepreneurship, leading business and mentor a whole industry, in the tracks of enlightning the way we do business. Thanks to French American Foundation for having organized this relevant session, I think I’m not the only one “liked” it.

That made my day for sure, in the way I love America, since earliest stages. Of course because of my cousin, Sean (who is a great jazz musician, a complete talented “entertainer”) and his father who died in 2008, Jimmy, who played and brought the blue note in Paris in the 50’s, and played with the best. For me, it’s definitely a family and love affair with America

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It’s in fact a strategic question, launching a startup, with the “all-in-the-hurry” rush of the beginning: dreams, passion (core!), energy. Straight from an idea, new innovation (techs, economics, social…), a team or sometimes a single person and it goes: idea, prototype, business plan, network to make the buzz and finetune the concept. Well…and here surges the problem:

  • is vision strong enough to be long term and hold a big market enough?
  • isn’t the idea already dead-born, too mainstream, crowded?
  • which kind of stakeholders, partners for which use, in the jungle?
  • how much cash available and for how much time?
  • how much time before new comers, copy, better and cheaper?
  • and when will surge the “Peter Principle” and how recognize it before it runs?
If all the topics were evaluated with patience and attention, there would probably less startup ventures…Because one would be feared and discouraged facing such unknown and risks. But fortunately, “creation comes from pulse, rythm, power and passion, sometimes in pain, loneliness and shadow”. There’s somehow something strong behind, to learn, raise, fail too, change the world and manage. Anyway, anyone who passed by these steps know that it worths largely the game.
Then comes a time to confirm and sustain the whole project. And that’s another affair, for who has passed through starting steps and succeed to convince partners to go further: market, journalists, angels, funds, customers…Even if you hide your face, some will remind you “hey, when do your build the big picture next?
There were some days where funds tried to get rid of founders, prefering to introduce senior management with experience, to build the next organization. Because creation is one, but raise the whole story might be more difficult and tied to special skills founders may not hold. Funds may be  tempted to protect their investment and bring it to team with more track record and success in the past, that guarantee them the best result, and that may be not with former founders…Understanding huge organization, build and manage teams, know how to grow up motivation, efficiency, productivity, dealing with ERP and IT solutions is lots of challenge founders may not afford and/or didn’t experience in. Management, as a global mean to grow together all forces and resources in a company has to be practiced before, with long years in several companies from different sizes and sectors, and it’s not obvious for who didn’t, in the past. “Driving” people means having done it before, with a diversified platform of cases, companies, cultures, countries, jobs to draw the best of it.
A young creator may not have the required sensiblity, patience or touch to get the best of teams. I agree that some of them have sometimes such a charism and track record that can replace experience. And that’s maybe part of the speed of enlightment, around the project. A trend that takes off now, prefering to keep founders at the right place, to hold the pioneer spirit: rid of with all money needs, founders can concentrate them to global strategy and seem to reassure investors as they engaged some resources.
Despite this, a good leader knows first how to build his trusty board and operational ranks: he has to. and what about an ideal friendly, efficiency and “good team on the bus” look like? According to me, I would suggest a team around:
  • founders inside, of course!
  • investors, for their role only: lending money (but not leading strategy, for heaven’s sake!)
  • consulting/advising: out of the company, not involved, not too close (no mates, no husband or wives!) ; good friend for with no engagement at all in the company, it’s important to be outside with no pressure, to keep “fair thinking” as best as possible
  • failure stars: draw the best from others mistakes is core for starting business
  • models: mentoring, icons…everything that keeps a goal, target, dream alive with all the power around
  • professors and academic sources to keep on the knowledge environment and hold the  growth for learning more
  • experience, throughout senior management, veterans, successful storytellers who can give method, process and business behavior
  • youth: concrete, essential, sheer access to young blood to hold the spirit of “building something that can change the world”. Young generations don’t hesitate to push the limits and keep the “gear up” to next level
  • network and networkers. More linchpins, fellows who drive the dance, link people, give their arts for free. Hooked to several networks, to stare and share the next pratices, and learn the “lean startup” methods
Thinking of what’s all these things could produce in fair, bright and well driven hands and brain?
Startup’s begining is like a single musician, but always requires tabs: how, where and with who? and these questions become more important, as the startup rise and burst the ceiling. It needs next a good leader, good musicians, good tabs, good map and be sure nobody’s lost. And this kind of experience is rarely understood, experienced, with youngest generations and young creators, who only see speed, miracle and energy.
Well, we’re not supposed to fire all young creators, saying they are unskilled for the follow up, but it’s to say they should be surrounded by many skills and advises, they sometimes don’t fell or value. And the whole system must go on, with energy, passion, envy and team innovation: hold the light, generate the spark for future generations, means oldest show them the way, because they know, because they failed too. And failure is probably the most difficult thing to swallow, but gives you a special taste: taste for danger, taste for forbidden, taste for fear. Everything that is full of speed and power, to build something strong, relevant and remarkable…

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