Book review: Blue Ocean Strategy

After a while i’d like to come back with a book review following the last one The E-Myth Revisited; this time i want to suggest another milestone for anybody that want to develop his own start-up business: Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne. The authors are two professors at INSEAD Business School and considered two of the most important influencers in business strategy.

blue-ocean

The main theory they present in the book is that, to survive the market challenges, is better for a business to discover new competitor-free blue oceans rather then fight in the shark-infested (blood) red oceans. Again a obvious concept but very rarely pointed out by anybody… the power of simplicity!

The book shows how to systematically search for blue oceans or never discovered before markets, plenty of new opportunities and new products and services to sell. It gives tools and analytics frameworks to create new blue oceans and develop a strategy for winning in such new marketplaces without competition with others.

From sketching the strategic chart of the business sector to carrying out a blue ocean strategy the authors lead the reader to think out of the box in a very effective way, bringing also many cases of study from very different sectors and times.

I suggest reading this book before you start your venture so you can directly dive into a blue ocean!

Blue Ocean strategy on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blue-Ocean-Strategy-Uncontested-Competition/dp/1591396190/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1474967574&sr=1-2&keywords=blue+ocean+strategy

W. Chan Kim wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Chan_Kim

R. Mauborgne wiki (German): https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renée_Mauborgne

The university dilemma

The QS World University Rankings 2016-17 has just been released. Top rankings have no surprises with USA and Europe leading the top ten with 5 universities for each side.

First three places are for the well-known “sisters” MIT, Stanford and Harvard while the first European is Cambridge in 4th; to complete the other positions Caltech, Oxford, Univesity College of London, ETH of Zurich, The Imperial College and Chicago University.

mit

Rest-of-the-world universities are lead by Singapore with NUS and NTU at 12th and 13th respectively and mainly China with several institutes in the top 30.

Criteria used for drafting the rankings include several indicators such as academic and employees reputation, citations and international students.

There is thus a wide number of top class colleges and universities to choose among especially if you’re looking for a technical or economics major, but the real question should be: does it worth the hassle? Does investing tens of thousand euros (or dollars, or pounds if you prefer) in high level formation is better than investing in your startup? And last but not least, are universities still the innovation centers that used to be for centuries?

Looking at the (in)famous dropouts list drafted by the College Dropouts Hall of Fame may be not anymore, at least if you’re planning to be the next world-changing entrepreneur. Reading the list in fact, beside well known dropouts such as Steve Jobs,  Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Richard Branson, we can find among other hundreds, people such as Stanley Kubrick, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Dan Akroyd and Bill Murray, Stefi Graff and Boris Becker.

steve2

Dropouts occasionally speak at graduations too

The web site propose also a half-serious good lists of reasons both to attend and not to attend college that worth a read. At least to make a half-serious reflection on what you really want from your future life.

London is the new European Start up Capital

Despite Brexit and related roller coaster of economic and monetary factors, the first six months of 2016 have stated the overtake of London vs Berlin as capital of start up in Europe.

According to the German EY’s startup barometer report in fact, investments in Berlin have dramatically fallen to 520m€ in the first semester of this year, sinking the whole Germany to a 957m€  amount that is the half compared to the same period of 2015.

Infographic: London Usurps Berlin As Startup Capital Of Europe | StatistaYou will find more statistics at Statista

This tumble, with the contemporary rise of London and Stockholm, has taken Berlin out of the podium as also Paris has  bring investment into startups to a bright 673m€ level.

The amount of 1,32om€ for London is also remarkable considering the fall of 12% in fintech investments and funding on the same period in the city.

The next year would probably bring more clarity due to the mitigation of Brexit effects but London will any case play a main role in the startup funding and development sector.

EY website: www.ey.com

 

To Italexit or not to Italexit that is the problem

Two months are now passed since June 23rd. The Brexit vote has shaken the EU but as far as today, as per my previous article forecast “To Brexit or not to Brexit that is the question”, no major disasters seem to have happened.

After few weeks of roller coasting the pound has strongly recovery both vs USD and EUR to a more realistic 1.31 and 1.17 exchange rate respectively. All UK economic indexes seem to be positive or at least not so bad and few sectors, like real estate, are suffering but due to other problems. Same happens for European countries.

The real issue that may affect EU though is the referendum that soon (late 2016 or first months of 2017) will be held in Italy to confirm constitutional amendments. Nobody is talking about such deadline of course but this event can, in my opinion, kick-off a chain reaction that my change Europe as we know it.

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Italian Prime Minister Renzi

A victory of No side would more likely bring to as consequence an immediate fall of Renzi’s government; it has bond its fate to reform path approval and despite recent change of strategy a defeat of Yes party will bring to Renzi’s political end.

Recent polls (Scenari politici – Winpoll 13 – Italian) give a No side lead at 53% thus by the end of the year Italian government may fall and bring to an election in early 2017. At this point a win of the old parties would be nearly impossible, all the polls in fact see the anti-euro Movimento 5 Stelle on the lead at ballots both with Centrosinistra and Centrodestra (Termometro politico – Italian).

Such a situation may lead to an Italian referendum to leave the EU (baked also by Salvini’s Lega Nord), and an Italexit would bring a landslide in the continent. Differently from UK in fact Italy has a stronger bond with EU.

It’s one of the founder countries and politically would be a deadly failure for the union, it is furthermore in the Euro-BCE system and thus will affect dramatically the economy and probably the survival of such a currency. Last but not least Italy has a very weak economy and bank system and an exit would bring to an implosion of the country and whole North Mediterranean area (Greece, Portugal).

An Italexit in brief would mean the end of the EU as we know it.

Who has really won the Olympics? Grenada!

Rio_giochi_2016.svg

The last notes of Samba resounding from the closing show are still in the air in Rio and greatest champions and teams are celebrated worldwide; athletes such as Katie Ledecky, Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, Simone Biles, to name few, will be remembered by kids whose fathers are not still born.

A quick look at the official ranking tells the winners is US with the impressive number of 121 medals (46 golds), followed by a fantastic Great Britain team with 67 (27 golds), China 70 (26 golds), doping axed Russia 56 (19 golds) and others little-by-little.

But the questions swirling in my mind are the following: for the sake of the Olympics spirit, shouldn’t be more honest draw a ranking weighting results related to population and resources of the country? Why countries and athletes with lower resources must be always located to back seats?

Finally surfing the web i did clarify my doubt! Those in fact are exactly the questions www.medalspercapita.com answer to, not only for the current edition but for all of the previous ones till Athens 1896!

So it’s very interesting to know that on a weighted (4 points to gold, 2 to silver, 1 to bronze) per capita scale the winning team would be Grenada with 53,412 people per weighted medal, followed up by Bahamas with 77,603 while on the lower place of the podium we would find Jamaica with 85,185. Long far away the first “big” country is Great Britain on 16th place with 380,925 while classic superpowers are even lower: US 36th, Russia 37th and China 72nd!

Talking of GDP per weighted medal the podium is slightly different: Grenada is always on the first place with 0.41b US$ per weighted medal, Jamaica is second with 0.47b US$ while Kenya is third with a more than honest 0.91b US$. On this field most celebrated countries take an even greater lesson from “little” ones, in fact the first superpower is Russia 35th followed by Great Britain 36th (both around 14b US$), China 61st and, hard to believe, US are 64th with 51b US$.

This means Grenada is roughly 124 times more sport-effective than US and 34 times than UK… In Tokyo 2020 we all should stand up at their national anthem.

 

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How much do your employees worth?

Human resources are the most important asset of a company, their wellness and happiness on the job environment may change dramatically the performance of the firm and make the difference between glory and failure.

Having a winning strategy on employee’s expansion policy is of extreme importance and whether you are a one-man start-up or a HR executive in a wealthy corporation, you probably asked million times the old-as-time Hamletic question : should i hire a new resource in my company?

Statistic: Revenue per employee of selected tech companies in 2015 (in U.S. dollars) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

Well, to be honest, such a question is far less Hamletic if you work in the HR department of one of the above companies and corporations.

According to Statista.com in fact, the most important tech companies have astonishing values of revenue per employee ratios. Apple lead the group with over 2mUS$ but also Netflix, Facebook and Google scored important results breaking the 1mUS$ per employee barrier.

Such a results are even more impressive if compared to IT companies ones.

Statistic: Revenue per employee of major IT services vendors worldwide (in U.S. dollars) | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

The best of them is IBM with a 289kUS$ per employee ratio.

What’s the magic formula of these companies? How can they get to such results? Of course is the high value of their human resources but the key is, in my opinion, the job environment they were able to set up.

The vision of their founders had as main goal to create a system where you can’t go wrong or make mistakes, a well designed set of procedure and habits that make great people even brighter to turn creativity into innovation.

Keep this in mind when you’ll establish your next startup!

Beat Brexit with night-life economy

A strong help to overcome Brexit struggles may apparently come from an unexpected allied: night-life economy.

Starting from August 19th, in fact, the night opening of tube’s busiest Central and Victoria lines on fridays and saturdays should bring an immediate boost to London’s economy.

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London Underground – Courtesy Wikipedia

According to a report compiled by the Centre for Economic and Business Research and reported by cityam.com, we could expect from night opening and few licensing laws tweaks an immediate 3bn £ extra earnings, with a potential growth to 43bn £ – along with an extra 115,000 jobs – by 2030.

Surprisingly the night-life contribution will not mainly benefit Entertainment/Recreation sector (1.3bn £) but Logistic/Delivery (7.8bn £), Financial and Professional sector (5.6bn £) and Health/Social work (5.4bn £).

A full 24/7 London thus could lead to important figures to city’s economy… drink a pint after dinner has never been so healthy!

Centre for Economic and Business Research: www.cebr.com

City A.M.: www.cityam.com