Great article by Paul Graham about the initial user base of startups.
Entrepreneur and writer Derek Sivers gives some real-world advice on networking. It’s all who you know?
An approach to customer segmentation. Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business School Professor and author of The Innovator’s Dilemma, explains job-to-be-done analysis in this video excerpt (4 min) from Innovation Summit 2009.
Gender Binding. Glenn Fleishman, Executive Editor at The Magazine writes about gender imbalance among writers. In order to get more women to write for The Magazine (five of six articles are written by men), Glenn tries to understand what is keeping women from pitching articles.
Books for Startups, by Steve Blank.
The Amazings is a startup that offers classes and courses in London, UK. These are not online clases, they are not free, and seats for each class are limited. Their teachers are called the Amazings.
It gets more interesting: to qualify as an Amazing you have to be 50 years or more, be passionate or skilled, and keen to pass those passions and skills onto other people.
Their mission is nicely stated on their webpage:
The Amazings was born out of a single, simple idea. Society has always learned from its elders. But somewhere along the way we have lost that connection between generations – which means losing rich, valuable, and rare skills. We’re on a mission to fix this.
As expected, they point out the effort they put in selecting their teachers. They only accept as Amazings people they have met in person, after looking at their work history.
An important part of The Amazing’s business model are the Amazings themselves. That is, their teachers. Accordingly, they have tailored an attractive Value Proposition for them:
- They address concerns common to elderly people. Examples of information you can find on The Amazing’s FAQ Page: how do I work out how much tax I will pay?, how to find a venue for the classes, what to do about equipment, materials and tools, things to know about health and safety, etc. Lots of legal advise is also included.
- Simplicity for The Amazings, both teachers and the Company. Teachers don’t sign a contract to be a teacher, they also set the price of their courses, and receive 70% of the total ticket sales for classes, or 80% for courses. The cost of the venue, materials and other equipments are paid directly by the teacher from his earnings.
- The company takes care of the burden of promoting your classes and things like charging customers, managing the online platform, and other administrative tasks.
Because of their model, their cost structure has very low fixed costs, and their expenses on classes and courses are nearly 100% variable. They can probably reach break-even pretty fast. And they are not on the freemium model: they charge for all their activities.
A video from Panama Dave, one of the Amazings.
- Black Swan Farming. Paul Graham (YC Combinator) explains that in startup investment, the big winners are big to a degree that violates our expectations about variation. Big ideas look initially like bad ideas, which makes it difficult to spot big winners.
- Amazon’s play. John Gruber on Amazon’s business model, after Amazon’s Kindle press event last week.
- How many new Kindles will Amazon sell, by Horace Dediu. Amazon’s Kindle Fire production is not demand driven. Amazon only wants its tablet sold in market segments where there are products to offer in the Amazon Store, Amazon has content deals and ads can be correctly targeted.