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Ventureburn had the opportunity to attend the first Startup Grind Cape Town event of 2017, which featured David Campey and Roger Norton. The pair are co-founders of Lean Iterator, which is an organisation that supports startups.
We sifted through everything and found the three most interesting points from the pair.
What is a startup?
The master of ceremonies, Guillaume De Smedt, asked the pair how to define a startup. Norton started off by quoting serial entrepreneur Steve Blank: “A startup is a temporary organisation used to search for a repeatable and scalable business model.”
Campey summarised this by saying that it [a startup] “can be building tech and all of these things, but really it is a search for a business model, which has a customer, a problem, and a solution, and a way of scaling”.
Norton defined the likes of corner shops as small businesses and not startups, but added there’s nothing wrong with a small business at all.
“A startup, specifically, is trying to do something unknown, trying to do something new, trying to do something innovative.”
Lean Iterator and the Mario Brothers
“The Lean Iterator is a process to help entrepreneurs (find) what they need to do next. And to guide them through what they need to validate next in their business,” Norton explained, elaborating further on this aspect.
“The fundamental job of a startup is to reduce risk and the reason we want to reduce risk is that it increases the evaluation. The only way to reduce risk is through validation.”
Campey likened startups and what Lean Iterator does to the Super Mario Bros. video game.
“You start, you jump, and then you die. That’s how Mario goes. Our goal is to teach people that you die, you get an extra life to try again and how to play the game as an entrepreneur and how to beat the game as the community and investors behind it.”
He said it’s not easy, because the game becomes harder and the Princess is always in another castle.
The organisation also gives startups a set of international (and working) tools and guides on what they should be focusing on next.
Technology and the business model
One of the ways Campey and Norton help startups is to convince them that they don’t need technology, at least in the beginning.
“We’ve developed this data process, the anti-sales process of telling entrepreneurs why you’re not ready to build technology,” says Norton.
“It doesn’t really make sense when your core business is selling software and you spend most of your days telling people why they shouldn’t be selling software,” he continued.
Campey says that people really have to be convinced of this and Norton adds that people come to him and ask for the next Facebook to be built.
“Technology doesn’t make the business,” says Norton.
“The business model needs to work, regardless of the technology. The technology helps that scale,” which Norton adds is the hardest part.