KoiTip #01 - Connect to a Deeper Purpose

"Ventures that exist only for gain become part of the rat race - a ruthless, competitive, zero-sum world that pits one against another. But when a venture serves a deeper purpose, it becomes part of a sharing, collaborative economy of like-minded players who help each other to work together for a better world".

KoiTip #02 - Listen

"Good entrepreneurs begin by listening, hearing something that is growing or that needs a solution... You need to hear the bell first. Many people think that entrepreneurship starts with creativity, with dreaming up an idea. But it doesn't. Creativity comes after you hear the bell, in responding to that call. First the work of the ear, then the hands".

KoiTip #03 - If you want to make a billion Rand ...

"Someone taught me many years ago "If you want to make a billion rand, solve a billion rand problem". It's excellent advice. Find a really big problem - one with teeth - and solve it, and you will be very successful".

KoiTip #04 - Success needs a superb team

"Investors know that ideas are just pieces of paper, and that it will take a huge amount of work to turn your idea into a success - and for that you will need a very good team! Make sure that you build a team that has all the skills your venture needs. Many of the startups I mentor lack vital skills they needed to succeed, because they all have the same set of skills".

KoiTip #05 - Create an Emeritus Board

"Successful ventures will need an exceptional management team. That's what we discussed last week. But your startup has a young team without a lot of experience or a track record that will impress people. What can you do? Create an "Emeritus Board" of advisors. Ask some of the best and brightest people in your field to join an advisory board for your company".

KoiTip #06 - Map Your Assumptions

"It is April 1992 and Disney is opening their second theme park outside the United States in Paris, after twenty years of running other theme parks. Despite their experience and the meticulous planning that went into this $5b project, the park will have racked up losses of more than $1 billion by 1994. How could things go so wrong?".

KoiTip #07 - Make Something Beautiful

"Beauty matters. It speaks to the human spirit, to what we yearn for beyond the everyday, beyond mere functionality. The drive for beauty has helped to make Apple at times the most valuable company in the world, has helped it capture 72% of the world’s mobile phone profits with only 8% of the market share, and helps its retail stores to generate far more revenue per square metre than any other major retailer in the world".

KoiTip #08 - Use the Flower!

"Imagine this challenge: you have no control over the features or price of the products you distribute. Yet year after year you outsell most of your competitors and you are ranked by your suppliers as one of their top distributors in the world.

How did I do this? By using a simple strategy called “the flower”.

KoiTip #09 - Systems are your Building Blocks

"I’m helping a startup prepare for a critical sales presentation. Errol is not present, so we don’t have his correspondence with the client. And no one can find the phone number of the consultant working for the client. It’s a mess...

...but let’s imagine how things would be for this startup if only they had..."

KoiTip #10 - Don't be Shoemakers' Children!

"“I must have made a mistake”, I thought, “this company has been written up in the Wall Street Journal. This shabby page cannot be their website”...

We’ve been talking about how to provide a winning “whole product” using the “flower” strategy (surrounding your core product with world class services). Last week we looked at excellent internal systems. Here we look at superb systems for..."

KoiTip #11 - Play Three Games

"Few ventures realise that to succeed a new venture needs to play at least two and maybe three very different games at the same time: the short game is right here and now, doing small projects or reselling products from others. The mid game is creating a pipeline of orders from regular customers for your own products. The long game ..."

KoiTip #12 - Position your Product

"Imagine the confusion that the platypus caused for scientists - a mammal that lays eggs, has the bill of a duck, the tail of a beaver and otter feet. How to classify it?

The same confusion cripples many startup products. When you can’t explain your offering quickly you lose people’s sympathy and interest, and they will not be able to easily tell others about it..."

KoiTip #13 - Niche, niche, niche…

"Last week we talked about positioning your product in people’s mind. This week we’re going to look at finding the best market for your product.

But everyone is the market for my product”, is what many startups tell me. Wrong approach!"

KoiTip #14 - Get Real!

"I’m consulting in the winelands. The estate has ambitious plans to create a virtual online community with all sorts of measures of engagement. All around us we are seeing a move to virtual worlds, from online dating to virtual wine appreciation - as though this could ever replace the real thing! But there is a Pied Piper call for us to move from the real world into “the cloud”…

KoiTip #15 - Understanding S-curves

"Farmers know when to plow, when to plant, when to harvest, for the best crop. Is there a seasonal code to guide people developing innovations?

There is. Every innovation follows a lifecycle called an S-curve. Understanding S-curves will help you to take the right actions at the right time".

KoiTip #16 - Personal change...

"Last week we spoke about S-curves, the underlying lifecycle of all innovations, and how important it is to manage transitions from one S-curve to another.

Our lives are filled with many waves of change, and whenever we move through change it is like moving through four rooms in an apartment…"

KoiTip #17 - De-couple Your Business

"Your business is stuck, bogged down, cannot move forward... That’s when many of my clients come to me, so this week we’re going to look at how a de-coupling strategy can help some ventures to move forward.

Let's look at some companies I've helped…"

KoiTip #18 - Think about your Ecosystem...

"We've spoken in previous newsletters about the strategy of the flower - making sure that your core service or product is surrounded by a set of world-class services...

...but it's not enough to just build your flower - you must also make sure that your company and its "flowers" are well positioned in the total ecosystem of your industry…"

KoiTip #19 - Learn from other Ecosystems...

"We spoke last week about the importance of positioning your company and its "flowers" well in the total ecosystem of your industry.

But how well do you understand the ecosystem in which you are working? What will happen next in this space? How will the forces shaping it affect you?"

KoiTip #20 - Do the numbers!

"Lots of ideas I hear sound plausible but suffer from a fatal flaw - the numbers have not been done.

Now let's be frank, most of us would prefer root canal surgery to spending a day drawing up a discounted-cashflow spreadsheet. But fortunately…"

KoiTip #21 - Don't Be the Squirrel!

"A tale of two startups: IntenseCoders are working around the clock to develop their application. They seldom leave the office or see anyone from outside their company. Dispirited after their application fails to take off, and not knowing what to do next, they return to jobs with corporates.

TheSocialGuys are also working hard on an app, but…"

KoiTip #22 - Build a Bicycle First!

"Ideas like the Hyperloop are immensely ambitious projects that can only be tackled by a proven visionary and very wealthy individual like Elon Musk.

Yet every month I work with first-time entrepreneurs with plans that are almost as audacious…"

KoiTip #23 - Scan the Horizon ...

"It is essential for every entrepreneur to keep “scanning the horizon” - seeing what is new in technology, business, and society as a whole.

It is not enough just to see some of the blips or dots on the radar though. You need to..."

KoiTip #24 - Evolve or Die...

"Every month I see startups who are failing because they have not evolved.. Every startup ecosystem goes through three distinct stages. Startups that do not evolve to fit each stage will die out.

So what are these stages? ..."

KoiTip #25 - Mastering Trifocal Execution

"Successful entrepreneurs are usually working on three horizons at once: the now - their current products for the current market; the next - products for emerging markets; and the nascent - thinking and working towards the far future. Short-sighted entrepreneurs spend all the time just on their present issues. Successful entrepreneurs carve out time to address the future as well".

KoiTip #26 - Protect Yourself with Icebergs

"You have a great idea and have developed a product. Now you want to protect it. But you're focusing on the wrong thing - the tip of the iceberg only. Beneath the tip (the technology) there is a whole world of competitive advantage.

Let's explore three such icebergs..."

KoiTip #27 - Execute in Parallel

"You're in a race against the clock - funding is short and running out fast, and you need to get to market before someone beats you to it. You need to learn the secret of top entrepreneurs..."


This guest lecture at Stellenbosch University by Neil Hinrichsen, the founder of Koi, will show you nine major areas of opportunity for entrepreneurs in South Africa.

There's also more information on these areas in KoiTip #03 above: "If you want to make a billion Rand ..."


A prize-giving speech on Lessons from Lion King based on the powerful Koi framework that I use to grow entrepreneurs.