Start Up Stories

Sprinting Down Blind Alleys

Posted in Uncategorized by Devon on January 19, 2009


It’s August in New England and the Charles River rolls lazily past its banks.  We are starting to research who we believe to be the players in our market in advance of a summit on, “what business are we in?”  As the interest-rate tempest gathers, we continue to define a business in a market that we won’t enter as we then envisioned.  As one of my former board members, Bob Akins, founder of Cymer, Inc., used to say – “You will travel down many wrong alleys, we did, before you find one good idea.” 


I see that I continue to pump energy into recruiting investors and advisors whom I’ve no connection to – and are attached to a business model we won’t ultimately pursue centrally.


Lessons Learned/Questions to Ask:

  1. Don’t be afraid to run down seemingly blind alleys, it’s a necessary part of the business invention process. 
    1. Are you getting smarter about how to fail fast and recover?
  1. Business school tools, like Porter’s diamond or Hax’s Delta, can be useful in framing a business but recognize that, as a start-up, you will likely be framing a business that you may not be in –
    1. Are you thinking about business schools tools as a part of the thought experimentation process or as a definitive means of planning business strategy?  

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