I finished the half-semester class Entrepreneurial Management at Wharton. 6 weeks, the class stuffed 20 years of venture experiences. In this whirlwind speed, I did not know how I had the fortune to be a part nor was I aware how my inexperience had terribly pained the instructor. Regardless, to memorise this class, like I always did to the memorable and undeserved things in life, I will share a few of my takeaways for the audience, not to flaunt my own stupidity, but to entice your honourable entertainment.
- Start-up Is an Industry
When I just started the class, I was a dubious start-up founder and a self-labelled rebel. It was my natural tendency to join the “entrepreneurship club” to show my attitude, but the class absorbed me into the spirit of creating a business, if not more, to the real world. Gradually, I learned that many great characters have started their businesses, less as heroic rebels against the world, but shrewd business professionals in an alternative career. Decades pass, entrepreneurship is no longer the hippie option, but the cover story on Vanity Fair. To be frank, it is a career. It takes time and discipline and chances to find the “hunch” (i.e. the right sense of business acumen) at the right moment.
Source: Y Incubator How to Find “Hunch”
- Great Arts are Stolen
We started our day with chapter one, COPYCAT businesses. They changed the languages, plagiarised the original content and design, and found quick growths in their regions. Some grossed millions of fortunes by selling the copying son to the copied mother in 2 months with the effort of 2 engineers. My later researches also showed me that genius arts come from stolen pieces, or inspirations.
Source: Chapter I slide & Steal like An Artist.
- POC or Nothing
From later talk I had with other angels including Mr. Andrew Romeo, everyone agreed on one thing: things that do not exist or not proved to attract small revenue have no interest to anyone. Innocent Juice, a young juice company that made billions in Europe, surveyed customers in their first sales at Virgin Musical Festival and obtained 98% approval rate. Even juice seemed so common-sense now, then only this proved concept pushed them further.
Source: Innocent Juice History.
- Angels Do Not Invest in Your Hidden Potential as A Person, but Fuel Your Already Proved Concept
This is illustrated in Len’s slide (#11, Financing): make the angels feel like to not invest in your concept is the biggest FOMO they could have. This is proved by the talk later I had with Mr. Allie Rogers, a Management & Tech alumnus and an angel investor.
Source: Len’s slide & lecture slide of Allie Rogers in the Roundtable Talk.
- Write Like BuzzFeed
Great marketing spends zero, uses smart numbers and buzz words like Why How What you can do to be smarter when you share this article.
Source: BuzzFeed StudyNet article.
Re-edit: BuzzFeed ways of attracting traffic is really fascinating. They often start the title with “10 ways you life will be better” “How to stay beautiful like xx (celebrity)” “5 places you have to visit”. BuzzFeed, new born media in the industry, has been one of the most frequented site in the US.
- Business is 1% Inspiration and 99% Perspiration
Simple concept such as OnePlus, is ultimately a phone in the already crowded phone space. Because its quick execution and smart incremental value-add strategy, it won sticky customer base. I always remember it took them only 4 hours to pull off the soured women campaign. Execution Power.
Source: OnePlus Article
Re-edit: OnePlus is a highly successful Shenzhen firm in my definition. They are renowned for being international, capturing a sticky vertical tech-enthusiast crowd and executing their super guerrilla marketing strategy majorly on Facebook and other social media.
- Great Business Found a Great Business Model on the Way
Examples such as Uber and Airbnb, which have no idea to stumble into the big potentials of gig economy. They opened people’s eyes to explore underexploited items and services. Following issues such as law & taxation on share economy, businesses such as TaskRabbit, Offerup all get inspired by the concept.
- Maybe It’s Good to Have a Job to Support Living
Before Airbnb found funding and before Mr. Allie Rogers had his venture, the founders all had jobs so they were not too worried to go broke. They could invest with their own money.
I have made mistake while team-building to go after my “heartbeats & guts”, which proved to be a terrible idea. Track records i.e. actual skills & work ethics > resume or feelings.
- Accountable People, and Angels Better than Institutions
From the talk Mr. Rogers gave, business wants focus on “serving the customers” and “make money” not just to “make money”. Sometimes VCs that do not know about your business may kill you. Better find a long-term partner to work on your stuff all together.
*The article is adapted from my last homework for the class “10 Takeaways”.