Home Authors Posts by Ruzan Ahamed
A look back at the digital journey of Starbucks as mobile payments makes its headway.
Starbucks is undoubtedly at the forefront in terms of technological advancement. The company’s mobile payment system is considered as one of the most successful solutions offered by a retail chain in the world. Mobile and gift card payments now account for over 30% of total U.S. payments for Starbucks. Nearly 10 Million customers now pay through the mobile app of Starbucks which brings in about 5 Million transactions a week. In 2012, purchases through Starbucks’ mobile app were $250 Million and recent studies revealed that it reached $1 Billion range last year.
February 2008 was a significant landmark for the global coffee chain. Starbucks closed all its stores in United States to train their staff after identifying many weaknesses. It was a very tough decision for then CEO Howard Schultz who made a comeback to take active control of the company he built from scratch. It was with great patience that Schultz progressed with the initiative of rebuilding the core values of Starbucks. Though the decision was heavily criticized by Wall Street media, focus on enhancing customer experience has brought tremendous success.
In this success journey, improvements to the digital experience has been pivotal for the Seattle based company. The stepping stone for the digital journey was the launch of “My Starbucks Reward” program in 2009. A closed loop mobile app was launched in 2011 as an initial effort with the basic functionality of making payments by redeeming the reward points with the Smartphone. This was facilitated through a barcode mechanism linked to the Starbucks card account. Since then, many services were introduced around the rewards platform which uplifted the customer experience.
In this success journey, improvements to the digital experience has been pivotal for the Seattle based company.
As Starbucks felt responding to the changes in the external tech environment is vital for the continued success, a new role of Chief Digital Officer was created in 2012. This move gave Starbucks a great opportunity to work on digital developments continuously. Starbucks soon identified the increasing use of mobile wallet based solutions among its customers. In order to facilitate mobile based credit and debit card payments, Starbucks entered into a partnership with digital payment startup Square Inc in 2012. Square is a simple digital wallet solution which was Co-founded by Jack Dorsey who also Co-founded Twitter. The partnership came in the form of a funding of $25 Million by Starbucks which made CEO Schultz a board member of Square. Proving the predictions of Schultz right, the Square wallet has complemented the usage of existing Starbucks payment systems. However, Schultz left Square’s board late 2013 and was replaced by a former Goldman Sachs Chief Financial Officer.
Over the years, Starbucks has created what Schultz call as a “3rd place” between home and work place for its customers. This symbolizes that customer retention has been considered as a top priority. Similar to customer retention, creating stickiness in a mobile payment service is a big challenge for many solution providers across the world. This is where Starbucks has taken an edge over most of its peers.
Another wise move of Starbucks was that they were prepared to cater to both traditional customers who prefer card based reward redemptions and tech savvy mobile users.
Enabling mobile payment stickiness demands high level of effort from the company to create constant interaction with its users. The distinctiveness of Starbucks solution is that it has used the reward platform, social media, in store experience to complement the payment mechanism. The reward program is a big draw and the mobile app has brought in a gaming experience to it. Each time a customer grab a grande they earn a digital star. Five stars get them to the green level, which is good for free refills and coupons. When they have collected 30 stars they become eligible for a free drink for every 12 and more bonus offers.
Another wise move of Starbucks was that they were prepared to cater to both traditional customers who prefer card based reward redemptions and tech savvy mobile users. The creation of proprietary world class digital mobile payment and card technology today has placed Starbucks in a strong position. There are more than 7 Million active Starbucks reward cards in the U.S. The company launched the cards in China early this year and reported that the card has been well received.
Thriving on these innovations, the latest addition was the “Digital Tipping” feature on its mobile app for Apple users. This service was launched in March this year for its customers in US, UK and Canada. Customers using the app have the option to leave a tip for the baristas through their mobile at more than 7,000 stores. Starbucks reports that this feature would further expand the digital experience of customers and stimulate mobile usage for transactions which is currently at 11%.
Starbucks reports that it has lot more in their pipeline in terms of technological application to enhance customer experience. These services are also supported by its existing initiatives such as augmented reality app, wireless charging at the outlets and “Tweet a Coffee” campaigns. Managing these initiatives while serving 60 Million customers a week through nearly 20,000 stores across the world is a challenging task. The case of Starbucks is a great example to symbolize how mobile payments can attract customer interest and improve stickiness when offered in connection with related other facilities.
Can the search engine giant make a leap with its payment tool by adding it to the wearable device?
Google recently reported that it is testing possibilities of incorporating Google Wallet in to Google Glass which is set to be launched soon. According to the sources, this would enable the Glass users to transfer money through the wallet with a simple voice command “Send Money”. With Google’s recent move of enabling a similar facility for Gmail users, this would be an additional access medium to the money transfer facility.
In order to install the wallet service to the Glass, users are currently required to log in to a computer on Google’s corporate network. Thereafter, users could install the wallet to the wearable device to set up to transact. Google is expecting to charge 2.9% of the transaction value or 30 Cents (whichever is higher) for these money transfers. Currently this would facilitate transfers up to $10,000 per transaction and $50,000 over a period of five days.
What is Google Wallet?
Google wallet is a virtual mobile wallet which stores payment information securely and enables users to make speedy payments both in store and online. Google wallet users can store their credit, debit, loyalty and gift cards in this wallet and make payments using their mobile phones. The wallet uses Near Field Communication (NFC) technology which enables users to make the payment by simply tapping the phone on the enabled check out terminals.
Google’s tough journey with the wallet
Since launch of the application in 2011, similar to other mobile wallet service providers, Google also has faced with many challenges with regards to user adoption to the service. Though Google has been able to create awareness about the service, active usage has been at low levels due to various reasons. Realizing the growth potential of mobile payments market, Google has tried various different approaches to improve user adaption and seems to be continuing it with this latest move. The approaches have mainly been through using tactics of improving access medium and promoting individual service functionalities.
Google wallet is the second popular digital wallet in US after PayPal
Inconsistency among retailers, lack of awareness on availability of the service at retail points and less usage of the mobile for payments were few key challenges Google faced with the service. In order to overcome these barriers, in late 2012 Google introduced a physical Google wallet card to its customers. This enabled users to link all other major credit, debit and loyalty cards to this and use at any accepted outlet.
In addition to facilitating payments, peer to peer money transfer is a key feature of a mobile wallet service. Google launched this service by enabling it to Gmail users in May 2013. The service was structured by linking the wallet to a bank account or a credit card. Fund transfers between users were made free of charge.
Considering the financial aspect of wallet project, there has been many serious concerns as Google had made significant investments to employ hundreds of dedicated developers and acquire digital payment start-ups but failed to make expected returns. Analysis conducted in mid-2013 revealed that Google was losing money on every transaction. The head of wallet business Osama Bedier also left the company last year and Google abandoned several projects related to the wallet.
Considering the current stance of the concept, building the ecosystem around the wallet remains as a priority for Google as pressures from Apple is also likely to occur with its intentions to enter the mobile payments market. Mobile payments market is growing rapidly across the world and in US it is expected to reach $90 billion by 2017.
It would be interesting to study the progress of the wallet with its introduction to Google Glass as it enables greater convenience to transact. However, making a leap with this would be questionable as the wearable device would reach the mass with various other new functionalities.
The social media giant Facebook has been creating news very frequently with its aggressive acquisition strategy. Ever since the company started, various innovative features were added to the main Facebook application to enhance user experience. However, since the focus shifting from “Web” to “Mobile”, aggression has been tremendous and performance has been commendable.
Amidst these developments, the Menlo Park Company gained further attention after revealing its intentions to provide mobile money services to facilitate international remittances. Earlier attempts of Facebook to enter mobile payments through Facebook Deals, Facebook Offers, Facebook Gifts and “Want” shopping button failed as consumers did not perceive the social network as a shopping device. However, unlike these initiatives, Facebook has a strong business case in entering the remittance business.
As an initial phase, Facebook is working with banking regulators in Ireland to obtain approval to operate as a cash transfer and a remittance company. This move of Facebook is set to challenge a Billion dollar industry which has been in existence for decades.
Why Mobile Money & Remittances?
Mobile money is an industry primarily focused on financial inclusion. Today there are 236 mobile money deployments in the world serving more than 200 million people to meet their basic financial needs such as money transfers, utility payments and micro savings through their mobiles. However, still 3/4th of the world’s poor remains unbanked. Potential for mobile money is high in developing nations especially in African and Asian continents. Experts believe that the move of Facebook would act as a catalyst for financial inclusion.
As a business, the move makes sense with rapid growth in mobile handset & internet penetration globally. This would be fuelled by Facebook’s growing active user base, currently at 1.2 Billion. The social media tool is considered as one of the most frequently used applications by migrants to keep in touch with their friends and families back home. Facebook’s recent acquisition of WhatsApp for $19 Billion also could be considered as a strategy to make inroads to this great opportunity. Investment in this advertising revenue less texting service could payback if the service become successful as it could capture a large base untapped by Facebook. These factors place Facebook at a very favourable position to serve a ready market.
Transaction speed, security, accessibility (both at sender & receiver ends) and cost effectiveness are few main factors which affect this market. Though Facebook would have the capability to facilitate online real-time peer-to-peer transactions, the success would also depend on the strength of the ecosystem around this industry in different countries.
Giant leaps of this scale are generally approached through partnerships as synergies could help each other when they move through the learning curve. Based on the sources, it is expected that Facebook would follow the same and partner with payment service providers. According to Financial Times, Facebook is in discussions with remittance partners such as TransferWise, Moni Technologies and Azimo. But it seems there are other partners also involved in discussions. Financial Times also reported that among different news, Facebook has offered to pay $10Million to recruit a co-founder of Azimo as a director of business development. However, both parties have declined to comment on the matter when it was inquired.
Having minimum number of partners to facilitate a particular remittance corridor would be beneficial for Facebook and customers. This would help the customers to save more compared to the high fees paid for money transfers currently. Pricing strategy would be an interesting area to focus on as significant savings should be created for customers while managing the partners in the remittance ecosystem.
Will this have an impact on Sri Lanka?
The impact of this initiative could also have an influence on Sri Lanka. Among global remittance recipient markets, Sri Lanka is within the first 30 countries. Inward remittances account for over $6 Billion annually. This contributes more than 10% to Sri Lanka’s Gross Domestic Product. Increase in number of migrant workers and tourist arrivals also could fuel this growth.
Rise in smartphone, internet and Facebook penetration would also contribute to this development if the service is enabled in Sri Lanka. As the mass of the beneficiaries are spread in sub urban and rural segments, the adaption to the service would depend on the simplicity of the application, controls that would be in place with directions of regulators and the strength of cash out infrastructure. However, it would be an interesting development for the financial services industry as this would be an additional channel for money remittances apart from the channels offered by banks and financial institutions.
In conclusion, it is clear that Facebook’s initial effort to keep people connected, now gradually making them way to capitalize on the user base to facilitate other needs. Global expansion of this service would make dramatic changes to people’s transactional behaviours. From Facebook’s point of view, this would be a strong revenue stream which would place the company levels ahead of other social networks. However, it should be noted that expansion would be challenging as this industry is governed with heavy controls in terms of Anti Money Laundering and Counter Terrorist Financing. Also the giant banks and international money transfer services would fight back strongly to remain competitive.
All great things start with someone dreaming big about an idea. Experience of dreaming about such an idea is joyful and you soon realize it’s the next big thing. This state of mind gets shattered when this idea reaches the point of execution. Reason for this is the dreams are seen in perfect world mindset and execution takes place in real world.
This book helps the entrepreneurs to come out of the perfect world and accept the reality in making the business venture a success. Therefore “Reality Check” gives a pulse of the bitterness of real world when it comes to starting and nurturing a business.
“Reality Check” is an in depth explanation of Kawasaki’s “The Art of The Start”. Topics are discussed in greater detail by bringing in specialist opinion for related topics and diving in to technicality with greater detail.
Continuing his style of breaking the topics based on the phases of a startup, Kawasaki explains the reality of many key milestones. Some of the notable elements from these chapters are as follows.
- Conceptualizing and funding the idea of a startup are crucial as the entrepreneur is moving from a “The idea” mindset to a “Will it work” mindset. Kawasaki starts the discussion with the fairy tale of entrepreneurship. Then he provides guidance on how to overcome the shocks mainly in identifying the time to “commercialize the idea”.
The approach of educating the reader about investor mindset through his personal experience and expert opinion would be valuable for a reader who has plans of becoming a venture capitalist. He also introduces his unconventional “Venture Capital Aptitude Test” model which can be used as a tool to evaluate the qualifications to become a venture capitalist.
In an attempt to provide insight to venture capital law, Kawasaki has included an interview of Fred Greguras who is a specialist on the subject matter. As the legal explanations are deeply technical, attractiveness of the reader diminishes.
- Planning, executing & innovating are the most critical phases of a startup. Also these are continuous processes which require high level of focus. Kawasaki shares his wisdom in these areas in a chapter named “Zen of business plan”. The most attracting factor is the link he bridge between pitching and planning, which would benefit the entrepreneur in many aspects including funding.
Advising on execution, he explains the challenging aspect of it and hence to make it a worthy effort. Then Kawasaki writes the best chapter of this book “After the Honeymoon”. This focuses on few highly practical issues faced by a startup immediately after the initial success phase. What makes this chapter special is the candidness of problems highlighted, it signifies the causes and most importantly it provides practical solutions which meet the reader’s expectations.
This also includes the story of building one of his startups “All top” presented in a very interesting manner.
- Marketing, Sales& Communications are equally important for any startup to get the bucks to flow and spread the name across. This becomes a challenge with initial financial constraints and over spending can bring things to a grinding halt.
This section of the book stresses the importance of balancing market adaptation without trying costly, ineffective approaches to add numbers which hinders real market adaptation.
The reader would also come across guidance on startup focused branding techniques, aspects to be mindful in delegating marketing activities and importance of managing the extent to which the customers should be influenced in selling.
Many young entrepreneurs struggle when they are exposed to corporates in business development aspects. One of the main reasons for this is weakness in communication and lack of presentation skills. Therefore, Kawasaki has dedicated special emphasis to this sharing his own amazing techniques which he believes that would result in standing ovation, a chapter from Garr Reynolds and an in-depth analysis of Majora carter’s TED Talk.
- Beguiling &Competing is important especially after the launch of a startup. Beguiling assists an entrepreneur to attract and influence people in network building and recruitment. In this chapter Kawasaki stresses the importance of capitalizing on networks an entrepreneur builds. He points out frequent mistakes done in following up with the built contacts and signifies how costly it could be.
When network building results in business partnerships, getting partners to deliver results become challenging. This often happens when the partner has higher bargaining power compared to the startup. In order to overcome this, Kawasaki points out the ground rules to be laid, how exit strategies to be put and how to drive internal acceptance to reap benefits from such partnerships.
Focusing on competition, Kawasaki recalls his experiences at Apple’s Macintosh division where competition was at peak internally and against IBM. He guides the reader how to take the tide and how not to get carried away with competition. Emphasizing on understanding the mindset of competition, Kawasaki also lists down some of the best examples including how Virgin Atlantic took on British Airways in 1986 which proves that competition is best handled by tackling minds.
- Managing HR &Operations would not be the task an entrepreneur will handle in the mid/long term. But the way an entrepreneur handles this at the inception would determine how it would be practiced as it would embed to the culture. Therefore, hiring, firing & managing day to day operations is been paid extra attention in this section.
Kawasaki uses his experience with Steve Jobs to explain hiring which includes the famous “A players hire A+ players” example he initiated at Apple. Among other valuable points, presenting a challenge to the candidate is noteworthy. Kawasaki mentions the challenge Steve Jobs gave to John Scully when he was recruited to highlight the importance of this.
Continuing his style, Kawasaki turns the table to guide the reader in tackling these situations as a candidate.
Vitality of being responsible, firm and providing chances in laying are being discussed in greater depth to enlighten the reader of risks involved.
Focusing on business operations, Kawasaki lists out a number of tips covering many aspects to enjoy work and be productive.
Kawasaki concludes this chapter with some “Must Read” radical topics related to work place politics and also provides his unconventional models to tackle them.
Ensuring the completeness and relevance of this book to all types of startups, Kawasaki has written the final chapter Reality of Doing Good. This section gives insights in to challenges faced in social entrepreneurship and transforming corporations in to Nonprofits. He also shares his way of viewing life in a chapter named “My Hindsights in Life” and asks ten questions from the reader which he calls the “Checklist of Reality Check”.
Mentioned below are some views about this book from a holistic standpoint
- In this book, Kawasaki’s attention to detail on key elements of a startup is commendable. Throughout the book he stresses the importance of developing simple and attractive customer interfaces to enhance customer experience which is a critical success factor.
- Also, this is a book full of lies. Truth about lies that Entrepreneurs, Venture capitalists, Engineers and Lawyers tell each other when they play their part. These are real lies which you would tell/hear and hence provides guidance to how to be creative in telling new lies.
- This book consists with number of chapters where technical experts were interviewed. In many instances these chapters are discussed in greater detail. This has negatively impacted on the flow as it dilutes focus from the core subject matter. Alternatively, a summarized version in Kawasaki’s own opinion would have added more value.
- Another distinct feature about Reality Check is that it puts the reader in to many different tough situations and provides guidance to tackle those situations. Advising on handling situations such as founder not performing is a clear evidence for this.
In conclusion, Reality Check would gain a rating of 6 out of 10 for the validity of points mentioned above. Better selection and sequencing of sub chapters, less number of expert interviews anda much brief approach would have resulted in a better rating.
From Dorm Room to Wall Street
Time has passed and the way we connect with our friends and family has changed thanks to Facebook. The company has reached a key milestone of operating for a decade changing many things in the world with its 1.23 billion monthly active user base.
Following is a recap of Facebook’s journey which has become one of the greatest startups of all time.
Facebook was started in February 2004 in a dorm room at Harvard by Mark Zuckerburg and his friends as a tool to find and interact with friends in the university. The innovative concept soon became popular among friends and started to catch on like wild fire. It not only became a buzz in Harvard, but it became popular at other universities and various different social groups.
Initially the network was named “Thefacebook” and after the first year of operations it changed to “Facebook”. Given the value addition it brings to the people on connecting with each other, Facebook had almost 6 Million users at the end of first year.
Since then, the trendsetter expanded in to business pages catering to needs of companies to interact, obtain feedback and provide various other benefits to its customers.
Facebook reached the masses in a very short time since inception and today has become a basic utility for every one of us. As the journey turned out to be a historical one, Mark Zuckerberg and the company had to go through number of great challenges.
Changing the mindsets of traditional thinkers, regulators, governments and security authorities are few of those.
Among many changes that Facebook has done to this world, following are noteworthy.
- Way people interact with each other
This is one of the major changes Facebook initiated through Facebook chat. This change was applicable to all age groups and made life much simpler to people in terms of connecting with friends and family. This overtook traditional SMS and email services and remains as a highly effective way to communicate. Statistics prove that Facebook Chat is the 12th highest downloaded free app on Apple’s App Store placing it even ahead of the Facebook main app itself. This is a clear demonstration of widely embraced success of the concept.
- Giving boost to many industries and giving birth to some
Facebook has made mixed impacts on many industries. Making the users to stay connected online all the time has created an avenue for telecom service providers to shift gears from traditional SMS and other messaging services. Among new industries that Facebook has given birth to, social media marketing takes prominence. Companies around the world started to emerge to facilitate big brands to make their online presence customer friendly.
- Convenience in sharing content
People have forgotten the days where they struggled to share photos and videos via email and therefore using CDs. Thanks to Facebook, people can share photos and videos with their friends in matter of seconds. This has reached a level where about 350 million photos are being uploaded to Facebook every single day.
- How businesses interact with customers
This change availed many opportunities for businesses to get closer to their customers and vice versa. Companies had to pay additional attention on their presence on Facebook as it became the most viral channel to advertise and communicate key messages to intended customer bases. Cola giant Pepsi in 2010 opting to run a campaign on Facebook and other social media channels over a Super Bowl slot demonstrates the strength of this.
As Zuckerberg strongly believes, the world is becoming an open place and new generation’s definition of privacy is very different from the old. Facebook’s contribution to this has been huge. Options such as sharing, life events, feelings, check in and various other features are popular among users which enable them to tell their friends what they are doing or how they are feeling.
Among many other reasons for Facebook to become a success across the world, ability to be relevant to all demographics has been the key. Facebook has demonstrated this through provision of options in terms of privacy settings, business related applications, analytics etc.
Sharing his thoughts with CNBC in a recent interview, CEO Zuckerberg still believes that being relevant to all groups is the top priority of the company and Facebook will continue to facilitate this.
- Performing under the limelight
As Facebook managed to gradually convince the youth and obtain acceptance of majority, critics continued to make the journey even tougher by questioning the suitability of a young dropout as the CEO. Zuckerberg had to go through extremely tough situations when he was publicly interviewed. However, with the support of his management team Zuckerberg managed to steer the company forward.
During the past decade, Facebook has come across ups and downs. Below are some of the notable ones.
- One of the main steps Facebook took in executing the future mobile strategy is acquiring “Instagram” for $1 Billion in April 2012. This acquisition was mainly considered based on the negative developments experienced by the company among teen users. It was later admitted that Facebook is losing its “Coolness” among its teen users which resulted in decline in active usage. Though this acquisition was seen as overpriced by media, increases in user adaptation hold the validity in Zuckerberg’s decision.
- The company considers photo sharing as one of the main avenues to remain “cool” among the core users, it went for another bid last year to acquire “Snapchat” another photo sharing social media tool. The $3 Billion bid was turned down by the 23 year old co-founder Evan Spiegel. Though Snapchat has not revealed the number of users, some reports suggests its users share more photos than Facebook every day.
- Among the ventures which didn’t do well for Facebook was “HTC First” (also known as Facebook phone). This was unofficially declared as a disaster as AT&T had to drop its price from $99 to 99 cents at one point mid last year. Main reason for failure is considered as the feature “Facebook Home” which dominated user experience. In addition, feature failures such as Facebook credits, Poke & Facebook questions were also noteworthy.
Battling through these challenges, Facebook has continuously learned from its mistakes. The willingness of Zuckerberg to learn from mistakes comparing with other social media networks is a lesson for all entrepreneurs. This was validated by Facebook’s former Chief Technology Officer Bret Taylor stating “Mark is very willing to recognize the strengths in other products and the flaws in Facebook”.
In May 2012, continuing its success, Facebook decided to hold an Initial Public Offering (IPO). The start was not good as expected by the company. The stock lost about 50% of its value on debut after opening at $38. This being the first social media company to be listed in NASDAQ, Facebook attracted millions of eyeballs in Wall Street as advertising was the only main revenue generator for the company and the predictions were not favorable.
However, since the IPO, Facebook has worked hard to meet and exceed Wall Street targets. Using the IPO date as the starting point, Facebook became the fastest US Company to reach $150 billion in terms of market capitalization. Currently, only 26 US Companies have reached the $150 billion mark in terms of market capitalization.
Analysts comment that growth has been fuelled by the new strategic steps related to “Mobile First” initiative.
At this point of time as Facebook completes 10 years in operation, many question its possibility of surviving another 10 years. However, Zuckerberg believes being relevant to all groups would be the survival strategy for Facebook.
As an outcome of this, Facebook is planning to build apps outside Facebook which can sustain user acceptance and hence would keep the company moving. The recent launch of “Paper” a standalone news aggregation app is a clear evidence for this.
The company has stated that “Paper” would be the first out of a series of apps that would be part of an initiative named “Facebook creative labs”.
In order to drive these new initiatives and be relevant to the upcoming generations, Zuckerberg requests governments to provide higher level of wireless connectivity. He believes in doing so, people in many economies could enjoy the facility and stay connected with the whole world.
While going through a startup struggle, writing a review for this book has been immensely challenging as this turns out to be my first book review. However, the beauty of this book is that it has motivated and guided me to complete crucial phases of my startup as I read through it.
The GIST of this book is that it’s about the PURPOSE of everything an entrepreneur experiences in building a successful startup. This book is clearly exclusive as it is written to address key issues of entrepreneurship for many reasons briefed below.
Guy Kawasaki has used his expertise on this subject from various aspects of his career being an evangelist, an entrepreneur & a venture capitalist. This gives Kawasaki the perfect leverage to attract and give the reader an interactive experience.
One main reason for success of this book has been the precision in identifying and sequencing phases of a startup. Discussed below are some of the most notable elements of the important phases.
- Causation is the starting point of entrepreneurship. The entrepreneur is helpless at this stage and often gets in to hasty conclusions to prove what he/she believes is correct. This chapter provides guidance to rigorously question and clarify the purpose of initiating a startup.Kawasaki continues to prove his mastery practicality by highlighting the importance of stepping in to the executing phase while planning for long term. Simultaneously there is focus on launching a prototype along with building your Mantra.
- Articulation is undoubtedly the bitterest phase of a startup for any entrepreneur,and is often rushed through. As a result, most good startup concepts fail and never take off. In this chapter the venture capitalist in Kawasaki takes a different approach compared to accepted norms.Kawasaki engages the reader closely by diving into tactical aspects of positioning, pitching & planning. Practicing the concepts of “10/20/30 Rule”and“Answering the little man”mentioned under this chapter, guides the reader to smoothly cross through the Articulation phase.
- Activation is the phase that an action biased entrepreneur is anxious to achieve. This is also widely known as the toughest phase of a startup. In this 40 page chapter, whilst emphasizing on the truth of making ideas happen, Kawasaki reinstates the saying;“It’s not about the idea, it’s about making the idea happen”. Building bottom up forecasts, shipping before testing, making money through your Mantra and making recruitment a daily practice could be some of the most valuable lessons a reader would learn.
- As the startup moves to next levels, gaining acceptance (market & internal) becomes a key driver for success. Therefore the chapters of Proliferation & Obligation are focused on this element. Tactics for building a brand and identifying opportunities for rainmaking are discussed comprehensively while making connections to interesting concepts through other sources.
The above reasons are only a minor contribution to the success of Kawasaki’s book. However, following are the main reasons readers and entrepreneurs alike are drawn to this book making it a phenomenal success.
- Entrepreneurs by nature are casual and informal people. They rarely follow manuals and procedures.As an entrepreneur himself, Kawasaki has applied this informality in his writing to display an authentic feel of the different phases of startups. Each heading/sub heading of this book is constructed in an informative and advisory format.Through this Kawasaki ensures the reader remembers the key messages.
- Entrepreneurship is about making mistakes. Gradually those mistakes turn out to be the very reasons for the success of a startup. At the beginning of each heading, Kawasaki has highlighted all mistakes that startups do before contrasting it with the right means to go out tasks. This approach is far more effective in comparison to dishing out the right methods to readers.
- Many books provide exercise pauses for the reader to think through and action relevant tasks.This is often skipped and never revisited. However, the distinctiveness and practicality of points laid and appropriateness in selecting exercises convinces the reader to complete those.
- Frequently Avoided Questions is one of the favorite elements of this book. The reader would find appropriate answers for questions which are ignored by their advisers and most importantly new questions shaped to provide food for thought.
- One may question whether this book is being intended only for small startups. The answer is No. Guy Kawasaki brings in his real life experience of working at Apple Inc. to unveil some valuable thoughts on how to nurture startups within large corporations. This is rarely found in traditional books on entrepreneurship.
In conclusion, this book deserves a ranking of 4 out of 5 for above mentioned reasons.However, more real world startup examples in relation to specific topics discussed would have been a value addition.
Reading “The Art of The Start” should definitely be Part of The Start – Ruzan Ahamed