Tech entrepreneur and startup CEO Corey Thompson has devised a plan to improve efficacy of knowledge transfer and retention in the classroom. Beyond the tens of thousands of K-12 students which currently use Naiku’s SaaS assessment tool, the venture has captured the hearts and minds of many — including the Minnesota Cup, Project Skyway, and TEKNE. Most recently, the startup closed on a $320k first round of equity financing from local angel investors.
When asked about a timely theme that resonated with where you’re at on the entrepreneurial journey, you chose “focus”. Why?
It requires significant effort for a new company to maintain focus – and to not chase bright lights.
Focus is often a hard thing for startups to find and maintain. What works for you?
Well, there are so many places where focus matters. So often it seems like a game of “pick one” – like adding one feature from four of five, chasing either large or small customers or executing a certain strategy (grow fast, organically, on your own, with partners), etc.
What works for me is remembering that success is often achieved by doing one thing great rather than “doing lots of things.”
At what point did the significance of focus come to the forefront for you?
Adisack and I, along with Kevin, were discussing where we wanted Naiku to be in 12 months – and we realized we were spending time on things that wouldn’t really get us any closer to that goal. While there were lots things we could be doing to “move the company forward,” a few of them would get us there much more quickly than the others. We had to cross a bunch of things off the list.
What advice would you have for other entrepreneurs seeking focus?
First I’d say “good luck” and then don’t let the little things pile up.
Then, in terms of your business, take time to test your assumptions and go for it. While this is relatively inexpensive to do, it does take a lot of discipline to really follow it through with it.
I think it works best to 1. build something, 2. make sure you’re building what your customers want, and 3. make sure that you’ve identified the right customers. Build is before customer want – even thought we have some MBA in our blood – because you can get a more authentic response with (a minimum) product than you can with paper.