[FoRK] startups vs swordplay

Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net
Mon Jul 26 11:18:36 PDT 2010

On 7/26/10 5:48 AM, Dave Long wrote:
> 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 

Finally, I can put my (brief) kendo training to use!  Maybe I should 
hang on to my bogu set.

Startups vary greatly in whether they have a strong target, technology, 
and/or solution and at what level.  Some need to go for the spaghetti, 
others for the lucky break or the nearby low-hanging fruit, and others 
just need to focus and fill the hole everyone is ignoring.


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