Start Up Blog

The Thomas Edison Strategy

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on February 8, 2010

In business, demand is invariably more important than supply. If demand doesn’t exist, supply is irrelevant. If demand exists, supply will eventuate.

I happened upon a quote from one of the greatest inventors / entrepreneurs in history Thomas Edison. Despite the simplicity of the idea, it’s very profound.

“I find out what the world needs, and then I proceed to invent it.”

This is some pretty good advice for any entrepreneur. It’s better to make what you can sell, than try to sell what you can make.

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Startup School – 1 seat left

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on November 2, 2009

I’m very excited that Startup School Melbourne is this weekend. We still have a single seat left which is currently being warmed by this guy….

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But we’d love to replace him with you. And if you need any more convincing then I’m pretty sure I’ll have done the job once you finish reading this blog entry.

Firstly – here’s a list of topics we’ll be covering in detail:

  • Idea Generating
  • Creativity in business. Creative thinking
  • Raising Capital
  • Art of Pitching
  • Legal tips, shortcuts and administration
  • Successful outsourcing (digital & production)
  • Building an international work force
  • Cash flow for startups & budgeting
  • Simplified project management
  • Personal & business branding
  • Selling like a guru
  • Generating PR and media
  • Building a Team

All of which is fully documented in a take home working manual so you’ll leave knowing exactly what to do and how to do it. Like I have.

We are also being joined by Yvonne Adele – Globally renowned Creativity and ideas guru!

You can’t learn this stuff in school, books or at University. And I should know as I teach Marketing at Melbourne University. You also get me as an on going mentor as a Startup School graduate with unlimited help in your start up. Which is incredible value give what most consultants (with less real experience) charge by the hour.

We are holding the event in the groovy boutique Lindrum Hotel. Where the space is great and the food and espresso is awesome. I tested it.

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All of which is included in the price. You’ll be one of 10 people in an intimate learning environment. Not in a room full of people.

If that’s not enough , Startup School comes with a money back guarantee to blow your mind. I can say this because I know the 2 days will.

No, it’s not priceless – it’s priced at $998.

It will be the best investment in your entrepreneurship education you’ve ever made. it will make and save you thousands. This event is a one off, there is no next chance. If you want to chat about it – call me on the phone number in the right hand side bar of this blog.

Click here to book now.

(Seats still available for Sydney 21st & 22nd of November)

See you on the weekend, Steve.

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Short memory – GFC

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 18, 2009

Reading the New York Times this weekend it seems clear that the Global Financial Crisis has not diminished the ability of investment bankers to extract bonuses from poorly performing assets and even losses.

I still believe that private profits should also result in private losses. I remember back last year having a discussion with a prominent Australian Venture Capitalist. He held a strong view that the bailout activities were justified, while my view was strongly opposed.

He said:

“If a child trips and skins its knee that’s fine, but there is no point letting it fall from a 10 story building. The consequences are too great”

I said:

“It’s not a child, they’re investment bankers. And maybe what we need right now is a few of them splattered on the sidewalk.”

My view has not changed.

But it seems the general populous has a short memory as the rot is returning very quickly. In fact, it might do both our economy and our environment good to let the current system bleed for a while. Why not allow time for new eco-friendly industries and  egalitarian reward systems arrive?

Startup Blog wonders what your think?

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Startup School just got better

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 16, 2009

For those of my blog readers already locked and loaded for startup schoolGood News.

For those thinking about coming long – Another great reason to join us.

The uber terrific Yvonne Adele from at Ideas Culture has just joined us for the 2 events. She will be facilitating and helping us out through the two days. But don’t think she’ll just be giving the intro’s and outro’s – she’ll be giving us her spin on creativity and ideas, as well as getting us pumped up, motivated and thinking. Which will also blow our minds!

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For those who don’t know, Yvonne’s business was recently featured in Springwise and has a list of credentials and testimonials as long as both my arms.

So, if you’ve been on the edge of booking startup school. Time to get moving. The Melbourne event is about to close the door with only a couple of seats left. And Sydney is filling quickly.

Feel free to contact me if you have any queries and want to chat in more detail about it on 0438 779566. Steve.

Startup negotiating tactic

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 12, 2009

A simple way to keep a fair and reasonable percentage in your startup when getting funding is this.

Argue you require a sufficient percentage to keep you motivated.

Tell them you need enough stake to bring out your best performance. That they are investing in your performance and that this is part of the human make up. Then remind them that you are human.

2 schools of business valuation

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 10, 2009

A favourite game of entrepreneurs, especially in the technology industry is discussing whether companies are worth the price they are bought out for. $1.5 billion  for Youtube ………. Sales prices with infinite price earnings multiples (because there are no earnings, or they are loss making). Versus a company being sold for a few times it’s annual earnings with a long period of earnings history.

A more relevant discussion would be which school of business valuation was used during the transaction, and there are two:

1. Sale price representing believed potential

2. Sale price representing return on investment reality

Which is more valid? Well it depends on which side of the equation you are residing. I’d say when selling, we should be aiming for potential. When buying we should go with reality. When buying a business the simplest question to ask ourselves is this:

On current earnings, how many years will it take me to get back my original investment.

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There’s no doubt certain industries are more likely to sell using the potential valuation method. Burgeoning industries like the internet, IPO’s and even railways 200 years ago are good examples. To get away with selling on ‘potential’ the industry needs to be growing, the future unknown and your company well known. If your startup ever gets enough traction to sell to an incumbent, then take what you can get – sell on potential.

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Why cash flow matters

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on September 21, 2009

Here’s a simple description of why cash flow is the most important financial measurement in business.

Cashflow positive means: More ‘actual’ cash money is coming in than is going out. It does not mean revenue exceeds expenditure.

Hence:

It’s impossible to go broke while your business is cash flow positive.

It’s possible to broke while your business is making a profit.

This is the most important financial fact startups must know and understand.

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The deception of history

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on September 6, 2009

Reading about Craigs list the other day I started thinking about business history and strategy. As entrepreneurs we often get fooled by the deception of history. And it’s easy to see why. All the business books and articles we read on success are based on what someone or some company we respect did. The problem with this is that the world lives in a state of flux, and what worked then, most certainly wont work now. This is where the Craig’s list example comes to the fore.

Craigslist Head office

Would a 3 color page of hyperlinks which looks like the internet did in 1994 work today? Highly unlikely. Craigslist works now, because it worked well then. It had things working in it’s favour like the ‘in crowd’ in the Bay area spreading the word. That it was first to market with an on-line classified. Now these legacy issues become a strategic proposition which is worth maintaining. What it doesn’t mean is that it’s a strategic template worth copying for Startup X. It’s also less likely we’ll get the support needed from the web community or the investors needed.

The same can be said for pretty much any startup with an interesting history.

A social networking site which is set up for alumni of an Ivy League University probably wouldn’t work.

A trading website where auctions are used to develop the perfect market place probably wouldn’t work.

An on-line retailer which aims to sell every book available in the world probably wouldn’t work.

As entrepreneurs, what we are better off understanding is the insights into why things worked, and try and leverage human behavior in developing a strategic direction to launch our business.

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Business Plan Template

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 28, 2009

It’s well documented that I’m not a big fan of business plans. Mainly because we live in a world of flux. But if you must use one – which I’ll call a 1 page mud map – then here’s a template. I’ve used this and I’d recommend it for ‘real entrepreneurs’ – that is non VC seeking bootstrappers.

What is it?
Describe your business or service in a single sentence. If you can’t do this, you don’t know what you’re doing.

Who is it for?
The audience who need or want this thing you’re about to create. Define them in whatever terms you please, demographically, socially, behaviourally, geographically. Just be succinct and tight in your clustering.

Why do they need it?
How is it better than the current substitute options?

How will they find us?
Where will we gain distribution? Maybe we’ll leverage a strong retail chain. A singular high traffic location. If web based strong SEO / brand awareness will be required. Maybe we already have an audience who we’ll bring a product to. This should be the most detailed part of the plan. It should include brand awareness activities and promotions. It still should only be a round 1 paragraph long.

Cost to build Version 1.0
Just estimate it – then double your estimate. Now this is the bare bones version, the absolute minimum required for launch. Outsource every element of production were possible, unless you are the major factor of production. Keep the cost low. It enhances speed, and reduces fear of failure and inertia.

Revenue Stream
There is no such thing as ‘Free’ – just a delayed revenue model. Ideas include: Sell item for price, Percentage of sales, memberships, premiums, selling advertising among others. Your plan is not finished unless you can answer this in a way your mum can understand.

Next Steps
These steps are related to launching the product. We stop typing and start prototyping. Here’s where we have 3-5 bullet points on how to get to version 1.0 The quickest possible route to being live in market. The steps to when you can out there and start selling & promoting.

That’s it. In fact you final plan should be as short as that we see above. Print it, put it up in your office and get to work.

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How to get investors interested

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 5, 2009

While watching the BBC television show the Dragons Den, quite often the ‘Dragons’ laugh at a business concept they are presented with and think it is ridiculous.

dragons den

Here’s the one thing that makes them eat their words every time:

Sales figures. Revenue, Customers, Repeat orders.

It’s only then they change their view from ‘not interested‘, to ‘I’m listening‘.

If you ever want to get investors interested, go see them once you’ve got sales. When you have revenue coming in it puts the kibosh on negative opinions. In addition,  it increases value of your business and reduces the percentage you’d have to give away for a cash investment.

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