This morning I attended an interesting session on “The Power of Design” by Doug Richard, an angel investor, former “Dragon”, and founder of “School for Startups“. Doug stressed the importance of design in consumer products, or “making everything pretty” in his own words. “Design is something that should run in the veins of the organization”, he said. As an example, look at this manhole from Disney with the mouse logo. Sure, Disney would have been equally successful with a regular manhole, but when you come up with a rule for design in everything your organization does, thoughtfulness follows. Similarly, he evangelized the Amazon product page as beautiful design. Not so much for it’s UI/UX, but because every pixel on that page has been rigorously tested – if ‘Listmania’ is still there, it’s because it proved to have a positive impact on conversion.
Doug’s first course in the program “how to build a 21st century business” covers 10 questions for evaluating a business. Can you answer these for your business?
10 essential questions to evaluate a business by Doug Richard (with comments by VC Cafe):
- What do we do that people need or want? Are you solving a problem or addressing a need?
- Who is our customer? try to be as specific as you can… even if you’re addressing the Chinese market, not everyone in the country will buy your product, right?
- How do customers find out about our products? can they buy directly from you or are you relaying on 3rd parties? Who tells them about your product?
- What distribution channels should we consider? have you included mobile and tablets? don’t underestimate the offline channel too!
- How much is it worth to the customer? what is the price of comparable services or substitutes?
- What pricing model should we choose? is it subscription-based? transactional? freemium?
- What kind of relationship do we want with our customers? this is a key question- do you want many shallow relationships (“buy and leave” or fewer deeper relationships?)
- Who are we up against? Competition, in the broadest sense? direct competitors as well as substitutes. how are you better/cheaper/faster? what’s your ‘unfair advantage’ in comparison to them?
- What do we have in common with our industry? for example, if you’re in the news business, are you suffering from the same problems the bigger players do?
- What must we be good at? is there an absolute key skill or service we must be able to do well in order to succeed?
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but answering these questions can certainly put a business idea in perspective. more content by School for startups can be found: http://store.schoolforstartups.co.uk/index.html
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