Starting Up Without Sinking Fast


My friend Chris Guillebeau has become an expert at helping people opt out of traditional employment and create the time and income to pursue ideas they find meaningful.  He is joined by people like Jun Loayza, the co-founder of RewardMe, a digital rewards program for restaurants and retailers.  Jun is something of a startup junkie.  Through his career, Jun has raised over $1M in funding, failed at two startups, and successfully sold one startup.

I thought it might be useful for those of us considering startups to learn from Jun’s experiences.  Here are some of the most critical lessons he derived from his success and failures.

Launch the MVP (minimal viable product) ASAP

While getting his first startup off the ground, Jun spent too much time on financial projections, a business plan, and on deciding if a button should be green or blue.  The goal is to launch as quickly as possible with a product that is just good enough.

Know What it Means to Be Just Good Enough

Jun’s most recent internet startup launched with a buggy product that had problems every day, but he was vigilant about providing excellent customer service so that buyers stuck with it through the site’s evolution.

Sell Before You Build

You’d be surprised how much can be accomplished with a great Powerpoint deck.  Compelling dreams and promises are powerful.  If you wait until you have a completed product to start selling, you’ll be too late.  According to Jun, your first closed customer should arrive at the same time as the completion of your MVP.

Negotiate Everything

This includes your rental space, the office lease, team lunches, hotel rooms, conference sponsorships, and hardware.  If you think something can’t be negotiated, you’re wrong.  You just have to try.

Focus, Focus, Focus!

Jun attempted to run an internet startup, a marketing agency, and a blogging community at the same time.  All but one ended up failing.  The goal is to work on one startup at a time and make sure it can function well without your daily involvement before you start another project.

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