10 Lessons We Learned From Startup Chile

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The following is the opinion of Morgan from Gift Pinpoint and no one else! Especially not anyone else connected with Startup Chile!.

The experience of Startup Chile reinforces many lessons of how to build a company. And since my dear readers seem to enjoy Top 10 lists these days, this is what I will give my dear readers today. Perhaps another day, we will speculate as to when Facebook changed from “what my friends are doing” to “an endless collection of top 10 lists.” But today, alas, lets focus on lessons from Startup Chile:

1.) Speaking of “focus” this is perhaps the most important lesson: focus matters more than anything else. In a contest between “genius idea, BUT half-focus” and “intense, over the top, focus like you’re a possessed madman BUT just-an-average-idea”, the later wins every time.

2.) Even when we know that focus is important, maintaining focus is hard. Very hard. Especially when you’re in an awesome country with tons to do, like Chile! Saying “no” is hard — but it is ESSENTIAL to be successful. Know what to say “no” to!

3.) Some of our fellow SUPpers will have amazing, mystery talents related to business. You should harness their talents!! I personally got some awesome tips about tools to scrape websites from a fellow 7.2-er. But of course I would never, ever, ever scrape a website, no, we just don’t do those sorts of things, of course not.

4.) Your gut instinct as to which companies will do amazingly and which ones won’t, is probably right. This applies to your own company as well.

5.) Selling to Americans, when you are in the Southern Hemisphere, isn’t all that hard. You just need persistence.

6.) Who knew that there were so many awesome up-and-coming companies coming out of… Estonia? Yeah, Skype–but there’s an entire new generation of them!

7.) Good business models have a superficial level — and a subtle level, as well. In good businesses, the way to make money isn’t just the obvious thing that you’re charging for: there’s a whole layer of what’s happening underneath.

8.) The competition doesn’t matter so much. But YOU matter. You need to compete against yourself. What will kill you isn’t what some other company out there is doing, but that you’re not pushing yourself enough. And pushing yourself is easier said than done.

9.) The most common reason why companies fail is, the team breaks down. It’s not the competitors, it’s not the product, it’s not the market conditions, it’s not the marketing (although that’s the second most common cause: you can’t get people to pay you!) — but it’s because of an issue with the team. Someone gets lazy. Someone else loses interest. Someone else is distracted. Someone else tries but is just mediocre. Look for the Achilles Heels of each team member before you start, and then do the painful work, upfront, to minimize it.

10.) The “lean” model has a spark of genius to it. Get out quickly — and start selling quickly. Don’t get wrapped up in all the problems (software development, finding people, etc etc).

How self-help-y is this? Not enough! Note to self: writing lists is MUCH easier than writing actual articles!

This public service announcement has been brought to you by Morgan from Gift Pinpoint, and he wants to thank his friends at Legal Fácil!