Perfection is The Enemy of Good Enough

This is the statement from Dave McClure’s speech given at Global Innovation Conference Osaka in February. Take a few moments and see what the boss of 500 Startups had to say to Japan.

I completely agree with his overall speech and particularly liked the part where he described current status of Japan not being able to catch up with Silicon Valley and the rest of IT hubs in the world by saying “Perfection is the enemy of good enough.”

I saw many Japanese startups doing over-engineering or spending too much time for things that nobody cares. This happens a lot to the startups where majority of staff is over 40 years old. They tend to do thing in an old-fashioned way, meaning they bring another set of old people and old ideas to the company.

They do market research, hire external agency to create a fancy looking logo, spend a lot of efforts to make sure scalability and security are taken care of, and keep worrying about their product until they think it’s perfect.

The fact is none of these things matters if your products don’t sell. Most of the time, products don’t sell not because you didn’t do market research, a logo wasn’t looking pretty, or the system didn’t scale enough. It’s simply because you were building a thing that nobody wants.

During the initial phase of startup lifecycle, they are expected to verify their hypothesis is valid by putting a product in front of prospective customers as early as possible and see if people are willing to buy it. Only then move on to the next step which is polishing the product. Not the other way around.

A concept of Lean Startup is still uncommon here in Japan. However, if you are a startup founder and thinking about bringing senior people to your company for whatever reason, make sure you give them a Lean Startup book and ask what they understand from it. If responses are all negative, don’t hire them. If you do, not only they destroy your company culture, but also they start bringing more senior people to the company with similar mind set. This is the beginning of the end.

I also recommend that you give them Little Bets by Peter Sims and The Startup Owner’s Manual by Steve Blank if you really want to maximize degree of fitness for your candidates.


Running Python on iOS and Android

Usually, I don’t do blog post about technical topics, but this time it’s different.

Disclaimer: I have Computer Science degree from US university so in fact I love talking about technical stuff. I was pretending not to. 😉

These days I’m spending a lot of time playing with Kivy, an open source Python library for multi-touch app. The app developed with Kivy can be deployed on many platforms including iOS and Android.

If you are a seasoned mobile app developer, your first response might be “Wait. Can I run Python app on my iPhone?” The answer is yes.

Kivy packages your app along with Python interpreter and statically links it to the app itself. No dynamic linking. Hence, you can submit your app to Apple (and Google) without problem.

(For those who are unfamiliar with Apple rules, dynamic library isn’t supported by iOS and your app will be rejected if the app uses one.)

Long story short, one thing that makes me exciting is a possibility of creating Unity like IDE (Integrated Development Environment) on top of Kivy, where developers can directly generate iOS and Android apps while entire code is written in Python.

Why do we need yet another tool when we have Unity? Well, there are a few reasons.

First, competition is always good not only to the end-user but also to the industry. Second, developers might be able to benefit from numerous amount of existing Python libraries that are battle-tested and proven to work. Third, I’m a Python guy.

Disclaimer: I have written Coworkify using Python. The app is built with Pyramid framework. For the record, I’m a Python guy.

I’m not saying Unity isn’t good enough. In fact, it’s one of the best tools out there for cross-platform development, especially for iOS and Android gaming apps. However, developers are only allowed to use C# and JavaScript since Unity’s script engine is built on top of Mono, an open source .NET framework.

What if we could combine the best of two worlds: Python being as powerful language and Unity being as easy-to-use IDE that can instantly generate mobile apps on the fly?

It seems my next project will be somewhere around this topic, and I’m sure I cannot do it alone. Please shoot me an email or write a comment below if you are interested in working with me.

There is no guarantee this project will be successful or it will be any sort of startup business, but at least it is an interesting topic to investigate, I believe.

Building Lean Startups workshop

I got this info from my folks at Pollenizer Singapore so I re-post it here. If you are into the startup scene in Singapore, this event might be interesting for you.

Building Lean Startups is the introductory course in our Academy training program. The course covers lean startup theories like minimum viable product and pivoting using a practice-oriented oriented approach.

Our goal is for participants to leave the course with specific tools for implementing lean principles in their startup or workplace.

The course materials have just been updated, with a stronger emphasis on lean analytics and on making the materials work for corporate participants.

Of course startups are also welcome and will receive our 70% startup discount. The course is open for registration here [].

Below is the event details from EventBrite website.

This course is how Pollenizer employees learn their craft. We have been building startups for the past four years and have refined a practical approach to building “lean startups.” This is a science for transforming a feeling in the gut to a functioning new businesses as efficiently as possible. This course will re-wire your brain to the art of new business discovery. If you want to start a business, or innovate from within an existing company, you will value this journey.

Course Outline

  • Disrupt: find an opportunity
  • Focus: have impact
  • Discover: test your assumptions
  • Loop: iterate to success
  • Pitch: the story of value

Who should attend?

  • Entrepreneurs
  • Product Managers
  • Executives and managers with a mandate for innovation

What can you expect to get out of this course?

  • Practical knowledge in developing new products using lean startup approaches
  • Creative approach to unlocking new innovative ideas
  • Professional course content that can be applied to your business

For more information please visit Pollenizer Academy.

Startup Dating is now Sd

Startup scene in Japan has been a sort of black box for those who don’t speak Japanese.

Amongst many tech blogs in the scene, Startup Dating aimed to fill the gap between two worlds since its beginning. No wonder they got their recognition not only in Japan but also in the whole Asian regions.

Now that they are taking a further step to become a global media hub for Japanese startups. They got a new brand name Sd, and English website will be up and running soon at according to their announcement.

Wish my colleagues working at Sd the best luck.

Every Startup Needs to Have Wow Factor

There is a favorite quote of mine borrowed from Zappos.

WOW is such a short, simple word, but it really encompasses a lot of things. To WOW, you must differentiate yourself, which means doing something a little unconventional and innovative.

You must do something that’s above and beyond what’s expected. And whatever you do must have an emotional impact on the receiver. We are not an average company, our service is not average, and we don’t want our people to be average. We expect every employee to deliver WOW.

In a today’s highly competitive market, companies without much differentiation are forced to go out of business no matter how well the companies are funded or how experienced their founders are. It’s simply because market isn’t big enough to sustain all of the incumbents and customers tend to choose the best one or two of them only.

So what’s a WOW factor anyway? For web startups, it might be a product that truly disrupts existing industry. For content startups, it might be something original and unique that makes people say “Wow, I’ve never seen this before.” For startups in general, it might be a superior customer service like one offered by Zappos. It’s easy to say, but difficult to execute.

From time to time I happen to face a meeting where all attendees are discussing topics that are completely irrelevant to their customer’s interest and have nothing to do with differentiation of their company. If it’s an operation level meeting, perhaps that’s okay. If it’s a company board meeting, that’s disaster.

Above statement applies not only to startups, but also to big players. Sony used to WOW people for long time. However, does 4K TV really WOW customers today? Well maybe, but so does its competitor Samsung.

Startup needs to understand WOW is a critical factor and treat it respectfully or startup will have a tough time down the line without it.

Are Investors Really Being Pickier Recently?

Few days ago New York Times published an interesting article.

The article basically states that investors are becoming more cautious about making investment in tech startups, especially in Silicon Valley area, after seeing troubled IPO of Facebook and questioned profitability of highly anticipated companies like Gilt Group.

I totally agree with David Sacks’s opinion saying there aren’t much opportunities left for startups where they can protect themselves from the onslaught of big players while figuring out what they are on to.

However, it doesn’t mean starting business in tech industry a bad idea yet. There is plenty of unsolved problems in the ares like education, nursing, and medical where software technology alone can be a true innovation.

If you shift your focus a bit on to these areas, you will find your startup can still look attractive to those investors. It’s just a matter of which angle you take.

Guide to Raising Money From Angels

This is a bit old information, but I post it here anyway since I found the contents of this book still valid for angel investment environment today.

The book is called Guide to Raising Money From Angels, which is written by an established entrepreneur / angel investor Bill Payne.

As mentioned in its preface, the book is not a template for writing business plan, a worksheet for valuing your company, nor a set of legal documents to guide an angel investment round.

However, the book gives very insightful knowledges to both startup founders and angel investors. In fact, I read it from both perspectives and enjoyed a lot.

I highly recommend this book to founders and co-founders starting their business even if they are not raising money from angels.