Living Entrepreneurship Blog / Babson Entrepreneurs

Babson Wants Actionaries

Steve Blank calls it Customer Development. Eric Reis calls it the Lean Startup Methodology. Babson College calls it E.T.A. (Entrepreneurial Thought and Action). The premise is simple: Let’s stop kidding ourselves that we can predict how a new startup will perform in the marketplace. Prediction logic reigns supreme in many areas of business, but early stage startups is not one of them. The only way to know the future, when the future is uncertain, is to take action. Form hypotheses about your business, get out of the building and talk to customers to validate or invalidate your hypotheses, learn, rinse and repeat.

The venture I am currently working on, Spy Games, was just advanced to the finalist round in Babson College’s BETA Challenge (BETA stands for Babson Entrepreneurial Thought and Action). In years past, it was a known as the Douglass Graduate Business Plan Competition. It was re-named this year an given a completely new focus on action. It is a good thing the BETA Challenge is not a business plan competition, because we recently invalidated the business model we were pursuing. We weren’t trying to invalidate it, but we ran a test, got customer feedback and learned that we were wrong about the approach we thought would work. The problem was that they loved the experience, but they strongly preferred actor-driven experiences in the game over technology-enhanced options like video. After we ran the numbers, we realized the cost structure for what the customer wanted was no longer feasible under the business model we had been pursuing. So, we tweaked the whole business model and are testing again.

Babson does not ask for fortune tellers and prophets. It does not ask for students who have mastered the ability to accurately forecast the future. Babson rewards those who build, who act, who learn and then go build again.

Babson doesn’t want visionaries who can predict the future. Babson wants actionaries who create the future.