To succeed a new venture needs to play at least two and maybe three very different games at the same time… a short game; a mid game; and a long game. Neil uses real-life case studies to provide insights to help you play all three games well in your own startup.
Here, are some case studies from my clients (their identities have been disguised)....
FlareTech have had several great years selling high power infrared vision units to search and rescue teams, the military and others. Now they are a few steps from bankruptcy.
Fanbase have created a whole new way for fans to get music from their favourite groups that could completely disrupt the music industry - but they are cashstrapped and barely surviving.
Neither of them have realised that to succeed a new venture needs to play at least two and maybe three very different games at the same time…
The short game is right here and now, doing small projects or reselling products from others.
The mid game is creating a pipeline of orders from regular customers for your own products.
The long game is leveraging your strengths from the mid game to now disrupt or create a whole market.
How FlareTech went wrong
FlareTech focused for many years just on their short game, chasing after the “home runs” of big bespoke projects and paying out all their profits in bonuses. When they inevitably hit a dry spell with no projects, they had nothing to sustain them.
What FlareTech should have done is to use the profits from their short game to fund their mid game: developing their own products and a client base for these. (I suggested they develop a standard product they could sell to search and rescue teams and showed them how to differentiate this using “the flower”).
Having a strong mid game will give FlareTech a steady stream of income to “pay for the water and lights and salaries”, while in good years the profits from their short game projects will provide the “cream on top”.
Why Fanbase is failing
Fanbase is making the opposite mistake - of focusing only on their long game of disrupting the music industry.
They need money to survive while they are doing this, which they should be generating from first a short game and then a mid game. Playing a strong mid game will give them the funding they need as well as the credibility and connections they will need for their long game.
How DeepView is acing their mid game
DeepView want to become major players in the business intelligence field with their own product.
They have begun by doing specific BI projects for clients, a short game that is generating funds for development…
…But they are also using their short game to actually create their own product as they go along. They began their short game by generating a list of all the components they will need to develop for their own product.
They then set out to actively pursue projects in each of these areas. Each project has both brought in funding and paid for them to develop a key technology component for their future product - a double win!
I hope these insights help you play all three games well as you work…
Neil Hinrichsen is the founder of Koi. An entrepreneur all his life, Neil has cofounded two startups both of which were acquired, and is now working to develop the next generation of entrepreneurs in SA through his Koi platform, comprising a methodology for startups, classes, coffee sessions, mentoring, the KoiTips newsletters and a thriving online group. He loves working with young entrepreneurs who want to change the world. Neil also helps Microsoft with their BizSpark programme for top startups, provides mentoring at the Innovation Hub and other incubators, consults with corporates, advises the CSIR in South Africa on commercialising research, is an accredited specialist with the University of Pretoria and serves on the advisory board for Stellenbosch University's LaunchLab incubator. On the personal side he's involved in youth ministry and mentoring township teenagers. Learn more about Koi: KOI GUIDE | EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org
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