Startups can be painfully hard. But they’ve also got certain advantages that big corporations can learn from — namely moving fast and iterating quickly to take advantage of shifts in a market. LIFFFT, a Seattle company made up of startup vets Kav Latiolais, Don Desantis, Zac Cohn and Joachim Hill-Grannec, wants to make sure that big companies learn everything they can from the fast-moving ways of startups.
“We’re kind of the turncoats of the startup world,” explains Cohn. “We want to help big companies more consistently build successful and disruptive products, instead of being disrupted and destroyed by startups.”
Here’s more on the LIFFFTcrew from our latest version of Startup Spotlight.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “We help big companies move faster, think more innovatively, and learn how to function more like a startup.”
Inspiration hit us when: “We would be facilitating a Startup Weekend event, and we kept hearing from attendees: ‘Oh man, I can’t wait to bring this back to my company!’ or ‘I wish my day job could be like this!’ We knew it could be. And we knew we could help.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “Bootstrapped. Partially because we can, and partially because we want to stay in full control of what we’re doing. We might raise in the future, but it would be because we WANT to raise, not because we NEED to raise.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Our years of facilitating so many Startup Weekend events, combined with our experience working in startups, big companies, and government. We’ve worked in a huge diversity of companies, understand how they work, and have years of experience teaching and apply these concepts.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Flying down to San Francisco several times a week for a month to study Customer Development directly under Steve Blank. We learned an incredible amount that we’ve adapted to help the established companies we work with build better products.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “We decided to build a Pinterest analytics product called Pinsight to scratch some of our product itch. We thought: ‘We know what our customers want, we’re just going to build it. We know that’s what everyone always says, but this is an exception to the rule!’ Pro tip: It wasn’t.”
Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “If I have to play by the rules: Bezos. He always plays the long game. As a reporter mentioned a few days ago in regards to the Washington Post purchase: “We see Bezos playing checkers, but he’s really playing chess.” If I don’t have to play by the rules: Elon Musk. He’s not playing the long game. He’s playing 4 different long games. He’s trying to revolutionize multiple industries at the same time. He understands that short term failures are learning opportunities to help him achieve long term success. Also, if he was in our corner maybe we could catch a ride to the Space Station.”
Our world domination strategy starts when: “The President of the United States calls us up and asks for help fixing the federal government. It could learn a thing or two from startups!”
Rivals should fear us because: “We have the background. We have the experience. We will make our clients better. Stronger. Faster.”
We are truly unique because: “We’ve been teaching this for years before we started LIFFFT. We have cumulatively facilitated over 40 Startup Weekend events, mentoring over 4000 people across 600 teams in 10+ countries.”
The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: “Our single-client mentality. For a long time we spent almost all of our time on a single client – not out of necessity on our side, there was just a lot of work they wanted to do with us. We eventually realized that while it was profitable, we wanted to spread our Fu (our Kung-Fu, our knowledge) to more companies.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Customer Development! Go talk to customers before you decide what you want to build.”
Here’s more about Liffft via Started in Seattle: