Why is Economic Recession Good for Startups

Weaker Competition:

Many big companies are struggling with laying off employees, cutting off secondary product/service, rebuilding management structure, asking for cash investment…..but definitely not going to release new product or better service very soon. Well, this is your chance to sneak into their market.

Lower Cost:

When people get unemployed, even students from great schools and managers from big companies are considering to work for small startups with discounted salary, which rarely happened in the past. Stuff like office, server, food are also cheaper than before.

Better Plan:

While VC is holding back their offers carefully in the recession, it’s more difficult to get fund with a lousy business plan, especially those without a clear revenue model or healthy cash flow. While your business plan is revised again and again but still get cold-shoulder from VCs, it’s more likely to survive in the real business environment.

Fairer Chance:

Well, we all say 9 out of 10 startups are going to fail within 12 months. It’s true that small company has high risk of failure, but after Lehman Brother fell apart, Merrill Lynch got sold, and auto industry monsters kept crying for help, it’s pretty clear that no company is safe in this world, and size definitely can’t determine the fate of a company. I’m sure people will tend to have a fairer attitude towards small companies.

Tighter Pocket:

I have a friend getting >10,000 dollars a month as revenue from his online business. Pretty good for startups, isn’t it? But what makes me sad is, he spend 10 times more money every month, 90% of which is for senior management’s salary, while the job of those seniors is just flying for coffee meeting once a month. It’s never too late to watch every penny in your pocket, dude, no matter it’s recession or not.

Japanese Version (日本語) of this post >>

互联网商业模式备忘

按照盈利模式的分类,不外乎两种:

1、终端销售:也就是直接卖产品。比如DELL的网站,用户付钱,网站卖货。

B2C:低价进货,高价卖出,最保险的模式。

卖软件:在中国,这个模式几乎已经死了。

信息付费或订阅模式:用户定期付租金,享受定期的信息推送,比如中国移动的新闻早晚报业务就是如此。或者付费下载或在线播放音乐、电影等。不过这个模式快寿终正寝了。

2、中间渠道:也就是帮终端销售吸引客户的,通过广告或者销售提成赚钱,大部分网站都属于这一类。

普通广告模式:最简单最普遍的模式,把流量作上去,卖广告位,或者提供免费的软件,在软件的界面上放广告。不过这也是我最不看好的模式,因为用户正在变得越来越没有耐心

无聊中的广告:在用户无聊又没法做正事的时候,广告就不在是广告,而是救星了。分众传媒深谙此道,电梯里公车上放广告,大家也都喜欢看。土豆网在视频loading的时候放个广告,大部分用户也可以接受。现在的电影院也已经开始这么干了

C2C:搭建平台,用户自由交易,收取交易佣金,比如淘宝,C2C比B2C更容易规模化,但是投入和运营门槛更高。

widget:为大公司做应用插件。比如rockyou之于facebooktapulous之于iphone,还有一些给Ebay卖家做商品照片flash服务的网站等,传统行业中的网游外挂,QQ签名头像等生意,本质也是这类。这种模式这几年比较看好,已经进入成熟期。

个性化的精准广告:通过Email服务、RSS服务、SNS服务等手段收集并分析用户私人信息(位置、收入、兴趣等),并在合适的时机推送变相广告,而用户并不觉得是广告。这是未来的趋势,只不过自然语言识别的技术门槛非常高。目前有人在做(比如Gmail)或者打算要做(比如鲜果),但精准性还是不行。

代收费模式:自己不卖东西,但是占据了支付系统的资源,通过促成商家和客户之间的交易,从中抽取commission。比如做网页支付的paypal,和做手机支付的fortumo.com

不定期更新中。。。。

从斯坦福学生风投说起 (Stanford student fund to invest campus startups)

一个很让人眼前一亮的消息,在众多知名网络产品的发源地——斯坦福大学,出现了由学生管理和专业投资者参与的风投机构:SSE (Stanford Student Enterprises). SSE掌控着斯坦福里校园内最大规模的一笔投资基金:1300万美金(资金来源包括 The Founders Fund, Charles River Ventures 以及天使投资人Rajeev Motwani ),并已经面向stanford的学生,开始接收第一轮融资项目申请。每个项目的投资规模在5万到10万美金之间。

在北大也有很多带Student和Business字眼的协会: AIESEC, 商业金融学会BFA(Business&Financial Association), 资本市场学会(Capital&Marketing Association), 商业领袖学生圈(Student Leadership Network)……这些名字很酷很商业的学生组织,很多学生都希望有朝一日通过严格的简历筛选和多轮中文+英文的面试而成为其中一员,却没有意识到每一个人进去之后都被同化成完全一样的人:要么进投资银行,要么进咨询公司,大学生活完全按照投行Analyst和咨询师的标准来训练自己,最终被某国际大公司挑走,住五星级酒店,坐头等舱,面对最有钱最有地位的客户,开始了高级的打工生活。事实上,北大官方举办的各项创业大赛也只是一种形式,卖科技专利的有,但真正从那些官方创业大赛里拿到投资并出来自己做的据我所知还没有。

北大有那么多培养高级打工者的组织,却没有一个培养Student Entrepreneur的组织 ,即使是所谓的商业领袖圈,培养的也只是跟风者。没人觉得把一个idea转化成一个business是件令人兴奋的事情,还是安生一点吧,先搞定毕业,要么去投行咨询宝洁四大,要么就出国,不能出国就留在北大读研究生,实在不行去中科院什么所也行啊。。。。。于是,美国最好的学生都去从商,而中国最好的学生呢,都出国去给美国教授打工了。抛弃了全球成本最低的劳动力,抛弃了全球最大的区域市场,抛弃了全球最多的中文网民,全送交给老外和海龟了。

北大有两百多个学生社团,本来这么多社团应该可以催生出很多新的想法,并从这个场所里找到同道的力量去实现这些想法,不过真正做过这些协会的人都清楚,真正运作协会的并不是学生自己,而是一个叫做“团委” 的官僚机构。按照公司的职位来看,团委才是manager,社团成员只是打杂跑腿的,而社团的leader看着风光,本质上只是团委的小秘,什么事情都必 须跟团委打报告,获取书面同意后才敢去做,稍有不慎就会被团委打入地牢,殃及整个协会的生存。在这样的体制下,北大社团一片和谐,除了一些体育类的社团还 有点自主权外,其他社团基本都被团委用各种方式强奸的奄奄一息了。

在里面生活了这么多年,发现这个号称中国最开放最自由的大学里,商业意识却并不得到鼓励和崇拜。这可以解释为什么国内的大学里从来没有出现过一个原创的网络产品,只有抄袭者,以及抄袭老抄袭者的新抄袭者。新浪雅虎百度google校内网Facebook(连UI都抄的一模一样),饭否twitter,还有近200家抄youtube的视频网站,以及几十家抄del.icio.us的书签工具。。。。。而美国仅stanford一个学校,就先后出了Sun,Yahoo!,Google,Facebook等影响整个世界的产品和商业模式。

人家赢的,并不是技术,不是资本,不是人才,而是愿意为一个新生的想法而付出的勇气,以及鼓励和尊重这种勇气的氛围。

To Mika:

Just got the new from techcrunch that stanford student founded a venture fund called SSE (Stanford Student Enterprises), with $13 million in assets. SSE has started the first round of funding, directly to stanford campus startups. Each have a chance to get $50k-100k as seed fund.

In my school, Peking University, the best school in China, there are many student association with the keyword “business”. Such as AIESEC, Business&Financial Association, Capital&Marketing Association, Student Leadership Network…..They have the coolest title, but the sad thing is the members are reformed with the same mold: train yourself and apply investing bank or consulting company. So one day you can be one of the most expensive EMPLOYEE. Travel with first class ticket, stay in 5 star hotel, and serve the most powerful customers. That’s why we have no association to cultivate Student ENTREPRENEURS even in top schools, while we have a thousand associations to train high-class EMPLOYEES.

The best choice for a chinese student is an offer from a US graduate school, or from a top international company (especially investing bank, consulting company, accounting company, and consuming products company like P&G, Uniliver…). As a result, the best chinese students are licking the ass for US professors or US managers, while the best US students are making a business of their own from a garage. We have the cheapest labor force, the largest market, and the biggest net user group, but we just don’t have the guts to make a new business, and we don’t offer a simple respect and encouragement for the potential students with business sense.

We just produce the fastest and best copier in the world.