Yesterday, at the launch of Rainmakers Incubators, Kristian Andersen of Kristian Andersen + Associates, gave a wonderful presentation about what he believes are the three elements of a successful start up;  people, money and product.  As a graphic designer, as a venture capitalist and the founder of an incubator he is well positioned to talk about that subject.

Here are just a few highlights from his presentation in which many of his remarks ran counter to “tradtional” wisdom:

People: Many people say partnerships are a bad idea.  Interestingly, Kristian’s dad told him that partnerships were a bad idea. But Kristian advocated that you need to find other people who will share the workload and will bring different perspectives and different ideas to create more potential solutions. ( I love the idea of creative collaboration) Kristian did warn about the dangers of unbalanced commitment.  Too often, one partner contributes significantly more, so if you are going to create a partnership be sure to define roles up front.

Money: When young firms are looking for loans or investors, tradional wisdom has been to try to get as much as you can on the first round because you may not be able to go back for more.  Kristian suggested just the opposite.  He reccomnends small business owners take a more conservative approach; wait as long as you can before you go for funding.  Then ask for as little as you possibly can get by with to run the business.  If you begin to get some traction, and need additional funding you will be in the position to ask for more and give away less of the business than you would in the early stage .

Product (or Service): This is the core of any business, and Kristian suggested successful products are focused, distinct and simple. Here his advice was more along tradional lines, reminding busines owners they can not be all things to all people.  Understanding the opportuniteis of the “Long Tail” and offering a product which meets the needs of a well defined niche provides a solid foundatoin for a business.  Finally, he reminded the group to keep their value proposition simple.  It has to be something you can explain in10 seconds or less.

I was thrilled Kristian could make time to start the day with us.  I know I wasn’t the only person in the room who wished he had about an hour more to visit with us.   And if you missed Kristian’s comments, but want to connect to the start up community here in Indy, check out nex month’s Incubators event, where we will have another fabulous speaker .  The meeting will be the first Tuesday morning in March at 7:30 at Loon Lake Lodge.  Hope to see you there