Random Ressources About Entrepreneurship, Tech and Innovation
If you’re an entrepreneur building a company, or simply interested in how some of the world’s most successful CEOs think about guiding a business, here’s some material from different companies (Amazon, Google, Dropbox, Airbnb, GoPro, Instagram, Facebook) that you might find interesting.
Personally, I wish I had come across these documents earlier. Some of them are pretty fun to watch considering the way they’ve come since those days.
T o start with, let’s assume you have an amazing business idea and you’re asking people around and potential customers for feedback. Then have a look at this article: Seven lessons I learned from the failure of my first startup, Dinnr. Most important point:
You must never, ever, pitch the product to the customer and ask for their feedback. Don’t ask about their future intentions (“would you buy this?”), but do ask about PAST behaviour.
If you want an honest advice and opinion on your business idea, you should ask your mum.
Still here? Then have a look at this letter from 1997 written by Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos to shareholders in which he explains Amazon’s philosophy and goals for 1998. It boils down to 6 key things that have been critical to the company’s success:
- Move quickly and efficiently. Execution is important
- Think and act long-term (5–7 years)
- It’s all about market share (rather than short-term profit). In today’s digital age, the more people use your product, the more you’re likely to overtake competitors
- It’s OK to make mistakes
- Customers, customers, customers: they should be at the heart of everything you do (but take extra care when asking their feedback when prototyping — see below)
- Create your new market
You can also check out this video from Bezos explaining to a roomful of publishers what his “electronic book selling” business is all about (in 1999). Awkward at times. Btw, if you bought in at the first price Amazon started trading at in 1997 and held your shares, you would be up 12,397%.
Moving on from Amazon, here’s Google’s 2004 Founders’ letter. It’s interesting to see how Google was made to be different from the start. Remember they started off as a search engine, and today they’re building cars, phones, have mapped 90% of the world’s cities, have digitalised 1000s of books that contain the world’s knowledge...
Let’s now take a look at the Dropbox application form to the infamous Y Combinator from 2007. Compelling stuff. I’m guessing anyone with a business idea should ask himself these questions to see whether it has some potential.
Airbnb is huge, right? Here’s an article from co-founder & CEO Brian Chesky showing the 2008 rejection letters of the first 5 early-round investors who passed on Airbnb. The other 2 did not reply. Ouch.
So GoPro is the epitome of cool, right? Wait until you see this video of founder Nick Woodman pitching the first ever GoPro version on TV. The video is from 2005 but it’s so vintage it could be from the 80s. I love the Yoda-inspired business philosophy.
“Why Instagram Worked: A co-founder looks back at how a stalled project turned into a historic success” is an interesting read. It shows that working on a startup is about controlled insanity: you have to be crazy enough to believe your idea can take off, but not crazy enough to miss the signs when it’s clearly not going to.
7 new things you will learn from Mark Zuckerberg in his interview with Y Combinator. Psychology, serendipity and problem-solving.
To conclude, here’s a picture: can you guess what it shows?