It’s been about two weeks since I completed the Startup Fundamentals class through AlphaLoft. This is an organization committed to the startup ecosystem in NH. They do some great work and provide a lot of services for free. I give them a big thumbs up.
At first, I wasn’t exactly sure what I would get out of the sessions. I follow the startup scene and blogosphere and I would consider myself to be fairly well educated on startup concepts. Listening to the business presentations from my peers on the first night, I was a little taken aback by the fact that some were not “startups” in the sense of the word that invokes impressions of a highly scalable tech product looking to find product:market fit and a sustainable business model. Sure some of us were, but others were more suited to what would be described as a “lifestyle business.”
Much of the discussion/lecture content was review for me. But what was invaluable were the discussions with the rest of the team about our ideas; riffing on options and giving each other feedback. Some of it was validation and other was direct criticism. Most of us handled it well. After all, we were sitting in a room designed to grow businesses, not all of that is painless. I got some really great critical feedback.
For a long time I have advocated for startup concepts to be applied in other areas. Incumbent “big business” is a natural target. Steve Blank seems to be focusing on that demographic in recent years (government too). I have tried to advocate the benefits of experimenting, product design, MVP, customer focus and other concepts with little success. I find this sad because top management gets it and we hear the same concepts espoused by our leaders, only to be squashed somewhere in the middle before being put into practice. Good luck to them if they continue that behavior.
But the really enlightening thing for me with this class is how Startup concepts actually SHOULD be applied at a micro level to a whole bunch of companies not in the traditional mold. That includes the lifestyle businesses that are often ignored as not being ‘scalable’ or ‘high-growth’. I started to see that even in these cases when you apply new concepts, sometimes you learn even more about them, just from the new perspectives. Yes this seems like a no-brainer. But when all of your content comes from so-called ‘experts’ it is easy to forget that there are other perspectives whose insight could be more useful. In my case, reading books and blogs did not offer the same wisdom as having an in-person conversation about working through even the most basic of ‘fundamentals’.
Sharing the Startup ethos across other areas of the NH economy is going to benefit our community in ways that we don’t see yet. The point is to grow the ecosystem and then create scale in the ecosystem itself. It will be interesting to see how this eventually merges with old school institutions like the Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club. I am excited to be part of our evolving community of entrepreneurs and I hope to add value back to the platform as soon as I can.
Thank you to Alpha Loft, Josh Cyr, and the rest of my classmates for an eye-opening 6 weeks. See you all in the trenches.
Let’s get started!