Books for Innovators and Entrepreneurs | #Sprintbook #CleanDisruption

I started reading Tony Seba‘s Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation — I decided to read more books in 2016, now that the Phd on student entrepreneurs is done.

A few weeks ago while in Tokyo I heard Tony speak and spent some time with him after his talk. While I’ve followed solar, Tesla, and the like from a distance, the deep dive with Tony and his book has converted me.

With detailed statistics and crucial discussions of new disruptive business models, Tony presents a vivid potential picture of the near future. Speed and scale of change will rival anything we’ve seen in recent years. The ramifications of this change are massive — could keep you up for days on end thinking about the end of oil and all that will entail — just let your mind go for a moment. Check out Clean Disruption — at least download the first chapter or watch some of Tony’s videos.

The other book I am quickly reading is Sprint: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just 5 Days. Its comes from key team members at Google Ventures —  Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky, Braden Kowitz. While I’ve just started it, its clear it fits in the lean startup, sprint_coverstartup weekend, hackathon, design thinking, maker revolution that we are witnessing. And to be honest, how could anyone interested in innovation and problem solving, not want to learn some of the frameworks, techniques etc employed by Google / Alphabet (GOOG | Nasdaq)

The notion/ethos that action, experimentation, questions, and speed truly matter in effective problem solving, innovation and entrepreneurship is where we are. (As a side note — this is going to cause increasingly dramatic problems for higher education in the coming years)

Sprint, from the get go, includes nice graphics and appears to be a clear, detailed map for mere mortals to follow. The challenge for most of us will likely be brain power, commitment, courage, resources, and collaborators. But I look forward to experimenting with this roadmap with our innovators at Mason and others. Will update more when I get deeper into this one, but it looks like it could be a nice starting point to play with and explore in the coming months.

Here are some reviews of Sprint by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz:

Goodreads  and Upstart and Financial Times (what never read it — then please do acquaint yourself with the FT)

Thiel’s 7 Keys to Market Creating Innovation (Blue Ocean Anyone?)

Peter Thiel, one of the ‘great’ wizards of Silicon Valley has some mortal elements

Peter Thiel back in the days of PayPal
Peter Thiel back in the days of PayPal

as he too has written a book and gone on a speaking and interview tour. Zero to One, by Thiel (with Blake Masters), has many interesting insights and thoughts and Steve Denning of Forbes does a nice job covering the book. From Denning:

In his book, Zero to One, serial entrepreneur Peter Thiel offers seven—sometimes surprising– tools for doing just that. They are what he calls, “the seven questions that every market-creating business must answer.”

The Engineering Question: Do you have a breakthrough technology?
The Timing Question: Is your timing right?
The Monopoly Question: Do you have something no-one else has?
The People Question: Do you have the right people?
The Distribution Question: Can you sell and market your stuff?
The Durability Question: Will you be still around in 10 years?
The Secret Question: Do you know something nobody else does?

Continue reading “Thiel’s 7 Keys to Market Creating Innovation (Blue Ocean Anyone?)”

Tim Berry on the Business Model and Business Plan | Video

Tim Berry offers a video investigating business models and plans. He uses Osterwalder as his business model representative. Nice clear video. From Tim Berry:

What I really don’t like is people saying “don’t do a business plan; do a business model instead.” My favorite definition of the business model is the excellent book Business Model Generation, by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur. And that’s very compatible with business planning. I’ve already incorporated the business model canvas into three business plans I’m working on right now, as a good framework for thinking. To me, the difference between business model and business plan is just the semantics. They are different words for the same thing. It’s a lot like the difference between business plan, strategic plan, operations plan, annual plan, etc: depends on who’s talking at the time.

via Planning Startup Stories —.

10 Lean Startup Machine Tips and Tricks | @TriKro

Cool post, 10 Lean Startup Machine Tips and Tricks by Tristan Kromer at There are actually more than 10 (Tristan admits to not being a great editor).

I was at Lean Startup Machine in New York last weekend. (LSM is a 48 hour excursion into lean startup techniques created by Trevor Owens to push your boundaries and help you learn something about your business model.)

  1. Problems don’t exist. You can’t go out and talk to a problem. Focus relentlessly on people.
  2. Cash in hand beats bullshit on slide. A pretty powerpoint isn’t impressive. Go get a real customer to hand you money.
  3. If your teammates don’t buy in, then test fast and let reality convince them. You’re not going to win by arguing, you’ll just wind up working alone.
  4. If your MVP can’t prove you wrong, then it can’t prove you right either.
  5. Ask questions like a child. Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?

There are some good thoughts in this post and I am looking forward to learning more about Lean Startup Machine.

via 10 Lean Startup Machine Tips and Tricks by @TriKro.

Tools for Business Model Generation Video | Stanford E Corner | Osterwalder | Blank | #bmgen

Great business model talk from Stanford eCorner with Alexander Osterwalder. Inspiring for lots of reasons. Please watch. Also, Steve Blank’s new book, The Startup Owners Manual (with Bob Dorf) is available for pre-order. #leanstartup #bmgen

Entrepreneurship Education, More Dropout vs Graduate Debate | CNNMoney | #DIYEDU

Martin Zwilling at CNNMoney adds his thoughts on whether entrepreneurs should stay in school and graduate or drop out. Zuckerberg, Gates, and Jobs represent the epitome of the DIY Edu / dropout movement. From Zwilling:

Academic research supports that this experience pays off. It also shows that survival prospects are higher if the owner has at least four years of college, like Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google (GOOG), and Andrew Mason of Groupon (GRPN). The bigger question, then, for an entrepreneur, is not whether or not to go to college, but rather what to do once there.

Study entrepreneurship, but major in something else. Many colleges offer courses on entrepreneurship, to help you think like one. But a depth of knowledge in a specific discipline, like computer science or engineering, allows you to understand that business as well as run it.

An MBA is helpful, but not required. More important are standard business, finance, and economics courses. If offered at your college, don’t forget the practical business skills like “Critical Thinking”, “Business Writing” and even “Dress for Success.”

Supplement course work with practical experience. Look for that summer internship job in the field of your interest, or even just part-time work during the school year. Too many startups fail simply by missing the practical elements of money management, time management, and setting priorities.

Take advantage of inside and outside advisers at school. Some college faculty members have great practical experience. Find the ones with experience, and the ones who are willing to share, and tap into it for free. Most universities also bring in outside advisors to mentor budding entrepreneurs. It’s a huge opportunity to learn early.

There are more tips (and I don’t agree with all of them), but its somewhat clear that Zwilling is advocating a do it yourself approach to education (#diyedu) within the context of a four year degree or a masters degree environment.

via Most great entrepreneurs don’t drop out of Harvard – Term Sheet.

Interview with Eric Ries | Lean Startup | Student Entrepreneurs

Great interview with Eric Ries (Lean Startup) by Ned Smith of BusinessNewsDaily:

“You have to really want to know the truth more than you want to be right,” Ries said.

“But if you have a little bit of humility and some discipline, you can break the idea down and systematically test each element and figure out what’s true and what’s not,” Ries said. “The scientific method is at the heart of the lean startup world view.”

Another common denominator for lean startups is the need for speed, Ries said.

“You would see an obsessive focus on speed,” he said. “There is a sense of urgency to get to the information we’re looking for.”
In this mode, Ries said, all decisions — infrastructure, personnel, platform — are evaluated with an eye on picking the platform that will allow the business to run experiments quickly to create a build-measure-learn feedback loop.


That build-measure-learn feedback loop helps an entrepreneur steer a lean startup and know when to pivot by making a sharp turn or persevere on the current path.

“Pivoting is fundamental to the process,” Ries said. “If you look at successful startups, most of them started out without the exact right business model, idea or strategy. Most of the time, the idea is downright crazy. But there’s just a kernel of truth buried inside it.”

That’s where the pivot comes in to play.

“A pivot is a change of strategy without a change of vision,” Ries said.

We have begun integrating Lean Startup and Customer Development methodology into our teaching at George Mason University. Our new peer-2-peer group StartUp Mason will rely of Ries and Steve Blank.

via So You Want to Run a Lean, Mean Startup Machine? | The Lean Startup Book | Starting a Business | Business News Daily.

Two ASU Students Find Niche in Web Analytics | Student Entrepreneurs

From ASU to Silicon Valley, nice piece in Entrepreneur by Joel Holland profiling the journey Suhail Doshi and Tim Trefren have taken over the past few years, including time in Y Combinator.

The average student sees an internship as an opportunity to earn credits, gain experience and penetrate social circles that may lead to referrals or future entry-level positions. But Suhail Doshi, the 22-year-old co-founder of San Francisco analytics company Mixpanel, is far from average.

In 2008, following his sophomore year at Arizona State University, Doshi interned at Slide, a developer of social media apps. His stint there resulted in a business idea–and an investor.

As an intern, Doshi became increasingly aware that companies such as Slide, Facebook and social media game maker Zynga all shared a common burden: the need to build custom analytics in-house, because existing alternatives didn’t meet their needs.

While services like Google Analytics worked fine for tracking traditional usage metrics, Doshi realized that the new crop of social media, online gaming and application development companies needed a way to measure user engagement and interaction, not just page views.

Its a great read, make sure you visit and read the entire piece, there is a lot to learn — from going out and finding solid entrepreneurial internships to networking and proving your value while there.

via How Two College Students Found a Niche in Custom Web Analytics |

10 Crowdsourced Funding Platforms | Student Entrepreneur Tools

My entrepreneurship students are were interested in crowd sourced funding platforms after reading an article I provided them. Gonna share this list of 10 crowd source fundraising sites from Dowser. Here are a few:

33needs is a web application that connects investors to small-scale entrepreneurs around the world. The investor receives 3% and 33needs receives 5% of the funding target for a project. The site helpfully divides up projects into categories such as “education,” “the planet,” “community,” and so on. It’s brand new, and looks like it’s off to a promising start.

Profounder aims to help entrepreneurs get a community to invest in their project, creating a support base in addition to bringing in money. The site’s team gives guidance on creating a fundraising pitch, managing investments and returns, and legal issues. Profounder’s blog illustrates various stories of helping small businesses expand and get their products to new markets.

Microplace is a Paypal-owned company that allows investors to put their money into projects that aim to alleviate poverty. Users create an account on MicroPlace like you would at any brokerage firm. Users then receive quarterly interest payments and portfolio statements. When an investment matures, users can either get their money back or roll it over into anther investment.

Kickstarter targets artists and entrepreneurs who need funding to bring their creative projects to life. Its use of video as a means of sharing projects makes it particularly fun and simple. A project cannot begin, and no credit cards are charged, until enough pledges have been made to reach the funding target, so as to discourage poorly-executed projects. Project creators inspire people to open their wallets by offering rewards, such as “thank you” mentions on their personal blogs, or products from their projects.

via Top ten crowdsourced funding platforms | Dowser.

Tools and Services for a Lean Startup – A List #leanstartup

More lean start-up discussions in class as we were visited by Danny Page of Knackeo — an education start-up that emerged from Triangle Start-up Weekend in June 2011.  Here is a list of lean startup resources; from Dropbox and Skype to The Startup Toolkit and There are nearly 100 resources listed as tools and services for lean startups. Really interesting list, I am going to try some of these out.

Tools and services for a lean startup – A List.