Guy Kawasaki’s 11-point guide

Posted on June 9, 2008 
Filed Under Anita, The Edge

By Anita Matthews

Two weeks ago, former Apple Computer software evangelist-turned-venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki made a quick trip to Kuala Lumpur, courtesy of MDeC, to share his perspective of venture capitalists and fund-seekers in conjunction with WCIT 2008.

Kawasaki, who founded Garage Technology Ventures, regaled the audience at NetBASH for two hours with his experience as a venture capitalist and shared insights on pitches that work.

Make meaning
Innovation is driven by the desire to make meaning. Kawasaki firmly believes we should take it upon ourselves to change the world and make it a better place.

Make mantra
According to Kawasaki, there’s a high correlation between mission statements and golfing — it is too long, meaningless and forgettable. Therefore, create mantra for your innovation. Examples of simple and straightforward mantras — Nike’s Authentic Athletic Performance, Wendy’s Healthy Fast Food or Fedex’s Peace of Mind. Unless you run out of options, the Dilbert’s (satirist cartoonist) mission statement generator is not your first stop.

Jump to the next curve
Don’t copy other people’s ideas. Innovators should focus their efforts on creating the next curve instead of remaining on the same track as most companies tend to do, says Kawasaki. He shared an example of ice-making. Ice harvesters stuck to traditional methods and did not move to the next curve by building a factory. Nor did the guy who ran the ice factory invent the factory.

Roll the DICEE
What defines great innovation are products or services that are Deep, Intelligent, Complete, Elegant and Emotive (DICEE). Kawasaki cites several products such as the Reef Fanning surfing sandal that has contoured foot bed and 360-degree heel airbag plus a bottle opener as a product with depth. The Panasonic BF 104 flashlight that accommodates three different battery sizes showed intelligence on the part of the design team. The Lexus car is complete as it combines luxury, reliability and quality customer service seamlessly. The Apple iPod Nano is an example of elegance and the Harley Davidson motorcycles provoke emotion. “When you try to jump a curve, ask yourself if your product meets the DICEE quotient,” he urges.

TOP: The writer managed to get Kawasaki to autograph her yellowed copy of his 1991 book Selling the Dream. Inscribed within — ‘Change the world.’

Don’t worry be crappy
According to Kawasaki, it is okay to ship products that are crappy as long as it is revolutionary. An instance of that is Apple’s MacBook Air that is a sleek and ultra light portable device that uses touch screen technology but only has one USB port, a headphone jack, and an external monitor port.

Polarise people
It is okay to segregate your customers. Kawasaki points out that products like Harley Davidson and Apple have done that for decades. “Innovative products do not need to cater to the mass market.”

Let a hundred flowers blossom
Borrowed from Chairman Mao, Kawasaki’s take on the hundred flowers is that it does not matter if a product or service appeals to a target market not intended by company. “Just take the money.”

Churn baby churn
It is tough to churn or fix the revolution because few shift it.

Niche thyself
A unique product or service that offers high value to customers will set a business apart from the competition. Examples of products that are niche include the smart car, LG kimchi refrigerator, Brietling emergency watch and Trek Lime mountain bicycles.

Follow the 10/20/30 rule
A powerpoint presentation should not exceed 10 slides. This rule is applicable not only for presentations to VCs, but also for any presentation. “If it takes more than 10 slides to explain your business, you probably don’t have a business,” says Kawasaki.
He also believes that VCs can only handle eight slides as the human mind can only handle a maximum of 10 slides. He claimed that he suffers hearing loss and vertigo due to listening to hundreds of crappy presentations from entrepreneurs.

His final advice to fund-seekers is not to let the bozos grind you down and to question if a product or service is truly revolutionary. The key to good products and services is good engineering. Well-engineered products that are easy to fix can endure lousy marketing, as the latter can be fixed. “But you can’t fix a lousy product.”

Published June 9th, 2008, The Edge Malaysia


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