Participant: So how do I complete my Startup Drill Board?
Mentor: Well, it’s completed when you validate all the assumptions and find the problem/solution fit.
Participant: It means we will use the Board in multiple rounds to iterate the solution?
Mentor: Exactly! Your Board will be used as a tool to capture the progress and help you move on. It cannot be done in just one sip.
Participant: Okay, that’s exciting, but it sounds hard… I hope we’ll manage to get it done!
And they did it.
Not only this team but each team in the room got it done! Their mission of the event was to complete The Startup Drill Board.
And not only did they complete it, but they also did it right.
Our Startup Drill Smart Cities edition in Cyberjaya Malaysia was an extraordinary successful event considering the team results.
Having all the teams in the room finishing the process within the stated time limit is a meaningful point.
I do believe that those personality traits that also nurture teamwork result in good performance. Those traits are determination, logical reasoning, and ‘process focus.’
Also, there are some virtues of character that should be improved for a successful startup founder, but we will come back to that a bit later.
Determination. Strong word with strong meaning.
Or that’s how I perceive it.
Participants who joined the event were determined to crack the problem and get it done—like it’s a contest or something!
Good for them because this determination made them benefit the most out of the process.
At the end of day 1, we told them to go and find customers to interview.
What they learned will give them an advantage over other teams.
So they all did it!
Determined to make the best out of it, after 9 hours of workshop, they spent few more hours interviewing customers around the city to gather opinions and to present them in the morning.
This was a key fact that enabled them to complete the Board.
Learnings they have gathered in the evening enabled them to eliminate some assumptions in the very beginning and refine their customer interview questions.
Startup founders do need the determination to get it done!
They need to pursue a vision for the solution of the problem and research within its boundaries for the right one.
The determination to crack the problem is a power that can propel one during the good and bad moments of this process.
Logical reasoning would be my next observation when it comes to participants in Malaysia. Our Startup Drill methodology has a scientific approach.
You set assumptions, test those assumptions, learn from that test and repeat the process.
Quite simple, right? Well, not for some.
By completing the Board within the stated time frame, participants showed a great understanding of the methodology and its application.
The key to success is fast iteration—playing with assumptions through experiments until validation. This task is not an easy one.
Logical reasoning helps a founder to be objective when confronting experiment results and to plan the next steps from the gathered learnings.
Any startup founder would be better with than without this virtue.
Focus is often stated as one of the key virtues that successful people nurture. Recently, I watched a documentary about Warren Buffet who numbers ‘focus’ as the main reason for his success.
The focus of our participants was in the direction of the process and methodology we presented.
After they understood the ‘rules of the game,’ it was pure focus that led them to the outcome.
For us facilitators, it was much easier to mentor and follow up on their process.
No distractions were presented and there were no questions that would doubt the process and its flow.
That made our work much easier and brought the results much sooner.
Focus on the most important task is necessary for a startup founder to thrive over time.
Many distractions that appear at the early stage are very often lethal to many founders.
Until now, you got the sense how and why we like ASEAN startup founders. But there are also things to improve.
Creativity is one of them. Being creative is very important in the innovation process (no sh*t Sherlock).
Challenges that arise during the process need out-of-the-box thinking and creativity at its best.
The process of customer development produces valuable learnings.
Creativity is then needed to implement the learnings into the next MVP and figure out how to test it.
Public speaking. One of the most important skills of startup founders is the ability to sell their vision to others.
The most efficient way to do that is by having good communication and presentation skills. And both can be trained to improve.
And then curiosity. Curiosity is very important in entrepreneurship.
Curiosity lets us discover things we don’t know or don’t understand.
Being curious can start from a basic habit of asking questions to find out more.
We like ASEAN founders, as they have been very receptive to our Startup Drill methodology and used all three stated virtues to complete the process that was presented to them.
Virtues of determination, logical reasoning and focus are very handy in tech entrepreneurship, so I do think we can expect many more successful tech startups out of South East Asia.
It seems that they are just warming up!