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Back to School - Doug Richard's School for Startups!

by Claire Martinsen on Wed 19th May 2010 17:01

school4startupsI LOVE what I do…..no two days are the same, rarely are afternoons the same as mornings. Had a really varied day today – first of all out and about in Norfolk, sorting out some stock [ie moving boxes around!] and making a few deliveries….then to Cambridge to go back to school!  Well actually it was back to University – to the Engineering Department of Cambridge University, where Doug Richard had set up a kind of pop-up  Entrepreneurship school for the afternoon – his school for start-ups

doug richardIt was a really dynamic session, with a live ‘Twitterfeed’ on the wall behind Doug, where anyone [those in the lecture theatre, watching via Live-streaming or the wider Twitter audience] could post comments.  Doug himself was in top form –  witty, wise-cracking but also full of useful advice and insights.  He delivered a mix of pre-prepared presentation, face-to-face grilling of some entrepreneurs in the audience and some feedback/interaction with the Twitterfeed.

He spoke a lot [and I mean a lot] of sense, very direct, down-to-earth and practical in his advice.  These were my biggest take-outs!

    Everyone needs someone who can:
    – sell
    – deliver
    – count
    Noone can do them all, and whatever you are good at, you probably aren’t making a very good job of the other two! Get people around you who are skilled in the other areas
  • RESILIANCE…absolutely neccessary for an entrepreneur. Running into difficulties is par for the course
  • PRODUCTS…are solutions to problems and answers to desires
  • RESEARCH your market – just not with friends and family who will give you the answer you want!
  • CHOOSING SEGMENTS …always go for a segment in growth.  Don’t be snooty about segment size over growth – as a start-up you will be teeny-tiny yourself!
  • BUSINESS MODEL – choosing the right model is essential, and will be an important factor to determine growth.  Scaling up a crap model, will just make for a very large crap model
  • PRICING – decide who you want to pay- differing business models will have the revenue streams coming from differing parties
  • CHOOSE WHAT YOU WANT TO BE GOOD AT – either Operational Excellent [eg Tesco], Customer Intimacy [eg American Express], Product Leadership [eg Nike/Apple]

s4startupsThere were plenty of laughs in the room – The Big O,  Ugly Baby, LuxCambridge, Bookwhack live renaming, Alpacha Tracker, Health Club business model, Bookclubs to bitch about husbands, Cambridge Technology Model, restaurant location amongst many.

Great afternoon – lots of inspirational ideas…..and my brain is whirring around as I write!


Posted in: Speakers/Meetings


Nathan Anibaba
Wed 19th May 2010 18:43
I really enjoyed the seminar. A lot of interesting points to think about. I was a little disappointing he criticised the start ups that came on stage to the extent he did but i guess that's just his personality. He was very real and helped with some burning questions i had. Thanks for taking notes, i can refer to them in future now.

Claire Martinsen
Thu 20th May 2010 02:24
I think he has some lively banter with the start-ups and was playing devils advocate! He gave them quite a lot of grilling, but also gave them some really good advice - esp LuxCambridge and Bookwhack.........so seemed a fair swap! I really enjoyed the session!

Alistair Millar
Fri 21st May 2010 17:17
Congratulations, Claire, on one whole year of blogging!

Claire Martinsen
Fri 21st May 2010 17:34
It is a whole year isn't! Doesn't time fly........seems like just yesterday!

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