I started doing my free Online Strategy Roundtables for entrepreneurs in the fall of 2008. Based on this work, I’ve been able to draw a few conclusions.
First, a good percentage of entrepreneurs don’t bother validating their ideas. Another percentage are immediately interested in raising money. Raising money without validating the business is pretty much impossible. If we can address some of these patterns we have a chance at significantly reducing infant entrepreneur mortality.
At this morning’s roundtable I worked with four new entrepreneurs, and this is what I learned.
Sramana Mitra is a technology entrepreneur and strategy consultant in Silicon Valley. She has founded three companies and writes a business blog, Sramana Mitra on Strategy. She has a masters degree in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her three books, Entrepreneur Journeys, Bootstrapping, Weapon Of Mass Reconstruction, and Positioning: How To Test, Validate, and Bring Your Idea To Market are all available from Amazon. Her new book Vision India 2020 was recently released. Mitra is also a columnist for Forbes and runs the 1M/1M initiative.
Mel Marten presented ClaroConnect, described as being like a match.com for financial advisors and clients. There was a discussion about the best way to monetize the business, whether charging an annual fee is preferred to monetizing every lead. Then the conversation turned to affiliate marketing.
Albert Santalo with CareCloud was next. This Internet-based service simplifies the many tasks of the modern medical office. While this business has been validated by a growing list of clients, the positioning of their service needs to be more sharply defined in order to scale the business. Through much give and take, the importance of segmentation and focusing on the strongest segment of their market was emphasized.
Martin Linkov presented Favit, a product aiming to personally curate and simply present online content. As a blogger and potential customer, I said I am looking for a service to curate and prioritize what other bloggers are saying about a topic I am blogging about to give my readers a fuller perspective. But Martin is not looking to answer that need. He demonstrates how difficult it can be to explain a complex service, while being pressed to succinctly define who the user is for this service, and what is the value proposition for the bloggers who are the stated channel. The most valuable selling proposition for this service still needs to be defined and validated.
Mark Hernandez pitched his business, After COOL Fitness. I liked this business idea, there is clearly a need to fill in as physical education and recreation programs are being cut from school budgets. Currently they are paid by grants and parents. When I learned of the lopsided ownership structure of the business, I felt Mark’s main priority should be to rework the capital structure of the business while continuing to organically grow the business regionally.
The roundtables are the cornerstone programming of a global initiative that I have started called One Million by One Million (1M/1M). Its mission is to help a million entrepreneurs globally to reach $1 million in revenue and beyond, build $1 trillion in sustainable global GDP, and create 10 million jobs.
In 1M/1M, I teach the EJ Methodology which is based on my Entrepreneur Journeys research, and emphasize bootstrapping, idea validation, and crisp positioning as some of the core principles of building strong fundamentals in early stage ventures.
Photo by Laurent Cottier.