Making bit bets

When I read about advice for startups, I am often struck by the sheer banality of a lot of them; how easy they make it seem to become a successful entrepreneur.

Maybe it is (somewhat, see below) easy. I guess it depends on your ambition;

If it is to use a tried and tested formula to do something others have done before but just with a slight twist and present it in the “Lions Den” in the hope of celebrity investment maybe it is somewhat ‘easy’?

It is certainly quite well inside your own span of control and the effort you put in will go a long way (with some luck added for effect of course). It’s is very much about the quantity you put in – the number of hours etc.

You can do that in limited time and with very limited investment apart from your own hard work. And if it doesn’t work out, chances are you will not have bet the entire farm, and you can always try again.

But what if you instead want to make a really big bet?

What if you want to try to do something, no-one has done before?

What if you want to serve a new audience that has so far been not only underserved but downright neglected?

What if your future product is novel, still in the R&D labs and a lot can still go wrong?

What if, as a consequence of the above, your product is some distance out in the future?

And what if on top of all of the above there is no truly authoritative way you can test whether what you’re looking to do will ultimately be successful?

Making a big bet is daunting in an entirely different way.

Yes, the rewards can be huge. In more ways than one.

If you succeed.

But there are still countless ways you can fail.

It may look intriguing in a Powerpoint, but it’s an entirely different matter when the decision to follow through and make the bet has been made.

Then the real work begins. Then you’re on the hook.

But you will be on the hook for something bold and deeply worthwhile.

Not just 5 minutes of fame.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

The tough bet on ‘less’

It is not uncommon to see new products launch with a lot of features. Too many features, perhaps.

The rationale is fully understandable; there is an urge to get a ‘finished’ product out, and you quickly form your own opinions about what that means in terms of feature set.

The underlying rationale behind it is more important though:

When you launch with a lot of features, essentially what you’re hoping is that there will be something in there that will get customers to love and adapt your product and not just turn the other cheek – or not notice it at all.

I think it’s fair to say it’s ‘fear of failure’. Pure and simple.

And I also think it is fair to recognize it as such. Because when you’re developing new products and trying to do something that perhaps no-one else has done before you, your biggest fear is that nobody is going to like it.

Or worse: Even care.

In fact I will argue that it’s the key reason why so many still fail to test their ideas and assumptions before they go and build their first product; the basic fear of getting the idea rejected by the market, before it all even begins.

But then again, I don’t think there is a way around it. I think the only way forward is to ‘bet on less’ – even if it’s super tough – and do whatever you can to nail the things you do rather than risk being ‘all over the place’.

Thankfully, we do have tools such as the ability to identify our assumptions, form our hypothesis and run smaller scale, appropriate experiments towards them to get more insight and data on whether we’re on track to something.

So use them.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)

Pick up the learnings

A while ago we applied for the summer 2020 batch of Y Combinator with our FIXDIT project. Alas, we didn’t make the cut from the thousands of startups that applied.

While that of course is a total bummer, the whole process did allow us to revisit the whole project, look at it with fresh eyes and come up with some new perspectives and ideas, which I think has generally strenghtened the project. It also allowed us to try a few new things and approaches that will serve us very well going forward from here.

This is just to say that when you put yourself into play, even if you hit the wall, there is an opportunity to reflect and learn that will ultimately get you to the other side in a better and stronger shape.

(Photo: Pixabay.com)