10 Rules for Building a Disruptive Technology Startup by Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki Art of Disruption and disrupting with startups

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Creating a disruptive technology with your startup, a startup that aims to change the world, is not an easy task. But this article shows you the ten rules to follow for creating disruptive technology and a disruptive startup overall. However, some of these rules are contrary to the conventional wisdom of how to start a startup.

The rules are based on a talk from the Synergy Global Forum in NYC on 10/27/17 by Guy Kawasaki who has an impressive resume in advancing disruptive technology startups.

Guy Kawasaki is the Chief Evangelist of Canva, is an executive fellow for the UC Berkeley School of Business, was the Chief Evangelist for Apple, and is an author of 12 books. In addition, he’s highly respected among the startup, technology, and business communities.

Alright, so now that you know how credible Guy Kawasaki is, let’s get to it!

10 Rules for Building a Disruptive Technology Startup

1) Customers can’t tell you what to do. Build what you want and then sell it after.

This advice is counter-intuitive and goes against the grain of conventional wisdom in the startup community.

However, if you’re an expert in your field and you’re building disruptive technology for that field, then you may be one of the best people to judge how to build a product or service that disrupts that market.

If you are not an expert in your target market and not your own ideal customer, then don’t listen to this advice.

It’s riskier, costs more time and money, but the reward can also be greater — much greater.

2) Jump to the next curve and create the next thing.

This advice simply means that you need to be thinking about and planning for the future to stay ahead of the curve.

What additional product-lines will you introduce?

What features can you create that will continue to keep you ahead of the pack?

Be like a chess master and think several moves ahead. In fact, don’t just think it — plan it.

3) Make an MVVVP – a Minimum Valuable, Viable, Validating, Product.

Kawasaki adds these two more “V”s: valuable and validating. “Your test should be that it’s not only viable but valuable in something that will change the world. It’s validating and proving your vision of how the world will evolve.”

Provide immense value and validate it in the market. When your product isn’t just a minimum viable product, but a minimum valuable viable validating product, then that’s when you’ve hit the jackpot. Stick to that framework above all else to be exceptional with disruptive innovation and technology.

4) Make design count (UX/UI & Product design). Treat engineers like artists, not just people who code.

Many startups don’t pay attention to this final part of the product. But how your users use your product is of the utmost importance.

The surface, the user interface, the product design — they matter.

You need to have a great design for people to truly accept what you’re doing. Without something easy on the eyes, friendly, and usable, your efforts will not produce any major, lasting results.

5) Polarize people – you won’t please everyone, and you shouldn’t.

There will always be companies and people that will be affected by your solution.

With all change in the world, especially with the technological revolution, there are always portions of people that will be left behind by disruptive technology and disruptive innovation.

This is something you can’t change and must accept. You only need to please the people in your market.

6) Ignore naysayers (especially those that are polarized).

There are two types of naysayers (“bozos”): Joe Shmoe bozos and rich/famous bozos.

“Don’t listen to losers, because a loser would listen to a loser” (Joe Shmoe bozo). Rich and famous people usually = lucky.

You have to learn to resist naysaying. If you have a truly disruptful vision to change the world, then block them out and stay focused on your goal.

This doesn’t mean you’ll be successful. You may fail, but “if they tell you that you will fail and you listen to them and don’t try, then you will never know. And that’s the worst outcome of all.” “Don’t regret putting in your all,” he says. “If you don’t try, then you will always regret it.”

7) “It is a sign of intelligence, in innovation, in entrepreneurship, and disruption to change your mind.”

Some of the best things come when people change their minds about something.

Changing your mind is not a weakness or sign of stupidity or mistakes that were made, as long as there is good reason to support it.  Data should generally support this switch, rather than doing it blindly or on a whim.

There are many instances where product visions and business models change over time. And that’s okay for you to be able to do that. Changing your mind is okay. Not everyone gets everything “right” on the first try. This is essentially a pivot of your business model.

Review 10 of the Most Popular B2B and B2C Startup Business Models to Use so you can get a better idea of whether or not this pivot is worth it.

8) Be unique and highly valuable at the same time. Then, you don’t have to compete with price, either.

Unique and Value Matrix 2 by StartupDevKit for disruptive technology

9) Let 100 flowers blossom. This is an analogy to see what works and see how your customers interact with your product.

When people use your product in large quantities and in unintended ways, you should not freak out.

“Instead, you should declare victory.”

A lot of things get thrown against the wall and you see what sticks. Once you see what sticks, you draw a proverbial circle around it and you have a bullseye.

10) “Churn, baby, churn. One of the hardest things about disruption is to go from disrupter to evolver.”

“You have to go from creating a revolution to evolving that revolution. This is the most difficult step for true disrupters. Because the skills developed for disruption i.e. ignoring naysaying, about anticipating the future about actualizing your vision is very different and hard from revising and evolving your product or service, but it is so necessary.”

When you evolve your disruptive product/service, you may have to let customers churn so you can move on to the next phase of your product as you’re working to evolve it. “Disruption is not an event. It’s a process.”

Bonus Rule from Guy Kawasaki

11) Perfect your pitch

This will separate you from the pack of people who don’t “get it” and align you with the people that do “get it.”

He says that the perfect pitch deck should contain the following elements:

Use 10-20-30 model:

  • Use 10 slides. No more. Okay maybe two or three more. But that’s it. Slide decks are meant to get another meeting, not close a deal right then and there. You don’t need 20+ slides.
  • Be able to do it in 20 min. So practice and refine it until you can. There’s also almost always an unexpected problem with the projector or something, so that helps with staying on time.
  • Use 30 point font. It makes your content stand out and is easy to read across the room. If you can’t read it across the room, then it’s too small.
  • Make the background black and the text white. It stands out, “looks boss,” and is authoritative.
  • Integrate pictures and humor to help you display a point

More About Disruptive Startups

In an article by the Harvard Business Review: Startups That Seek to “Disrupt” Get More Funding Than Those That Seek to “Build”, “disrupters” raised an average of 1.7 times more funding than “builders.” The data was corroborated through matched Crunchbase and LinkedIn profiles. However, employee turnover was higher in disruptive startups than in builder startups.

“Taken together, our results uncovered two distinct types of people who are attracted to startups—those who value breaking vs. building—and different consequences for their respective startups. Disrupters’ flashy ideas may energize and inspire others, but that might not be enough to keep them. Disrupters may also move on to the next disruptive idea once the one they are working on reaches a point of stability, given they display a higher incidence of serial entrepreneurship than builders. Conversely, those who value building something may experience more difficulty in attracting capital (both financial and human), but they tend to stick with the startup for the longer term and seem to influence others to do so as well.”‘

Have any of these rules helped you create disruptive innovation or disruptive technology or what other additional rules do you follow?

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