A leg up for a startup

“A startup is a temporary organization in search of a scalable, repeatable, profitable business model”

- Steve Blank, The Startup Owners Manual

Startup Tasmania’s aim is “to create a dynamic, engaged and sustainable start-up community in Tasmania who are committed to supporting and fostering new ventures”.  When I started reading Steve Blank’s new book, The Startup Owners Manual, the quote above was the first thing I read. It presented a challenge to Startup Tasmania’s vision: how can you build a sustainable community composed of “temporary organisations”?

After all, if startups exist to discover a business model then surely their focus will shift once they’ve found it. They should move on to the challenges of establishing a business to deliver on it. Why would they want to participate in a community anymore? Wouldn’t they just leave?

We know this isn’t the case based on what we see around the world and what we’ve experienced at Startup Tasmania over the last 12 months so I canvassed for some reactions from regular members.

The nature of running a startup business means you’re always looking for new ideas and opportunities. You don’t find these working in a vacuum or by keeping your business a secret. One sure fire way to improve your chances of success is to share, discuss, debate and collaborate on your startup with like minded folks. Enter Startup Tasmania.
- James MacGregor, BugHerd

I can see a key truth in this: the discovery process which turns ideas into business models is essentially a collaborative one. No entrepreneur has all the answers. In fact they probably don’t have all the skills or industry connections either. Add to that the need for fresh perspectives along the way and suddenly there’s a distinct upside to sharing.

In my experience, the term ‘startup’ is more about a way of thinking than it is about a stage in the business life cycle. For me, Startup Tasmania is a community of people interested in ‘starting up’ new ideas, new projects, new partnerships, new conversations, regardless of which stage their business is at. Innovation seems to be the common thread.
Daryl Connelly, Principle Consultant at Pricklebox

Innovation can happen in companies big and small. In fact, it’s essential to stay competitive and avoid being left behind. Schumpter [1] taught us this and we see it every day. Mary Meeker provides some fantastic examples of this in her latest state of the web presentation.  Thinking differently is easier for startups but much harder for an established business. Coming to Startup Tasmania networking events is a way to immerse yourself in creative ideas, different ways of looking at problems and to meet people who you might be able to collaborate with.

I think the last word should go to Daniel:

Forget what you’ve learned at uni, getting a startup off the ground to the point where you can quit your day job requires experience and support. Paying to get that from professionals is ideal but really expensive. Furthermore, experience and support only get you so far, after that you’ve got to network to get yourself customers – because cold calling just don’t work. Community organisations like Startup Tasmania provides and environment where you can get that critical knowledge and support from your peers who have been there before and may know some people you should talk too – all for the cost of a few beers and a bit of your time…
Daniel Harrison, Founder of QikID

I’ve seen Daniel’s idea evolve over the last 12 months building on ideas which came up over beers at Startup Tasmania – a perfect examples of cross pollination of ideas. But I was particularly pleased to hear him say it’s helped open doors and get in front of potential customers.  That’s critical and a happy segway into the next post I want to work on.  It’s based on the first challenging take home message from Steve Blank’s new book: “Get out of the building”.

As I got up to leave the room, the CEO said, “I want you out of the building talking to customers; find out who they are, how they work, and what we need to do to sell them lots of these new computers.” Motioning to our VP of Sales, he ordered: “Go with him and get him in front of customers, and both of you don’t come back until you can tell us something we don’t know.”

And he was smiling.

My career as marketer had just begun.



[1] “One important insight arising from Schumpeter ideas, though, is that innovation can be seen as ‘creative destruction’ waves that restructure the whole market in favor of those who grasp discontinuities faster. In his own words “the problem that is usually visualized is how capitalism administers existing structures, whereas the relevant problem is how it creates and destroy them”




  1. Serge Rivest

    “their focus will shift once they’ve found it. They should move on to the challenges of establishing a business to deliver on it.”. Yes *but* they may need help and feedback at the establishing and delivering stage. Furthermore, unless you have a monopoly, it is wise to keep improving even after being established.

    “Why would they want to participate in a community anymore? Wouldn’t they just leave?”. There is definitive advantages when one can bounce ideas off peers and mentors in a casual environment, even once established. You might not have the finance or the ability to get yourself a variety of games geeks, PhD candidates, marketing specialist and some odd thinking people like me that will question your every steps. The advantages of the community is to have a pool of people and skills that you can access almost on-demand.

    Significant trust can also emerge out of communities which allows a members to use referred contacts without having to go through a lengthy and sometimes expensive recruitment process. You can also ask questions and get more meaningful responses than if you’d survey your own customers.

    I think some very successful companies simply re-create the “startup environment” within their own structure to help communication and innovation at high levels.

  2. Alex Bell

    Have you ever tried to explain an innovative business or product idea to the “general Joe”, and Joe could be a CEO , Senior Executive , work college or friend . I have on a number of occasions and most of the time their eyes just glaze over. For most people this is a brick wall and the ideas stops there.

    My Message is “Don’t Give Up” A visit to Start Up TAS should give you and your Idea a boost.

    Start Up TAS and the people there, have the benefit of helping boost your confidence, and to work out that you are not really a freak because of this “not so crazy” new Idea. There are plenty of people with new ideas and successful ideas whom you will meet while there.

    The help could be as simple as a small comment of encouragement, a question about an unseen flaw or the tittle of a book to read , one of the boosts I got. Check out The Black Swan by epistemologist Nassim Nicholas Taleb. ( The Impact of the Highly Improbable is a literary/philosophical book, a good read for business people on the innovative edge.)

    Start Up TAS, where else would you get so many open minded entrepreneurs in one place?

    Mr Alex Bell
    Owner / Managing Director

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