11 key findings and why Forrest Gump is the ultimate entrepreneur

Posted on December 5, 2017




Early 2016, I’ve embarked on this journey to change a small bit of the world to provide all of us with an app-based social platform that facilitates real life connections through recreational activities.

8 weeks ago, the Playground team gave birth to a sleek and user friendly app for iPhone and Android smartphones that will change the way people connect and meet in real life to play the activities they like. I find it beautiful and love using it myself everyday to meet new friends, outside of my usual social circle. I take immense pleasure in meeting individuals from whom I can learn and share experiences.

Like any entrepreneur, I could write a book about what I’ve gone through in these initial 18 months but I thought I would share my 11 key findings:

I – Whatever investment you think you need to kick start your start-up, just double it. Don’t ask why, just double it.

II – Your first and most important customers are your own team. Great work comes from great passion internally. Your first marketing campaign is an internal one.

III – The business idea you have is about 2% of the journey. The execution of this idea is another 80%.

IV – Listen – Your focus groups are not “idiots who don’t get it”. It’s not about what you think is right. It’s about what they understand. Listen, take notes and improve. Anything you sell is an experience. Be it an app, a service, a hardware or a commodity, it is all an experience your client is going through. Going through a methodological UX process is painful but extremely rewarding. Listen, take notes, improve, and start again. It’s a never ending process.

V – If you are lucky to get early stage investors, impose to yourself to get the funds in milestones (based on achievements). Our ability to just spend the money when it’s there is incredible.

VI – Surround yourself with great people. Your own team of course, but also advisors who just know what you don’t. That will help you save a lot of time and a lot of money. Don’t pile up advisors to tick the boxes. Have a clear advisors strategy covering the specific extra knowledge you need.

VII – Someone else had the same idea as you? It’s not a deal breaker, it’s a concept validation. Just try to execute it better.

VIII – Pivot – It’s inevitable. Don’t feel discouraged by it. Your concept will evolve based on the early feedback you get. Not pivoting would be suspicious. It only means you’ve learnt.

IX – Your start-up is not your baby. It’s a business. So be ready to make harsh decisions you may not like. Again, its not about you.

X – Small – the smaller your first test market is, the better. Be relevant in the smallest possible perimeter. Change the world, but one step at a time. For Playground, we have proudly picked Singapore, the little red dot, as our first test market.

XI – The F word. Stay Focused. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Stay Focused on your product and early stage clients. Nothing else matters.

Xtra – Last but not least.. As I couldn’t think of a relevant image to illustrate this post, I remembered I watched Forrest Gump again the other night… He is the ultimate successful entrepreneur. Forrest didn’t create Bubba Gump Shrimp because he wanted to become a millionaire… He just wanted to realize his and his friend’s dream to operate a great shrimping boat… Becoming “rich” should never be the primary reason why you are doing it. Forrest didn’t run 3 years non-stop because he thought he could, but because he never thought it was impossible… And the crowd followed.  Life is like a box of chocolates; You never know what you’re gonna get.

The reason why I feel comfortable about sharing the above is not because I got everything right. It’s the opposite. All the mistakes I could have made, I’ve made them all. One after the other, like clockwork. Cost of learning they call it… It’s all true, though it hurts.

If you are at that early stage where you think you can also change a bit of the world and need help, feel free to be in touch and I would gladly add my 5 cents and help you where I can.

Likewise, if you have any feedback to share about Playground and its execution, please feel free to be in touch at anytime.

Fabrice Burtin – December 2017