Business Model

In general, a business model describes the rationale of how a company creates and delivers value to its customers. Get started with your next business model by using this sample template.

Value Proposition

What is your company’s value proposition? More importantly, how will you deliver that value to your customer base? Focus on strategies that distinguish your product offeringin your market. What do your customers want most and how best can your business deliver that to them?

Customer Segments

Segmenting your customer base is an essential part of identifying your venture’s critical sales channels. Focus on key demographics, age groups, ethnicities and genders in order to segregate your customer base. From this exercise you should be able to distinguish between those customers that your enterprise deems to be the most important and essential to growing your market.

Channels

Once you’ve segmented your customer base, you’ll now have to decide upon those aforementioned channels to market. This may ultimately force you to use multiple channels. For instance, you may opt to sell direct to end-users for some product lines, while using sales agents and distributors for others.

Customer Partnerships

What do your customers expect from you in terms of servicing and maintaining their business? Can your enterprise bundle special services with your product offering that might help to set it apart from its competition? Move away from seeing sales as a series of singular transactions where you try and maximize gross profit on each additional sale. Instead, see your customers as potential partners and define what it takes to retain their business for the long-term.

Revenue Streams

Define your company’s revenue streams. Will you only derive revenue on sales of a given product line, or will you charge for essential services such as delivery and special packaging? Approach this step with the mindset of your customer segments. What are your customers willing to spend in order to benefit from your enterprise’s value proposition?

Key Resources

What resources must your company acquire or secure in order to attain its value proposition? Your venture’s resources can be its business knowledge, its core competencies, its management, its employees, or even its physical assets, such as equipment and machinery. What resources does your venture require in order to achieve your value proposition?

Key Activities

What activities or operations are essential to growing your business? Think of those business activities that your enterprise must excel at in order to meet its value proposition. Think of the importance of a well-defined supply chain, one where vendors are properly aligned and can immediately turn around raw materials and parts. Think of the importance of having solid partnerships with creditors and investors.

Key Partnerships

Who are the venture’s main stakeholders, and of those stakeholders, who are the most valued partners? When looking to define your venture’s stakeholders, look to isolate those strategic partnerships so vital to your venture’s success and ones that are essential in mitigating risk. Focus on key investors, suppliers and creditors. Next, define their relationship to your enterprise and their appropriate roles and responsibilities.

Cost Structure

In this step you’ll define your company’s cost structure relative to your value proposition. What costs are essential to manage in order to deliver your value proposition? How best can you manage these costs in order to derive the greatest return? Focus on segregating those resources and activities where you’ll need to have strong cost controls. Lower costs means these activities will bear fruit earlier in the process.

Financials

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It’s easy to say sorry than to get permission

There a word saying “it’s easy to say sorry than to get permission”.

I moved to Phnom Penh after high school in 2004. I was living in a pagoda, while I worked day time as a private English and Khmer Teacher at an orphanage and study in evening.

I alway wanted to know whats a 5 stars hotel feel like. One time, I walked to a gate of a hotel and asked a security guard; can I come in to visit? He looked and asked “why do you want to go in side”? He looked at me and my cloths many time and say “no, you are not allowed”.

I was very disappointed and upset the guy. I went back to pagoda to look for inspiration and strategies. I went to libraries and look for self-help books. I was told by a book that if you want some just go and get it.

Sometime later, I went back with a cheap sunglasses and a short and okay looking shirt. Somehow looked like a tourist or someone from middle class family. I walked in this time without asking anybody. I went to lobby of the hotel. Reception/service asked how can I help you and serve water. I said thank you. I am waiting for my friend. She ask “what is your friend room’s number?” I said “I forgot”, but he will come soon. I changed the subject to ask about the room and how long she work in the hotel and many thing about her.

An hour or so later my phone alarm ring like a phone call. I walk away to talk on the phone like I was talking to people. After talking to a fake phone call, I said thank you to hotel girl. My friend is waiting for me outside.

This lesson taught me so much. Its was not about lying. I was not intend to lie to steal anything or make anyone hurt. I was just curios and want to experience, but most people don’t share or give opportunity to young people. As a young boy, I had to do that. So, I am not regret. In fact, it was so much fun. I did many other thing later :-)

Zen at Work

It is a way of doing, moving, thinking, acting, performing.

It is a way of going with the flow of energy as it moves.

It is like swimming downstream instead of upstream.

“Busy” or “no time” is absolutely never an answer.

It could be an answer if you do not want to do.

If you do not want to do, then just do not do anything, period.

No time means you may as well die.

There is no time left – give it up – it is over.

If you want to do something, then do it right – go with the flow of the energy.

Do things the right way – the only way.

There is always enough time to do everything right.

Zen movement is an art form.

People will want to stand back and watch as you perform Zen in your work.

Most people do not know Zen and never will.

Some perform Zen in their work naturally.

This is the real professional at work.

Rithy Thul’s Focus :-)

I have been working and volunteers in many projects unintentionally because I love working with good intention people. Then, I realized that the more I work the more I work. The community seem to get smaller. And I am tired too.

I come to the conclusion that I need to focus on three that fit me the most, after thinking about it for many years along the way. Through these three things, when it get detail its still a many. Anyway, I don’t think I can cut 100% away from community, so I will keep helping but not my priority.

The three things that will take my 80% of my life are; SmallWorld, Adventures, KhmerTalks & Let’s Do It. The other 20% is kept for personal and family :-)

SmallWorld intend to build entrepreneurship community in Cambodia, while adventure mission is to challenge more people to travel for their education and tools for think different and creative solution for enterprises development.

KhmerTalks is a TEDTalk series in Khmer language. It is independent and has nothing to do with TED conference, but we learn from them. At the same time with Let’s Do It is the passion for environment of the jungle adventurer. We love to have more try and clean environment.

These are my final conclusion. And hope to work on these project for many more year to come. I live under a principle similare to this quote

“If you can’t fly, then run.
If you can’t run, then walk.
If you can’t walk, then crawl,
but what ever you do,
you have to keep moving forward.”
— Martin Luther King Jr.

How Great Leaders Communicate

You’ve just been promoted into one of your organization’s Big Jobs. Now you’ve got an impressive office, a hefty budget and vast expectations about how you will lead dozens or even thousands of people. Can you stick with the leadership style that brought you this far? Or do you need to recalibrate your approach, starting with the way you communicate?

Some fascinating rethinking is under way on exactly that topic. Scholars such as Harvard Business School’s Boris Groysberg argue that effective leadership no longer revolves around brilliant speeches and heroic exhortations. (We can call that the Fidel Castro approach – and it doesn’t work especially well in either government or mainstream business.) Instead, Groysberg and co-author Michael Slind argue in their 2012 book “Talk Inc.” that the higher you go in an organization, the more you must engage other people in conversations, rather than trying to shout them into submission.

I’m in favor of traveling 70% of the way down that road with Groysberg and Slind, without becoming so chatty that you lose the ability to stretch people’s horizons. Over the past 25 years, as a business-book author and writer for the likes of Forbes, Fast Company and The Wall Street Journal, I’ve seen a lot of corporate leaders in action. Here are seven ways that the best bossses increase their effectiveness by the ways they communicate.

1. Bring the vision to life. Anyone can write a mission statement, full of lofty words that sound good. But you aren’t communicating that vision unless you repeatedly signal how those values translate into concrete actions. What people learn from your routine decision-making matters far more than what you pack into your speeches.

A case in point: Jeff Bezos’s insistence that Amazon.com is “the most customer-centric company in the world.” Nice slogan. What does it really mean? Hang around the Amazon CEO for a while, and you will notice that he vetoes sassy ads that mock customers. He insists that mid-level meetings include one person serving solely as the customer advocate – with the power to veto actions that undermine customers’ interests. And when Amazon reorganizes departments, which it does fairly often, each regrouping is justified as a way of serving the customer better.

In the same spirit, bring your bedrock values into the daily workplace. Salute other people’s actions that reinforce what you prize. Call out conduct that doesn’t. And infuse these principles into other people’s thought patterns by referencing key values as decisions are being made.

2. Ask smart questions. In his new book, “To Sell Is Human,” best-selling author Daniel H. Pink cites studies showing that when you want to persuade someone, questions can be more powerful than statements. The reason: you engage another person’s heart and mind more strongly. You get him or her thinking about the ideal answer – and then all the steps necessary to get there. By being less dogmatic, you let people on your team build game plans that they believe in, rather than trapping them in a helpless state until you issue your next command.

While developing my most recent book, “The Rare Find,” I was impressed with the way that David Evans, the former head of the computer science department at the University of Utah, got great work out of his graduate students by asking simple but profound questions that pointed the way to revolutionary advances. He inspired the engineers who later built Pixar, Adobe and Netscape. Often that could be done simply by pointing at a big goal on the horizon and saying: “How would you get there?”

3. Take time to read the room. Once you’re in senior leadership, you will meet a lot of outsiders that you hardly know … but whose support or forbearance is crucial to your company’s success. Do 90% of the talking, and it’s tempting to think that you carried the day with Washington regulators, Chinese suppliers, that big customer in Dallas or the investigative reporter from New York. Guess what? If you don’t know what the other party really wanted, all that bluster was in vain.

Take a tip from Silicon Valley executive Meg Whitman, early in her career, when she was building eBay into a global e-commerce powerhouse. Some of her most important meetings were with eBay’s Power Sellers. These merchants booked huge amounts of business on the site, yet for a time they felt the company didn’t understand their frustrations with fees and service issues. Every few months, she would visit Power Sellers on their turf, looking for ways to fix their problems or at least offer sympathy. Her keen ear helped eBay stay ahead of its competitors.

Don’t fall prey to the belief that careful listening is only for the little people in the room. When you listen carefully, you win people’s trust – and that’s crucial to everything else you want to accomplish. There’s a maxim in the public speaking business: “The more your audience talks, the more they think they have learned from you.” Use that sly insight to your advantage.

4. Create a climate where things get done. In any organization, there’s a huge gap between projects that are headed to the finish line, right now — and ones that live indefinitely in limbo, hardly moving forward. Which do you prefer? If you’re looking for results, make sure your employees and front-line managers are repeatedly aware of your top priorities. Help set interim mileposts. Get roadblocks out of the way. Walk through the areas where specific tasks are being done. Even a 10-minute from the boss conveys the clear and uplifting message: “This is important.”

Be mindful of how many “top priorities” your organization can handle successfully. Better to win two big campaigns a year than to stumble in the midst of 20. I’ve seen ambitious but unfocused organizations end up with overcrowded agendas that create internal strife — with the unpleasant consequences of missed deadlines, constant changes of directions and ugly battles for resources and recognition. The higher up you go in an organization, the more important it is for you to communicate key goals with clarity and brevity.

Tim Boyle, the CEO of Columbia Sportswear, is remarkably good at peeling away the clutter. I’ve chatted with him since 2005, and he keeps his business centered on three simple concepts: innovation, enhanced design and compelling marketing. Zoom in on each idea, and details abound. He’s a remarkably hard-working and well-read boss. Those core concepts, however, help ensure that Columbia’s 4,000 employees are pulling in the right direction.

5. Use stories to get your points across. When you’re at the top of an organization, you can seem pretty distant from the people on the front lines. Now you’re in a job where it may be impossible to schedule enough face time with everyone you’d like to influence. One of your best ways to compensate: sharing teaching anecdotes, so that even people who hardly know you will still feel they know your human, authentic side.

Nobody does this better than Warren Buffett, the 82-year-old chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. His conglomerate has $143 billion in annual revenue, with interests that range from insurance to energy, furniture and chocolate. But when you read Buffett’s annual lettersto shareholders, his dry wit and wise-uncle judgment come through on every page. Countless investors and managers who have never met him still feel that they know him – and like him.

You don’t need to be nearly as polished as Buffett to succeed in this domain. Just think how you would explain your week’s battles and goals to a neighbor, a spouse or a college roommate, and you’ll find the right tone.

6. Be mindful of what you don’t know. If your subordinates are any good at all, you often won’t know the fine-grain details as well as they do. Expect to be learning constantly on the job. Find ways that your in-house experts can quietly bring you up to speed on emerging issues that are catching your eye. You’ve got vital strengths that other people don’t, particularly in terms of experience, broad perspectives and judgment. As you work toward important decisions, make sure your remarks and conversations are opening the way for other people to keep augmenting your knowledge base.

Two of the most skillful learners I ever encountered are Sheryl Sandberg (the chief operating officer of Facebook), and Lou Gerstner, the former CEO of RJR Nabisco and then IBM. I traveled with Gerstner during his RJR era as part of a Wall Street Journal front-page profile. He was still mastering the company’s endless product line, but he got up to speed shrewdly, calling some meetings on a supermarket floor so he could walk the aisles as people talked, looking around to see whose brands dominated each category.

7. Make people feel they work for a winner. Can you single-handedly improve your organization’s morale – in ways that genuinely translate into better performance and innovation? That’s one of the great mysteries of leadership. Some executives try smothering their employees in perks. Others praise good work, hoping that it will lead to greater doings in the future. Still others scold slackers and kick out the weakest performers, believing that some situations call for toughness.

Any of those approaches can work; yet I’ve seen executives try all three and still come up short. A memorable insight here came from John Young, who was CEO of Hewlett Packard for many years during its prime. We chatted after his retirement, and he contended that what shapes morale the most is employees’ conviction that they are working for the best company in their field. Earn that honor, he said, and you gain a level of employee commitment that cash and perks alone can’t buy.

All the other six techniques in this article point toward this final priority. If you’re conveying a clear vision, asking good questions, setting the right priorities and so on, you’re creating that winners’ aura that is the ultimate reward for great leadership communication.

Repost: Startup in 13 sentences

One of the things I always tell startups is a principle I learned from Paul Buchheit: it’s better to make a few people really happy than to make a lot of people semi-happy. I was saying recently to a reporter that if I could only tell startups 10 things, this would be one of them. Then I thought: what would the other 9 be?

When I made the list there turned out to be 13:

1. Pick good cofounders.

Cofounders are for a startup what location is for real estate. You can change anything about a house except where it is. In a startup you can change your idea easily, but changing your cofounders is hard. [1] And the success of a startup is almost always a function of its founders.

2. Launch fast.

The reason to launch fast is not so much that it’s critical to get your product to market early, but that you haven’t really started working on it till you’ve launched. Launching teaches you what you should have been building. Till you know that you’re wasting your time. So the main value of whatever you launch with is as a pretext for engaging users.

3. Let your idea evolve.

This is the second half of launching fast. Launch fast and iterate. It’s a big mistake to treat a startup as if it were merely a matter of implementing some brilliant initial idea. As in an essay, most of the ideas appear in the implementing.

4. Understand your users.

You can envision the wealth created by a startup as a rectangle, where one side is the number of users and the other is how much you improve their lives. [2] The second dimension is the one you have most control over. And indeed, the growth in the first will be driven by how well you do in the second. As in science, the hard part is not answering questions but asking them: the hard part is seeing something new that users lack. The better you understand them the better the odds of doing that. That’s why so many successful startups make something the founders needed.

5. Better to make a few users love you than a lot ambivalent.

Ideally you want to make large numbers of users love you, but you can’t expect to hit that right away. Initially you have to choose between satisfying all the needs of a subset of potential users, or satisfying a subset of the needs of all potential users. Take the first. It’s easier to expand userwise than satisfactionwise. And perhaps more importantly, it’s harder to lie to yourself. If you think you’re 85% of the way to a great product, how do you know it’s not 70%? Or 10%? Whereas it’s easy to know how many users you have.

6. Offer surprisingly good customer service.

Customers are used to being maltreated. Most of the companies they deal with are quasi-monopolies that get away with atrocious customer service. Your own ideas about what’s possible have been unconsciously lowered by such experiences. Try making your customer service not merely good, but surprisingly good. Go out of your way to make people happy. They’ll be overwhelmed; you’ll see. In the earliest stages of a startup, it pays to offer customer service on a level that wouldn’t scale, because it’s a way of learning about your users.

7. You make what you measure.

I learned this one from Joe Kraus. [3] Merely measuring something has an uncanny tendency to improve it. If you want to make your user numbers go up, put a big piece of paper on your wall and every day plot the number of users. You’ll be delighted when it goes up and disappointed when it goes down. Pretty soon you’ll start noticing what makes the number go up, and you’ll start to do more of that. Corollary: be careful what you measure.

8. Spend little.

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for a startup to be cheap. Most startups fail before they make something people want, and the most common form of failure is running out of money. So being cheap is (almost) interchangeable with iterating rapidly. [4] But it’s more than that. A culture of cheapness keeps companies young in something like the way exercise keeps people young.

9. Get ramen profitable.

“Ramen profitable” means a startup makes just enough to pay the founders’ living expenses. It’s not rapid prototyping for business models (though it can be), but more a way of hacking the investment process. Once you cross over into ramen profitable, it completely changes your relationship with investors. It’s also great for morale.

10. Avoid distractions.

Nothing kills startups like distractions. The worst type are those that pay money: day jobs, consulting, profitable side-projects. The startup may have more long-term potential, but you’ll always interrupt working on it to answer calls from people paying you now. Paradoxically, fundraising is this type of distraction, so try to minimize that too.

11. Don’t get demoralized.

Though the immediate cause of death in a startup tends to be running out of money, the underlying cause is usually lack of focus. Either the company is run by stupid people (which can’t be fixed with advice) or the people are smart but got demoralized. Starting a startup is a huge moral weight. Understand this and make a conscious effort not to be ground down by it, just as you’d be careful to bend at the knees when picking up a heavy box.

12. Don’t give up.

Even if you get demoralized, don’t give up. You can get surprisingly far by just not giving up. This isn’t true in all fields. There are a lot of people who couldn’t become good mathematicians no matter how long they persisted. But startups aren’t like that. Sheer effort is usually enough, so long as you keep morphing your idea.

13. Deals fall through.

One of the most useful skills we learned from Viaweb was not getting our hopes up. We probably had 20 deals of various types fall through. After the first 10 or so we learned to treat deals as background processes that we should ignore till they terminated. It’s very dangerous to morale to start to depend on deals closing, not just because they so often don’t, but because it makes them less likely to.

Having gotten it down to 13 sentences, I asked myself which I’d choose if I could only keep one.

Understand your users. That’s the key. The essential task in a startup is to create wealth; the dimension of wealth you have most control over is how much you improve users’ lives; and the hardest part of that is knowing what to make for them. Once you know what to make, it’s mere effort to make it, and most decent hackers are capable of that.

Understanding your users is part of half the principles in this list. That’s the reason to launch early, to understand your users. Evolving your idea is the embodiment of understanding your users. Understanding your users well will tend to push you toward making something that makes a few people deeply happy. The most important reason for having surprisingly good customer service is that it helps you understand your users. And understanding your users will even ensure your morale, because when everything else is collapsing around you, having just ten users who love you will keep you going.

Whole sources: http://www.paulgraham.com/13sentences.html

Repost: How to be Silicon Valley?

Could you reproduce Silicon Valley elsewhere, or is there something unique about it?

It wouldn’t be surprising if it were hard to reproduce in other countries, because you couldn’t reproduce it in most of the US either. What does it take to make a silicon valley even here?

What it takes is the right people. If you could get the right ten thousand people to move from Silicon Valley to Buffalo, Buffalo would become Silicon Valley. [1]

That’s a striking departure from the past. Up till a couple decades ago, geography was destiny for cities. All great cities were located on waterways, because cities made money by trade, and water was the only economical way to ship.

Now you could make a great city anywhere, if you could get the right people to move there. So the question of how to make a silicon valley becomes: who are the right people, and how do you get them to move?

Two Types

I think you only need two kinds of people to create a technology hub: rich people and nerds. They’re the limiting reagents in the reaction that produces startups, because they’re the only ones present when startups get started. Everyone else will move.

Observation bears this out: within the US, towns have become startup hubs if and only if they have both rich people and nerds. Few startups happen in Miami, for example, because although it’s full of rich people, it has few nerds. It’s not the kind of place nerds like.

Whereas Pittsburgh has the opposite problem: plenty of nerds, but no rich people. The top US Computer Science departments are said to be MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, and Carnegie-Mellon. MIT yielded Route 128. Stanford and Berkeley yielded Silicon Valley. But Carnegie-Mellon? The record skips at that point. Lower down the list, the University of Washington yielded a high-tech community in Seattle, and the University of Texas at Austin yielded one in Austin. But what happened in Pittsburgh? And in Ithaca, home of Cornell, which is also high on the list?

I grew up in Pittsburgh and went to college at Cornell, so I can answer for both. The weather is terrible, particularly in winter, and there’s no interesting old city to make up for it, as there is in Boston. Rich people don’t want to live in Pittsburgh or Ithaca. So while there are plenty of hackers who could start startups, there’s no one to invest in them.

Not Bureaucrats

Do you really need the rich people? Wouldn’t it work to have the government invest in the nerds? No, it would not. Startup investors are a distinct type of rich people. They tend to have a lot of experience themselves in the technology business. This (a) helps them pick the right startups, and (b) means they can supply advice and connections as well as money. And the fact that they have a personal stake in the outcome makes them really pay attention.

Bureaucrats by their nature are the exact opposite sort of people from startup investors. The idea of them making startup investments is comic. It would be like mathematicians running Vogue– or perhaps more accurately, Vogue editors running a math journal. [2]

Though indeed, most things bureaucrats do, they do badly. We just don’t notice usually, because they only have to compete against other bureaucrats. But as startup investors they’d have to compete against pros with a great deal more experience and motivation.

Even corporations that have in-house VC groups generally forbid them to make their own investment decisions. Most are only allowed to invest in deals where some reputable private VC firm is willing to act as lead investor.

Not Buildings

If you go to see Silicon Valley, what you’ll see are buildings. But it’s the people that make it Silicon Valley, not the buildings. I read occasionally about attempts to set up “technology parks” in other places, as if the active ingredient of Silicon Valley were the office space. An article about Sophia Antipolis bragged that companies there included Cisco, Compaq, IBM, NCR, and Nortel. Don’t the French realize these aren’t startups?

Building office buildings for technology companies won’t get you a silicon valley, because the key stage in the life of a startup happens before they want that kind of space. The key stage is when they’re three guys operating out of an apartment. Wherever the startup is when it gets funded, it will stay. The defining quality of Silicon Valley is not that Intel or Apple or Google have offices there, but that they were started there.

So if you want to reproduce Silicon Valley, what you need to reproduce is those two or three founders sitting around a kitchen table deciding to start a company. And to reproduce that you need those people.

Universities

The exciting thing is, all you need are the people. If you could attract a critical mass of nerds and investors to live somewhere, you could reproduce Silicon Valley. And both groups are highly mobile. They’ll go where life is good. So what makes a place good to them?

What nerds like is other nerds. Smart people will go wherever other smart people are. And in particular, to great universities. In theory there could be other ways to attract them, but so far universities seem to be indispensable. Within the US, there are no technology hubs without first-rate universities– or at least, first-rate computer science departments.

So if you want to make a silicon valley, you not only need a university, but one of the top handful in the world. It has to be good enough to act as a magnet, drawing the best people from thousands of miles away. And that means it has to stand up to existing magnets like MIT and Stanford.

This sounds hard. Actually it might be easy. My professor friends, when they’re deciding where they’d like to work, consider one thing above all: the quality of the other faculty. What attracts professors is good colleagues. So if you managed to recruit, en masse, a significant number of the best young researchers, you could create a first-rate university from nothing overnight. And you could do that for surprisingly little. If you paid 200 people hiring bonuses of $3 million apiece, you could put together a faculty that would bear comparison with any in the world. And from that point the chain reaction would be self-sustaining. So whatever it costs to establish a mediocre university, for an additional half billion or so you could have a great one. [3]

Personality

However, merely creating a new university would not be enough to start a silicon valley. The university is just the seed. It has to be planted in the right soil, or it won’t germinate. Plant it in the wrong place, and you just create Carnegie-Mellon.

To spawn startups, your university has to be in a town that has attractions other than the university. It has to be a place where investors want to live, and students want to stay after they graduate.

The two like much the same things, because most startup investors are nerds themselves. So what do nerds look for in a town? Their tastes aren’t completely different from other people’s, because a lot of the towns they like most in the US are also big tourist destinations: San Francisco, Boston, Seattle. But their tastes can’t be quite mainstream either, because they dislike other big tourist destinations, like New York, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas.

There has been a lot written lately about the “creative class.” The thesis seems to be that as wealth derives increasingly from ideas, cities will prosper only if they attract those who have them. That is certainly true; in fact it was the basis of Amsterdam’s prosperity 400 years ago.

A lot of nerd tastes they share with the creative class in general. For example, they like well-preserved old neighborhoods instead of cookie-cutter suburbs, and locally-owned shops and restaurants instead of national chains. Like the rest of the creative class, they want to live somewhere with personality.

What exactly is personality? I think it’s the feeling that each building is the work of a distinct group of people. A town with personality is one that doesn’t feel mass-produced. So if you want to make a startup hub– or any town to attract the “creative class”– you probably have to ban large development projects. When a large tract has been developed by a single organization, you can always tell. [4]

Most towns with personality are old, but they don’t have to be. Old towns have two advantages: they’re denser, because they were laid out before cars, and they’re more varied, because they were built one building at a time. You could have both now. Just have building codes that ensure density, and ban large scale developments.

A corollary is that you have to keep out the biggest developer of all: the government. A government that asks “How can we build a silicon valley?” has probably ensured failure by the way they framed the question. You don’t build a silicon valley; you let one grow.

Nerds

If you want to attract nerds, you need more than a town with personality. You need a town with the right personality. Nerds are a distinct subset of the creative class, with different tastes from the rest. You can see this most clearly in New York, which attracts a lot of creative people, but few nerds. [5]

What nerds like is the kind of town where people walk around smiling. This excludes LA, where no one walks at all, and also New York, where people walk, but not smiling. When I was in grad school in Boston, a friend came to visit from New York. On the subway back from the airport she asked “Why is everyone smiling?” I looked and they weren’t smiling. They just looked like they were compared to the facial expressions she was used to.

If you’ve lived in New York, you know where these facial expressions come from. It’s the kind of place where your mind may be excited, but your body knows it’s having a bad time. People don’t so much enjoy living there as endure it for the sake of the excitement. And if you like certain kinds of excitement, New York is incomparable. It’s a hub of glamour, a magnet for all the shorter half-life isotopes of style and fame.

Nerds don’t care about glamour, so to them the appeal of New York is a mystery. People who like New York will pay a fortune for a small, dark, noisy apartment in order to live in a town where the cool people are really cool. A nerd looks at that deal and sees only: pay a fortune for a small, dark, noisy apartment.

Nerds will pay a premium to live in a town where the smart people are really smart, but you don’t have to pay as much for that. It’s supply and demand: glamour is popular, so you have to pay a lot for it.

Most nerds like quieter pleasures. They like cafes instead of clubs; used bookshops instead of fashionable clothing shops; hiking instead of dancing; sunlight instead of tall buildings. A nerd’s idea of paradise is Berkeley or Boulder.

Youth

It’s the young nerds who start startups, so it’s those specifically the city has to appeal to. The startup hubs in the US are all young-feeling towns. This doesn’t mean they have to be new. Cambridge has the oldest town plan in America, but it feels young because it’s full of students.

What you can’t have, if you want to create a silicon valley, is a large, existing population of stodgy people. It would be a waste of time to try to reverse the fortunes of a declining industrial town like Detroit or Philadelphia by trying to encourage startups. Those places have too much momentum in the wrong direction. You’re better off starting with a blank slate in the form of a small town. Or better still, if there’s a town young people already flock to, that one.

The Bay Area was a magnet for the young and optimistic for decades before it was associated with technology. It was a place people went in search of something new. And so it became synonymous with California nuttiness. There’s still a lot of that there. If you wanted to start a new fad– a new way to focus one’s “energy,” for example, or a new category of things not to eat– the Bay Area would be the place to do it. But a place that tolerates oddness in the search for the new is exactly what you want in a startup hub, because economically that’s what startups are. Most good startup ideas seem a little crazy; if they were obviously good ideas, someone would have done them already.

(How many people are going to want computers in their houses? What, another search engine?)

That’s the connection between technology and liberalism. Without exception the high-tech cities in the US are also the most liberal. But it’s not because liberals are smarter that this is so. It’s because liberal cities tolerate odd ideas, and smart people by definition have odd ideas.

Conversely, a town that gets praised for being “solid” or representing “traditional values” may be a fine place to live, but it’s never going to succeed as a startup hub. The 2004 presidential election, though a disaster in other respects, conveniently supplied us with a county-by-county map of such places. [6]

To attract the young, a town must have an intact center. In most American cities the center has been abandoned, and the growth, if any, is in the suburbs. Most American cities have been turned inside out. But none of the startup hubs has: not San Francisco, or Boston, or Seattle. They all have intact centers. [7] My guess is that no city with a dead center could be turned into a startup hub. Young people don’t want to live in the suburbs.

Within the US, the two cities I think could most easily be turned into new silicon valleys are Boulder and Portland. Both have the kind of effervescent feel that attracts the young. They’re each only a great university short of becoming a silicon valley, if they wanted to.

Time

A great university near an attractive town. Is that all it takes? That was all it took to make the original Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley traces its origins to William Shockley, one of the inventors of the transistor. He did the research that won him the Nobel Prize at Bell Labs, but when he started his own company in 1956 he moved to Palo Alto to do it. At the time that was an odd thing to do. Why did he? Because he had grown up there and remembered how nice it was. Now Palo Alto is suburbia, but then it was a charming college town– a charming college town with perfect weather and San Francisco only an hour away.

The companies that rule Silicon Valley now are all descended in various ways from Shockley Semiconductor. Shockley was a difficult man, and in 1957 his top people– “the traitorous eight”– left to start a new company, Fairchild Semiconductor. Among them were Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce, who went on to found Intel, and Eugene Kleiner, who founded the VC firm Kleiner Perkins. Forty-two years later, Kleiner Perkins funded Google, and the partner responsible for the deal was John Doerr, who came to Silicon Valley in 1974 to work for Intel.

So although a lot of the newest companies in Silicon Valley don’t make anything out of silicon, there always seem to be multiple links back to Shockley. There’s a lesson here: startups beget startups. People who work for startups start their own. People who get rich from startups fund new ones. I suspect this kind of organic growth is the only way to produce a startup hub, because it’s the only way to grow the expertise you need.

That has two important implications. The first is that you need time to grow a silicon valley. The university you could create in a couple years, but the startup community around it has to grow organically. The cycle time is limited by the time it takes a company to succeed, which probably averages about five years.

The other implication of the organic growth hypothesis is that you can’t be somewhat of a startup hub. You either have a self-sustaining chain reaction, or not. Observation confirms this too: cities either have a startup scene, or they don’t. There is no middle ground. Chicago has the third largest metropolitan area in America. As source of startups it’s negligible compared to Seattle, number 15.

The good news is that the initial seed can be quite small. Shockley Semiconductor, though itself not very successful, was big enough. It brought a critical mass of experts in an important new technology together in a place they liked enough to stay.

Competing

Of course, a would-be silicon valley faces an obstacle the original one didn’t: it has to compete with Silicon Valley. Can that be done? Probably.

One of Silicon Valley’s biggest advantages is its venture capital firms. This was not a factor in Shockley’s day, because VC funds didn’t exist. In fact, Shockley Semiconductor and Fairchild Semiconductor were not startups at all in our sense. They were subsidiaries– of Beckman Instruments and Fairchild Camera and Instrument respectively. Those companies were apparently willing to establish subsidiaries wherever the experts wanted to live.

Venture investors, however, prefer to fund startups within an hour’s drive. For one, they’re more likely to notice startups nearby. But when they do notice startups in other towns they prefer them to move. They don’t want to have to travel to attend board meetings, and in any case the odds of succeeding are higher in a startup hub.

The centralizing effect of venture firms is a double one: they cause startups to form around them, and those draw in more startups through acquisitions. And although the first may be weakening because it’s now so cheap to start some startups, the second seems as strong as ever. Three of the most admired “Web 2.0” companies were started outside the usual startup hubs, but two of them have already been reeled in through acquisitions.

Such centralizing forces make it harder for new silicon valleys to get started. But by no means impossible. Ultimately power rests with the founders. A startup with the best people will beat one with funding from famous VCs, and a startup that was sufficiently successful would never have to move. So a town that could exert enough pull over the right people could resist and perhaps even surpass Silicon Valley.

For all its power, Silicon Valley has a great weakness: the paradise Shockley found in 1956 is now one giant parking lot. San Francisco and Berkeley are great, but they’re forty miles away. Silicon Valley proper is soul-crushing suburban sprawl. It has fabulous weather, which makes it significantly better than the soul-crushing sprawl of most other American cities. But a competitor that managed to avoid sprawl would have real leverage. All a city needs is to be the kind of place the next traitorous eight look at and say “I want to stay here,” and that would be enough to get the chain reaction started.

Sources: http://www.paulgraham.com/siliconvalley.html

Greatness takes time. The did hit the button boom, until 20 later. This is a very good experiences, that many young people should learn and lesson for future startup or work. Great blog.

Bing Fund Blog

In 1975 there were no incubator, angels, or accelerators.

It’s hard to fathom that 37 years ago, the 90,000-person, global, multi-faceted company where I work was a startup that had a single product. ..even harder to believe, I’ve been working with this company’s products since the beginning, eventually becoming a hardware partner and manufacturer.

…and it’s mind blowing to think that among the thousands of entrepreneurs ideating, innovating, and inventing today, who are putting everything they have into realizing their inspired visions of the future, someone is creating a company that will someday have tens of thousands of employees, all around the world, working on suites of products that change the lives of everyone who use them.

Lots of people have written about the origins of Microsoft and what the founders did to make the company so successful. The Bing Fund team had a specific question, however, very relevant to…

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Let’s Do It! Toul Kork

Two days in a roll, I have received phone call related to our latest Let’s Do It Toul Kork Imageevent. The event inspired by Let’s Do It! Phnom Penh 2012 that took place on last August 26th, 2012. 

Very early in morning, a phone called from Sovannaphom School asking to participate. He said “I want my students to mobilize and help clean the environment. I was still on my bed event fully workup yet. These two phone called were not from the same person. 

It freshen my morning. It offered me greater hope and encouragement to keep moving forward with what we do. 

It reminded me of latest clean up day on Sunday. It was raining all night and continue till morning, but team leaders and subleaders still turn up and ask me “Are we going to do it”. It was cold and seem not so rewarding to walk in the rain pick up trash that seem very dirty, but I had to say “YES! yes we are going to do it. It will be fun to walk together in the rain.” It was not 100%, but much of the courage came from them. They drove the motorbikes, some ride bicycle from their home to SmallWorld office. 

Their enthusiasm and willingness to help clean our environment have moved my emotion and brought more hope to me. It shows our work is really matter. Therefore, we will keep doing it until even GOD also appreciate, if there is really a GOD. 

SmallWorld

SmallWorld is a collaborative workplace designed to ensure that passionate, business minded youth have access to an enjoyable and productive work environment. It serves as an education, networking, and small business resource and support center where students and budding entrepreneurs can learn and network with others to discuss, test, and launch new business ideas.

Our vision is to build a platform for young people to test, refine, and launch their ideas, improve their abilities, and create a business portfolio that will help them secure funding for future business developments.

Our mission is to facilitate and create innovative business and employment opportunities for idea-oriented youth in an open and casual work environment where they can meet, network, share, learn, collaborate, and have fun with other like-minded individuals.

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