startups Tag Archives - General Assembly Blog

How to Write the Best Problem Statement for Your Startup

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The Lean Startup Methodology changed the way we go about starting businesses. Instead of creating a business plan worthy of a Harvard Business School case study, we go out into the market space that we know and find a real problem. Then, we validate the pain point and see how the market is dealing with, compensating for, or otherwise working around that specific problem. Next, we determine if the market participants are willing to pay for a solution to the problem. If they see value, then we solve the problem.

Of course, it’s never that simple, but that’s the basic process in a nutshell. Atlanta entrepreneur David Cummings recently wrote that this process, from discovering the problem to getting to product market fit, generally takes about two years. Finding a problem is usually fairly clear. Validating the problem takes longer. Finding customers who are willing to pay takes a little longer, and building a product that fits the market takes a long time and usually includes several pivots or small deviations from the original product idea.

At the core of everything involved in creating a startup is the customer pain point. But many times, the best product for solving that problem doesn’t win. Why? Because the makers of that solution are really good at solving said problem, but not good at all at explaining what exactly the problem is or what its root cause consists of. In other words, the entrepreneur who can communicate better usually wins. That is why it is so vitally important to be able to explain the problem you are solving to anyone so that they understand it completely. But how do you do that?

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The 5 Pillars of Your Brand’s Business Model

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A marketing firm in Atlanta, Syrup Marketing, recently wrote a great article about how your brand is the “lead domino,” to quote Tim Ferris. What that means is that, once you create and solidify your brand, everything else tends to fall into place easily. One of those other dominoes that falls into place after you’ve created a fantastic branding strategy is the actual nuts and bolts of your business model.

Any business model is made up of many different moving parts, but they can be boiled down to these five pillars, on which you should build your business.

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Father of “The Lean Startup” Movement Clarifies His Message: Don’t Bulls— Yourself

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Eric Ries discusses his lean startup methodology at General Assembly in New York City.

“Lean Startup is not a religion,” said Eric Ries, the 37 year-old author of The Lean Startup (2011), which is the handbook for what has become a cult-like movement embraced by entrepreneurs and innovators worldwide.

The core philosophy of the book – and of its practitioners – is to test ideas early and often by getting feedback from potential customers. Before investing very much time and money into a product, the idea is to quickly create an MVP (minimal viable product) and put it in front of potential consumers. This avoids wasting time and money developing products that people may not want.

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The Simulated Startup: Meet the Innovative Startups Inside Mammoth Companies

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MasterCard Employee

MasterCard employee demonstrates ShopThis! with MasterPass which will allow consumers to buy products directly from Intel’s Virtual Shopping Experience – a fully interactive 3-D virtual fitting room app at MasterCard’s Innovation Showcase event.

“Agile methodology,” “failing fast,” “pivoting”—all concepts commonly used in startups—are increasingly being put to work inside the walls of large, well-established companies. This is because executives at Fortune 500 companies have realized that the natural limitations that face startups—limitations on time and financial resources—can actually be boons, resulting in fresh ideas and fast execution.

So a handful of large public companies, including General Electric (GE) and MasterCard, have created startups within their own mammoth companies. In 2013, GE created FastWorks, an internal startup entity. Its mission was to develop products using the “lean startup” approach, codified by Eric Ries in his book, The Lean Startup. (This means constantly experimenting and regularly getting feedback from customers to avoid building products that customers don’t want.)

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20-Year-Old Entrepreneur Is Using Data to Retune The Music Industry

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Raffi Khatchadourian, COO of indify

Raffi Khatchadourian is a Mathematical Economics major and incoming junior at Colgate University. A self-starter and talented entrepreneur, Raffi has established himself as the COO of indify, an emerging music startup, before many of his peers have even declared their major. Back in January, Raffi attended GA’s week-long Business Accelerator program in partnership with Colgate University. Since then, he and his co-founders have gone on to win $10,000 in funding from Colgate University’s Entrepreneur Weekend Shark Tank and $15,000 from Colgate University’s Entrepreneurs Fund. Read on to learn how this young entrepreneur transformed his passion for music and data into a successful early-stage startup.

Follow Raffi @DeadliestKhatch and his startup at @_indify. Continue reading

Top 10 Quotes from Peter Thiel’s Book, “Zero to One”

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Peter Thiel

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what tech billionaire Peter Thiel is most famous for. Co-founding PayPal with Max Levchin? Launching Clarium Capital or Palantir Technologies? Early-stage investments in notable startups like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Tesla? Or perhaps it’s his contrarian views on education, science, and technology.

No matter which of his accomplishments you deem most note-worthy — they have certainly solidified Thiel as one of the greatest entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and original thinkers of our time.

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The 3 Marketing Skills that Every Entrepreneur Should Have

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Marketing essentials for entrepreneurs

As an entrepreneur, I wear many hats. I’m my company’s chief accountant, salesperson, strategist, and product-builder. I’m responsible for making sure that my business stays thriving six months and six years from now. It’s exhausting, scary, and highly rewarding — all at once.

The biggest challenge that I face is that there are only 24 hours in the day. With 8 hours spent sleeping, I have very little time to be everything to everyone. I’m constantly in the trenches, working with my existing customers, which means that I have very little time to build marketing campaigns, guest blog, and build the infrastructure that I need to keep my business growing sustainably.

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A Guide For Non-Technical Startup Founders In Need of Web Development

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As one of the partners of a Ruby on Rails software development agency, I speak with dozens of non-technical startup founders every week who are in various stages of building their first web or mobile application. The range of technical acumen, willingness to learn, and time and resources varies widely among the group.

As a firm, we’re not just competing with other NYC based agencies for their business, but also offshore devshops, freelancers, and in some cases, the prospective client who may want to execute internally.

At the end of the day, a non-technical founder who has decided that they must build something has two options: Pay someone else, or partner with people. Below are the pros and cons.

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10 Blogs Written For Entrepreneurs by Entrepreneurs

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Starting a company is hard, and finding reliable advice along the way can be even harder. There are thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, and bloggers who claim to be experts, churning out new business advice every day, but how can you trust that it’s advice worth taking?

We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite business blogs written by startup founders for aspiring entrepreneurs. These resources offer practical advice that is bound to keep you well-informed and inspired as you follow your business dreams.

Related Story: 11 Success Entrepreneurs That You Should Be Following on Twitter

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General Assembly Raises $35 Million in Series C Round

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Since our launch in 2011, General Assembly has made tremendous progress towards our long-term vision: Creating a global community of individuals empowered to pursue the work they love. General Assembly has already touched hundreds of thousands of lives, with a community of more than 100,000 students, including an alumni network of more than 6,000 graduates of our courses across eight campuses.

While our progress has been tremendous, our work has barely begun. Our mandate, our deepest organizational responsibility, is to support these alumni not just now, but for many, many years to come. It is this obligation that led to our new round of funding for General Assembly, designed to ensure that we will be able to educate students and help decades of alumni yet to come. Led by Institutional Venture Partners (IVP), this round represents over $35 million of investment, with participation from other investors including GSV Capital, Rethink Education, Maveron, and Western Technology Investment. IVP is an incredible firm, with an awe-inspiring portfolio including Twitter, Omniture, Netflix, Akamai, Soundcloud, and Snapchat. Todd Chaffee, general partner at IVP, is joining our board, and we’re proud to partner with the firm as we continue to expand our audience and scope of offerings.

While we look toward the future, I also want to recognize General Assembly’s team today. We have 250 amazing, talented people, working tirelessly from outposts across the globe. Working at a startup is a constant challenge and I’m proud of what our team has accomplished. Our ability to continue to invest and grow is due to their commitment to General Assembly and to our students; they are the most crucial element of our collective success to date.

While a financing round is a milestone, it is hardly an endpoint. We want to build General Assembly to still be thriving 75 years from now, and have mountains of work to do to continue to serve our students, alumni, and the countless individuals we have yet to reach. There will be new courses, new campuses, and new audiences to come. We look forward to sharing them with our growing global community.

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