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10 Challenges for Emerging Market Startup Ecosystems
1 0 C H A
L L E N G E S F O R E M E R G I N G M A R K E T S TA RT U P E C O S Y S T E M S @ D A V E M C C L U R E @ 5 0 0 S TA R T U P S 5 0 0 . C O
1 ) T H E
R E A R E N ’ T M A N Y I N V E S T O R S . M O S T O F T H E M A R E E V I L O R S T U P I D . • low valuations and crappy terms: “51% for $100K” • supply vs. demand problem; fewer investors than startups, lack of competition = no urgency, • say NO to business plans / revenue projections • say YES to marketing plans, expense projections • wins & exits => FOMO, competition increases
2 ) T H E
R E A R E N ’ T M A N Y E N T R E P R E N E U R S . M O S T O F T H E M A R E C L U E L E S S . • need more mentorship, more founder experience • product management, design & UX, growth hacking & marketing • changing quickly as 1st gen founders exit -> 2nd gen startups
3 ) T H E
R E A R E N ’ T M A N Y C U S T O M E R S . M O S T O F T H E M D O N ’ T PAY. • Not true anymore; 3B+ smart phones • increasing internet penetration + consumer GDP • improving payment & logistics • local/regional markets getting BIG • access to global markets easier
4 ) S TA RT
U P S D O N ’ T H AV E T R A C T I O N , A N D N O I D E A H O W T O G E T I T. • Growth Hacker movement • STOP building product features; START growing customers (via online platforms) • unit economics: CAC vs. CLV, timing of revenue & expense, conversion metrics • find profitable, high-volume customer acquisition channels that convert to KPIs, learn how to grow them • WMD.co (weapons of mass distribution)
5 ) T H E
R E A R E N ’ T M A N Y E X I T S . M O S T O F T H E M A R E S M A L L . • where are the unicorns? • acquirers crossing borders to find talent (US, EU, China, Japan, Korea, etc) • non-tech companies acquiring startups for innovation • global companies looking for emerging market footprint • local -> regional -> global growth
6 ) I N V
E S T I N G I N R E A L E S TAT E I S B E T T E R B E T T H A N I N V E S T I N G I N S TA RT U P S • startups aren’t real estate! • real estate doesn’t go up forever • most startups fail completely • but a few startups grow up to be unicorns • use real estate to lower risk, drive liquidity
7 ) M O S
T A C C E L E R AT O R S S U C K . A N D T H E Y ’ R E G O I N G T O D I E . S O O N . • Accelerator economics are tough. • Most startups fail. Most wins are small. Big wins take time (5-7 years). • Most accelerators are under-staffed, under-capitalized, short time horizons. • Accelerators should verticalize, focus on industry-specific expertise, get corporate / academic / govt sponsors • Create operational capital via investment; use real estate to hedge risk, be creative
8 ) E M P
L O Y E E S D O N ’ T U N D E R S TA N D E Q U I T Y. F O U N D E R S D O N ’ T G I V E I T T O T H E M . • equity should be distributed widely among team (not just founders and management) • when exits happen, a thousand angels are born • PayPal Mafia, Google, Facebook • Yemekspeti example • create equity culture, angel investor culture
9 ) M O S
T S TA RT U P S N E V E R G O G L O B A L . M O S T T H AT T RY W I L L FA I L . • startups have to start SOMEwhere • some local & regional markets are BIG — Turkey, MENA, Brazil, Indonesia • 50-100M customers is a good place to start • hard to jump to global markets without local market MVP, product/market fit • you don’t need to go to Silicon Valley, but you need to get Silicon Valley to come to YOU.
1 0 ) M O
S T F O U N D E R S & I N V E S T O R S D O N ’ T T H I N K T H E Y ’ R E A S G O O D A S S I L I C O N VA L L E Y. • Silicon Valley isn’t a place, it’s a State of Mind. • Most startups in Silicon Valley came from somewhere else (PayPal, WhatsApp, Udemy) • The biggest problem isn’t lack of experience, it’s lack of confidence (for both investors & founders) • You’re Good enough. You’re Smart enough. Get Going!