What Startups can learn from Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3

Yes, as expected Iron Man 3 was an awesome movie. The movie opens as a narrative by Tony Stark to Dr. Bruce Banner, a story that started way before Tony Stark became Iron Man. I won’t be talking about the movie, I’ll let you enjoy that at a theatre near you.

So, after the Avengers event in New York, Tony became obsessive and began prototyping lots of Iron Man suits. He moves on to another model and never have ‘the one’ perfect Iron Man suit.

Through-out the movie, you’ll see that lots of Iron Man suits were used, almost all disposable and another one always ready. None of the suits were the perfect one. Even his latest best, the Mark 42 had to be done away with, serving its purpose in the finale fight.

As a Startup Entrepreneur, be ready to build lots of prototypes, never get stuck to a single idea, move on to the next until you can get better and better with your product. Be obsess about your product, build it, re-build it, break it and then build it again. Once you have something, bring them to the battle to fight – open them to public in the real world.

Enjoy the Movie.

Krassimir Fotev scoffs at SEO with his brainchild, Peer Belt

If you’re like me then you are sick of SEO. These cookie-cutter predictive patterns that create a myopic filter for the content we see online make as much sense as casting a rapper in a film noir, or taking a three-year old to a fine china shop.

This must be what Krassimir Fotev thought when he looked at how we gather, process and retrieve information and thought — pssst… I can do better. So he did. (Don’t you just love people like that?). He created Peer Belt — a personalized search engine that organizes the content you encounter online.

After first getting a masters degree in Physics, then giving up a cushy job at Credit Suisse Krassimir created Peer Belt, and hasn’t looked back since.

We had tons of questions for Krassimir — like what the heck Peer Belt actually does, so we fired off a series of rapid-fire questions to him about his entrepreneurial experience and the technology behind the brand. He then banged his head against his desk until something brilliant came out. And brilliant it was…

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“Entrepreneur in Residence” – Who are you kidding?

I stumbled on this title quite a few times and I say it’s total crap, full of shit.

“Entrepreneur in Residence.”

Look around, quite a number of big companies have them. These ‘entrepreneurs’ flaunt their titles just as flashily as they could. Personally, I find it rather derogatory to the spirit of entrepreneurship.

Let’s look at the some of the basic definition of an Entrepreneur.

  • A person who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on financial risk to do so.
  • An entrepreneur is an owner or manager of a business enterprise who makes money through risk and initiative.

Or the aptly defined definition by Inc.com –

Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.

So, if you’re an “Entrepreneur in Residence” at Adobe, Amazon, Apple, Ebay, Google, Infosys, Microsoft, TCS, Yahoo! or any other Mega Corporation, stop doing that. Be entrepreneurial about your title and find a suitable one. You’re mocking yourself and the entrepreneurial spirit of Entrepreneurs.

A (Virtual)sit-down with Andrea Chang and her brainchild BrainGig

Most entrepreneurs go into business for the incredible experience or with aspirations of financial freedom – but very few go into it with a benevolent agenda like Andrea Chang. OK, quasi-benevolent. The technology/idea Andrea invented, BrainGig, helps connect individuals and teams with much-needed funding opportunities.

When Andrea saw the disconnect between existing funding opportunities and individuals working on under-funded projects she took the ‘Steve Job’s’-style approach – “I have an app for that.” For the last year her website has been helping individuals studying and working in the arts, sciences and humanities by connecting them with grants, fellowships and residencies.

Like many individuals breaking into the entrepreneurial business Andrea has an eclectic background; one that includes an education at the Harvard Business School, the University of California and Georgetown, in addition to real-world work experience in business development and as a financial analyst.

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Take risks, calculated risks

Bullet proof vest maker entrepreneur taking a shot.
You know you are a true entreprenuer when you are willing to take a bullet for your product. The man in the photo, a bullet proof vest maker, is. (source : Baris Karadogan)

Being an entrepreneur involves taking many risks. As much as most people hate taking risks, they can’t be avoided. But taking risks doesn’t have to be a bad thing. You just have to do it carefully. Read — Entrepreneurs and Risk to get an idea of the way entrepreneurs really look at risk and the role it plays in their work.

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Your virtual assistant is a partner, not an employee

Virtual Assistants

Photo from GeorgiaVirtualAssistants

Virtual Assistants Helping you get things done.

Virtual assistants provide professional, administrative or professional assistance to other entrepreneurs. Clearly, they can be some of the best business relationships you can possibly have. Businesses often underestimate the potential of the relationship.

Many entrepreneurs think of a virtual assistant as a secretary who they can unload projects onto that are too boring and unimportant to merit their own attention. You need to remember that a virtual assistant is an entrepreneur themselves, probably with similar skill sets and qualifications. You should treat them more like a business partner than an employee, because they may know just as much about running your business as you do.

If you are going to benefit from a virtual assistant, you are going to need to do a few things:

  • Develop a rapport and long-term relationship.
  • Be clear on the extent of their knowledge. They know a lot more than doing administrative work, so don’t assume they can’t help you with something.
  • Don’t treat them like an employee. They are either a professional you contract out to (like an accountant or lawyer) or you can pretend they are a partner. They may not be a partner in any legal sense (although you can offer them the opportunity if you really like their work) but you can have a better relationship by viewing them as such.

Beyond the traditional tasks people delegate to their VAs, consider using them for some of the following as well.

Graphical Presentation

A virtual assistant will be able to develop PowerPoint Presentations that will make your meetings go more smoothly. Keep in mind, they know how a business meeting should go and probably have more experience preparing clients for them than you do. Make sure you take advantage of their expertise.

Research

Virtual assistants know how to look into target markets and find you relevant information. If you sell tools to help businesses with their projects, a virtual assistant will look into that market and tell you everything you need to put into your product to satisfy your clients. They will also tell you where to advertise to reach your target audience.

Your One-man Marketing Team

Your virtual assistant can do everything you need to market your product successfully. They can help you construct a marketing plan, submit ads and track your marketing campaign every step of the way. They will even find more efficient ways to monitor your customer feedback and make suggestions for improvement.

These are only a handful of ways that a virtual assistant can help you. When you hire a virtual assistant, make sure you get your money’s worth and treat them as the experts they really are.

The only social networking strategy that works

There is a lot of debate in the entrepreneurial community on the effectiveness of social networking. The reason why they are in disagreement over the return they can receive from social networking is because only the ones who do it right understand how well it can work.

The truth is that if you do social networking incorrectly, you are not just wasting your time. You are also at risk of damaging your brand image. There are many different strategies that you can use in social media, but all of the successful ones are build on a common foundation.

Before you begin social networking, it is essential you determine what you want to become in the social networking universe. There is no right or wrong in what you decide to become, but it is still something that you have to decide before you begin your campaign.

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Business Philosophy from Richard Branson

Richard Branson

Photo by ian_fromblighty

Richard BransonA British industrialist, best known for his Virgin brand of companies.

Today morning, while reading the newspaper Mint, I came across an article — Five rapid-fire questions about business philosophy from Richard Branson of the Virgin brand.

What struck me were few subtle points about entrepreneurship. Let me rephrase those few points that you might find it useful, not just to your entrepreneurial journey but to the way you do things in life. Of course, we all have read, heard of many good advise; this too is one of those good ones and hope it finds its place in your heart.

I’m not writing or re-writing the philosophy of Richard Branson here, but rather pulling out the subtleties that I liked most. I hope you will like them too.

  • Never look back in regret; move on to the next thing. The amount of time and energy you waste dwelling on failures would be better off being channeled into another project.
  • Do not criticize other people. It’s a poor reflection of your own character.
  • Be foolish! Make a fool of yourself and be in the front for people to notice you and your work. Face problems upfront and be there in the battlefield.
  • Take risks. “The brave may not live forever — but the cautious do not live at all.”
  • There are no such things as failures. Just be quick enough to learn that something is not going well and either change tack or close the business. Many entrepreneurs who succeeded, have skirted very close to ‘failures’.
  • Do not dwell on regrets, move on to positive things.