Entrepreneurial Insight

Over the last couple of weeks I have had the opportunity to listen to some great entrepreneurs. In September, I had the pleasure of listening to Eric Ries, and last week Daniel Debow shared some of the lessons that he has learned.

Eric Ries shared his perspective of the Lean Start-Up in conjunction with the launch of his newest book. You can read my review of Eric’s talk here.

Daniel Debow, founder and co-ceo of Rypple, shared a number of things that he learned in his journey to entrepreneurial success.

Some of the points that resonated most with me are as follows:

  • Write your business plan in pencil & not pen – this may seem obvious, but the lesson here is not to be overly entrenched in your original business plan and to remain agile. In a start up, change is to be anticipated – Daniel mentioned that, at least at the beginning, he would have a new iteration of a business plan every 4-6 weeks.
  • Minimize your product features when launching – don’t waste your time developing every product feature that you can think of – start lean and grow your feature set as you grow your company.
  • When looking for investors, no one is going to believe your financials. No matter how pretty your picture is, venture capitalists will pay closer attention to the assumptions you have made to support your financial claims.
  • Be cautious if approaching investors without a proven product. Having something that is proven gives you more leverage and allows you to maintain a greater percentage of ownership.
  • Start-ups are a lot like the maps on only video games – there are some major parts of the landscape that you will only uncover by playing the game.
  • Entrepreneurs need to thrive in the world of ambiguity.
  • Lower fidelity and rapid prototyping is vital – there is no need to create a physical product to test its usefulness – talk to people! You can go through multiple product iterations using a pen and paper versus actually building something.
  • People have a natural resistance to being “sold” (insert car salesmen anecdote here) – when approaching potential customers focus on what they value and align your product accordingly
  • In discovering your product offering, continuously ask your potential customers “why?” By asking this repeatedly it will help you go get to the crux of what they value and more importantly why they value it.
  • Don’t be afraid to share your idea with others, worrying about someone stealing your idea shouldn’t be a deterrent. The fact is, many don’t possess the bias for action that many entrepreneurial do.

Daniel articulated his points extremely well using the real world example of his company Rypple. The journey to entrepreneurial success is by no means an easy one, but with insights from those like Daniel you can hope to mitigate some risk.

So who wants to start a business?

Russ Morgan Written by:


  1. mike mills
    November 3, 2011

    I agree, but I also think that one of the most important things is believing in your business in the face of negativity. A lot of people aren’t going to like your idea and that doesn’t mean it’s a bad one. Taking something good out of even the most negative of reviews can help you move forward with a more focused initiative and thicker skin.

  2. russellmorgan
    November 3, 2011

    You are completely right Mike!

    People are more likely to criticize then to praise an entrepreneurial idea.

    Case in point was when a student in the US came up with a business idea, pitched it to his professor/class, and ended up failing the assignment. Despite this set back, he still moved forward with the idea and because of that we now have FedEx today.

    Most people that criticize an entrepreneurial idea, would never go out on their own and start a business. It takes a unique type of individual to take that risk – and keeping a positive mindset in the face of adversity is crucial.

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