Bend the curve: Accelerate your startup’s success

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In the world of innovation, there is no single path to success.

There can, however, be value in learning about the successes and failures of other innovators. That is why Kellogg lecturer Andrew Razeghi wrote “Bend the Curve: Accelerate Your Startup’s Success.” In the book, readers will learn from successful entrepreneurs — including a collection of Kellogg faculty members and alumni — as well as venture capitalists and mentors of Techstars, one of the world’s leading new venture accelerators. The goal? Learn how to grow your startup.

“Having worked with entrepreneurs for over three decades, it is always surprising that just one example, one idea or one referral can lead to a major breakthrough in the growth of a company,” said Linda Darragh, executive director of the Kellogg Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative, on the “Bend the Curve” website. “Instead of spending hours of precious time trying to identify, connect and meet mentors, this book can instantly bring hundreds of game-changing ideas to your fingertips from the best mentors in the ecosystem.

“This is worth reading several times as your company grows.”

Razeghi is the founder of StrategyLab, Inc., a growth strategy and innovation consulting group. He also serves as a limited partner in Techstars and an angel investor in many startups. At Kellogg he teaches “Launching New Products and Services.” He took a few minutes to give readers an inside look at some of the finer points of the book.

IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ARE THE THREE BIGGEST THINGS PEOPLE SHOULD KEEP IN MIND AS THEY TRY AND GROW THEIR STARTUP?

  1. THINK DISTRIBUTION FIRST.
    First-time founders often make the mistake of focusing on their new product at the expense of focusing on distribution. Before you invest too much time on the product, think through how you are going to get distribution. Who is going to help you get to market? Get in front of customers? Promote your product? etc. An idea without a customer is not innovation. It’s merely an idea.
  2. SURROUND YOURSELF WITH EXPERIENCED ENTREPRENEURS.
    Yes, you need someone who can build it. You also need someone who can sell the idea. But mostly, you need someone (or better yet, several people) who have walked down the road you are about to walk down. Seek out mentors – entrepreneurs who have started and scaled businesses from the ground up. Their collective wisdom will save you both time and money.
  3. BE PATIENT.
    Contrary to the hype, it takes a decade to become an overnight success. (Outliers exist, yes, but they are outliers for a reason).

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING STUDENTS PURSUING THEIR MBA CAN TAKE AWAY FROM THE BOOK?

Starting a business is easy. Staying in business is hard. “Bend the Curve” is a book about how to survive (and thrive) after you’ve made the commitment to start.

WHY WOULD YOU RECOMMEND A PROSPECTIVE STUDENT PURSUE THEIR MBA AT KELLOGG?

For those interested in innovation, the worlds of corporate innovation and startups are colliding. What used to be a bright line between entrepreneurship and large company innovation is fading away. Many of the principles in “Bend the Curve” are directly applicable to success inside the Fortune 500. Kellogg’s legacy over many decades in the management of large enterprises combined with its renewed focus and energy on corporate innovation and entrepreneurship gives the school a unique position as these two worlds collide.

Learn more about Razeghi’s book.

0 comments

  1. While Prof Razhegi may have implied it, but the most important thing for a startup to nail down is exactly who their customer is and the precise problem they are solving for that customer. Nothing else matters if the startup hasn’t figured that out.

    How do I know this? I’ve been running a B2B startup accelerator in Seattle for the last 3 years or so and have invested in and helped dozens of startups over this time.

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