Methode of research
NAME: ANNIKO VAN DAALEN
MENTOR: CHANTAL VAN ARKEL
What kind of differences do you see in the growth of the 10 startups, in the time space of the 150 day programme until demo-day. In this programme, the start-ups are getting lessons and mentoring to help develop there start-up. At the end of the 150 days there is an demoday, were al the startups present there startup to investors and other big companies.
1. What is a startup?
2. What is Rockstart?
3. How do you start a start up?
4. How do you develop your idea into a startup?
5. How does a startup function in the economy today?
6. What are the important things to focus on when becoming a startup?
7. When does you startup become a company?
8. What are the 10 startups in Rockstart?
9. Do you see the cultural differences in the startups from Rockstart?
Methode of research
February 26th is the official kick-off for the programme ‘Rockstart Accelerator'. The programmes duration is 150 days and consist out of 10 startups. At the beginning of the programme I am going to see what kind of the startups I am dealing with. So I can see what their ideas are for a startup or what their startup is. Then in the 150 days following I am going to look how the startups deal with the lessons given to them and what their interpretation is of those lessons, how are they handling the given information and put them in their startup. I making a questions list for them to fill in twice, one at the beginning when there ideas are fresh and not changed by the program. The second time in the middel of the program, and see what they have learned and what changes they are making in there startup as result of the lessons. The third time is not a questionnaire, but presentations or as they call it pitches about there startup to tons of investors. This is the result of the program, in these presentations you can see what kind of progress they have made.
The first questionnaire consists out of 10 questions. These are simple; what is your startup, which problem are you going to solve with your startup etc. To see their growth in the programme you don't have to look hard, they all have it, but in their own way. So the follow-up questionnaire could not be so specific, they all have their own path in the evolution of their startup. So the second questionnaire is going to exist out of two questions, what did you learn and how are you using this new knowledge in your startup. This way they can all say what they picked up, and I can see what the differences are in the learning process of each startup. The last time I am looking at the startups is not with a questionnaire. This time each of the startups will give their own pitch of their startup, in 5 minutes explaining what their startup does and can help. This is Demo Day, the big event that all the startups are working towards. That is why it is a good time to see their development from the beginning until Demo Day.
Also I am going to follow the process of how the startups develop themselves into functioning startups or even a starting company. I am going to follow-up with the startups, how they are doing a few months later. As a conclusion you can see what kind of different growth the startups went trough. In these months I am focusing on two startups who really made it in their business. So you can really see the growth go on even after the programme.
After the research I can see the growth the startups made and the lessons they learned in the programme. After that I can compare the 10 startups with each other, what other things did they picked up and how did they interpreted these in their startups. The last things I will look into is the different backgrounds of the startups. To see if the backgrounds have an impact in the way they pick-up on things or the way the will put the lessons into their startup.
- Kawasaki, G. (2004, September 9) The Art of the Start
- Blank, S. (2013, July 17) The Four Steps to the Epiphany
- Fried, J. (2010, March 17) Rework
- Ries, E. (2011, October) Lean Startup
- Christensen, C. (1997, May) The Innovator's Dilemma
- Maurya, A. (2012, March) Running Lean
Blogs about tips about startups:
- Frankwatching (z.d.) Blogposts about startups Opgehaald van http://www.frankwatching.com/archive/tag/startups/
- Frankwatching (z.d.) Blogposts about lean-startup Opgehaald van http://www.frankwatching.com/archive/tag/lean-startup/
- Frankwatching (z.d.) Blogposts about startup scene Opgehaald van http://www.frankwatching.com/archive/tag/startup-scene/
- Graham, P. (2005, March) How to start a Startup, Opgehaald van http://paulgraham.com/start.html
"A startup is a temporary organisation in search of a scalable and repeatable businessmodel ."
A startup, other than a starting company, does not know yet exactly what their business model, or their exact service is going to be. If you want to start a bakery for example, it is fairly well described how to start and how to run a bakery. It is fairly straight forward how to make money (you sell the bread) and how to create the product (you bake it in an over). It is also known what product the customer wants (a bread) and what problem you are solving (the customer is hungry and wants to eat). A startup however does not know all of this. When Google started, they did not know how they were going to make money, or what their product would be like. Google did not know exactly who their customer was how to reach them. Startups are finding all of this out through trial and error. What works and what doesn't. Luckily it is not all luck and random trials. The Lean Startup methodology offers a framework within startups can work on finding all of this out. Lean Startup calls this a process of validated learning or the Build, Measure, Learn loop. In the Build, Measure, learn loop, you first decide what you want to learn, how you are going to measure what you learn and only then what to build. It is a process of constant experimentation to learn as much as possible in the least amount of time.
To start a startup and go through the learning process, is not something everybody is attracted to. If you start a startup you have to go approximately a year without a steady income if you do not have an other job. Although an other job is not easily combined with starting a startup. This startup will take up all your time, if you want your startup to succeed. Not everybody is up for the task or has the patience to wait for a breakthrough. And a breakthrough is rare, because everything is so unknown and requires a lot of work.
Startups all start with an idea, and without an idea you get nowhere. This idea is most of the time an idea to solve a problem in life, an idea that people can profit from. This idea can be about anything, a planning app, a way to help kids with coding, a app to let you communicate with taxi drivers more easily and go on. Every aspect of life is an option to get your idea from. Most common is getting an idea from your own experience, you see a problem and get an idea to solve this. This idea does not have to be brilliant. If the idea offers people better technology then they have now, you are off to a good start. Thinking outside the box, do not use the same technology. Get outside the box and think of a whole knew way, that is simpler and easier to use.
As you can see, one founder for a startup is not ideal. The workload is going to be massive and you want a team to support you. To build a startup you need a team. Most of the time there are 2 to 4 founders of a startup. One is responsible for business, one for technology and one for design, for example. With 2 to 4 people you have enough people to share the workload and not to many to start a lot of discussions. You want to learn as much as possible, in the least amount of time.
These co-founders you need to find. This is not something you need to think lightly about. These co-founders can decide if your startup gets of the ground or fails. If you are passionate about your idea, you need people who are too. People who share the same attitude towards the startup. People who will not go to sleep until the bug is out of the app, people who will not stop until she gets the investor that they need. You need ‘animals' in your team, a hard working passionate bunch of people, who will have your back the whole way. It is a bit like finding people to marry with. You sometimes spend more time with your co-founders, than with your own husband and need to be able to trust your co-founders completely. That is also why you first have to ‘date', you don't marry on your first date in real life, so why would you do that in business. You need to get to know each other first and see if you can handle all the stress and successes of starting a startup. It is also very important to make the right agreements. You don't want the company to fall apart when someone quits the company.
Rockstart Accelerator helps startups through the first 1000 days of their existence. They have mentors that help the startups search for a business model. Rockstart gives lessons, offers a braintrust and tips so startups can find the answers on what type of company they need to be, what problem they are solving and what products they need to develop.
Rockstart is located in Amsterdam. For the yearly program 10 startups are selected from over 500 startups that signup. These startups come from all over the world, like Russia, Spain, Colombia and other countries. The 10 selected startups come to Amsterdam for a 150 days program. The accelerator provides a structured program in the Lean Startup methodology, a mentor network, access to knowledge and people, and access to investors. Rockstart also offers a small investment of 15.000,- euro. Rockstart gets 8% equity in return for their help in building the start-up.
In the first few weeks of the Rockstart program the startups learn about the Lean Startup methodology through a series of workshops and presentations about Customer Discovery, Validated learning, running experiments etc. In the second stage of the program they have in-depth and one on one sessions with mentors that can help them more specifically with certain problems, or mentors that can help with their network. The last stage is all about connecting to the right people and investors, as well as presenting on Demo Day. Demo Day is the day the startups present themselves and their learnings to mentors, investors and the press. During the entire program the startups participate in a weekly reflection session and a weekly session where they share their experiences with each other and ask for feedback and tips. This knowledge sharing environment and the mentor network is really valuable for the startups.
The Undeveloped founders were in the market for unused domain names, but they didn't see any progress in any way and decided to do something about it. The startup is a platform were domain buyers and sellers can do business together in a easy, safe and human way. Undeveloped wants to transform the bad reputation that buying and selling domain names has. Undeveloped wants to make it possible to buy the domain that you want without taking risks or crazy amounts of time.
Cocoon had an idea, they wanted to connect companies with potential employees. They wanted to be the first contact between them and find the best compatible match. Cocoon wanted to start right away with finding a solution. After the first weeks they learned that first you have to go back to your potential users and find out their needs. What kind of problem do they have in finding work or employees. Cocoon learned that you have to work step for step, you don't want to do it all at once. They both also learned to work better with each other, that they can count on each other.
Packpin started out having a clear picture for what they wanted to do with their idea. They wanted to extend cross-selling proces in e-commerce by in-site package tracking. So they wanted to help people who ordered online, by a close loop on what was going on with their package. Packpin was a focused hard working team with a clear goal.
Tabtrader is a startup that wants to make a difference in crypto currency trading (Bitcoins for example). With their startup they want to make a big difference in crypto currency trading. In the first few weeks they learned that they have to think before doing something, not just doing something because it looks cool, but because it would actually improve the startup.
Klets had gotten an idea through their own experience. They had frustrating communication between the company that they worked for, and their customers who wanted to contact them. Emailing took forever and too much time. So they came up with a better way that business and customers can communicate. This was a chat page, customers who have the address can come to the page and chat with someone from the company. Their goal is to make it normal for anyone to chat with any business, big and small.
In the first weeks they learned that there are different opinions on their business, they had to find their customers/early adopters. Klets had to shift their priority to product development, to see what the early adopters wanted in their company. Something they learned from the lessons was that you have to stick to your own vision.
Kollekt.FM didn't exactly came up with a idea for a startup. They came up with a idea for a problem that they had. After they noticed a lot of other people used it, they evolved it in a startup. The startup they started is a social music platform. The problem with music was that it was scattered across the web. The have aggregate all those different sources so you have all your music in one place.
In the first weeks they have learned to work better together, every important decision and changes in the startup have to be consulted with each other. A other thing they learned was, don't do everything at once. You have to build up.
MarkO is an app that will help you with daily tasks. The app will give you a notice if you are near a place where you can complete a task. You can also share it with family and friends so you can remind each other and finish tasks with combined efforts. They came up with this idea when the founder wasn't satisfied with any other apps that will help you with tasks. They learned in the first weeks that they have to narrow down the early adopters, by finding out their most common use-cases.
Rutapro / Package
Rutapro began with the idea to help business that have to deliver their own product. They have an idea that combines both web and mobile technology to organise and optimise service routes, track deliveries while they happen. This will effectively reduce logistics costs for businesses. For further development after the app they don't know exactly what they want to do. They learned in the first few weeks that they should focus on making a methodology for working and a framework for making and testing their decision and changes that are made.
A few weeks later their learnings had pivot them into a different solution in the logistics market. This was for them a good move and very fast a succes cases.
Desbookers is a two-sides marketplace, it helps companies to rent workspaces on a flexible basis and owners of workspace to lease their workspace. They want to change the way people meet. With Desbookers you can simple rent the work space you need for example half a day. After the first weeks they learned that they have to identify the needs of their segments. With these learnings Desbookers can test possible propositions and solutions.
Bomberbot is a game on the internet that learns kids the basics of coding. They wanted that every kid should be able to do this. The game is played with a robot that a kid has to give orders to complete the level. The orders that are given are a lot like the basic principals of coding.
All the startups have gone through the same program, they had the same lessons and the same people who helped them. In these 150 days you see differences and similarities in the learning process.
The lesson that they all found helpful and should work on, was working better together. In a business the important decisions have to be made together with your team. All the startups learned to better listen to each other and help each other with opportunities for their startup.
An other thing that most startups found helpful is learning not to take up everything at once. If you want to do everything at once, the startup is probably going to fail. Taking too much in at once can mean different aspects in a startup. The most common one you see in the 10 startups is not focusing on one group of customers/vendors/early adopters. As a startup you have look for the group that has the most interest or need for your product/app/platform. When you found the group you can focus on, you can specify their needs and make a better solution to their problem. If a startup has perfected this, they can move on to a new group with other needs.
A third thing that the 10 startup take too much at once of is wanting to do everything inside the startup at once. Marketing, product development, testing, design, etc. As a beginning startup you have to take this step by step. They learned that it is not wrong to focus on only one thing in the startup. For example Klets, they set their priority on product development. When a startup takes all of the tasks at once it will probably fail or all tasks will be mediocre. Focussing on performing one task very well will be less frustrating and less stressful.
In the 10 startups you also can find differences in the learning process. RutaPro became Package half way trough the program. Within the Rocktstart accelerator they found a better way to change things in the logistics market and made a pivot into a new business model. Package is unique in this way, they were one of the first to make an extreme pivot in the rockstart program.
Bomberbot is an other startup that stands out, they started off as a startup with no ways to make money out of the startup. This was because children won't pay for this particular game, they will find one that is free. So they had to switch to a different kind of customer. They made the games into lessons that teachers could give in schools. So the new customers were schools, while the users were teachers and also still children. They gave tools to help the teachers give the lessons and it developed in something quite big.
The 10 different startups are from all around the world and even this you notice in the results. The Russian founders of Tabtrader are short in words and don't talk much. They want to do the things and get it done without thinking about how it would affect the startup. The Dutch startups are not less motivated, but work less because their homes are still here. They go home to family and friends. The startups that are from Chill or Columbia are working day and night because their families are back home. You really notice the differences between the Dutch startups in the program and the foreign startups.
These startups and many other startups that went to this programme is that the programme definitely can make a difference in succes. But only if the team, the whole team, is aligned and dedicated to the programme. If not, the programme will have no effect, and the team troubles will end up failing the startup.
My conclusion is that every one of these startup got trough their own evolution of their startups. They have had their ups and downs and learned many lessons throughout the program. They had different obstacles to overcome and made different changes and choices. But the different startups out of different countries mostly picked up on the same lesons. Work together, listen to each other and your mentor and take it step by step. Even with all the diversity people struggle with the same things. The program certainly helped the startups in being more successful, but only those teams that chose to actually absorb the lessons in the program and were open to adapt while experimenting and iterating. Teams are an important factor in startup succes, maybe even more than the accelerator program.
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