Even for small projects, getting started and taking them to success is itself a difficult task. So, starting a new venture and making it a success should definitely be daunting, right? We learnt during our Executive MBA course on New Venture Creation at IDC, Herzliya from Dr. Yossi Maaravi that it need not be the case. During the course of five days, we learnt that by following certain guidelines, an entrepreneur can evaluate and ascertain the success of her/his venture.
At first when I heard that the New Venture Creation module will be conducted in Israel, I wondered why? Reading the book “Startup Nation – The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle” answered that question. Israel has the highest density of start-ups per capita in the world and is ranked #1 outside the US as a startup ecosystem! It made perfect sense to learn about creating startups in this creative land.
Any new venture starts with an idea. However, coming up with an idea that can be taken further to create a startup is not everyone’s forté! At least, this is what we thought until the 1st day. We were introduced to several techniques of ideation – 10 to be precise. Coming up with an idea is just the beginning. How do we make sure that this idea will work? There are several steps to validate the idea even when it is still only an idea in our head! By the end of the day, each one of us had to use these techniques to come up with at least 3 ideas that pass our self-validation.
The ideas that we came up with had to be taken forward. We were divided into teams and we had to select one of the ideas following the same validation criteria. We learnt that in a startup conducive environment, once you decide you can’t proceed with an idea, you should share it with others. This way the startup ecosystem develops and also benefits the society. Once the idea was selected, how do we proceed? Yossi introduced us to the concept of lean startup methodology and the business canvas. By the end of the day we were working on our business canvas addressing the various aspects of our startup such as our target customer, our partners, how we reach out to customers, value proposition, etc.
Now that we had our business canvas ready, what next? Well, you see, creating a startup is all about validation. Just having an idea and a canvas won’t do! Well, actually, even the canvas can be thought of as a product of the idea. So, at each stage, we go about creating a small product, be it in the form or conducting interviews, questionnaires for surveys, a dummy website. We use this product to validate our idea to make sure we are on the right track. With each validation, we adapt our idea, our strategy and how we approach the problem.
Being in the startup capital of the world, what fun is it if we are just sitting in the class! This day was the field day. We visited two very successful startups in financial sector on this day – Pepper and BlueVine. We got to meet the amazing people who started these companies and learn from them 1st hand what it takes to create a startup. In addition to this, we also learnt about the different methods to get a startup funded. Because, money is one of the crucial resources for a startup. In the midst of all this, we also got to explore Tel-Aviv a little. We visited the vibrant and lively Carmel Market and historical Jaffa.
Now that we had went through the rigorous process, this day was the day of liberation. Each of our groups had to prepare an investor pitch in 2 hours based on all the work that we had done and present our ideas in front of 2 accomplished investors. Not only were the guests happy about our ideas and presentation, we were also mightily impressed with our efforts and what we had achieved in such a short time.
Well, it wasn’t all work and no fun. Yossi kept us busy throughout the week, but also made sure we got time to have fun and follow some of the FIFA World Cup. We even managed to squeeze in a visit to the historical Jerusalem on Friday. What a well spent day it was! In addition, we got to enjoy the amazingly delicious food!
We went to Israel without having a clue about how start-ups work, even without an idea of what to start. Within a week, we came back having not just one, but many ideas and even having made an investor pitch! I am sure my mates will agree when I say, “it was one of the best spent weeks of our lives”. Thank you, Frankfurt School, for providing us this opportunity of a lifetime!