Beta Boom Blog

About startups, funding, rising tech scenes, diversity and tech.

Why the next tech boom will be led by a different type of founder

The tech boom of the 1990s was largely driven by “business guys” with MBAs or career experience as well as entrepreneurs that crossed over to tech from unrelated industries such as real estate and consumer packaged goods. As the tech boom euphoria rose, venture capital and angel investors showered these business types with capital based on their pedigrees and beautifully-designed business proposals rather than the merit of their innovations in meeting customers’ needs.

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Launching a startup? Here’s what you can expect

Having worked with a number of founders on the earliest stages of their startups, I have seen quite a few promising folks drop out prematurely. It’s not that they are not tough enough or that they lack passion, but it seems that many first-time founders are not prepared for how grueling and long the startup journey can be. It’s striking how often I see pitch decks that project a startup to reach 100 million users or $5 million in revenue in a year or two.

Although striking, it’s not surprising why founders have such unlikely scenarios in mind given how much the media loves to portray nearly overnight successes like Snapchat and Oculus, which raced to a $2 billion exit in just 280 days since its first financing round. The likelihood that a startup will become a unicorn (valued at $1 billion+) is about one in a hundred. It’s even rarer that a startup can become a billion-dollar company in less than three years. In fact, the odds are roughly one in ten thousand. Is it any wonder, then, that many founders quit when they are expecting overnight success but arrive at a decade-long Navy Seals Hell Week?

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Want your startup to thrive? Listen to your customers

The number one reason why startups fail, according to CB Insights, is that they never find a market need for their product. The sixth most common reason why startups fail is that they create a user-unfriendly product followed closely by not listening to customers. Think about that for a second. Three of the top mistakes that startup founders make can be solved simply by talking to your customers.

I personally learned this lesson that hard way on not one occasion but multiple times. What’s more embarrassing is that most of my professional career was spent leading user-centered design and user research teams, so I know that engaging your customers in a dialog can seem overwhelming. I understand that startup founders often rush to build their product because they are excited about their idea, or they think that testing their concept or product design are distractions requiring too much work. Not only that, doing customer research can be intimidating given that there are many techniques, which are complex in their details. This article will hopefully help you get started.

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Bootstrapping. What is it, and is it right for you?

There is a growing movement to “bootstrap” startups, and that can be a wonderful path. However, there are a number of factors that make some startups much more suitable for bootstrapping than others. Moreover, there are some key negatives as well as positives that founders should consider before committing to bootstrapping.

In this episode of Startup Basics, Kimmy and Sergio discuss what is “bootstrapping” and things to consider before choosing this path.


What kind of startup are you and why it matters

As a founder, you doubtless have come across frameworks such as Lean Startup that promise to help you succeed on your startup journey. Unfortunately, many innovators and entrepreneurs find that such frameworks and advice fall short of their promise. Why? It’s very simple: there is a tremendous amount of variation among innovations and the startup companies that are built around. Those simple, elegant frameworks work in many cases and flop in others because they fail to account for important differences that make each startup unique.

I’m not saying that classic books such as Lean Startup and Four Steps to the Epiphany are hogwash, but founders would be well served to consider why such generalized advice might not work for their enterprise and how to accomplish their goals given their unique challenges and constraints. Below, I will go over my classification of innovations and will touch on important qualities that drive growth and development strategies for each.

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