Friday, November 1, 2013

unCon 2013 Session: How to Build a Start-up from the Heart

Moderator: Bill Warner

What’s important to you?

This was posed as the fundamental question all entrepreneurs should tackle when getting ready to launch their start-up. As the session discussions evolved, attendees gained a better sense of what it means to build a startup from the heart.

At the start of the session, we are introduced to the three main reasons why people don’t execute their ideas:

1.     Other people won’t allow it
2.     You think other people won’t allow it
3.     You won’t allow it

Right off the bat, the first factor to take into consideration is how much time is going into the design of your company compared to how much time is going into your product. Most of the time, entrepreneurs focus most, if not all, their time and energy into perfecting their product. The structure of the company, as they believe, follows and simply “comes naturally.” They expect to stumble upon a “default” company- the idea that their start-up will form into something that they SHOULD get. This mindset is what­ XXX defines as the epitome of a startup from the head. These companies tend to work from the reductive point of view for the concept of the company design, where entrepreneurs work from the big picture- the “what” of their company/product- to figure out the “why”. In that way, they fall into the trap of agreement to reach other peoples’ expectations; and consequently stripping away the energy and spirit of the product. That said, we can think about the three elements of a startup design in the form of three axis:

·         Intention. Otherwise known as the innate ability or drive for the purpose of your product.
·         Belief. This sets the stage for the execution.
·         Invention. The actual execution of the product (also the “what” in the golden circle)

Out of the three, invention tends to take centre stage, making up the bulk of one’s pitch. But to truly build a startup from the heart and deliver a convincing pitch, you’ve got to learn to focus instead on your intention and belief. In fact, don’t disclose your invention at all. Just stay away from the “what”- instead, use personal stories and anecdotes to tackle the “why” and really persuade others to believe in what you believe in!

Over the course of the session, participants were encouraged to take part in an exercise that focused on altering our minds to speak for our intentions and beliefs. On the first try, everyone who contributed to this activity struggled to sell their ideas without talking about the “what” of their companies. It was interesting to realize just how much entrepreneurs emphasize the actual product without really acknowledging why the product exists. Finally, after 30 minutes of trying to keep our pitches simple, delivering them slowly, and emphasizing our body language, we left the session with these key five words: I intend to help people _______. We have a choice between subtraction and addition, but we shouldn’t have to make that decision knowing that ultimately, adding the value of people is what makes for a startup from the heart.

Caitlin Cheng

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