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Start Fast!: How to accelerate your software / internet / mobile venture Paperback – January 2, 2012
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About the Author
Chuck Stormon is CEO of Attend LLC and Managing Director of the StartFast Venture Accelerator (a member of the TechStars Network). He regularly consults with public and private companies and investment banks on strategy, M&A and technology. Mr. Stormon's 25 years of experience starting and managing companies through all stages of their lifecycle extends across telecommunications, internet, software, semiconductor, defense and electric utility industries. Mr. Stormon is a member of the Executive Committee of the Seed Capital Fund of Central New York, the Board of Directors of Symphony Video, Inc. and the Board of Directors of CollabWorx, Inc. Mr. Stormon founded Attend LLC in 2008. From March 2008 until March 2011, Mr. Stormon was Chief Marketing Officer of PacketExchange, a global next generation network service provider. Until September 2007, Mr. Stormon was Vice President of Strategy and Business Development for Tekelec, a $550 million NASDAQ-traded telecommunications equipment manufacturer. His responsibilities included corporate strategy, M&A strategy and business development. Prior to that, as Tekelec’s Vice President of Product Management and Product Marketing, Mr. Stormon was responsible for successfully repositioning the company’s communications software product lines for 400% growth over two years time. Mr. Stormon became part of Tekelec after its 2004 acquisition of Steleus, which he co-founded in 2001. At Steleus, Mr. Stormon first served as North American Chief Technology Officer, then as the CEO and Chairman of Steleus India before becoming the Executive Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Business Development. Mr. Stormon led the sales team to a 400% year-over-year sales gain, and established the strategic relationships that resulted in the acquisition of the company. Prior to Steleus, Mr. Stormon was CEO and President of Coherent Networks, Inc. which he co-founded in 1987 and grew to almost 300 employees before it's acquisition in 2000. He holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Computer Engineering from Syracuse University, three (3) US Patents, and has many publications.
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I recommend highly for all those just beginning the start-up journey.
It's an easy read and well worth it.
My first thought when I was handed the book was "this book is so thin". As I read the book, I realized that it was the perfect complement to "The Lean Startup". In contrast to The Lean Startup, Start Fast is the nuts and bolts of how to put the principles of a lean startup into practice. The book is extremely pragmatic and much of Chuck Stormon's 25 years of experience working with startups come through clearly throughout the book.
Although the book is geared to startups in internet based businesses, I feel it is a must read for anyone who thinks they want to do a startup. I am in the early stages of a manufacturing startup. I have a background in Engineering and have been involved in optimizing processes using Six Sigma techniques and Lean Manufacturing for over 20 years in the Aerospace Industry. I have a completed design and have been in serious planning for my idea for just over a year and I am beginning to acquire pre-seed funding to begin my prototype. I read the book with my eyes wide open and found such sage advice for a person at my stage of a startup.
Mr. Stormon begins by having everyone that is considering a startup to do a very serious sanity check. If you ponder what he covers in that first chapter and you still decide you are willing to give up your secure day job for the highly risky business of a startup, then he has you continue with the book. Those of us that are willing to make that leap are a rare breed indeed, but as the author points out, we need to think clearly through that decision, because much more can be lost than can be gained, especially if the full commitment is not there on our part from the beginning.
The remainder of the book covers the real nuts and bolts of the implementation of the lean startup methodology. The author unapologizingly adds no fluff and minimizes the theretical explanations behind the lean startup principles. However, in addition, the author adds information on the various exit strategies when one is, or is not, successful. He also shows his philosophy, which I share, of the importance of treating your employees fairly, and how important it is to celebrate success with employees both to show appreciation, to foster future success and just to make work a fun and rewarding experience. He demonstrates how meaningful jobs can be created by startups even in areas of the country such as Upstate New York, where one does not think of as a place to do internet related startups.
My one recommendation to the book is that you most likely would be better served to first read "The Lean Startup" referenced above. I have a fair amount of knowledge about Lean techniques and considerable experience statistically validating results. Mr. Stormon purposely wrote the book with minimal detail to keep the volume down, so there are a lot of dots to connect. I believe you will connect many more of the dots by having "The Lean Startup" as background information.
I would like to close by thanking Mr. Stormon for the considerable amount of time he spent in preparing this wonderful document. If we read this, follow the general "how to" principles outlined in the book and we are successful in our own startups, we will have to give at least some credit to "Start Fast".
Have you ever had a feeling that you are moving on a membrane projecting all kind of information, except the stuff you really need? You are sure that beneath this membrane there is another world, where you could get real answers. Yet, you are looking from outside in and, no matter how hard you try, you cannot get what you want.
Now, why should virtual be different than brick and mortar? If information is our coin, one surely has to earn it rather than get it? No free lunch, right? But then ...why all the websites with all the free stuff?
Well, nothing much changed. For the most part, we are being passed a mock currency. The content on the Web is very carefully organized in layers designed to attract you and make you buy, but also make sure that anything with real value is hidden behind a layer of cheap glitter. The stuff that could really help you without paying dearly - make money, get healthier, live better - is just not there. So, where the hell is real stuff? Who has it? Does anybody?
Well, yes. The guys known as "insiders" do. The flow on information between insiders and the public is very closely monitored and rationed. Insiders are not talking.
So, please, be alerted to the fact that this small book contains real information. Stormon is an insider, and he is talking. If you are about to start your business, he will give you several reasons not to. He shows how the so called "public knowledge" is just common fallacy. The book is however not a "10 things business managers won't tell you". Stormon provides context and real-life examples, and everything in this book is his own. If he uses a reference, he will tell you the source - but the selection of references is his own. When you read the book, you get a feeling the guy is honest, so you find his advice credible. The fact that he does not ask you for (more) money helps, too.
For example, the book will explain to you realities of raising capital. It does not tell you how to raise it - this is your problem - but it will explain to you the process, so you know what you are getting into and are ready for nasty reality checks. You well get a checklist of things you must do or else, and a task list that will guide you in the tough moments when you really do not know what to do next. Most of the time it is not another epiphany but a step in the process that needs to be completed for your start-up to succeed. All this makes for an excellent practical guide. I wish I had this gem before I started my own business.
OK, this is getting too long, so here comes the spoiler. Stormon shows you the one real reason to start up your own business.
Because it is fun.
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