20 March 2011
At the last HN London meetup I saw a talk by Evgeny Shadchnev of Forward. My understanding of Forward is that they are basically an internal incubator, with a big team of skilled developers ready to crank out business ideas to MVP stage, then continue building out the promising ones. This is part of a strategy that has seen them earn outstanding revenues, from £1m in 2004 to over £100m in 2010. Nuts!
Evgeny’s talk was engaging because he covered a lot of simple yet powerful points. It was quick too, he only had 5 minutes to speak.
The point I want to talk about is Unfair Advantage. This is a principle of the lean startup movement, which involves you considering what your single unfair advantage is.
Your unfair advantage needs to be:
1. Difficult to achieve.
2. Something you refuse to lose.
Some examples are:
1. An algorithm.
2. A rockstar team.
3. An existing client or set of clients.
4. Specialist knowledge of a particular industry.
3. Access to data that is typically difficult to obtain.
A lot of people approach me with business ideas and this is now the first thing I ask about. “What is your unfair advantage?” is a quick heuristic for figuring out how viable a business idea is.
The next step is to use a business canvas like Ash Maurya’s to sketch a representation of your business idea. There’s loads of stuff out there on how to use a canvas to record your business plans and if you’re in London the lean startup group is also a good place to get more info on this practice and to find others doing the same thing.
There were some other gems in Evgeny’s talk that I won’t cover here but hopefully there will be more speakers to this quality at the next HN meetup.
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This post was by Alex, project coordinator at WeMakeWebsites. We are e-commerce and Drupal experts based in Clerkenwell, London.