Capitalizing on The Third Wave: A summary for Bootstrappers and Startups

I recently read The Third Wave by Steve Case. The story is well worth reading with a good first hand deep dive into AOL and the heady 90’s trials and tribulations.
The main message to me was Steve’s commitment to spreading his love for Entrepreneurship and in making huge personal financial commitments to same.

“More Cowbells” for Entrepreneurship.

The status quo in startups has been the Founder/ Co Founder teams trying to build companies to support their initial ideas or MVP’s. The ensuing grind killed more startups than anything else in terms of “Why startups failed”.

Case describes the prerequisites for success which includes a workable Proof of Concept. This has to be completed with persistence and patience to drive towards validation. Getting money gives the process merit, but isn’t as necessary as a first step these days.

Today’s disruptive startup also requires a winning strategy which includes strategic partnerships to succeed. These following quotes help clarify this concept;

“Partner before trying to drive market competitors to obsolescence” You won’t beat them in a direct market assault, so join them proactively. Network your way into the right conversations. Save the pitch decks.
“Securing partnerships creates leverage with existing brand, channels and customers”. This is where your discussions cross the finish line vs. trying to develop internal structures and processes to compete.
“Create momentum and sense of inevitability” Your runway is limited financially and a stealth mode basement project tends to stay there. This is real traction in terms of Minimum Viable Startup.
“Develop credibility- attracting capital and traction” Move your project from “possibility to inevitability.” “Money=Merit” Solving real problems and jointly proposing solutions with a partner removes friction and gets rid of your need to pitch “egos and icons” for market development funding.
“Find problem solvers where you can leverage skills” You don’t need to hire people directly or dilute your company to get work done. Approach your Regional Innovation Hubs to source like- minded experts and Government contacts.
“Partner with Government” The policy issues we face today will not go away, they must be used as strategic advantage via issue handling and credible GTM plays. Your strategic partnership portfolio must include Government involvement to help create a global scale proposition.

As a summary, The Third Wave clearly defines the future success of startups in terms of strategic partnerships being the pathway;

1) Provide for “credibility to possibility” increase your odds for success.

2) Get in front of the wave- quick access to new opportunities.

3) Focus on core value in your IP rather than product features. Your partner may become your acquirer sooner if your focus is on IP and value creation.

Please also see our previous coverage on Strategic Partnerships

If you are currently Bootstrapping your startup or considering your first strategic partner options, stay in touch as we have workshops and events coming up which can help.

In the interim, feel free to contact us. We offer a no charge, no obligation 30 minute consultation by telephone or Skype.