Start-up, scale up, screw up – Interview with Jurgen Appelo


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Januar 19, 2020

Foto von Jurgen Appelo und Podcast-Titel: Startup, Scaleup, Screwup

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Jurgen Appelo is a top keynote speaker and writer from the Netherlands. His new book “Start up, scale up, screw up” is a helpful tool book for a new generation of founders. It dives deep into the art of entrepreneurship and how to grow your business lean in an agile environment. 

Why is being agile so important for a start up?

Jurgen says that, being agile is not a goal. It is a means to an end, for a world that is thriving constantly. As a founder and entrepreneur, you should always develop new ideas till they don’t work anymore. The book delivers some clarity through a holistic picture on lean entrepreneurship.

He also refers to the innovators dilemma and how whole industries get disrupted by new business models. The music industry for example was totally disrupted by the invention of Spotify and similar companies. Established businesses are often pinned down to just being profitable. They forget to invest in new business models and ideas to solve the same problem in a different way. 

3 keys to solve the innovators dilemma

  • A company should never associate with only one business model. Apple for example is always thriving. First, they got popular through the MacBook. Then the iPhone became even more successful. And recently, they are working on apple tv.

Your business should always be a family of business models. It is crucial to have different frameworks for different business models and each unit should have a different structure.

  • Agile & Design thinking is most important. It means to always iterate the product. The risk of adult businesses is not to be profitable anymore. The risk for a start-up is, inventing something that nobody wants. Iterating is different for both, but you have to iterate constantly.
  • Test and implement great ideas. Create an innovation funnel. Get rid of bad ideas and implement good ideas to raise the bar constantly.

What are your 3 favorite tools from your book?

  • “The innovation vortex” – design thinking synthesis of lean start-ups. Design thinking is not sequential, it is a non-linear messy process. Focus on observing customers and create minimal viable products (MVPs)
  • “10 lifecycle stages” - an overview of all stages of start-ups. It gives practical advice and it answers questions like: “In which stage is my company right now?” “What do I have to do next?” Then, apply something that works in each life cycle.
  • “North star metric” – focus on different things in different life stages with a clear goal setting. For example, if you are in the seed stage, just focus on convincing investors.

What is your last advice for starting entrepreneurs?

Allow things to grow without all things working. He said that, “we moved from something small that didn’t work to something big that didn’t work by adding unnecessary features.”  

It is impossible to make a complex big system work in the beginning. Keep staying small and lean. When you have something small that works, keep growing it.

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