The MBET Experience

The University of Waterloo – Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Program

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Entre-Nous – Joseph Fung

February 8th, 2007 · 1 Comment

Today, we have another Entre-Nous session. Our speaker is Joseph Fung, founder of Lewis Media.

One of the interesting things about Joseph’s story is that his company started off without a business plan or a product. They started off as two programmers, who did consulting work to pay the rent. The core philosophy, which they still follow, is “More fun = more good.” After a few months, their consulting experience led them to a product, WebAdmin. Fifty percent of the company’s revenues still come from consulting.

This relates back to an article I wrote a couple weeks ago, questioning whether business plans are really necessary. In classes, the process to starting a business that is most discussed goes something like this:

  1. Come up with an idea
  2. Research the market
  3. Figure out how to create competitive advantage
  4. Build a prototype to show off
  5. Write a business plan
  6. Raise capital
  7. Sell product
  8. Make a million dollars

However, it is easy to spend months (or years) finding the “right idea” in a “high growth market” with a “patented product”, then “perfecting your pitch”, “raising capital” and “getting to market”.

Personally, I much prefer the approach Joseph describes: “Jump off the cliff and make the parachute on the way down.” It is easy to delay getting started until you have the right product at the right time – in fact, I think many people wait forever. 🙂 But why wait until you have that perfect idea? Get going, get some customers, and as long as you stay afloat, eventually you’ll figure out something that works.

I think they might fail me out of MBET for this post. 🙂

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Lois Raats // Feb 26, 2007 at 9:46 am

    Joseph, I totally agree with you! Don’t tell anyone but I figure those books on business plans were written by people who are high analytics and low creatives. Okay, maybe they’re creative in an analytic way. But anyways, most entrepreneurs I know are not linear thinkers. We’re idea people. We think in clusters. We jump from thing to thing. So yes, it’s important to eventually come up with a plan…but it’s not likely the first thing that’s going to happen. If we wait til we get all our ducks in a row, we’ll still be sitting around while others forge ahead.

    Anyway, planning ahead is a bit of a luxury when you’re starting a business. There are too many things you need to learn at the start in order to even begin to create an intelligent plan. I’ve launched each of my three businesses by gabbing to everyone I could about an idea. I’d basically test-market my idea in every conversation. One thing would lead to another, and I’d start getting clients. Clients would lead to infrastructure, which did involve planning, but then that would lead to more clients, and off I’d go.