Steve Blank


Five tips to help entrepreneurs find a great co-founder

4:09AM | Tuesday, 21 April

General wisdom among tech entrepreneurs is that the ideal number of co-founders is two or three.   There is a good reason for it – an analysis of a dataset of 100,000 startups by Startup Genome shows that solo founders take 3.6x longer to reach the scale stage, compared to a founding team of two.   However, taking a co-founder on board brings its own risks. Here’s a short guide to picking the right person. 1. Find someone with a complementary skillset According to serial tech entrepreneur and Stanford lecturer, Steve Blank, startups are inherently chaotic, and finding a product/market fit in that chaos requires a team with a combination of skills.   The skills you need depend on the industry you’re in but, in general, co-founders should have complementary skills. In mobile and web startups, that usually means great technology skills, great business and marketing skills, great UX design and product skills. Most people are good at one or two of these, but it’s very rare to find someone competent in all areas. 2. Find someone who shares your vision and values Co-founder disputes are very common and are a frequent cause of startup failure. A lot of these disputes stem from founders having different ideas about how to run the company and where it should go. One thing is to put your vision and priorities on paper; another is to live it day by day, especially when your original idea proves wrong and you need to change direction.   Likewise, the values you live by will plant a seed for what becomes a company culture. The reality is that co-founders will have different values but, together as team, you have to define a common value system. Having done so will likely play an important role in taking your startup forward. 3. Find someone with grit Once you have an idea, you need to be able to pursue it, even in the face of adversity, if you want your startup to succeed. Frankly, entrepreneurship is extremely challenging, and to persist through those challenges, you need grit.   Professor Carol Dweck, of the Stanford Department of Psychology, has done extensive research on the subject of grit, which she defines as ”the disposition to pursue very long-term goals with passion and perseverance, stamina and ability to win things over the long-term and work very hard at it”.   According to her research, the key to grit is having the right mindset. Dweck observed two different mindsets among people:   Fixed mindset: A belief that you either are talented or not. Failure is proof of your inability. Intelligence and talent are just fixed traits. Growth mindset: A belief that abilities are developed. Setbacks and criticism are a sign that you need to improve. You learn and grow yourself and think long-term. People with a growth mindset are more resilient to challenges related to their abilities and performance than those with a fixed mindset. 4. Find someone who stands out Founder personalities are important and often popularised. Many companies end up looking like founder cults – Steve Jobs is a great example. Peter Thiel, investor and founder of two billion-dollar companies (PayPal, Palantir), believes there is a connection between being a founder and having extreme traits. According to him, the key to PayPal’s success was the eccentricity of all founders:   “Four of them were born outside of the United States. Five of them were 23 or younger. Four of them built bombs when they were in high school. Two of these bomb-makers did so in communist countries: Max in the Soviet Union, Yu Pan in China. This was not what people normally did in those countries at that time.”   According to his observations, if all traits distributed in the population were aggregated on a normal distribution chart with extreme traits on the right and left side of it, you will find most founders on both ends of the curve, rarely in the middle of it.   True or not, entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett or Larry Ellison certainly add a little substance to this. 5. Find someone with whom you have a history of working together In the case of startup ‘unicorns’: 90% co-founding teams of $1 billion+ startups comprise people who have years of history together, either from school or work; 60% have co-founders who worked together; and 46% who went to school together. Further findings reveal that teams that worked together have driven more value per company than those who went to school together.   Only four teams of co-founders didn’t have common work or school experience, but all had a common thread. Two were known and introduced by the investors at founding/funding; one team were friends in the local tech scene; and one team met while working on similar ideas.   The take-away? The most successful co-founder teams are the ones where the people have known each other in other contexts, prior to the company at hand.   Sources: TechCrunch, Peter Thiel’s CS183: Startup – Class 18 Notes, Stanford University.   This piece originally appeared on Appster’s blog.

Lack of diversity and ambition still big problems: Startup Muster survey

1:35PM | Tuesday, 20 January

The results from the latest Startup Muster survey indicate Australia still needs work when it comes to diversity in tech, as well the ambition of founders, according to a number of investors.   BlueChilli chief growth hacker Alan Jones says it’s “maddening” to see 27% of startup founders estimating their market size is less than $10 million. The figure is so startling that it makes Jones wonder whether or not respondents understood the question and thought they were estimating the current valuation of their startup.   “Because if you aim to steal 5% of a $10 million market, even if your net margin is huge, that’s never going to be worth the risk of doing a startup – you’d be better off opening a café or a plumbing business,” Jones says.   “Startups should be shooting for the Moon, but it sounds like we’re still guilty of shooting for Moonee Ponds.”   That number also had Colin Kinner, the author of the Crossroads report and director of Spike Innovation, wondering whether the survey had picked up a lot of non-startups that are lifestyle businesses. Startup Muster organiser Murray Hurps says in addition to the validation steps, he manually reviewed the companies to ensure they were leveraging technology to create something scalable, the correct definition of a startup, and there didn’t seem to be any misunderstanding of the term.   It’s a concerning figure, given startup academic Steve Blank’s advice that startups are either born global or die local and certainly could be a factor contributing to another survey finding – 18% of startups had tried and failed to raise capital. As Jones points out, few investors are going to take on investments with such limited upside.   Blackbird Ventures managing director and founder of the Startmate accelerator program Niki Scevak agrees a lack of ambition was the most striking of the survey’s findings.   “What sadly stands out is the lack of ambitious founders creating global startups and chasing huge markets,” Scevak says of the survey results.   “We created Blackbird and Startmate to provide capital and a network of likeminded founders to help those who dare to make a big impact but there is a long journey ahead. It’s easier in my opinion to build a large ambitious company than a small unambitious one.   “It’s harder to get great employees, investors and partners when you are doing something uninspiring. So hopefully in five years’ time the numbers will be flipped. Come on Australia!”   AirTree Ventures partner Craig Blair says the figure leads him to believe that this survey is a sample of early stage startups.   “The opportunity for the Australian startup ecosystem is to convert these into Series A funded business. This will require addressable markets of more than $10 million, product market fit achieved and distribution starting to work,” he says.   Blair was surprised that just 6% of startup founders were under 25, and encouraged that the number of female founders had increased from 16% in 2011 to 19% in 2013. Jones was frustrated at the slow pace of progress.   “It’s frustrating to see we’ve made so little progress in changing the gender balance in the Australian startup industry but that might be because we need more girls studying STEM and entrepreneurialism to create more female startup founders, which would mean we won’t see the fruits of those efforts for another 5-10 years,” Jones says.   “I’d like to see if the percentage of women in senior exec roles in Australian startups has changed in the near term, and the proportion of women holding equity or options in Australian startups.”   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Mentoring program aims to get Victorian sports tech industry into the big leagues

1:40PM | Wednesday, 14 January

The Australian Sports Technologies Network (ASTN) has launched a new mentoring and connecting program to help Victorian sports manufacturing, product and design companies tackle the global sports consumer market.   The program, supported by the Victorian Government’s Manufacturing Productivity Networks program, follows on from ASTN’s innovation master class and annual conference that featured leading startup academics Steve Blank and Jerry Engel.   ASTN executive director Craig Hill says sports technology is a $300 billion market, but Australia is only exporting around $300 million, just 0.1% of global demand, despite the nation’s reputation as a global sports leader.   “One of the challenges faced by the Australian sports technologies industry is that we have a small population and are a long way from large sports consumer markets,” Hill says.   “As observed by Steve Blank, Australia provides a great test-bed for sports innovation and market validation. However, our sports tech businesses need to be looking to build for global markets from day one; otherwise they are likely to die in a market of just 24 million people. Or as Mr Blank phrased it they need to be ‘born global or die local’.”   Blank recommended that the industry develop a playbook to help entrepreneurs learn from similar experiences. It’s that idea that underpins the ASTN Sports Product Export Program.   The five components of the program will be delivered over a three-year period and include, Sports Export master classes, Sports Export Readiness Program, a Sports Export Acceleration Program, a UCLA Global Access Program, and a Sports Innovation and Commercialisation Program for universities and research institutions.   If you’re interested in taking part in any of the components, contact Hill on [email protected] by January 23, 2015. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Startup Victoria celebrates its six-month Anniversary as 'above all human' conference approaches

11:57PM | Wednesday, 19 November

Startup Victoria chief executive Lars Lindstrom says there have been lessons in the six months since Startup Victoria launched, as Melbourne prepares for a national tech innovation conference called above all human.   “It’s been a group of people and a not for profit organisation finding its feet and its purpose. We want to see more tech success stories in Victoria, through a mix of more founders and better founders, and we’re working out ways to do that,” Lindstrom says.   “We run Lean Startup Melbourne meetup group, we had a chat with Paul Bassat in July, two weeks ago we had a full house for Steve Blank, and we’ve got an event coming up on December 1 with Dave McClure.   “That will be our first paid event – $40 to get in – but free for Startup Victoria members.”   As with any good startup or app, developing the organisation and learning what the community wants is an iterative process.   “We have learnt a lot about what our members want. One of these things is a big tech conference in Melbourne,” Lindstrom says.   “That’s what we’re doing with Above All Human, and it’s sold out – 500 tickets so far. That’s just off the Lean Startup Melbourne list.”   'above all human', a one-day tech conference, which will take place on December 9, from 8am to 5pm, at the Arts House Meat Market in North Melbourne.   The conference is being organised by Stripe founder Susan Wu and StartupSmart editor Bronwen Clune. Big name international speakers include Y-Combinator partner Justin Kan, MIT Media Lab fellow Joyce Kim, early Skype investor Morten Lund, early Pinterest engineer Tracy Chou, Reddit cofounder Steve Huffman and Pase founder Tikhon Bernstam.   “Y Combinator in live Office Hours on stage hasn’t been done before in Australia,” Lindstrom says.   “So Startup Victoria’s events are building on what individuals have done in the past. The problem with individuals organising events is they run out of steam. Putting on a big budget event Above All Human is not something an individual could do.”   While he has no firm numbers at hand, Lindstrom says he feels the Melbourne startup community is growing in momentum. He says he has been surprised by is the level of enthusiasm in the startup tech ecosystem.   “From feel, yes we are growing. There are bigger events, more people attending, and a growing awareness among corporates that to innovate they have to be close to the startup community.   “One of the things about being a startup founder is that you have to be an expert and you have to constantly pitch to your customers and staff that what you’re doing will be successful. But it can be tough.   “So networking means something different in startup land than for corporates. In corporations, you network to make contacts for your next job. In startups, you look for ideas you can apply to your startup. That’s why an ecosystem is more important.   “We feel the top 100 startup founders in Melbourne should know each other, so we’ve put together the Better Founders Group, where we put them in groups of 10 to meet up regularly.   Looking forward, Lindstrom says Startup Victoria has big plans for the future.   “'above all human' growing – with mainstream media we could have sold 8000 or 9000 tickets. It will probably double next year and grow from there. We can’t replicate South-by-Southwest, but we can grow to be the best tech conference in Australia,” he says.   “We will improve the monthly events with more big names, workshops, and a new initiative around office hours so members can spend some one-on-one time with members of the board.”   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Venture capitalists need to better understand failure for an ecosystem to thrive, says Steve Blank

10:50AM | Tuesday, 21 October

In a true, thriving startup ecosystem, venture capitalists understand failure, according to Steve Blank, the academic and entrepreneur who popularised the lean startup movement.   “In the US, this is kind of funny. When I used to get asked that question I’d change the subject by saying isn’t that Bill Gates over there? And maybe change the topic,” Blank says.   “In the last three or four years every VC in Silicon Valley needs to give lip service to lean startup. It’s changed dramatically.   “Whether they explicitly believe that failure means experience, I say hell yes. I think that is the nature of an entrepreneurial cluster. Now if you fail three or four times in a row they stop returning your phone calls. But a single failure, does not put you out of business.”   According to lean startup methodology, startups are able to “fail quickly” and learn from those mistakes to make the necessary pivot required to find a successful business model. Blank was speaking at the Australian Sports Technology Network’s annual conference in Melbourne yesterday.   He says when he created his seventh startup, Rocket Science Games, he had his own experience of failure.   “I made it onto the cover of Wired magazine. There I am, hot stuff: ponytail, baseball cap, kind of embarrassing my kids, still cringe when they see it. I was riding high – 90 days later I realised I’m going out of business,” he says.   “I’ve raised $35 million. Still the world thinks it’s great. Heading to the ground, I call my mum and I say, ‘Hey mum, I just lost $35 million’.”   He went on to tell his mother, a Russian immigrant, the two venture capitalists who had invested that money gave him $12 million to start his next venture.   “She said in Russian, ‘They told us the streets were paved in gold in America, it must be true’,” Blank says.   “I tell this story only because what happened was the VCs really did believe failure equals experience, and I returned a billion dollars each to the two VCs who gave me that $12 million.   “And by the way, that’s not a Steve Blank story. That’s a Silicon Valley story. That’s an entrepreneurial cluster story.   “Smart VCs, when you have a cluster, believe that entrepreneurship is not just execution. You’re betting on the team, on the people, on the passion, on the vision and sometimes on the circumstances.   “When you can’t get them to believe failure equals experience, you don’t have the right culture yet.”   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Aussie sports tech startups in the running to get lean with Steve Blank

9:41AM | Tuesday, 16 September

Twenty Australian entrepreneurs will get the chance to learn from Steve Blank, the academic who launched the lean startup movement, when he visits Australia next month.   Blank will be hosting an innovation workshop alongside the founding executive director emeritus of the University of California, Berkeley, Lester Center for Entrepreneurship, Jerome Engel, in Melbourne on October 20.   The 10 best pitches to the Australian Sports Technologies Network’s Investment Pitching Competition will be invited to the workshop. Another 10 entrepreneurs who submit the 10 best pitches to The $50,000 IT Invention test, hosted by ICT Geelong, will also get the opportunity to take part.   Both Blank and Engel will also be keynote speakers at the ASTN’s annual conference in Melbourne on Tuesday, October 21.   The conference will focus on ‘The Next Steps to Global Sports Innovation’ and look at how sports innovations developed by Australian companies can tap into the $600 billion global sports market.   Engel and Blank will be joined at the conference by representatives from FIFA, the Australian Sports Commission, AFL, Catapult Sports, Vic Health, 2XU, Yachting Australia and the Manufacturing Excellence Taskforce Australia.   ICT Geelong manager and ASTN executive director Craig Hill was thrilled to be able to bring Blank and Engel to Australia.   “Essentially we’re trying to build on Australia’s innovation capacity through the leadership of our sport system,” he says.   “Three years ago the Sports Commission released their ‘Winning Edge’ strategy, which highlighted the importance of innovation across sport, not only from a gold medal perspective, but the way we’re managing sport.   “There’s not really that many easily accessible sports innovation clusters around the world. The sports sector, manufacturing sector, retail sector, and government, we’re bringing them together and investors to the table.   “We want to build on the reputation we have in Australia.”   Hill says Geelong is uniquely positioned as a city with easy access to everything that’s required to build a sports technology startup cluster.   The Geelong-based Headstart accelerator, which launched earlier this year, aims to incubate and invest in up to 40 new sports technology and IT businesses over the next four years. It’s already taken on startups in a non-investment capacity. The best startups from the two competitions will also get the chance to apply to become one of five startups resident in the accelerator’s October intake.   “We’re speaking to a number of prospective investors and are hoping to raise a couple of million for an accelerator fund, by the first quarter of next year,” Hill says.   “We’re making some good process with that and are quite confident people are starting to see the competitive advantage that’s here.   Applications for ASTN’S Investment Pitching Competition close at 5pm on October 2 and all sports technology startups are encouraged to apply. In addition to the invite to the Innovation Workshop given to the top 10 startups, the winning and second placed pitches will receive $10,000 and $5000 cash respectively.   The deadline for the $50,000 IT Invention Test is also at 5pm on October 2pm. Prizes include $10,000 for the best overall pitch, $5000 for the best Geelong region industry pitch, and $5000 for the best RFID technology pitch.   For more information or to apply, visit or the ASTN’s website.   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Can entrepreneurship really be taught in the classroom?

7:30AM | Tuesday, 8 July

Where does "entrepreneurship" belong on a university campus?   Some naturally say in the classroom, within the business school. Or the computer science school. Or the engineering faculty. Or the arts/media programs. In an internship program or the entrepreneurship degree, if there is one.   The fact is there are clear benefits to "teaching" entrepreneurship in a classroom setting. Students learn the fundamental theory behind why, how and where to start up a business. They are often exposed to guest speakers who are real current "movers and shakers" in the ecosystem or "grey, experienced entrepreneurs" who give their stories of how they got to where they are now and what they learnt along the way.   Really good degree programs offer an "experiential element" to the course. It could be a competition where students pitch the ideas they have worked on over the semester. It might even be an online simulation competition where students compete in a virtual market place against their classmates and sometimes against students on the other side of the world.   Internships with startups are an amazing learning vehicle too. But "working in a startup" is still different from "working on your own startup".   So what could possibly enable a student to experience and learn more about entrepreneurship than a combination of course work, group assignments and a simulated startup experience?   The answer, in my opinion, is actually being an entrepreneur – actually founding and running a startup in tandem with studying a degree regardless of the focus and content of that said degree. It is being a student entrepreneur. It is taking the same risks, feeling the same feelings of rejections and loss and celebrating the same wins as a real entrepreneur. Because you are a real entrepreneur and it's not a simulation game you are playing.   Entrepreneurship in the classroom is necessary as part of the micro-ecosystem but not for the purpose of giving birth to startups. It is a valuable feeder into "pre-accelerator" support and incubation services that only accept students who opt-in for the right reasons. It's valuable (and fun) to study Steve Blank, lean startup methodology, to learn about all the current players in your own city and how your ecosystem compares to Silicon Valley and Israel.   You might even earn credit by interning at a real startup. But gaining course credit towards your degree should not be a motivator for you or your team if you plan to actually launch a real startup and as soon as this enters the equation for students, the water is muddied as to how genuinely "on board" team members are in terms of going the whole way with this startup project.   The formal study and research of entrepreneurship (and innovation more broadly) is necessary and only adds value and insights for entrepreneurs and wannabes but this should not be confused with the lessons that can and will be learnt running one's own startup company. It's more responsibility for a young student with exams, assignments and sometimes part-time jobs already on their plates but the learning and rewards are in another league.   Still need convincing that there are no major differences? Try this. Offer a real prize to teams of students in formal degree programs that teach entrepreneurship. It should be a competition of sorts e.g. based on a pitch or demo day toward the end of semester. The twist with the prize is, it can only be accepted by teams that follow on with the startup project for real, and continue after the course ends (Note: A good example of this is credit for their startup to use cloud or web services as conditions usually apply that mean a real domain name must be registered, with company incorporation, etc.)   I have tried this at least four times in an 18 month period across different faculty and organisation competitions on university campuses and not once was the prize claimed. Groups of students that seemed so driven and solid disbanded sooner or later after the semester ended, and their potential startups died. What did happen was, particular individuals from those same teams went off and started new, real startup teams and then came to claim the prizes.   It is a little Darwinian but it was ironically those same individuals and their new teams that needed the prizes least.   Joshua Flannery is student entrepreneur development officer at the University of NSW.

No, internal and external startups are not the same

5:49AM | Friday, 30 May

To set the tone for this piece let’s look at two definitions, the first for a startup and the second for a company, as defined by Steve Blank.   A startup is a temporary organisation designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model.   A company is a permanent organisation designed to execute a repeatable and scalable business model.   So the first thing that these or any other startup v company definitions will tell us is that startups and companies are not the same. Therefore, the conclusion that I, and many others, have drawn is that achieving innovation or building a new venture is completely different internally to externally.   Different rules apply.   For any given startup, they are faced with extreme risk and uncertainty. They need to validate an entire business model from scratch!   This means customers, costs, revenues, value propositions, partners and everything else associated with a sustainable business model need to be created, almost out of thin air.   This is no small feat.   For an internal startup, they too are faced with risk and uncertainty. And technically, they are building a new business model from scratch.   However, the existing company that is currently executing a known business model likely has capital and resources well beyond the needs of any external startup.   Does this alone give them an advantage?   No.   Why?   Well, companies are executing known business models and this means they have processes, hierarchy, a brand, skilled resources and numerous other integral components that are designed to execute their current business model/s.   This doesn’t mean they aren’t continually trying to optimise their current business model, but it does mean that their current structure is not designed to incubate new ideas and assess problems, explore new business models around those ideas and problems, and ultimately validate, commercialise and build a scalable offering off the back of those initial ideas or problems.   The other difficulty is that internal startups are faced with other risks that are typically associated with internal people. If the internal venture doesn’t have the support of the right people, then it will likely fail. Or, what if the people at the top of the company supporting the venture leave? What if markets change, the company needs to decrease costs and the first thing to go is the stuff that isn’t yet making money?   These are not risks that an external startup faces, therefore an internal startup requires a different environment if it is to achieve success.   So how do the success indicators differ for an external versus internal venture?   Well, there are no clear-cut metrics, however, typically an external startup will measure its progress based on its hypothesised business model progression and validation. The more facts they find, the faster they can turn those facts into something tangible.   Startups are temporary organisations designed to learn   Only further down the track will they focus on hard numbers that relate to their bottom line, and this is important to note, as constant validation of a startups progressions needs to be achieved even prior to first revenue.   Internal ventures still need to measure their progress based on hypothesised business model progression and validation (of the new venture, rather than the existing business model of the corporation). However, an internal venture can only get to this stage if it has the platform to do so.   That platform needs to consist of the support mechanisms required to genuinely give this new internal venture a realistic opportunity of success. This may mean CEO or board level support is required. But, it needs to exist and it needs to be maintained, otherwise, there will be no incubation of ideas and problems, or exploration and validation of business models.   That equals no innovation. No innovation equals stagnation. No innovation opens the door to numerous incumbents and no innovation increases the risk associated with numerous components of an existing business model being outdone.   Startups, internally or externally, although they only exist temporarily (as per definitions above) are not short-term engagements. They are designed to become companies themselves. They require years of dedication, support and nurture if they are to deliver the value they are designed to.   What this boils down to is, quite simply, startups and companies are not the same. The context of their respective situations is completely different and this means that in order to incubate and execute innovation, there are different mechanisms for doing so.   I believe corporate startups will deliver waves of innovation over the coming years, but again, they need the platform to give them this opportunity.   So, if you’re thinking about internal startups, become familiar with startup best practices like lean and customer development, but, keep in mind you need enduring support from the top if there’s a hope of it working out.   Nathan Kinch is currently Entrepreneur in Residence at Edgelab Ventures and has recently raised funds for my second startup.    Image credit: Flickr/evablue 

Can entrepreneurship be taught? Lean startup guru Steve Blank responds

3:52AM | Tuesday, 18 March

The man who made the lean start-up approach a movement, Steve Blank, says asking if entrepreneurship can be taught is the wrong question, the question that matters is who can it be taught to.   The serial entrepreneur and author spoke to the Melbourne startup community via video conference coordinated by the Melbourne University Accelerator Program.   “The short answer is entrepreneurship can only be taught to those who passionately want to learn it, so you can’t make this part of a common business school’s core curriculum,” he says.   Just as you train accountants and chefs in different ways, Blank says the key to successful entrepreneurial education is understanding the nature of the people you’re training.   “By the time you want to be a founder, you’re not an engineer or a marketer. You’ve just changed jobs and you’ve become an artist,” Blank says. “Great founders can envision a company already fully formed. We can teach those kinds of entrepreneurs who passionately volunteer with theory and a ton of practice.”   Similar to artists, what sustains entrepreneurs is passion, at least at first.   “On day one, you have to be a true believer. You have to believe your initial vision is correct, that your passion will make it happen and remove all obstacles,” he says. “You keep going to work because you believe in your company and for 50 years we thought that was all you needed.”   Blank says it took them a while to realise that built into a founder’s ongoing passion is a series of untested hypotheses they can keep testing and iterating.   Given the fact a founder’s guesses exist mostly to identify unknowns, Blank says five year business plans are overrated for startups.   “Five year plans are basically a series of unknowns,” Blank says. “The only people to make you do a plan on a series of unknowns is venture capitalists; and the Soviet Union, and we kind of know how well that turned out for both groups.”   The full video conferencing session can be viewed below.   {qtube vid:=UFx2CQUTpYo}

UNSW entrepreneurial coordinator off to Steve Blank’s Lean Launchpad program

1:11AM | Wednesday, 8 January

Joshua Flannery, the student enterprise manager at the University of New South Wales’s entrepreneurial education hub NewSouth Innovations, has been accepted into Berkeley’s Lean Launchpad program, an incubator accelerator program run by lean start-up methodology guru Steve Blank.   The team at NewSouth Innovations is working with just over 100 student start-up projects, five of which raised capital in 2013.   Flannery told StartupSmart he was excited to be joining 19 other incubator and accelerator programs to discover new ideas and approaches.   “I want to see how far away we are from best practice in the US. I’m not assuming that everything they’re doing over there will apply to what we’re doing, but I’m excited about adapting what we learn to the situation here,” Flannery says.   The intensive two-day workshop comes at the perfect time for Flannery and NewSouth Innovations, who are approaching 2014 as their ramp up year for the launch of a more comprehensive entrepreneurial support program in 2015.   “Our last year when we launched the student entrepreneurial advisory service it was all about testing what works,” Flannery says. “We’re pulling out the best bits of the program and scaling it up in 2014.”   The NewSouth Innovations approach so far has been mostly focused on pre-incubation services. While the centre does work with the usual start-up suspects, students from the computer science and business faculties, Flannery adds they’re also seeing a wide range of students from across the university, especially industrial design.   “There is no point in repeating what’s already working well off campus. The gap we see in the market for universities the disconnect between the vast bulk of students who aren’t ready for the existing incubators and accelerators. We focus on getting them to the point where they can test idea and put a team together,” Flannery says.   He will also the trip as an opportunity to engage UNSW alumni who are currently running start-ups in Silicon Valley, and work out ways to tap into their expertise and networks for current students.   Flannery adds the goal isn’t to replicate Silicon Valley, a goal he sees as a distraction.   “There is a lot of talk about making Sydney parallel to Silicon Valley, but that shouldn’t be the goal. We have our own assets, geographical goals and restrictions. So let’s do something that’s realistic for us, but also more excitingly, let’s just kill it in our own way as Australia.”

Seven top tips to help make your business ‘lucky’

3:32AM | Wednesday, 13 March

In my last blog I wrote about the need to remain relevant. This week I want to talk about how smart businesses use the market to evolve their business model or do what is commonly referred to as a “pivot”.

Startup Weekend to launch 10,000 start-ups via new partnership

3:14AM | Monday, 11 March

Startup Weekend has teamed up with TechStars and Startup America to launch a new program dubbed Startup Weekend Next, which will aim to create 10,000 start-ups throughout the world.

Five great online courses for start-ups

9:22AM | Friday, 21 September

Getting the skills and knowledge needed to run a business no longer requires that you take time away from your entrepreneurial activities to study at university.