[FoRK] startups vs swordplay

Dave Long dave.long at bluewin.ch
Mon Jul 26 05:48:15 PDT 2010


Steve Blank's definition of a startup is "an organization formed to  
search for a repeatable and scalable business model", and he points  
out that it is critical to this search to "get outside the building",  
to engage with customers.

This is actually very similar in practice to fencing, and as far as I  
can tell, to kendo.

Touching someone else with a sword is not so difficult in itself, the  
difficulty arises in finding a way to do so without being touched  
oneself.

In sword sports, then, there are attacks, and there are also  
preparations for an attack.  The former had better score, whereas the  
latter serve to discover the opportunities to make the former.  The  
trick is to prepare with sufficient intensity to reveal an  
exploitable opening, yet -- as one doesn't know, a priori, where it  
may be -- still have enough agility to change actions into the  
revealed opening and commit to the attack.

Similarly, a startup, instead of putting pressure on an opponent  
through engagement, searches for traction in a marketplace through  
engagement.  The trick is to search with sufficient intensity to  
reveal a repeatable business model, yet -- as one doesn't know, a  
priori, what it may be -- still have enough agility to pivot into the  
revealed business and commit to scaling.

-Dave



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