Startup Iceland 2016 is around the corner. The theme of the conference has always been about building a sustainable and antifragile ecosystem in Iceland that helps startup founders and entrepreneurs. If we break down what it takes to build a startup community, the main ingredient is the Founder and then there are a number of groups within the community that supports and encourages the Founder and her team. We have got this down in Iceland in a very short period of time. I believe it is time we started broadening the scope of what can be done from our startup community. We have been building the foundation for the past 6 years and we have accomplished some tremendous results, Iceland now has 3 accelerators, 3 new venture capital funds that primarily invest in early stage and fast growing companies.The energy to startup and build new companies is invigorating and infective and it has captured the minds of everyone in Iceland. It has helped that Tourism in Iceland has been blossoming as a new pillar of economic activity. I have written about the structural change of the Icelandic economy that was going to happen after the financial collapse and we are there already.
So what should be the theme for Startup Iceland this year? As I have continued to help Founders and Entrepreneurs, the thing that most of them struggle with is the acceleration part after the Product to Market fit phase. It is understandable, given the small nature of the Icelandic community, getting to Product Market fit is simple but not easy, the Icelandic Startup Founders have figured out this part. The next phase of the growth of the startup is the acceleration, how does one accelerate? There was a very interesting blogpost by Brian Halligan, the CEO and Cofounder of Hubspot on how Hubspot went from a Startup to Scaleup. I overlay that approach to what we have been doing in Iceland and I think the next phase is figuring out what we need to do to make Iceland Founders scale up and grow their small business focused in Iceland to the international and global marketplace. This is going to be the main theme for Startup Iceland.
There are a number of disciplines that an entrepreneur and Startup Founders need to focus on when thinking international. Just because you have product market fit in Iceland and are able to grow in Iceland does not necessarily mean you can do the same outside of Iceland. The challenges and opportunities are enormous, so are the risks. I don’t believe that it is easy to get traction and acceleration outside of Iceland without a clear strategy. I have been part of some of the teams in Iceland that have successfully made the transition and some have not. The most important decision the startup or any business needs to make is similar to what Brian was referring to in his post
Failing to decide on the type of Customer was a huge “optionality tax” on the Hubspot team
Why is this the case? because it dilutes the focus, builds fraction in the team. I agree with Brian and General George Patton that
A good plan violently executed is better than a perfect plan never executed at all
In order for your company to really accelerate and scale up, you need focus on the customer segment. When you are in the startup phase your world is so parched that you will take anyone as customer as long as they pay you something i.e getting to Product to market fit. Once that is done, there needs to be a shift in strategy. You need to nail down the customer segment, the pricing strategy and the execution strategy. The entire team needs to be aligned on this mission and then you violently execute. It sounds simple but it is never easy and it is different for every startup and company. All the key influencers, investors and mentors who are coming to Startup Iceland have gone through these paths and there are incredible insights and knowledge embedded in them. I am excited to be able to pick their brain and learn from their experience. As the saying goes
A smart man learns from his mistakes and a wise one learns from others mistakes