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The EJ Methodology: How To Check Infant Entrepreneur Mortality

Posted on Thursday, Jan 28th 2010

I would not have believed this had someone just told me so. But based on my roundtables, I have now a reasonable sample of entrepreneurs to do some trend analysis and draw a few conclusions:

A good 25% of the entrepreneurs don’t bother validating their ideas. If we can simply plug this basic gap, we can enhance their chances of success dramatically.

Another 25% is immediately interested in raising money. Again, raising money without validating the business is pretty much impossible, so this is another pattern that I am seeing constantly, and if we can address, has a chance at significantly impacting infant entrepreneur mortality.

I have put together a set of slides on the EJ methodology, which I would like you to use as you are either trying to self-teach or are working with entrepreneur groups and entrepreneurs as 1M/1M ambassadors. Ideally, as we build the EDO partnerships, if we can equip the Internal Ambassadors to use these slides and help the entrepreneurs prepare for the roundtables, we can scale this much better. For the roundtables to be productive, I would like entrepreneurs to do their homework before coming to pitch me. And this includes thinking through a strategy for validating your business until it becomes adequately real, not just an idea in your head. Meaning, figure out how you get to paying customers, and come to discuss that strategy with me. I will be happy to help.

Over the last year or more, I have worked with over 75 entrepreneurs, and they are coming to the roundtables with absolute basic questions, almost all of which can be tackled by themselves, or by the Ambassadors pointing them to the appropriate resources as indicated in these slides. If my experience coaching entrepreneurs over the last year is any evidence, just addressing the validating point and the fund raising point are going to add tremendous scalable value to reducing infant entrepreneur mortality.

1M / 1M ambassadors, if you can give me a hand with scaling this portion of the process, I can spend my time tackling the more complex issues next, and also focus on looking for more patterns like these that may also be addressed with scalable solutions.

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Hi Sramana,

I would like to assist you in scaling the roundtables by handholding the entrepreneur pitching through the preliminary checklist of EJ methdology , Clarify your story , Validation etc

Thanks

Javed Thursday, January 28, 2010 at 1:20 PM PT

Hi Javed,
As you build your 1M / 1M geographies, please focus on working this process into the partnerships, and in how you recruit and groom and Internal Ambassadors for 1M / 1M.
Thanks, Sramana

Sramana Mitra Thursday, January 28, 2010 at 1:29 PM PT

Sramana, i think you’re doing very good work. Hope lots of interesting stuff comes out of this.

Rakesh Friday, January 29, 2010 at 6:34 AM PT

Sramana,

How can Tech Ranch Austin, an incubator in Austin, Texas help you spread this gospel?

-Austin

Austin Gunter Friday, February 26, 2010 at 2:05 PM PT

Austin, the best thing would be for Tech Ranch Austin to become an EDO partner for 1M/1M.

Sramana Mitra Friday, February 26, 2010 at 3:51 PM PT

Sramana,
I commend you highly on your work.

However, I am very skeptical of the work of many EDOs. A good EDO would need to have an altruistic motivation, or at least identify with providing public service. I think there is a real susceptibility within EDOs for self-benefit and self-promotion. For example, in my city, I have not seen any of the major EDOs (including publicly funded ones) provide assessable benchmarks for the success of their entrepreneurs, either in terms of revenue, jobs created, nr. of exits, or any other measure. But EDOs do seem to spawn an ecosystem of professional services and pay-to-play arrangements that leave one wondering about the ultimate benefactors.

As you note, on the other side of the table, many startups see funding as their primary goal. All efforts appear to culminate with getting funding, and very little about what comes next is ever discussed.

Combine the two and you get a perfect recipe for mutual self-deception. This is perhaps a sign of our times: expectations of easy money and no real accountability. And we wonder why so many startups fail?

So my question is, how are we going to get back to the basics of providing value to customers, and to an attitude of sincere service in the effort of solving customer problems.

One place we could start is instead of wasting time with unrealistic content in business plans, is to focus on very simple questions:

Who is going to pay for what you are providing and how badly do they want it? Will they pay you to develop it?

How and when will you get to positive cash flow? Are there other ways to get there?

What is the smallest footprint that your business idea could be implemented on?

Interestingly, if we had a more effective startup culture, then the risk, real or perceived, associated with startups would decrease. This would encourage many more angel investors to get engaged — a potential positive cycle. They say hope is the last thing to die…

AgentG2 Thursday, March 18, 2010 at 10:55 PM PT

Validating a buisiness plan – Sramana Mitra meets Seth Godin…

One of the key tasks for starting a business is validating the idea – a task that is, unfortunately, often neglected.  Therefore, Validation is a key ingredient of Sramana Mitra’s EJ Methodology. Sramana even provides support for validation in the for…

jastram.de Blog Monday, July 12, 2010 at 8:46 AM PT

Technical comment: It seems that the slides are gone ("This document has been removed and is no longer available. ") – could you reinstate them, please?

Thanks for the great work!

Michael Jastram Monday, July 12, 2010 at 3:49 PM PT

It’s back, Michael.

Sramana Mitra Monday, July 12, 2010 at 11:34 AM PT

Dear Sramana,
I am planning to start a export company with two other partners who are ready to invest in a office and office infrastructure. I have someone who knows about export documentation ( being doing that for nearly 10 years), however, what I would like to know is will any bank finance me if and when good orders ( I have already received many enquiries) come through. What are the risks involved. I am starting late as I am already 52. Everyone advised me saying it is high time i started this business as through salary income is nothing much to speak about. Please advise.

Emmanuel Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 2:29 AM PT
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