One of the big hurdles for entrepreneurs trying to grow fast and go international, are trade rules, currency considerations, trust, transaction financing, dealing with letter of credits and much more. Global trade for startups is virtually impossible. After getting global four times with our previous businesses, we decided to make it easy for all young entrepreneurs to go international. We started to design a global trade network, leveraging latest blockchain technology, smart contracts and our own global business know how.

Most super growth tech companies were still too slow

When we look back in time, Facebook demonstrated an unbelievable power of growth, yet it was too late in Asia. The same goes for Uber, Tesla and others. On one side conservative investors argue about speed to go international. Yet later stage investors argue about missed opportunities. Conventional growth techniques just did not allow mach faster growth than the current world leaders showed.

We don’t want to support monopolies, but….

Amazon for instance had a great chance to go global without anybody copying it right way. However new contenders like Alibaba do not stop taking market share bit by bit. That means monopolies find their contender quickly and that is a good thing, because we need diversity and options. But maybe it’s a good idea to give fragile startups an opportunity to go international even faster and then learn to defend their innovation at a later stage.

Blockchain based global trade for startups

Global trading platforms are the most used example when blockchain technology get’s explained to industry executives. However global enterprises can’t just rip out their conventional IT system and replace their gigantic databases with a blockchain. Nobody even knows if a slower blockchain would hold the load. That is very different with startups. Their problem in international trade is the initially small volume. For a blockchain however just right. Bringing thousands of startups quickly on a centralized system would be a nightmare. But using a self regulated decentralized solution a great opportunity. Building out interfaces to adopt the blockchain by a startup is easy – for enterprises a life long project. Making global trade rules standardized through smart contracts can be very easy adopted by a startup that has no real rules today. Just creating all the smart contracts for an enterprise would be a complex undertaking with lots of risks and liabilities.

The Society3 Blockchain would allow technology resellers in any corner of the world to safely buy and sell innovative technology that also comes from any place in the world. Tokenized businesses where anybody can trade anything makes the business much more valuable and much easier to conduct.

What does that mean in reality:

  1. Instead of creating, negotiating and working based on tens of pages of a distributor or sales contract written in many languages and considering many currencies, we invented self executing contracts that define the trade process once and for all. If adjustments are needed in future situations they will be adjusted for future deals as well.
  2. Instead of trying to understand the other trade party and developing some vague sort of trust, all players on the trade platform are authenticated and clearly identifiable. Trust development is taken over by the system.
  3. Orders can be placed by anybody and send to any trade partner. The fully decentralized trade model does not need any “distribution organization” in between. The blockchain and the corresponding user interfaces take care of the transactions and processes.
  4. Shipments are  made by the companies (startups) using any of the freight forwarder who docked onto the platform. Tracking and processing of all documents are taken care of by the blockchain and the corresponding self executing contracts.
  5. Delivery can be made to business partners or directly to end customers. Payments are made in crypto currency and every party takes care of the conversion of crypto into the respective local currency and back.
  6. Smart contracts keep track on both, the order flow and the shipment flow in digital form. Tax and customs documentation can be either printed when necessary or also digitally transferred.
  7. In case of a return due to a defective product, the same process goes reverse.
  8. Transaction cost is covered through miners getting paid for their job in tokens and only over time there maybe a small fee in the sub % range necessary to keep the platform up and running.
  9. Producer, customer, shipper, customs authorities and any other participant can be rated and that way develop reputation over time.
  10. The system provides unparalleled transparency due to its decentralized management at lowest possible cost.

Never before it was so easy to sell and buy products from all over the world to all over the world. Most of the expensive and delay causing intermediaries are reduced to one: the decentralized blockchain.

If you like to be part of the Global Trade System project, influence functionality and beta-test the first version of the GTS as soon as it comes out, please join the group and apply for the project.

GTS Project Application

Application link will be available soon

 

SOCIETY3’S FIRST GLOBAL ONLINE MEETING

After creating one of the most successful accelerator programs and working with entrepreneurs for the past 4 years, we decided to take our vision global. Today we are represented in 25 countries. And since we cannot bring millions of entrepreneurs to Silicon Valley – we need to do something radical different. We, the founders of Society3, are used to disrupt and make a difference. Today we begin to make a difference in how entrepreneurs in all countries get supported, treated more equally and have a chance to become a big company as if they would have started in Silicon Valley.

We need to rethink our abilities to permanently collaborate on a global scale. Creating a simple copy of Silicon valley is not going to work and definitely not the very spirit of Silicon Valley. Disrupting the main disrupter is. The digital world already holds all the necessary assets. We don’t won’t to ‘improve’ Silicon Valley but stand on it’s shoulders taking the amazing culture that was created there to an all new level.


REGISTER CON CALL EAST

Best for attendees from Europe and Asia


REGISTER CON CALL WEST

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AGENDA

* THE NEW EXCHANGE
Creating a global exchange for innovative minds.
How can entrepreneurs, investors and enabler benefit.
What’s our experience after 20 years Silicon valley.
How can every entrepreneur around the world leverage
global connections.

* GLOBAL ACCELERATOR
Running the first global online accelerator so every
entrepreneur can join, no matter where they are.
Main topics are: Bold visions, disruptive business models,
zero budget go-to-market strategy, traction and growth
hacking, fundraising,

* INTERNATIONAL TRADE FOR EVERY STARTUP
Building the first global trading & transaction system for
young entrepreneurs using blockchain technology.
Getting business rolling into almost any country faster then
ever before imaginable – at nearly no cost.

There is no substitute for a great in person meeting, like there is no substitute for an amazing live concert. Yet we hear MP3 music every day. This online conference is about online engagements, creating a mindset for online collaboration and an experiment to create a permanently connect online ecosystem – very much like Silicon Valley.

HOW TO CREATE A SILICON VALLEY CULTURE?

Every group of autonomous people can create a culture. We are on the verge of creating an all new entrepreneurs culture and significantly increase startup success rates no matter where they are located.
We do not want to change anybody or their culture. But we want to connect those, globally, who already have a good idea about an open and sharing ecosystem where we all can learn from each other and build businesses who can grow fast, create new jobs and provide value.

On April 5 we want to talk about how we can do that and how the culture in Silicon Valley was created.
All you need is an internet connection and a way to listen and ideally talk online.

Please register here:


REGISTER CON CALL EAST

Best for attendees from Europe and Asia


REGISTER CON CALL WEST

Best for attendees from Europe, Africa and Americas

There is no charge to attend

When you start your business, you don’t need anything other than your brain and working through the following 5 steps. If there is anything unclear to you, use Google. Finding your own way is part of this exercise. You will do that for the next 10+ years – finding your own way. If you are not 100% if entrepreneurship is even the right thing for you, check out the 10 most relevant founders traits – and also here find your own way to get there or chose something else.

1) IDEA STAGE
You have an idea and you are excited about it. Often times young entrepreneurs would like to get a validation from some experienced entrepreneurs or investors. Validating your idea is a great first move. But instead of talking to other entrepreneurs or investors – talk to potential customers. Do that before you even invest time and resources in building prototypes. However, if you feel better to make sure your idea works, it is OK to invest in a prototype.CHECK LIST
1) Did you speak to at least 10 potential customers to verify that your idea is solving a real problem and providing a much-needed solution.
2) Use a presentation or document to share your idea

 

2) ASSEMBLE YOUR TEAM, FIND CO-FOUNDERS
Before you do anything other than writing down your idea, attract at least another co-founder. Our world is too complex to do everything alone. And more importantly, our world is moving too fast for a single human to start a successful business and grow it fast enough before others enter their space. None of the top investors will ever invest in a solopreneur, no matter how cool the idea is.If you are a business person, find the technical co-founder. If you are an engineer find a business co-founder. If you can’t attract another entrepreneur, consider your idea is either not good enough or your skills and personality is not well enough developed to attract others which will always be necessary as you need to attract talents, customers, business partners, investors and more. Only two engineers or two business people is no better than a solopreneur – it’s all about the diverse skill set on the business leader bench. Be committed to give your co-founders at least 20% of your company and stay away from being the dominating “main” owner.CHECK LIST
1) Do you already have a diverse founders team with business as well as subject matter expertise?
2) Did you make well documented arrangement between founders regarding the equity ownership distribution.

 

3) DEVELOP YOUR SOLUTION CONCEPT
You and your co-founder will now want to develop the whole concept of your company – together. This includes defining the problem you are solving or the need you are fulfilling. It determines who your target audience will be and what you are bringing to your market. Describe what’s unique about you and your solution and make some intense research who else is offering similar solutions. Research other potential companies in the US, all over Europe and Asia. Define what the SINGLE most important function of your business is. If you have a list of important features – select one. If that one is too weak, strengthen that feature instead of growing a list. If the unique aspect of your solution is that you offer a complete suite of features while other businesses deliver only parts of it, re-think your idea as there is almost always some missing aspect of your concept.
CHECK LIST
1) Do you have a written down business concept – not necessarily a fully blown business plan?
2) Have you selected your unique single most important functionality that you want to be known for one day?

 

4) MARKET VALIDATION
Now put together a short presentation deck with no more than 10 slides. Create a list of 50 individual people who are potential customers (people not companies). Then try to make an appointment to present your idea. When you meet them – we highly suggest to NOT argue with them – just listen super carefully. Make notes what they don’t like, did not understand, did not need, and what they liked. IMPORTANT: Ask what of their current problems you would solve. Ask if they would buy your solution and what they’d be willing to pay. Make sure you end up speaking with at least 23 relevant people who are interested in your solution. If you don’t have the 23, ask more people. Document each and every interview. You may notice that you do not need a product to do any of the above.CHECK LIST
1) Did you speak to at least 23 people who have been willing to explore your solution for their business or individual use and it at least ort of solves a problem they have?
2) Is the feedback motivating enough to begin investing serious time and resources to build a first prototype? If not go back to step 3.

 

5) BUSINESS MODEL
With all the feedback you received, you may now develop a concept how you will produce, market, sell, deliver and service the product. All overall: How are you going to make money and compete with others. Then ask yourself if there is any way to make the engagement between you and your customer especially attractive – more attractive than your competitors. Determine the cost of building your solution and the price you like to sell it for. Consider a margin for distribution channels if you are addressing a large market (B2B or B2C).CHECK LIST
1) Do you have a written down business model that includes a possible pricing, a concept how to bring it to market and how you service customers?
2) Do you have an idea how you will compete against similar solutions or educate customers about your solution that has no competition?

At this stage it makes sense to look for a successful entrepreneur as a mentor, an office in a co-working space and others to connect with. Too early to discuss with investors. Forget seeking for an investor to build the business. Find some capital and seek for investors when you are ready to grow the business from a few early customers to a real company.

competing successful with enterprises - Society3

Once in a while I meet entrepreneurs with amazing ideas but they don’t know how they could compete with even the largest enterprises.

I started my first company from scratch with $20,000 and needed to compete with 3 other businesses, each $200 Million to $1 Billion in revenue – 10 years later we were market leader on a global scale ($5B in revenue)

My second company was a little more different

I started my third company right after the bubble burst and competed with two other competitors who had $70 Million and $68 Million cash in the bank from pre bubble rounds – I started with $500,000 – 5 years later we were close to acquire one but let go because the due diligence made clear there is nothing we could gain – being the market leader already.

Here is how we compete:

1) In each case we developed a disruptive business model. We completely went of the beaten path and redefined sales channels or we made payments in very different ways, provided transparency were was none, service integration in the pricing and so forth. It was the market that forced the competition to follow us and compete with us – or loose it.

2) I never competed based on technology, product functions or any of those short term win or loose features. I learned: “The best product never wins”. However we did have great technology because we had great engineers – yet it was not the winning factor in the end.

3) Business is done between people. I knew I can win more customers when I have a nicer team – and I always had a stellar team. :)

In retrospect: all big winners won with a superior business model and amazing teams.

Obviously I don’t know anything about your business and therefor it is hard to make more specific suggestions – but look at your business model and your team before you even spend a millisecond on your product when it comes to competing for market share.

A good read to make sure you can handle such a problem is the question to find great founders

I’ve worked with over 100 startups in the past years and ran 5 businesses myself.

My experience – in this order: 

No. 1) Weak execution

Most failing startups could just not execute in a timely manner and/or showed a huge lack of judgment. They worked too hard on product features, too little with the market. They built too many “nice to have” features. They did not launch in time and did not work hard enough to build a use/customer base. Didn’t manage expenditures well enough. Failed to identify opportunities, failing to build strategic connection…

No. 2) No long term vision

It’s hard to convince a customer that your young startup is the right business if you just focus on your present product features. It’s hard to convince investors, partners, top talents if you can’t express where you want to take the company. 

As a result you won’t get enough traction and most likely fail.

No. 3) Superficial market/customer research

Lack of product-market fit. Very often startups develop products for themselves instead of for a large market. They keep their development too close to their chest instead of involving test customers very early on – even before they create their first prototype. The result is often to too far off from what the market needs. 

No. 4) Team weakness

No sense of urgency. Not fit enough on the technology side, not fit enough on the marketing side, not fit enough on the finance side, not fit enough on the operational side. 

5) Lack of connection power

Startup teams all too often underestimate the importance of building their own network of influential connections. Connections to influential users, influential industry groups, influential analysts, influential media, influential business alliances… Or they hope to find investors and mentors that provide those connections. In reality it’s just not working that way.

Re- money 

Many comments are made that money is one the problems. In all the cases and startups I’ve seen, lack of money never brought a startup down. Lack of funding is a function of one of the above issues – not a problem in itself. There is more money available than ever before – but the above weaknesses prevent startups to raise funding.

You have only 24 hours a day minus 10 to sleep, eat and recharge makes it 14 hours.
I assume you are tackling a large market and want to conquer the world. I also assume you want to have about 30% market share of whatever billion dollar market with roughly 20 Million potential customers.

This post was inspired by a question on Quora: As CEO and non-tech co-founder, what should I be doing before we launch while my tech. co-founder is coding?

The 14 hour day of a startup CEO

1) List building 1 hour
Start spending an hour a day to extend the list of potential customers who should test, use and buy your product once it is ready. Make the list a simple spreadsheet with first name, last name, company (if B2B), linkedIn profile, twitter name, location, interest (B2C) or title (B2B). Try to get 50 names a day (so work fast).

2) Reaching out to users 1 hour
Try to reach some of those people right away and ask them what they think about the solution you develop. Talk on the phone if possible or online otherwise, Do your very personal market research – but more importantly build connections.

3) Theoretic team building 1 hours
You will need a stellar team when going to market. Look for your best possible marketer, sales people, maybe operations, production…. Make a list, reach out get feedback more on what they think you may need and begin to be in the market. Go through groups, read news, find the top guys and make another list of those people so you can go hire them when the time is right and you don;t need to start looking when you have no more time.

4) Thought leadership building 1 hour
Craft blog posts and answer questions on Quora, write comments on other blogs and become known as a very smart person in your specific field. You may easily extend that to two hours if you have some room for it.

5) Content development 1 hour
You can do that in a few days but exhaust your creativity pretty quickly. Instead you may work a solid hour a day on content creation. Product description, video clips, website improvements, blog posts for the same, industry trends, social trends, product trends….. the sky is the limit – but you have only one hour a day.

6) Operations, processes, pricing
Think through the sales process from soup to nuts. From talking to new customers for the very first time, how they land at your business, what they need to do to buy something from you, how they pay, how you invoice, your pricing model, contracts, services, liabilities, terms of service, privacy, compliance….. an hour a day is only 7 hours a week or some 90 hours a quarter so if you are on top things you should be able to get it done.

7) Company evolution, 1 hour a day
It’s a bit limited but again, you have only so much time. So think through your product road map, bring it in alignment with your vision, weave in the feedback from the conversation with customers (see above), consider the evolution of your competition and think about how your market will evolve in general. Try to write a script book for your business scifi – what will your market, our society, your industry, the technology and your company look like in 10 years from now. Write it down, do a video clip. Solidify your vision.

8) Team building 1 hours
Spend time with your team, how they are doing, what they achieved how the product evolved and bring their work in alignment with your vision – every day. Make sure a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a indeed a MINIMUM Viable Product. Don’t allow yourself surprises “I thought you though that we thought we do this….” Know the progress. Have a chat at the water cooler too :)

9) Make yourself familiar with your market 1 hour
Read the news, be in online groups, understand who gets funded in your market, what they do, what new industry regulations may pop up, who gets quoted very often, meet the mover and shaker know exactly what is going on.

10) Prepping for alliance management – 1 hour
Create a list of potential alliance partners, No matter what you produce a new satellite, a mobile app, a new breed of avocados, new diapers or a new pizza shop – you never work in isolation so find out who are all the potential business alliances. Maybe service providers you can work with, interesting suppliers, industry organizations…. you get the point.

11) Finance & Investment – 1 hour daily
You will want to continuously work on your financials, model the future with everything you learned in the other 10 hours each day, “model and tune” it. Then start looking for investors. Make a list where you add at least one investor per day. The day you are starting to go fundraising you will appreciate that advice more than anything else – because it takes time.

12) Meet the industry 1 hour a day
Go to events, share your vision early on, be in the market talk to people. You may not do that every single day but at least twice a week. And as long as they don’t come to your office, you will need to allocate 2-3 hours for those events at least. And most likely you exceed your one hour budget per day very quickly.

13) Meditate, read a book – work out 1 hour a day
You know you will need to feed your mind by shutting completely down other than sleep – and one hour once a day is most likely just perfect.

14) Socialize one hour a day
Have breakfast, lunch, coffee, dinner with somebody from your business world once a day or every other day. Just be there and listen and learn, get feedback – or help and provide insights :)

Well – now there is a ton of other things that people do: taking an hour to read emails, organizing their day, scheduling the doctor and getting ready for the weekend. Oh not to forget movies – unfortunately and as you see above – no time for any of that. Sorry.

As a tough CEO you will not allow your team more than 6 month from start to MVP. You will need to hurry to get all the above done by the time the product can hit the market.

Enjoy the ride :)