Blitzscaling 04: Ann Miura-Ko on Thunder Lizard Theory and Achieving Product Market Fit

This is my third blog on the notes and my interpretations on the Blitzscaling session. In the fall of 2015, Reid Hoffman began taking session called Technology-Enabled Blitzscaling at Stanford University.Blitzscaling is what you do when you need to grow really, really quickly. It’s the science and art of rapidly building out a company to serve a large and usually global market, with the goal of becoming the first mover at scale. And its also about why organization culture is important for blitzscaling. Because when you’re growing an organization very fast, you have to make people accountable to each other on a horizontal or peer-to-peer basis, and not just vertically and top-down through the hierarchy.

  1. In session 04, Ann Miura talks about Thunderlizards companies who are able to scale massively & avoid competitions to dominate the market.
  2. A company will be able to become a thunderlizard if they can attain following powers. Details about all these powers are given below:-
    • Category Power: – means changing rules of the market and game
    • Company Power: – means creating high-performance culture
    • Product Power: – means achieving product/market fit
    • Proprietary power: – means attaining IP’s or access to scarce resources
  3. Propriety Power:  – Your com will achieve proprietary power by
    • Obtaining Intellectual Property, example pharma companies discover drug and get IP for that
    • Access to scare supply, example DE BEERS
    • Creating on high switching cost, example Oracle DB
    •  Network effect, example Linkedin
    • Authentic teams, example qilo 🙂
  4. Every great company has one fundamental assumption which if turns out true they become really big. Veeva Systems(a cloud computing company focused on pharmaceutical and life sciences) had the assumption that they will be able to scale up well if they build their system on top of What’s your basic assumption?
  5. Product Power : – You will achieve product power if you have:-
    • Achieved the product market fit. If you are asking about product market fit, then probably you have not found that.A great article on this is here
    • Define a new market category, example SalesForce for cloud base CRM
  6. It’s sometimes seen that some entrepreneurs have proprietary power, but they fail to convert that into product power and concept just end up being a college project.
  7. Company Power : – You will achieve company power if  you have:-
    • Discovered scalable business model
    • Understood and able to create an organization culture that is unique to you.
    • Lowered your company debt and technical debt by defining proper
      • Processes for people operations/HR
      • Tech & operations processes
      • Compensation and Benefits processes
      • Career development path for your employees
      • Communication channels within the organization. Here is a great article to understand company and technical debt
  8. Most of the successful founders are able to think about how to attain company power early in their company stage. As an example, Google was able to attain company power very early when they have a small team.
  9.  Founder(s) who become successful CEO understands company power. And those who don’t understand this are replaced by investors or VC’s or have to get a CEO from outside.
  10.  You achieve Category Power by:-
    1. Defining new space by changing rules of the market and game, example AWS, Netflix, Apple
    2. Change the buying criteria of customers
  11. Catgeory power is achieved by looking externally whereas company power is achieved by looking internally
  12. Speed of decision making matters alot
  13. Founders who are on the path of creating a  thunderlizard company knows clearly why they are the best founding team for the idea they are executing.
  14. Even if you have created a technology solution, the biggest challenge is to find market for that solution. So if you have raised the seed capital or bootstrapping, always remain capital efficient so that you can survive longer.
  15. For marketplace start-up, most important is supply side of the platform and how much loyal will supply side remain with the marketplace. Demand side will not come back if supply side is not there.
  16. For solofounders, journey of start-up will be very tough as it become very lonely
  17. Steve Blank process of customer discovery is both a science and art. Most founders get the science, but fail to get the art.
  18. Start-up with multiple founders should leverage their diversity. VC’s want to see the balance of Yin/Yang in founding team.
  19. Founders should agree to largers vision where they want to go to avoid break-ups down the line
  20. In initial years, avoid recruiting agencies to hire people. Best talent is found internally
  21. Pivoting doesn’t mean changing your product button color, it’s about throwing what you are doing for something else. For example:- Slack was a gaming company pivoted towards enterprise collaboration software .