#leanstartup

Startup Founders Who Can Execute Always Win

Startup Founders Who Can Execute Always Win

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

– Walt Disney

Wealthfront Review - The Best Lean Startups in America

Wealthfront

Wealthfront delivers on–demand investment advice and services without high account minimums and fees that keep many people from building wealth through investing. One thing that makes Wealthfront a top fintech is that it takes an existing solution–investment services–and makes it available to a new market. We talked before about creating a have situation for the have–nots, and this product does that.  Deeply entrenched companies like Charles Schwab are now copying these auto–investing platforms.  When the big boys copy your clothing, you know you’re onto something big.  


Want to get information on angel investing and venture capital?  Get information from the venture capital expert on startups.  And find out if you qualify as an accredited investor HERE.

Ross-Blankenship-expert-investor

Ross Blankenship is an expert on startup funding, angel investing and venture capital.

Ross Blankenship is also the Founder and CEO of AngelKings.com.  Angel Kings is an investing platform that provides accredited angel investors the opportunity to invest in top startups and companies in sectors like cyber security, biotech, mobile, data and financial services.  Angel Kings provides both venture capital funds for startup investing as well as private equity funding for early and middle-stage investments.


Indeed.com - The Best Lean Startups in America

INDEED.com

In Kings Over Aces, we discuss the importance of investing in established, experienced people, which describes the cofounders behind the site, Indeed. Paul Forster and Rony Kahn already founded, ran, and sold a company before they began to bootstrap Indeed. It's not surprising that they didn't bootstrap for an extensive amount.  After a beta release of the popular job listing site, the company raised $5 million in funding, which a Union Square Ventures (USV) representative said investors had to convince the cofounders to take.

According to that same USV associate, by the time the investment came, Kahn and Forster had launched the Indeed service and were on the way to success. Forster said a major principle of Indeed was to run efficiently and to remain laser focused on building the product over time. By 2012, that focus had paid off. Indeed generated around $150 million a year and had 550 employees. It was also poised for either a successful IPO or an acquisition. In the end, the company–which was valued at over $750 million–sold for an undisclosed amount. Guesses at the time were that the acquisition price ranged between $750 million and $1 billion.


Want to get information on angel investing and venture capital?  Get information from the venture capital expert on startups.  And find out if you qualify as an accredited investor HERE.

Ross-Blankenship-expert-investor

Ross Blankenship is the "expert on venture capital and angel investing" for startups and investments for venture deals. He is also a proven entrepreneur, and the Founder and CEO of AngelKings.com. Ross Blankenship has made more investments in venture capital before the age of 30 than most venture capitalists have made in a lifetime. As a venture capital expert on startup funding, Ross Blankenship continues to advise media outlets on upcoming SEC rules, been a mentor for startups, and helped accredited investors make investments in the highest ranked startups. Ross Blankenship has successfully founded several companies and now manages a Venture Capital fund focused on early stage, high growth startups in sectors such as mobile, cybersecurity, cloud computing and biotechnology. Learn more about Ross Blankenship, and how to become a successful, early investor at http://AngelKings.com.


SparkFun Review - The Best Lean Startups in America

Nathan Seidle and his startup, SparkFun, are great examples of part of the Lean Startup model. Seidle bootstrapped his startup for a number of years, pumping profits back into the company whenever possible. He also immediately created a learning environment for himself as a business owner when he launched SparkFun.

The company sells electronic parts and is currently a major player in the open source technology market. When Seidle launched the company in 2003, however, he did so because he himself ran into a problem. He burned out some electronic components when working on a project, but couldn't find what he needed for replacement parts easily online. With SparkFun, he wanted to bring necessary parts to individuals and small businesses, but he also wanted to provide education and encourage people to get involved with electronics.

To fund the launch of his fledgling company, Seidle used $2,500 in personal debt to purchase products. Since he wasn't sure which products would hit home with consumers, he started with a random assortment of parts–setting up the experiment environment Ries talked about with Lean Startups. As small trickles of orders began to come through, Seidle tracked the success of each product and learned which items to reinvest in.

In our book, Kings Over Aces, we talk about how companies don't have to be first to market with a solution, and they don't have to be the first to provide a certain type of product. They do have to provide an innovative twist on the solution, or in some way make the solution more convenient for the consumer. SparkFun delivers this innovation by including datasheets and tutorials for all of its products as open source hardware.

In less than a decade, SparkFun grew from a bootstrapped startup–whose founder couldn't afford a new coat because he funneled everything back to the company–to an enterprise worth $10 million. Seidle has over one hundred employees and his company supplies a global Maker community. 


If you'd like to learn about startup investing or want to see if you're an accredited investor apply HERE.   Angel Kings are the angel investing and venture capital experts.


Ross-Blankenship-expert-investor

Ross Blankenship is the "expert on venture capital and angel investing" for startups and investments for venture deals. He is also a proven entrepreneur, and the Founder and CEO of AngelKings.com. Ross Blankenship has made more investments in venture capital before the age of 30 than most venture capitalists have made in a lifetime. As a venture capital expert on startup funding, Ross Blankenship continues to advise media outlets on upcoming SEC rules, been a mentor for startups, and helped accredited investors make investments in the highest ranked startups. Ross Blankenship has successfully founded several companies and now manages a Venture Capital fund focused on early stage, high growth startups in sectors such as mobile, cybersecurity, cloud computing and biotechnology. Learn more about Ross Blankenship, and how to become a successful, early investor at http://AngelKings.com.

Review of the Most Successful Lean Startups - Plenty of Fish

Plenty of Fish

After working for a number of tech startups, Markus Frind decided to launch his own company in 2003. Frind settled on the online dating market and bootstrapped his company from his apartment, where he received the company's first Google AdSense paycheck–for a whopping $1,100.

By 2007, the company was reportedly worth close to $1 billion, and at that point, Frind started hiring people to help him. For the first four years, however, he did most of the work himself and generated a great deal of revenue through a freemium website that was funded by advertisers.

Frind didn't stop there. Over the years, Plenty of Fish followed the build–measure–learn model we discussed above. It eventually gave up funding by an ad–based, freemium model. By offering paid subscriptions, the startup hoped to better engage users.

Frind also made a timely decision after studying consumer use and the market. He integrated his product onto mobile platforms, which he claims is responsible for a large increase in both user and revenue growth. Between 2013 and early 2015, Plenty of Fish experienced doubled revenues. By early 2015, it had 100 million users and expected annual revenue of $100 million.

Frind once stated that he didn't know anything about SEO, community, venture capital, or advertising when he began his startup experiment. What he did know is how to learn: he stated that, "I spent every waking minute when I wasn't at my day job reading, studying, and learning."


Want to get information on angel investing and venture capital? Get information from the venture capital expert on startups. And find out if you qualify as an accredited investor here.

Ross Blankenship is an expert on startup funding,  angel investing and venture capital.

Ross Blankenship is also the Founder and CEO of AngelKings.com.  Angel Kings is an investing platform that provides accredited angel investors the opportunity to invest in top startups and companies in sectors like cyber security, biotech, mobile, data and financial services.  Angel Kings provides both venture capital funds for startup investing as well as private equity funding for early and middle-stage investments.  

Review of the Most Successful Lean Startups - Carbonmade

Carbonmade

Carbonmade is a portfolio app that lets creative professionals show their stuff online. The product began as an in–house tool for the startup, which spent its time concentrating on a different product while the portfolio app grew quietly among an audience of friends, friends of friends, and friends of those friends.

The startup was founded by Dave Gorum, Jason Nelson, and Spencer Fry. From the beginning, the three knew they wouldn't seek investors right away due to their experience with previous startups. During the course of founding the company, Gorum developed a product for displaying his own creative work–he and others liked the app so much, they shared it with friends, which is where the growth story began.

In 2007, the three used the app to launch Carbonmade, offering a $12 per month plan for users. The team intended to create a suite of apps aimed at the creative audience, but within a year they realized several things:

·      They had a viable product consumers were demanding

·      They liked working on the product

·      The community surrounding Carbonmade was passionate about the brand

The trio made a decision to drop the other product in development and concentrate on making Carbonmade–the thing customers wanted–better. As of 2015, the company offers three portfolio packages ranging from $6 to $24 per month, and consumers pay for over 880,000 portfolios.

Carbonmade illustrates the validated learning premise from Lean Startup.  By reevaluating its goals and interests - as well as listening to what the customers were saying - Carbomade turned its attention to a proven product.  The result?  Millions in revenue every month.


Would you like to invest in startups and become a venture capitalist? The VC expert is ready to help you start invest in top startups. See how you can by becoming a qualified member here.

Ross Blankenship is an expert on startup funding,  angel investing and venture capital.

Ross Blankenship is also the Founder and CEO of AngelKings.com.  Angel Kings is an investing platform that provides accredited angel investors the opportunity to invest in top startups and companies in sectors like cyber security, biotech, mobile, data and financial services.  Angel Kings provides both venture capital funds for startup investing as well as private equity funding for early and middle-stage investments. 


Review of the Most Successful Lean Startups - GitHub

github-lean-startup

GitHub is another company that started as a private solution. Coders Tom Preston, PJ Hyett, and Chris Wanstrath were all using Github, which is an open source version control software. When they found they had trouble sharing their code with others after creating it, however, they decided to make a solution. The solution–GitHub–began as a simple weekend project for a group of coders. They funded the minimal resource needs–hosting and a domain–and shared the tool with friends.

It wasn't long before GitHub went the way of Carbonmade, with word of mouth spreading the product outside of the founders' social circles. At that point, the trio decided to launch GitHub as a business. Together, they were able to cover initial formation costs, but they didn't have enough cash to support themselves as fulltime employees. Instead of seeking immediate investment and spending cash resources on themselves, they worked other jobs and did consulting work to pay the personal bills while they grew the business.

By 2009, the company boasted 100,000 users and an award as the best bootstrapped startup. By 2012, GitHub was stable and impressive enough to score $100 million in investor funding from SV Angel and Andreessen Horowitz.


If you'd like to learn about startup investing or want to see if you're an accredited investor, apply here. Angel Kings are the angel investing and venture capital experts.

Ross Blankenship is an expert on startup funding,  angel investing and venture capital.

Ross Blankenship is also the Founder and CEO of AngelKings.com.  Angel Kings is an investing platform that provides accredited angel investors the opportunity to invest in top startups and companies in sectors like cyber security, biotech, mobile, data and financial services.  Angel Kings provides both venture capital funds for startup investing as well as private equity funding for early and middle-stage investments.  

Meet The Most Successful Lean Startups

Previously, we discussed the 5 lean startup principles to bootstrap your startups.  Let's recap what those are:

  • Entrepreneurs are everywhere.
  • Entrepreneurship is management.
  • Validated learning.
  • Innovation accounting.
  • Build-Measure-Learn.

So let's meet the startups who've managed to use these principles successfully, starting with:

Aardvark

Aardvark was founded by Max Ventilla, Nathan Stoll, Damon Horowitz and Rob Spiro in 2007.  It's a question-and-answer search engine that allows users to connect with each other and provide technical support and recommendations to other users.  Users connect submitted their queries via the Aardvark website, email, instant messaging or other social networks.  Similar to Pinterest, they tested their product by having beta users for their first release, and having those beta users invite new users.  They publicly released Aardvark in March 2009.

Google acquired Aardvark for $50 million on 2//11/2010 because the product was highly successful at querying users for subjective information and graphing the results.  


Get a copy of our official guide to venture capital and angel investing by becoming a member of Angel Kings.  Learn from the angel investing and venture capital expert, Ross Blankenship.

Lean Startup: 5 Principles to Boostrap Your Startup To Success

New entrepreneurs often buy in to the corporate mantra that cash is king, but many companies over the years have made it on determination, intelligence, strong designs, and a bit of luck. For angel investors, these companies can be a great investment, because buy–in is very small in the beginning. Founders who are willing to bootstrap have a different idea of budget, and they can often get more done with less funding. If the startup succeeds, then investors might even see a generous return on a relatively small cost.

In our article on the hottest software startups, we talk about Apttus, a successful software company that bootstrapped its way through seven years before seeking traditional investor funding. In such a case, investors have an even greater advantage: the startup is generally further along with its research, plans, and products. It might even have products on the market, providing investors with solid data on which to make a decision. Even then, investment asks may be lower than with non–bootstrapped companies.

Eric Ries and the Lean Startup

Bootstrapping isn't a new concept; entrepreneurs have been using their last dimes to launch companies for centuries. Funding a small endeavor on little more than your own sweat and what cash you can scrape together is a risky strategy, though, and most angel investors are likely familiar with statistics about how many of these small businesses fail each year.

Planning and methodology brings a bit more stability to the bootstrapping risk, and one of the more successful methods today is Lean Startup, which was pioneered by Eric Ries. Ries, like many founders featured in our book, began in the technology field. After graduating, he worked for a Silicon Valley company that would fail within a few years. In 2004, Ries cofounded IMVU, a social network company, through which he met investor and mentor Steve Blank.

Blank invested in IMVU, but he required that Ries and his cofounder audit a class he taught on entrepreneurship. Through that relationship and class, Ries would learn about Blank's beliefs on customer development–a strategy he used to quickly deploy IMVU products and later to create the foundation of his lean startup method. Reis's efficient approach to the startup meant that the product launched within six months. By 2011, the company was generating revenue of $40 million with an equal number of users. At that time, Ries had moved on to other things, however, remaining simply a board observer with the company.

Ries's early successes and failures put him in a position to advise other startups, which he did independently and as part of the team at a venture capital firm. He also used his experience, and what he learned from working with other startups, to create his philosophy of Lean Startup.

The 5 Principles of Lean Startup

  1. Entrepreneurs are everywhere.
  2. Entrepreneurship is management.
  3. Validated learning.
  4. Innovation accounting.
  5. Build–Measure–Learn.

Let’s examine the concept behind each step and how it applies to the lean startup. 

1.  Entrepreneurs Are Everywhere

The stereotypical view of an entrepreneur veers between the brilliant college student and the driven scientist, but in reality, entrepreneurs are everywhere and come from all walks of life. By definition, an entrepreneur is a person who organizes and operates a business, sometimes – but not always –– taking on high levels of risk to do so. Entrepreneurs are not restricted to technology startups or cutting–edge biotech.

The importance of this point cannot be overlooked, even though it sounds simple. Opportunities for startups abound in every industry and in every region. When you are looking to fund a startup, you don’t have to be confined to a narrow range of opportunities. Find a sector that intrigues you and focus your attention on startups in that sector.

2.  Entrepreneurship Is Management

Going back to the definition of entrepreneur, we see that a core concept is operating a business. The definition does not include brilliant ideas or wild spending habits or even a degree of coolness. It’s about management, which means harnessing available resources to meet goals or at least to provide the best possible outcome under given circumstances.

Management is about discipline and creating processes that help the organization reach its goals.

To make a startup successful, the entrepreneur needs to impose processes and disciplines on the organization. Management is about making good decisions faster even when based on limited information; it’s about getting the best from a team. Sometimes a manager is a coach and sometimes a manager is a dictator or a friend – or a naysayer. A manager manages, and gets things done. 

This is a fundamentally different view of entrepreneurs, who often exhibit diva–like tendencies and go off on expensive ego trips leaving reality behind. Investing in a lean startup means your cash won’t be wasted on some of the excesses and errors committed by entrepreneurs such as leaders at Pets.com, WebVan, Den.com, Boo.com or Flooz.  These companies all failed.

3.  Validated Learning

Using lean startup principles, companies continually test their vision with the only people who can validate it – potential customers. Most startups take the “Nike” approach. They just do it, working diligently to bring a product or idea to fruition and then springing it as a completed product with no time, resources or room for changes or improvements. Many entrepreneurs are disappointed by this approach when the expected sound of trumpets heralding their vision fails to materialize and instead, all they hear is a resounding thud as the doomed product hits the trash.

The MVP, “Minimally Viable Product,” idea strives to find the product that has the fewest features and requires the least effort to create that will still have appeal to a broad enough market to sustain the company’s goals. The minimally viable product feature set does not spring directly from the entrepreneur’s mind, nor will it ever happen in a vacuum unless it’s a fluke of the universe.

Enlisting early adopters is fundamental to this process. The startup needs the feedback from users to measure the product’s viability. By the time the product is ready for full–scale distribution, it has a built–in user base and a history of solving real customer needs.

4.  Innovation Accounting

Startups have sometimes felt that they were immune to the realities of business that exist in established industries, but startups need to be even more conscious of the mundane metrics. The entrepreneur’s role is to define the process and provide the roadmap including specific milestones and priorities. This is more than project management and far more than standard accounting. It is a new kind of accounting that measures startups on their business imperatives. It’s a fascinating topic that Ries explores in detail in his book, “The Lean Startup.

5.  Build–Measure–Learn

Creating an innovation process is key to the MVP concept and the entire lean startup idea. It involves the product learning cycle: Build–Measure–Learn. The process starts with early prototypes that are shown and tested with multiple customers. Customers provide their feedback on what they like, didn’t like, or what they need to have added before they would be willing to buy the product. The startup measures the product’s current features for acceptability to its target market. The development team takes this learning, adds features that fulfill the identified need and repeats the process until they have come up with a design that meets the need without adding unnecessary cost, extended development cycles or unwanted features.

With Lean Startup, you will eliminate or at least reduce uncertainty in the startup process. Your team will be able to work smarter, not harder as you answer the fundamental question: Should this product be built? Most entrepreneurs ask “What can I build?” or How can I build it?” The lean startup works on the premise that you shouldn’t build a product unless there is a sustainable business to be built. Like the original idea for lean manufacturing, it eliminates waste:

·      Wasted time.

·      Wasted effort.

·      Wasted resources.


Want to get information on angel investing and venture capital? Get information from the venture capital expert on startups. And find out if you qualify as an accredited investor, http://AngelKings.com/angel-investing-101