Category Archives: Current in Entrepreneurship

How Are You Creating Your Legacy?

How Are You Creating Your Legacy?

By Kevin Bonfield, founder and managing partner at Concentre and a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization in Dallas, Texas.

Many of us have never considered what we want our legacies to be. And yet our legacies alone define the ways in which we’ll be remembered.

Recently, I joined a group of 100 world changers for The Conversation, an event designed by author Tammy Kling. Throughout the evening, I engaged with four different groups on the topic of legacy.

Since I work with technology leaders on a daily basis, the term “legacy” has a specific meaning related to old or outdated hardware or software. And when I looked through several dictionaries, I noticed that most alternative definitions focused on the past—something that’s been left to us. But during my discussions with each group, we talked more about the future—and about defining our own legacies.

Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.
– Shannon L. Adler

Each of us has the power to create a legacy. In fact, we make our legacies every day—whether we think about it or not. Even if we do think about our legacies, we don’t completely control them. Legacies live in the minds of those who know us—or in the ideas and values we leave behind.

So, while we may not get to see them come to fruition, I believe there is a formula for creating lasting legacies: L=PHxP

1. Legacy Defined (L)

“L” is what we want our legacy to be. A legacy can be intentional or unintentional. Spiro Agnew, the vice president to Richard Nixon, did not intend to be the first (and only) vice president to resign the office in disgrace. Still, when he died 23 years later, that was the first line of his obituary. What will your obituary say about you? I recently sat down and wrote a draft of my own. I was fascinated to see what was truly important to me—and also by what was missing.

2. Legacy Potential (P)

“P” indicates who you are today. It’s a reflection of your natural traits and talents. Those talents can leave a legacy of entrepreneurial drive, deep architectural excellence, or inspiring others to unlock their own legacies. I could decide that I want my legacy to be that of a world-class violinist. But I lack the raw skill or patience to make that happen. So, the legacy you want to leave must be founded on your authentic traits, talents, and passions.

3. Legacy Lived (H)

Every day, your habits define the legacy you live and create. If traits define the potential, then day-to-day actions unlock that potential to make legacy real. I can possess the potential to leave my children a legacy of love and curiosity. But if I do not actively and regularly nurture those ideas in them, then my legacy to them will be different.

4. Legacy Perceived (P)

This is the one element that we cannot control. That means it’s the most challenging one because we don’t get to decide how others will describe our legacies. Instead, it’s a matter of perception. My friend Michael Peticolas provides a great example. In Dallas, Texas, the name “Peticolas” is building a legacy of award-winning craft beer. But miles away in El Paso, the Peticolas name has already cemented a legacy of legal excellence across five generations. So, even if folks in El Paso can one day enjoy a Peticolas Velvet Hammer beer, they may still equate the Peticolas name with the renowned law firm.

We may never know exactly how others perceive us. They may have a different interpretation of the legacies we leave—or they may not share how they perceive what we have left. Either way, that doesn’t prevent us from trying to define and create our legacies.

As I reflect on those three hours of The Conversation and other discussions I’ve had with friends, I think the clearest description of a legacy comes from Steven Neuner of Alkali Insurance: Remember, you leave what you live.

What does your legacy look like? What are you doing to define and craft the legacy you wish to leave? How will you anticipate the perceptions of others?

Kevin Bonfield has more than 20 years of diverse management consulting, business development and operations expertise. He was an EO Accelerator participant in 2012  and is currently an EO Dallas member.  EO is the only global network exclusively for entrepreneurs. EO helps leading entrepreneurs learn and grow through peer-to-peer learning, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and connections to experts.

Why Startups Fail and How to Avoid It

Founding a startup in the modern world is becoming increasingly difficult. Between fierce competition for venture capital, market share and new challenges presented by an ever-changing business environment, entrepreneurs are regularly stepping headfirst into unclear waters when they decide to create their startup and naturally quite a lot of them fail. In this post, we will be exploring some of the reasons why.

Despite these challenges, we have statistics to show that the startup market is still going strong. For example, according to Fortune, the number of people who are self-employed in the United States has increased by around 150,000 to 8,602,000 in 2017. This shows that even with the unforgiving environment, an increasing number of people are founding their own startups.

Furthermore, the worldwide outlook for startups is equally hopeful, with a GEM Global Report showing that over 100 Million startups are being launched worldwide, every year. This is a staggering 3 new businesses being founded every second. This shows that even with the intense climate for newly founded businesses, there is no shortage of people willing to take the plunge and try their hand at running a startup.

One popularly cited and particularly damning statistic about the startup climate suggests that over 90% of startups actually fail, with only 10% actually experiencing long-term success. This statistic comes from a report by Startup Genome. The reason for this? According to Startup Genome, over 70% of startups experience premature scaling, which could provide some insight as to a big reason why a lot of startups are failing. Hackernoon have also been exploring why startups have been failing, publishing a chart which shows that when startups fail, the following reasons are the most common.

The 10% of startups that do succeed, seem to have a lot in common, even if they don’t share the same industry. Firstly, they’ve managed to create a product or service that perfectly fits in with the objective of solving a major problem for their chosen market. Secondly, their team will have the adaptability and the presence of mind to change things in the event of a crisis, to prevent their startup from failing, in the business world, stagnation ultimately leads to failure. Finally, members of their team will all work together and there will not be a strict protocol on sticking to your roles, everybody will chime in with their own take on an idea to achieve group consensus, two heads are better than one after all.

Marketing is Key

One of the most important components to the success of your startup is marketing, there are no two ways about it. You can have the best product in the world that actually will revolutionize your industry, but, if your marketing efforts extend to a few Facebook posts here and there, you’re going to fail.

To effectively market your startup and your services, you need to appear everywhere, so that you can engage with as many potential users as possible. Thankfully, we now live in the social media world, where a mass of people can be found at the click of a button.

You can either do your own marketing by posting videos and various posts on sites like LinkedIn, Medium, Quora etc, making use of SEO and placing paid adverts on various search engines. Furthermore, if you don’t feel you have the ability to do so, you can consult an external marketing agency to handle all of this for you. Sometimes, this is actually the best option as they will be able to get your great exposure for the money that you pay, leading to a lot of potential customers and buzz surrounding your startup.

Keep Your Team Close

One of the things that quite a few startup founders seem to forget about, is the importance of their own team. The people that you hire may have been with you from the start and may have greatly contributed to the success of your startup, however, like any employee, they will begin to search for another job if they do not feel satisfied in their current role. Having high staff turnover can be extremely damaging to a startup, as you may begin to lose consistency in the areas where you are experiencing turnover, which can lead to your business performing less effectively.

To ensure that your staff want to stay, treat them like human beings! Your team will all have their own particular things that they want from you as their boss. You should explore various ways of maximizing employee engagement, this could be by investing in well-being programmes in the workplace, work socials and even by offering longer-term employees a slice of the equity in your company. If an employee feels like they have a vested interest in their work, be that friends, shares etc, they will be less likely to leave.

The last thing you want is them going to one of your competitors, or worse, run loose and drive your company into the ground.

Unfortunately, examples of ineffective teams ruining a company can be found in abundance. One such example can be found in the Russia-based, e-commerce platform Wikimart. The company was a massive success domestically and was being labelled as the eBay of Russia since they were founded in 2008. Despite this, turmoil at the boardroom level led to a string of poor decisions and the company was subject to numerous bankruptcy orders in 2017.

Create a Product that Makes You Proud

One of the most important things for you as a startup founder is to have a product which you can be proud of. If you were to have a product that was mediocre or even poor, you probably wouldn’t think too highly of it, well, your customers will also be thinking the same thing. Having a better product will naturally increase the growth potential of your business as more people are likely to be drawn in by the higher quality product. This will also be crucial when you are looking to secure outside funding from an investor.

A great way to test whether you have a product that you can be proud of is to note whether your own team are openly advocating your product without your involvement. If they are, you’re on to a winner and you most likely do have a brilliant product. If however, they are reluctant to do so, you may figure out why this may be, and you may want to have a rethink about certain elements of the product.

There are numerous examples of companies that have had to shut down because their product was not well received by customers. They did not take into consideration whether the product would create a good user-experience and definitely did not take the time to analyse the product to make sure it was something that they could be proud of.

Originally published at startupstash.com on February 27, 2019.

More at https://medium.com/swlh/why-startups-fail-and-how-to-avoid-it-b21496b0ec44 

No One Knows What You Can Accomplish, Except You

I was 2 months into my first semester of graduate school. The transition had been rough, socially and emotionally. I went from a close knit on-campus community. One I had been a part of for 4 years. To an urban environment with only 6 members of my class. I was struggling to find my footing.

I was lonely and distracted. On top of that, the course load at the start of graduate school was intense. Fundamentals of Pharmacology (Fun Pharm, we called it). Genetics. Molecular biology. Neurobiology. Biochemistry. I had taken similar classes in undergrad. But at most, 2 at a time. Peppered with English Literature and Psychology. Different ways of using my brain. In grad school, all my classes went in the same direction. And it was rough.

So I tried my best to concentrate and study. To put my feelings of isolation and imbalance in a box. To absorb all the information. To show my self worthy of this Ivy League graduate school. I took my first Fun Pharm exam. And I bombed it. I got a 62 and a “see me after class.”

I think I failed one test before in my life, early in college. Likely for similar reasons. It was a real wake up call. And I ended up with a B+ in the class.

I felt mortified. And worse, I couldn’t fathom why the professor needed to see me after class. What more could he say? I already knew how awful the grade was. I beat myself up plenty. But I assumed that I would make it up on future tests.

A few days later, I sat down in the professor’s cluttered office, in the one open chair. Papers scattered the room, and journals. There was a thin row of windows lining the top of one wall of his basement office. The massive computer monitor took up most of his desk.

He looked at me through thick, smudged glasses. And told me, for 20 minutes, that I should consider another path in life. That he was seriously concerned about how badly I bombed the test. That the classes would only get harder. He told me he wanted to help me, but the school had its standards. And I had not met them.

I spent that afternoon bawling.  And then I was furious. He didn’t ask me anything about myself.

He didn’t ask how I did in undergrad. He didn’t ask how I was doing in my other classes. He didn’t ask me if something was going on that would cause me to get that one grade. He had never graded any other work of mine to that point.

He took one data point and extrapolated it out to form an opinion about my entire life. Not a good scientist, at the very least. And wrong about me.

If you see the three letters after my last name, you know that I went on to pass Fun Pharm and all my other classes. I spent another several years in graduate school. They were not fun, but I did it. I defended my thesis. And got my PhD.

He was right about one thing, though. I needed to go down another path in life. One that involved Wall Street and C-Suites and consulting and writing. And love and laughter and marriage and children and hard times and great times.

My life has had nothing to do with one bad grade on one test.

And your path in life has nothing to do with one person who does not understand who you are and what you can do.

I have had many doubts about myself in life. But I never doubted that I was smart enough or capable enough to do what I want to do. The question for me is about figuring out what it is that I want. Instead of giving in to what other people want.

You know your own strengths. You know what you are capable of. Don’t listen to the idiots. They see one data point about you. About your life. And decide what you can or should or will do.  They are wrong.  Your heart is always right.

With the right framework plus the right mindset, anything is possible.

From Daily Medium on The Startup by Deb Knobelman, PhD, Sept. 2018.


Warren Buffett Says AI Will Lead to Fewer Jobs

OMAHA — Nearly two decades ago, a 10-year-old shareholder stood in front of a microphone here and asked Warren Buffett how the Internet would reshape companies.

It was 2000. Buffett, the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said fairly little. He saw a threat in the Internet, but said he was unsure how it would ultimately affect his investments, according to a report at the time.

On Saturday, that same shareholder, Thomas Kamei, now a 27-year-old investor based in New York, submitted an updated version of his question at Berkshire’s annual meeting. This time, Kamei focused on artificial intelligence, a technology that threatens to upend the economy just as the Internet did years before. What did Buffett make of it?

Buffett said that AI could be “enormously disruptive,” yet beneficial in making the economy more efficient.

“I would certainly think [AI] would result in significantly less employment in certain areas,” he said. “It would be a good thing that would require enormous transformation in how people relate to each other, what they expect of government, all kinds of things.”

The comments came during a more than six-hour Q&A session in which Buffett and his investing partner, Charlie Munger, repeatedly praised efforts to make businesses more productive, despite job losses. They pointed to past advancements in farming and auto manufacturing, industries able to do more with fewer workers.

The duo also defended their work with 3G Capital, the controversial Brazilian private equity firm known for aggressive cost cutting and layoffs. Kraft Heinz, backed by Berkshire and 3G, laid off 1,000 workers in 2016 and plans to cut thousands of additional positions, a strategy seen at odds with Berkshire’s folksy image.

The fear, though, is that AI may cause even more losses. A recent study by PwC found that about 40 percent of jobs could be automated with current technology by 2030.

Buffett laid out a theoretical scenario at one of Berkshire’s best-known companies, Geico. The insurer employs about 36,000 people, yet the financial services industry is seen as vulnerable to automation. Buffett asked: What if all of Geico’s current functions, aided by AI, could be done by 10,000 people, or a third of the staff?

“I don’t think we’ve ever experienced anything quite like that,” he said.

Munger, known for his brevity, told Buffett not to worry. “It’s not going to come that quickly,” he responded.

When a shareholder later asked Buffett if he would push back on a Berkshire subsidiary that wanted to move a factory overseas, Buffett gave examples of previous Berkshire companies like Dexter Shoes that had already been forced to do so.

Global trade, he said, benefited the U.S. by providing consumers with lower prices and more places to sell goods. But he also said that it could create “roadkill” of people, one reason he wants more government programs for displaced workers. He did not outline specific proposals, but said the U.S. needed an “educator-in-chief” who could explain the benefits of trade and come up with solutions.

Unemployment insurance already existed and provided help to those in need, Munger said.

“I’m afraid a capitalist system is going to hurt some people as it modifies and improves,” Munger said. “There’s no way to avoid it.”

By  Chip Cutter, Wall Street Journal Reporter

Types of Enterprises by Bill Aulet.

Bill Aulet, Director of the Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship at MIT, distinguishes between two types of enterprises when discussing entrepreneurship, SMEs (small to medium sized enterprises)  and the IDEs (innovation-driven enterprises).  Each requires a different approach.  The former are small companies that will stay mall while the latter are global and have exponential growth, lots of capital, and a competitive advantage over SMEs.  Here he is describing both:

For more on the thinking behind this distinction please see this PDF:

http://cdn.executive.mit.edu/00/000147a916d7fdabc7f9370b970000/file/auletmurrayidevsmenov262012pdf.

 

A Few Ways to Lower Business Taxes.

USA Today, 4/18/2109, page 4B

By Rhonda Abrams

Rhonda Abrams is widely regarded as one of the most respected experts on business planning, startups, entrepreneurship, and small business in the US. She writes the entrepreneurship/small business column for USA Today and is a bestselling author and public speaker.

 

https://news.yahoo.com/entrepreneurs-apos-lower-small-business-120004277.html

Employee tax credits, averaging could help.

Look into first employee tax credit, income averaging,  tax credits for opening small companies in opportunity zones, tax credits for small businesses when big corporations get incentives, and fair internet tax.

 

 

Visit to West Virginia University Launch Lab and State PitchCompetition

Visit to West Virginia University Launch Lab and State PitchCompetition

You editor has been invited to talk to the WestVirginia University Launch Lab about startup publications, a great honor.  The presentation has  been scheduled to coincide with the annual West Virginia Business Plan Competition April 11th and 12th.  The Chambers College of Business has been recognized in the top 50 of the latest U.S. News & World Report Best Online MBA Program rankings in part because of its entrepreneurship program.  Enter the West Virginia Business Plan Competition

The West Virginia Collegiate Business Plan Competition affords college students around the state the unique opportunity to make a business idea come to life with the support of state institutions of higher education and seasoned business professionals from around the country. The goal of the competition is to provide students with the education, skills, contacts, and motivation necessary to create a viable start-up company in West Virginia. Three grand prize packages consisting of $10,000 cash and consulting services are awarded to the top team in each category. The competition is free to enter.

Inside of the launchlab

The WVU LaunchLab Network was recognized on the global stage as an Outstanding Emerging Entrepreneurship Center at the Global Consortium for Entrepreneurship Center’s annual conference in Chicago, Illinois on Oct. 21.

Awarded as a top finalist for having a clearly defined target audience and purpose as a center that has been open for five years or less, the LaunchLab Network received recognition for championing its exceptional engagement with students and community members, encouragement of cross-departmental collaboration and ability to raise funds that support clients’ innovative ideas.

“Our LaunchLab Network’s powerful role in helping our students and community members bring their ideas to fruition is widely known on campus,” said Provost Joyce McConnell.  “It is wonderful to see the Network recognized internationally for the caliber of the work they do to inspire the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.”

Since WVU LaunchLab Network’s inception in 2014, more than 660 venture ideas have passed through the center’s doors, nearly $90,000 in funding have been awarded to clients for innovation development and its female clientele has increased by 77 percent over the last two years. Success has also expanded to the Beckley campus LaunchLab and a third location is slated to open in 2019.

The award winners were selected through a rigorous nomination and evaluation process undergoing review by a panel of 35 academic peers. More than 100 university programs were nominated this year among the 250+ GCEC worldwide membership. Other finalists included: The Entrepreneurship Center of the Federal University of Itajuba; the Jill Ker Conway Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center at Smith College; the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship; the Wond’ry at Vanderbilt University; and the Apex Center for Entrepreneurs at Virginia Tech.

Carrie White, Assistant Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and Nora Myers, Director of WVU LaunchLab at Beckley, expressed their excitement to be distinguished by a global entity among their international peers. They said: “Our rapid growth, including the expansion to the Beckley campus and securing grant funding, has helped us realize a number of success stories among our students, faculty and staff. They are launching businesses, securing patents and licensing deals. This international recognition by a global body is a tremendous honor, and we look forward to continuing to expand our reach across West Virginia to empower more discoveries that can transform our state and beyond.”

West Virginia University’s LaunchLab Network serves as a comprehensive, one-stop shop to help students develop and commercialize their ideas, innovations, inventions or business models. In a motivating and supportive environment, the LaunchLab Network is an applied innovation center offers hands-on idea development support, education, mentorship, prototyping facilities, resources and connections to empower entrepreneurs across West Virginia.

We will report on the contestants, the launch lab, and the WVU program in the coming days post visit.  Stay tune for information on one of better entrepreneurship program in the country!

5 Mistakes Young Entrepreneurs Make and How to Avoid Them

Generation Z is beginning to make its way into the workforce and they are confident, strong and are ready to make significant changes in the world.

Are you a young entrepreneur or do you know of one right now?

Over the past year, I’ve met various numbers of young people who chose to go the entrepreneurial route after high school rather than attend college.

I’ve seen students come right out of graduation with unparalleled passion and ideas about building a business. These young entrepreneurs are leading the way toward an economic future that has yet to be seen.

Although building a business at a young age is exciting, I’ve seen some critical mistakes in this space.

Here are five mistakes young entrepreneurs tend to make along with some tips that can benefit you and your startup.

1. You can’t define your business

Many startups run into this problem because they can’t ever seem to define themselves and what they offer. You have to try and zone in on and focus on the most critical product or service that you know will sell. When you move around too much, change your business goals, and constantly pivot, you’re not in startup mode-you’re in brainstorming mode. Don’t build a business in hopes that something will suddenly catch on with your potential clients. You may have a great idea, but you must understand the needs of the market and how you can solve those problems.

2. You don’t know your audience

You don’t know who your audience is and you’re not sure if they even exist. If you haven’t done any market research or you’re not sure if your product or service solves a problem, you will run into brick walls. You must do your research, get out there and talk to people so you can understand and appreciate what the market will buy and what they won’t buy respectively. Take time, send out surveys, and share your ideas with others. Don’t worry about sharing your ideas because most people will never put the work into seriously building a business. Share your ideas with trusted family, friends and mentors to garner important feedback.

3. Your digital footprint needs a spring cleaning

If you grew up online, you’re most likely not using social media for business purposes. If you’re a young business owner, you probably spend a great deal of time online using social media apps for communication, sharing personal updates, and posting pictures. However, using these applications doesn’t mean you know how to use them for business. Using social media for business is significantly different than using it for personal communication. You must understand how to keep each world in its own space. Go back through all of your social media accounts and make sure to remove anything unflattering. Your digital footprint can have a critical impact on you and your business. Keep your new online presence professional, get rid of any inappropriate images, and begin building your new business profile through platforms such as LinkedIn.

4. Your digital footprint needs a spring cleaning

If you grew up online, you’re most likely not using social media for business purposes. If you’re a young business owner, you probably spend a great deal of time online using social media apps for communication, sharing personal updates, and posting pictures. However, using these applications doesn’t mean you know how to use them for business. Using social media for business is significantly different than using it for personal communication. You must understand how to keep each world in its own space. Go back through all of your social media accounts and make sure to remove anything unflattering. Your digital footprint can have a critical impact on you and your business. Keep your new online presence professional, get rid of any inappropriate images, and begin building your new business profile through platforms such as LinkedIn.

5. You don’t have a mentor

Having a mentor in the business world is one of the most important things for a startup. A successful business mentor can guide, teach and support you. Also, this person can help you learn how and when to take risks, provide critical business guidance and feedback as well as support your mental health. Building a business is not for the faint of heart, and it is critical that you have a strong support system. There is a tremendous amount to learn about business and having the right person support you can make all the difference.

If you have financial back up for at least a year, it is in your best interest to get out there and take that chance. I have spoken with many people who have wanted to leap into the world of entrepreneurship but never had the opportunity, were too scared or found they were too late for the game.

If you have the opportunity, financial backing, and support — taking this risk can change your life forever.  EDITOR: Have the opportunity and use lean, evidenced-based entrepreneurship, and it WILL change your life.

From Forbes and Daily Medium by Robyn D. Shulman, LinkedIn’s No. 1 Top Voice in Education, 2018.

How the Power of Iteration & Overcoming Fear Resulted in Unexpected Impact

Iterate, iterate, iterate…

Although better solutions tend to come from iteration, it can often be a counter-intuitive way to work in large-scale development projects. Not because those who work in the sector don’t see or believe in its benefit, but because the processes and requirements (often imposed by donors) that shape how these projects are delivered, do not accommodate iteration easily.

Too easily ‘the pilot’ (the opportunity to experiment and learn so that you can adjust before you actually begin) that marks the outset of a new intervention blurs into the main program without the benefit and rigor of real iteration. Why? Because typically funding is secured for the delivery of a predetermined set of outcomes described in a particular way against a budget that is already planned and approved. Promises are made to do something specific which becomes hard to change, or maybe even scary to do because there were things you didn’t know when you started. For example, it is hard to apply for funding without providing detailed budgets, staffing plans and metrics. What happens when you get into it and all those assumptions are wrong? Even when it is hard to do, iteration is vital for realizing impact.

Do, iterate, iterate again, and again

Our own experiences have shown the power of iteration and how overcoming the fear to iterate can result in unexpected, better solutions. Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator works to place South African youth from poor households who are excluded from the labor market into a first job. When we were in the pilot phase, Harambee used the same assessments that employers were using (testing math and English) to determine the match of youth to different types of jobs. Unsurprisingly, the results were disappointing across the board as they reflected what was already known – young people with poor quality schooling would do badly on tests that only measured their math and English. We had to pivot, and quickly. Rather than test only for school-based knowledge, we shifted to measuring the ‘learning potential’ of a young person – their capacity to acquire new information and apply it to solve problems. The result of this shift was remarkable and completely changed our model. We found that nearly 75% of young people who had low numeracy scores actually demonstrated the learning potential needed to do an entry-level job. We shifted our processes to focus on assessments that include – not exclude – and worked with employers to change their practices as well. And we have not stopped iterating in this space – constantly adding, removing, and pivoting to include more young people.

These kinds of changes meant we had to also bring our funders and other partners along on the journey. We had promised one set of deliverables and found ourselves delivering something else. The key was to help everyone see that we had to stay in love with the problem, not the solution we put into the grant proposal. Being very proactive with funders about why a current solution is not working and what new learnings are emerging from iteration is the key to keeping everyone’s expectations aligned at every step of the way.

Iteration can sometimes produce unexpected insights. In the early days, we kept trying different interventions to ensure that young people who had traveled to take the job assessments would do well. After a few different attempts, we discovered that when we simply provided a piece of fruit and a peanut butter sandwich, the test scores went up by a whopping 30%! It was a simple insight – none of us should take important tests if we can’t concentrate from being hungry. Harambee has made over 1.2 million peanut butter sandwiches (and counting!) as a result of this accidental iteration.

Harambee has taken these and other lessons learned to help 50,000 youth get their first job and build an active network of 450,000 work-seekers.

We are now putting the power of iteration to the test as we adapt our model for establishment in Rwanda, a new geography. We are trying to learn as much as we can before we hire full-time staff or set up operations. The pilot plan calls for providing assessments and ‘work seeker support’ to 1,000 youth so that we can match them to available jobs.

At our level of scale in South Africa, we could easily reach 1,000 youth in less than a week. But in Rwanda we are choosing to work with 250 youth per week, and only for one week of each month so that we can iterate anew every three weeks to make the changes, tweaks, and pivots necessary for meaningful impact.

Even though we were geared up to kick off our pilot next month with the first group of 250, the Harambee itch to iterate led us to run two ‘pre-pilot days’ this month – one day with 10 youth and a second day with 30 youth. That was a good idea! Many of the interventions we planned for the pilot needed to change (the level of English comprehension was too low for our assessments) as well as many things we hadn’t even thought about (peanut butter sandwiches are not common in Rwanda so what snack do we serve)? It is a lot easier to fix, adapt, and get it right with 10 customers than it will be with 250, 1000, 10,000.

So now we have three weeks to iterate, try again, fix for the next three weeks, and try again. We believe this will allow us to build a scalable solution for Rwanda more quickly than the traditional approach of building end-to-end operations and then trying to fix what doesn’t work.

We are thinking big, but acting small – a key principle of Lean Impact. What we learned from 10 people will shape what we deliver to 1,000 people. And in a matter of a few short months. We already know that we need to slow down the many activities we had planned so that we deliver a clear value proposition that will make Rwandan youth (our customers) want to come back for more and also recommend us to their friends.

We expect that this journey will be messy with plenty of unknowns. Because of our ‘pre-pilot’, the original budget and plan we developed is already out of date. We have to change what we promised our partners, funders, and team. Iteration, like friction, can generate heat. But it will also generate progress and impact.

Harambee CEO Maryana Iskander, Head of Knowledge & Learning Rob Urquhart, and the Harambee Rwanda team for contributing to this piece.

Startup Connects Patients With Rides to the Hospital In Rural Communities

For many patients, just getting to their doctor’s appointments is an uphill battle. Medical or cost restrictions may make public transportation and ride sharing not a viable option. Nearly 4 million adults and children with chronic conditions miss or delay medical appointments each year, because they don’t have a ride.

On the other side of the equation, hospitals often have a hard time finding quality transportation partners that are reliable. Many don’t follow instructions or provide a quality of care that meet the standards of the hospital.

Entrepreneur Erica Plybeah saw this gap between the patients and the hospitals firsthand with her own type-2 diabetic grandmother, a double-leg amputee who used a wheelchair for the latter part of her life. Her main transportation was her daughter, Plybeah’s mom, who worked full-time and had a hard time getting her back and forth to doctor appointments. There was no access to other forms of transportation in their small town.

Thanks to almost a decade in clinical IT, Plybeah gained experience finding technical solutions for hospitals and clinics. “As I worked with hospitals more, I’ve learned that transportation and how it affects the health of patients is a huge problem, not just in Memphis but across the country.” According to a new report, 20 percent of a patient’s health is linked directly to medical care, but social and economic factors account for another 40 percent, including nutrition, housing, education and access to transportation.

Plybeah entered a medtech-focused pitch competition and, after hearing the direct feedback from hospital administrators, moved forward with creating cloud-based patient transportation solution MedHaul.

“We’re helping eliminate transportation barriers for patients and poor and rural community. We are a platform that connects hospitals and clinics with quality transportation providers in their communities. We focus on providing rides for any type of patient regardless of their various needs,” says Plybeah.

Currently, hospitals must go through their rolodex of transportation providers, leaving voicemails with each, until one of them is available to book the ride for the patient. The process is inefficient and often leads to sub-par patient care. “Hospitals usually just pick the first one that they see… then on the flip side, the transportation providers don’t have the accurate information because everything was a phone call,” Plybeah says.

With MedHaul, caseworkers and nurses log on to the platform, add a patient’s basic demographics and caregiver information (for example, if they’re in a wheelchair or non-emergency stretcher) and the platform filters the top providers that fit that criteria. The chosen provider picks up the ride through the platform and receives details on the patient and an optimized route.

The hospital, clinic or nursing home can track when the driver is on its way, similar to other ride sharing companies, and the caregiver gets updates from the patient for peace of mind.

To screen providers, MedHaul looks through the Medicaid basic transportation standards in each state and adds a few criteria of their own to make sure they’re on boarding only the top providers in the area. The team makes an on-site visit to inspect the company’s vehicles and meet the staff after they reach out. Pending all approvals and insurance coverage, the provider can be live on the platform within a week.