Stages of the startup lifecycle

Birth, growth, reproduction, and death. In the same way as humans go through life stages, startups go through phases that entrepreneurs should be aware of in order to effectively guide their projects.

Max Marmer, founder of Startup Genome, presents six. It seems essential to know how to face each of them so the startup survives:

Discovery

Your first task as an entrepreneur is to consider how you would like to change the world. Identify a problem, come up with a solution and see if anyone – especially potential users and clients – might be interested in your idea.

Beyond the possibility of getting accepted in a startup accelerator and gathering funds from family and friends, this first phase requires developing the minimum viable product (MVP) that will enable surveying the market and getting a sense of the project’s acceptance.

This is what Dropbox did at the beginning. The cloud storage website published a video explaining its service using an MVP and, furthermore, the appearance it would have. This video was one of the strategies that enabled the company to reach 75,000 users whilst in beta form.

Validation

A startup’s service or products go from being hypothetical solutions to a problem to hitting the street and looking for the first clients ready to pay for it. At this stage, money will be the only way to effectively measure whether the public validates your project.

This is precisely what growing numbers of technological companies do when starting crowdfunding campaigns.

Pebble, the record-breaking smartwatch, managed to raise $10million in Kickstarter. This is an impressive example of crowdfunding validation. People wanted a smartwatch, and they were willing to pay for it in advance.

Efficiency

In order to successfully overcome this third phase, the best allies will be market studies and, more than ever, the advice of a good investor. Listen to the voice of experience.

At this point, the entrepreneur has to analyse characteristics and variables of everything that surrounds the startup (market, clients, etc.) in order to find the business model that adjusts best to the environment.The aim is to increase the customer base in the most effective way possible, preventing growth from stifling the project.

Scale

It is time to prove the business’s scalability – its capacity to grow in a sustainable manner (keeping costs down). The startup has to be ready to fight in international markets and offer great margins of benefit. It is time to step on the gas and push the growth aggressively – it is time for the larger fundraising rounds.

That is how Airbnb and the controversial Uber have managed to grow to the point of being present in countless corners globally. A couple of fundraising rounds of over $1billion in the first case, and around $0.5billion in the second, show how these are good examples of internationalisation..

Maintenance

Once the step has been taken to reach other markets with support of large fundraising rounds, it is time to shore up the project’s bases so the structure that youhave put so much effort into building does not collapse.

Maximising benefits and facing problems derived from the global dimension that the startup has acquired are key in this phase. The greatest risk is taking for granted that, having reached certain success, everything is done. Don’t stand by to admire your product; there are problems that can put the longevity of your business project at risk.

Sale or renewal

Your business model works, or is at least credible. You have the funding needed to internationalise the company, and you have carried it out successfully. Now what? Experience tells us that there are two ways: to sell the startup to a giant (Google, Facebook, Apple…) or to go public and try becoming one of the ‘unicorns’.

Only in this way you can acquire the huge resources that the brand will need to continue growing, renewing its products, and reinventing itself constantly in order to confront a dynamic market.

[From unconvention.eu]


What make a brand successful?

With the volume of competition that businesses face in most industries, it’s never been more important to stand out and develop a unique identity and value proposition through strategic branding. While it’s obviously important to offer a quality product or service, effective branding is often at the heart of the companies that thrive.

According to Jerry McLaughlin, “brand is the perception someone holds in their head about you, a product, a service, an organization, a cause, or an idea. Brand building is the deliberate and skillful application of effort to create a desired perception in someone else’s mind.” Let’s explore the common characteristics of successful brands, so you can build your brand accordingly.

1. Audience Knowledge

The best brands have a thorough understanding of the demographics of their target market, what their interests are, and how they communicate. Unless it’s a mega chain like Wal-Mart, most businesses have a specific target audience they’re pursuing. Understanding the target market is critical because it provides direction for the tone and reach of a marketing campaign, along with the overall identity of a brand, while helping to create an organic, human connection between a business and its audience.

Trying to appeal to everyone (ie, ignoring the concept of a target market) can be counterproductive, causing a company’s brand to become diluted. Finding the right branding approach requires first understanding the target market.

2. Uniqueness

Establishing a brand identity requires something distinctive. For instance, Apple has become known worldwide for their innovative products and minimalistic, aesthetic appeal. When it comes to service companies, Domino’s Pizza used to guarantee that their pizza would arrive in 30 minutes or it’d be free. In terms of a selling point, TOMS shoes donates a free pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair of shoes that are bought.

Creating an identity within a niche doesn’t demand a revolutionary idea. It simply needs to have one special thing that separates it from the competition. In reality, it’s possible to be “a one trick pony” as long as that trick is really good. Once a company figures out what that is, it can concentrate on it and should gain recognition in time.

Do you know what your unique product, service, or selling point is within your niche? If not, start there when building your branding strategy.

3. Passion

While it’s certainly possible to build a brand in the short-term without passion, it’s almost impossible to sustain it in the long run. When you examine massively successful people like Steve Jobs, they all have a serious passion that keeps propelling them to work hard and continually deliver greatness. That passion leads to enthusiasm and genuine joy, which is infectious.

Consumers often become just as enthusiastic about a product or service, leading to word of mouth advertising and referrals. Passion also helps businesses persevere through inevitable setbacks.

4. Consistency

When consumers come back to a business for repeat sales, they usually expect to receive the same level of quality as they did the first time. Restaurants and their food and service quality are a great example of this.

No one wants to deal with a company they can’t rely on for consistency. With so many industries being saturated with competitors, inconsistency is often enough of a reason for consumers to take their business elsewhere.

[From forbes.com]


New design trends

Who can forget the GIFs of the ‘90s, or the more up-to-date focus on flat design?

Recently, we’ve seen a surge in popularity of responsive web design, as more and more sites join the drive to become ‘mobile ready’ which is now even more important in the wake of Google’s Mobile Friendly update.

Let’s examine some of the most popular for this and the coming year.

1. The Proliferation of UI Patterns

2. Rich Animations

3. Microinteractions

4. Material Design: A Richer Alternative to Flat Design

5. Responsive Design

6. Flat Isn’t Going Away Anytime Soon

Additional Advice on Web Design Trends

Don’t follow trends just because they’re the “hip” thing to do at the moment. Trends represent popular techniques for good reason, but make sure it’s best for your users. For example, an e-commerce site certainly wouldn’t do well as a single-page infinite scrolling site.

Trends are nothing more than additional tools in your designer toolbox. Always pick the right ones for the job.

For more advice on the 10 most important web design trends, check out the free e-book Web Design Trends 2015 and 2016. You’ll learn from the best with analysis of 166 examples from companies like Google, Apple, Reebok, BMW, Intercom, Adidas, Dropbox, and many more.

[From awwwards.com]


Daily Inspiration

On autumn weekends with good weather you can almost experience caravans of people marching over the grandiose lookout balconies between the Dolomites and the Tauern and filling the mountain lodges to capacity. But very few people have the idea of turning the perspective around and approaching the Carnic ridge for once from the valley side. And that is something that is certainly worthwhile.

It is no coincidence that at Heinfels in the valley of Drau, which is called Pustertal here, there stands an ancient castle that still appears to be fortified. It guards the entrance to two valleys: the Villgratental and the Tyrolean Gailtal. The latter is quite hidden, as it begins with a terrain level high above the valley floor of the river Drau.

There is a climb of several hundred metres on a serpentine road before reaching the community of Kartitsch, with the prettily shaped tower of the St. Leonhard parish church. From the enclosure wall of the cemetery you can enjoy a distant view to the west into the Pustertal, which here runs in a strikingly straight line. The reason for this is a distinct geological line, the “peri-adriatic seam“. This frontier line leaves the Pustertal in Kartitsch and follows the Tyrolean Gailtal, which to the east of the Kartitscher Sattel is called the Tilliacher Tal, and then further east beyond the federal border with Carinthia again changes its name, and for the next 20 kilometres goes under the name of Lesachtal. At Kötschach-Mauthen the name of the valley changes again, confusingly back to Gailtal, which at Villach at last flows into the Drau.
Viewed from above, the Gail or Lesachtal also runs in a straight line. There is a clear distinction in appearance between the northern and southern sides of the valley. N ons side the gentle foothills of the Lienzer Dolomites, with its wide alp areas, on the other side the rocky contours of the Carnic ridge towering above thick mountain forest and marking the state border with Italy.
In Kartitsch we are already 1.350 m above sea level, the area is one of the highest situated valleys in East Tyrol, which itself is at high altitude.
Some 200 m higher the Kartitscher Sattel is reached, from where you can look down onto Obertilliach and Untertilliach.
“Golzentipp“ is the name of the local mountain in this area. A perfect vantage point with a grandiose panorama view, encompassing the Hohen Tauern and the Schober group of mountains, the Lienzer Dolomites, the Carnic Alps, the Sextener Dolomites and far into the Pustertal. The chances are good that the view can also be enjoyed, as testified by the many years of meteorological records taken in this region, showing an above-average number of sunny days.
Fans of high rocky cliffs will prefer the south side of the valley and head for one of the many side valleys of the Carnic ridge. Pfannspitze, Großer Kinigat, Porze, Cima Manzon, Gamskofel, Hochspitz, Steinkarspitz – between the Obstanser See and the Luggauer Scharte there are countless opportunities to test your stamina and alpine abilities in the midst of grandiose mountain scenery.
[From mountainvillages.at]


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