This Thursday we had an extra guest lecturer in our class, entrepreneur Vasilis Macroudis.
Vasilis has been doing startup for most of his life and wanted to share some of his experiences with us. Here is some of his thoughts.
Three important keys to successful entrepreneurship
Think of it as a project. Use milestones, the pyramids was not built in a day.
Communication. Take every opportunity to talk to people about our idea. To get feedback and understand your target market is vital.
Be lucky. Every breakthrough project needs a stroke of luck. Make sure you are able to seize every opportunity. If you meet Bill Gates in an elevator tomorrow, would you have anything to say? – “the harder I practice the luckier I get”.
Only work on projects that matter to you. – “If you don’t care about cats in Guatemala, maybe you should not create a startup about that.”
“You want them to buy, you don’t want to sell” – Always strive to create an appealing product.
Vasilis is currently engaged in forming a new start-up community known as Guerilla Office. Where members setup makeshift offices once a week in public areas such as coffee shops and hotel lobbies utilizing that the only things an entrepreneur needs is a place to sit, free wifi and a power outlet.
The mushroom forest provided todays break from studying. The trip yielded apart from two full baskets an idea.
The idea is quite simple: To move the classical mushroom guides into your phone as an app. The app would perform the following tasks
View mushrooms, very similar to the traditional book
Identify mushroom, a tool for identifying an unknown mushroom. Is the mushroom agalic (skivling) or bolete (sopp)?
Save your location, the ability to save your location together with the time and mushroom you’ve found.
The mobile format has several advantages to a book:
Possible to update
The possibility to provide several alternative pictures of the same object without the cost of printing.
No need to bring the book with you to the forest, just your smartphone which most people would bring anyway.
How would be our target customer for this app? I think it is families living in cities with several adults ages 20-50 that owns a country house.
How would we generate revenue? We could make it a paid app but this will probably make many users think twice before downloading. Instead I propose that mushrooms are added to collections which can be brought as an in app purchase (with the basic collection free).
The venture would except for design and programming skills require extensive Mycology knowledge. Knowledge which I do not possess…. And how will create the actual content? To write texts and take good pictures of the 50-200 mushrooms is a daunting task. A partnership seems needed.
How has access to this kind of material? The authors of the classical mushroom guides of course!
How does the classical mushroom guides fit in? I propose that we collaborate with, initially, one author currently writing a new book in the field. We offer him/her to bundle the app along with the book. When a customer buys a book they also get a code unlocking the contents of the book as a collection inside the app. We provide extra value to the book and take a royalty each time a code is used. If the collection is brought inside the app without the book we pay royalties to the author.
The author would not only provide us with content but also provide domain knowledge during development. Once released we could offer other authors to create their own collections.
What about competition? Coming home from the forest I was of course curious to see if this has already been done. A search on Google Play and the appstore reviled one Swedish app with the same basic offering but a simpler business model and not quite as feature rich as I envision.
Society faces many great challenges today, our environmental impact, depletion of resources and aging populations to mention a few. These are indeed great challenges and maybe our most important challanges, yet almost nothing is done on an individual individual level; the problem is bigger than me. This of course extends to the entrepreneurial realm, where there is a problem or a pain there is also an opportunity, but the point of entry to these areas are immense.
Elon Musk, an entrepreneur who actively develops industries which are holding us back from facing these big questions. He is co-founder of Paypal, SolarCity, Tesla and SpaceX. If you’re interested in his story:
Elon Musk, initially a secluded kid from South Africa, shows us that the private sector and entrepreneurs can affect the big picture.
SpaceX is one of the major private actors in the Space industry (as we learned from Karin Nilsdotter during her lecture titled “How about opportunities in Space?”), and has been the source of several innovations. Innovations which often aims to lower the cost to orbit trough reusability of equipment such as rockets and space crafts. Here is Elon musk revealing a new space capsule.