While browsing in an airport bookstore, I recently came across a copy of Business Model Generation - a Wiley publication written by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur. If you're looking for an inspiring thought-starter when writing your next business plan or presentation, especially if your business is a start-up, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better source of tinder.
One of the things I particularly like about the way the book is laid out is the clear focus on the sales side of the equation, including how to identify and structure your sales channels.
A lot of entrepreneurs seem to think that raising money is about having a whiz-bang technology. I'm increasingly of the opposite view - I think regardless of age, the more time you spend in management and on boards, the more focused you become on sales and marketing strategy - and the strength of the relationships you're going to need to build the business.
Want an example? Three centuries of superior technology have failed to suppress the Afghans - the Brits tried, then the Russians tried, and now the US - plus a coterie of hi-tech partners - has tried, and, despite the PR to the contrary, failed. You can throw all the sophisticated weaponry you like at the place - the local relationships are just too strong for it to have any effect.
Most technologies, when it comes down to it, don't enable a business on their own - very few businesses create entirely new revenue streams. In fact, most startups simply enable commerce to be created on the basis of a slightly better way of doing something - a provable level of efficiency or performance enhancement.
Business Model Generation does an excellent job of asking its reader to define the precise sales channel and marketing strategy that will best enable adoption of the technology. It isn't a "by the numbers" approach, it's an approach that asks to conceptualize the information you and your investors are going to need to be successful.
Well worth the money.
John is a serial entrepreneur and investor, and the co-founding Partner of Hatcher+, a data-driven, globally-focused venture investment platform based in Singapore. In addition to leading capital raising and deal syndication, he is the visionary and architect behind the Hatcher Stack, the company's proprietary research and technology platform. Over the past five years, John has led numerous venture investments in early-stage companies, including ASYX, DocDoc, Dropsuite, Heardable, Invit, Inzen Studio, SocialCops, ThoughtRiver, and Telr - and syndicated over US$100Mn of additional debt and equity co-investment. IPOs and trade sales in which he was acted for the majority shareholder include Dropsuite (ASX:DSE) and Inzen Studio (ASX:ICI). His M&A work includes the merger of payment leader Telr with Dubai-based Innovate Payments, and the merger of Singapore-based companies DocDoc, and DoctorPage. Prior to co-founding Hatcher, John founded cybersecurity technology leader Authentium (acquired by CYREN in 2010), and acted as a director for global payments aggregator Mozido, and an advisor to Africa-based Gateway Communications, satellite technology developer MDS America, Kuwait-based Internet marketplace Sheeel.com, and Orion Partners, a $2B private equity fund manager based in Hong Kong.
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