Welcome—welcome to Ludditis Shots & Beer! Glad you come in.
Got question for you.
I hear about this guy: Nikhil Sethi his name. No, don’t ask me—I never say it right. He got easy way to advertise on social web. His outfit called Adaptly. Got three slick platforms that work as if by magic. And his company, it grow like crazy! This I want to know more about.
SPEAK UP! WHAT IS THAT TERRIBLE NOISE, YOU SAY? IS ONLY “L” TRAIN.PRETTY SOON YOU NO NOTICE. DRINK UP. I GIVE YOU MORE. IS ON HOUSE!
Pivot to Success
There you see? Is quiet now.
So I go to big Northwestern University event and hear him speak—entrepreneur@nu they call it. Hey, finish drink. I give you highlights only. Here, I got notes—wait, my thumbs too big, even for this gadget.
Editor’s note—Ludditis keeps his notes on a huge Samsung Note II phablet but his fingers look like sausages. Ah, he’s found his notes:
Business only three years old. It still baby but look how big already! He start when still at university. So how he get funding to grow so fast? He say, “If you ask for money you get advice. If you ask for advice, you get money. We ask for a lot of advice.”
He make me think. He say, “Technology just way to copy some kinda human behavior,” or words like that. I crank that over in my old noggin a long time. It finally sink in.
Then he say, “At any given moment, eight groups are working on the same idea. Somebody will do what you’re doing whether or not you do it yourself.”
So outa all them company’s, maybe only one is winner. How you become winner? I like answer he give. He keep pushing to next level. You think he too pushy? That is what make success. Drive, he call it.
Hey – there no be this bar if I not drive business. Is same for this guy. Another thing—nowadays startups all in big hurry. Wait, I check word: “Minimally viable product.” Yeah that is what these kids make nowadays. They put junk out there and see how people like it, then change, then change again. “Pivot,” I think they call it. “Fake it till you make it,” he say, “You don’t know you missed it till you miss it.”
You want truth? I like this new way. Is quicker than expensive marketing study and faster too.
What Makes a Great Team?
What about his people, you ask? Every team member must understand deep root of why they do what they do. That way it make sense to them.
Then surprise: “Don’t hire your friends,” he say. “It is about going into a world that’s not so friendly.” Then he say, “One of the biggest reasons for failure is difference of opinions between founders. It’s like dating. You want to know each other’s deepest and darkest secrets. If you don’t find out now, it will come out later.”
Seem like – how you say – contraption. Non-sequencer maybe. I mean I cannot put his two ideas together, but lots o’ times I no can put two ideas together. So I give him benefit of doubt. Here, I pour you another—no worries.
How he keep growing so fast? Is initiative! “We make sure we keep reinventing ourselves at a high rate. Our rate of change is ridiculous. We have to destroy and reinvent the business every six months.”
So he create when he destroy. “These things are working and growing but they’re not going to keep working and growing forever. It’s hard to throw something that’s working in the garbage but you gotta do it. There no lack of opportunity—only lack of focus.”
I say it take special talent to do that. Startup is high-stress. I like bar a whole lot better. So I get rough and throw out troublemaker sometime. That – what you call – therapy. Let off steam. Is good for the old ticker. Here, have another shot.
When can he break his own rules? “When you need to.” He says. “It’s a gut feeling. You first have to understand what the rules are.” How he know what advice he take? “Ignore everything and only do what you think is right. Otherwise, it hinders making a decision.” Then he bounce this off wall: “Get your advice from a limited group of trusted people. The biggest decision on picking a board is you trust each other. Find people you can trust.” To me it sound like another contraption, but I see wisdom on both sides. I live my whole life with people I trust. Is best way to live. Best way do business.
You already have enough drink? Come back and I tell you how student companies make money.
PART 3 COMING SOON
Follow Nikhil Sethi on Twitter – @nsethi
Forbes article – “63% of NU students claim they want to start their own businesses”
Photographs courtesy Northwestern University, Adaptly, John Jonelis Studios.
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