Three Things Entrepreneurs Do to Make Their Own Luck in Startups | Google Zeitgeist


Why it is that occasionally the David’s beat the Goliaths Why is it that occasionally the big companies that have economies of scale fail versus the little guys? What are the relative advantages? And actually particularly in Europe, if you ask entrepreneurs why they’re successful, this is a very self-effacing European thing in my experience, they’ll say, ‘I was just lucky.’ But the truth of the matter is we make our own luck and start-ups turn big companies inertia into their Achilles heel and scarcity breeds innovation. We’re all creative people and when we need to be, we’re more creative So I’m reminded of this lady I saw in Islington the other week. She didn’t have a hands-free kit. She was creative We do this collectively also This is a wonderful photo from the Philippines. People being creative collectively avoiding standing and queuing. By the way, I have a question. I imagine it’s because in Northern Europe our feet would smell too much to do this, but that’s probably a different story. So we have wonderful creativity that comes from scarcity or lack of resources but increasingly, as we’ve heard over the last 24 hours we have technology and for me, the way to bring this to life is this image I desperately wanted one of the first Macintoshes. It’s very ironically cool now, but this would have cost $2,500 in 1984 when it was created. My mobile device has the processing power of 284 of these. It would have cost $700,000 to match it in 2004 about $2 million in today’s money. So we’re walking around with these super-computers as you’ve heard. So we want to look at that creativity look at the technology and what it unlocks and there are three traits we’d love to share with you today and for each trait, a brilliant founder from a European start-up will share some thoughts So the first thing entrepreneurs do to make their own luck is that they actually love their customers. It’s amazing, but this can be differentiating. I’m reminded, I often have met big companies and I’ve thought, ‘Goodness me, I think you’ve fallen out of love with your customer.’ It’s probably the greatest leading indicator of companies that will struggle Profits are a lagging indicator Empathy for the customer is a leading indicator. A wonderful example from Ideo, where I worked before is this short video so can someone shout out and tell me what this is a video of? That’s right, some of you have shouted it out. This is the experience of a patient in a hospital If you go to the board of a healthcare provider and you show this image and say, ‘What is it?’ they often don’t have a clue, but this is the experience of their customers This is the only truth. Net promoter score is valid but this is what it’s really like. This image was shot by a designer who spent a whole day going through the hospital experience checking in, and the thing that blew my mind about this project was he was only asked twice why he had a camcorder strapped to his head. Now, it’s a clear reflection of the fact that someone, somewhere in this system has lost empathy So the first thing great start-ups do is they love their customers and Fred from BlaBlaCar will join me on the stage shortly to share some thoughts on how they approach that The next thing that start-ups do is they launch things in order to learn. They don’t spend all their time optimising behind closed doors. In truth, in the past you would often judge a start-up by the size of its business plan, the weight of pages of its business plan At Google Ventures we see thick business plans less and less. If anything, I think I’d be suspicious that people had spent their time writing that rather than testing stuff out in the field, because the answer is rarely in the building and it’s simply because the world is complicated. Start-ups are not a linear journey from A to B. They’re a series of unanswered questions and the sooner you get out there and have those questions answered the better. One of the things that reminds me of this, I actually had yesterday, so I joined Matt and amazingly I did the run with Mo Farrah, which was an amazing experience for me but I noticed yesterday morning something in the Grove just behind here which urban planners would call a desire path. So this is the route that everyone including Mo Farrah by the way, took. I imagine the architect of the Grove would call us all idiots, lazy idiots because he was imagining-, or she was imagining that we would walk all the way round this, do a 90 degree turn and then come back. The real world’s not like that The only truth is how we actually behave. There are big scale versions of this. One is here, not so far, in Islington This is Highbury Fields. I imagine the council imagined we’d walk all the way round this path round the outside but most people cut straight across. When you’re launching a product or service, this is the only truth. It doesn’t matter if you make paths, it’s how people use it that matters and actually Doug’s talk this morning inspired me and I’ve sort of been scrabbling around to try and change the narrative slightly, but this is a wonderful example. To me, Google is beautiful because actually it’s the desire path. The clutter is taken away and it’s the cleanest desire path to have your question answered and I wrote this presentation while the election results were coming in last week and I was sat there and I was shocked by the exit polls. Suddenly we were told actually Labour was going to have a catastrophic night and I thought to myself, ‘I wonder if Google can teach me why that might be true?’ So all I typed in was ‘Why?’ You can see the top results here. Firstly ‘Why vote Labour?’ It make me think perhaps people said they’d vote but actually were wondering what it stood for. Secondly amazingly, ‘Why not to vote UKIP?’ but then third, ‘Why vote UKIP?’ and I wonder whether this is a reflection of the fact that people didn’t really know what the parties truly stood for. Maybe this is more accurate this desire path that you see up here would have taught us more than some of the polling that happened the weeks before. So the second thing we’re going to talk about today, Jane from Sugru is going to share some thoughts on launching to learn. Get your product out there. The answer is not in the building, you have to get it out there to discover the truth, which is how customers use your product and the third idea that we’d love to share with you is that great entrepreneurs iterate relentlessly. People too often talk about a business having a runway. An amount of money or amount of time is not relevant what’s relevant is the number of cycles of learning that you have. So if you iterate faster, you learn more and this, I think, is my favourite example. We imagine how this works in the digital world very easily. This is an analogue version. I met an entrepreneur in Boston who wanted to open a restaurant and he struggled because he didn’t know where the restaurant should be or what the menu should be So he bought a white van, he drove it to a different location each day and wrote a new menu on the side. It’s the quickest iteration for a restaurant I’ve ever seen He now has a chain of them called Clover Food Labs in Boston and we see larger companies do this, Twitter, we forget, but tweets was an iteration based on what consumers said, as were re-tweets. This was the first use of a hashtag on record in 2007 I wanted to close out with just a reminder of what we’ve discussed today, that agility that honesty and that love for the customer and it can be incredibly impactful. One of my favourite examples of all of this is this message that was put out in 1991 Many of you will know that’s Linus Torvalds and it’s the birth of Linux and if you look how it’s tracked in the years since then, these to me are all desire paths All these different flavours of Linux are people scratching their own itches. So the final image for you to take away isn’t actually a desire path, although I apologise because you’re all going to see desire paths absolutely everywhere after this, so my apologies for that. That’s not the one that inspires me. The one that inspires me is this one which is in a housing estate in Islington and the reason it inspires me is I imagine the estate manager historically if they weren’t open-minded, would have put up tape around this You can imagine sort of police tape He didn’t do that. He laid gravel I feel that’s our job when designing new products and services is to spot the customer behaviours and lay gravel to enable them. Thank you so much for taking the time. I hope you all gained as much from it as I did, so thank you.

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