By: Sean McMenemy

Looking at businesses like Facebook from the outside can send a message that it is OK to build something awesome and figure out the monetisation later. Please don't do that with your startup. I have a couple of times, and it is painful. On both occasions we worked very hard on early stage concepts only to discover that it would always be very challenging to make money. Here's how I like to work on REVENUE and COSTS cells

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My life as a theatre director was not that different to my life as a startup founder.  Both lives require me to make something from nothing with too few resources. Both require me to draw on my creativity. In both I get blocked. Stuck. Paralysed. What is the right next move? Is this good enough? In the arts we accept creative block as a challenge to be overcome with discipline and process. In business and

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Weathered Brick Wall

The impossible opportunity On the other side of my time as CTO at Kazaa I was offered an incredible opportunity to be Entrepreneur in Residence for a Silicon Valley VC. Phase 1: I was proud and ecstatic. "Dream opportunity. Build what I want. Wow!" Phase 2: Panic. "Oh shit. I can't think of anything" And there I stayed. I let the need for a golden idea get in my way of starting. I didn't start. Walt Disney

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The startups that we know and revere shape our mindset on what we ought to be building. Or should I say technology businesses - it’s no longer a startup when we’ve uncovered a business model that works. These big winners in technology give us a sense of possibility. They often started with nothing but an idea, ambition, and talent. Some have gone on to become household names and have even redesigned entire economic infrastructures. These

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One of the seminal business essays is the Marketing Myopia. It was written way back in 1960 by marketing legend Theodore Levitt in the Harvard Business Review. I was recently re-reading it and it reminded me a lot of what we are seeing in the market now as startups disrupt the powerful industry stalwarts. The question the article proposes companies should ask themselves frequently is this: What business are we really in? A big clue

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We recently asked Pollenizer readers to identify the biggest challenge they face everyday with their startups, and the answer was resounding: “CUSTOMER DEVELOPMENT” After we shared the survey results in a newsletter, a friend emailed some interesting feedback that has been percolating in my brain ever since: "Problem-solution fit is the biggest problem. Either that or selection bias - those who have problem-solution fit aren't replying." My response: "I suspect you're right… I would suggest

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We will be giving away a Startup Focus book to everyone attending Sydstart 2014. That’s right, for free. Come to the swag table (the registration desk area) to get your copy. Startup Focus is a practical, hands-on manual to help you focus and guide you through the life-cycle of a startup. It’s packed with tips, tools, case studies and action items to get you thinking and scribbling. See you at

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1. Don’t bother with stealth, head straight to doing Almost all ideas have been done before. If you don’t yet have a product, then you have nothing to protect. You need to talk about what you’re doing from day one or you are losing an early opportunity to get feedback. The best way to get feedback is by doing, not talking. 2. When testing an idea ask people to prove you’re wrong, rather than you’re

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A few weeks ago, Gabe Rivera from Techmeme tweeted this picture. It hit me. It explained super simply something I witnessed a lot in the Belgian and the Philippine Startup Ecosystems. Before I make my point, let me bring some context. Around 2010, Steve Blank, inspired by the work of Alex Osterwalder on the Business Model Canvas, came with a definition for a startup. It was the right moment to do so. The Lean

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I have two conflicting requirements. I want to collect my process digitally in the cloud, and yet I like to think with a pen. Lean Canvas is how we think about business models at Pollenizer, whilst our Lean Dashboard template is great, it doesn't get my creative juices flowing like a notebook. I can tell you that I have tried EVERYTHING to find the perfect combination and it has been surprisingly tough. Here's what I

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Be careful of your own ego. This has been my most recent bruising lesson as an entrepreneur. My initial task as an entrepreneur is always to validate problem/solution fit. Or, to put it another way, to know I am building something that people want. I get out of the building and speak to real customers. I provide them with low resolution, manual versions of the solution and watch how they engage. If I do this

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Next week it is Echelon in Singapore. Sadly I won't be there but it feels like everybody else is going.  Kudos to Mohan and the team for building Echelon into the critical mass that it has become. If you are going, what is your plan? A conference such as this is an incredible opportunity to do business. Last year I spent the entire time in the 'foyer' talking to literally hundreds of people and our

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By: Ludo

My experiment is over and I think I found a business worth investing more into. I was looking for enough evidence to take the next step. The next step for me would be to invest more of my spare time (lol) to get this Wordpress powered prototype to 100 customers. That feels like enough to start spending money on an offshore tech team or to attract a tech co-founder. We are still a long way off

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Can brands and startups make each other stronger? We are working with Mondelez International, the largest snack food company in the world, to give startups an 'unfair advantage' with a $40,000 grant (no equity) and access to the consumers of brands such as Cadburys Dairy Milk, Favourites and Marvellous Creations. If you have a mobile startup in Australia, you should check out the Mobile Futures program. We kicked off the program with a panel discussion and keynote

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  Construction of the USS Macon airship by Retronaut I know so many 40-something serial founders and seed investors who tell me there's no shortage of capital in the Australian tech startup scene, they just don't see enough great ideas. it's understandable from their perspective but I don't think it's the right perspective.Ask the demographic who we actually need to be the founders of the next generation of startups and there absolutely is a shortage of capital

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Watch this scene from Batman: The Dark Knight Rises. httpv:// Bruce Wayne is trapped in an underground prison. There is a way out involving a perilous climb to the sunlight above. He, like others, has tried to reach the sunlight but failed. The objective failed, but his life was saved by being attached to a rope. In the history of the prison, there is a story of a single child that was successful. But the child

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How do you start a web business when you don't know how to code? Eventually you will need engineers, but you don't need them at the start. In fact, I would argue there are things you MUST DO before you ask an engineer to join your startup. Engineers are either going to spend your startup's limited financial resources or they are going to be an investor like you, sacrificing income for the opportunity. In the



This story originally appeared in Startup Smart as: How to know when your startup idea is validated. The author of the book Running Lean and successful startup founder Ash Maurya says “the true product of an entrepreneur is not the solution, but a working business model. The real job of an entrepreneur is to systematically de-risk that business model over time.” So many things come together to make a working business model and these all

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My journey continues to discover a sustainable and repeatable business model for my new publishing business for parents.  I am doing this to demonstrate how powerful Wordpress can be as a rig for customer development. Last week, I learned that my original hypothesis that parents would love to have stories containing images of their own family in them was not validated. Epically so. Now I am trying something else inspired by Afferbeck Lauder's comment in the previous

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