Dan McGrady provides his feedback about the Ontario Summer Company program. On the surface the program looks like a fantastic program to support students creating companies. The program provides 15-29 year olds a $3000 grant and some basic business consulting to start a company. Dan has applied and been turned down for support to build integrate: On Demand Sales Management. It’s an interesting read about the experience of program administrators as related to software development.
Dan’s lesson was that these student programs need to focus on teaching what a big idea is:
If your going to teach someone who [sic] to make a company the number one goal should be to help them identify what a good business opportunity is.
Dan links to one of the most important lists of what Sequoia Capital looks for in it’s investments. All entrepreneurs should be asking themselves these questions and evaluating their companies and products. I’m fond of Rich Customers who need Pain Killer solutions in Large Markets. Too often these are overlooked as unimportant, but they help define the type of company.
Sequoia Capital’s Elements of Sustainable Companies
- Clarity of Purpose
Summarize the company’s business on the back of a business card.
- Large Markets
Address existing markets poised for rapid growth or change. A market on the path to a $1B potential allows for error and time for real margins to develop.
- Rich Customers
Target customers who will move fast and pay a premium for a unique offering.
Customers will only buy a simple product with a singular value proposition.
- Pain Killers
Pick the one thing that is of burning importance to the customer then delight them with the solution.
- Think Differently
Constantly challenge conventional wisdom. Take the contrarian route. Create novel solutions. Outwit the competition.
- Team DNA
A company’s DNA is set in the first 90 days. All team members are the smartest or the most clever in their domain. “A” level founders attract an “A” level team.
Stealth and speed will usually help beat-out large companies.
Focus on spending on what’s critical. Spend only on the priorities and maximize profitability.
Start with only a little money. It forces discipline and focus. A huge market with customers yearning for a product developed by great engineers requires very little firepower.