Minute to Win it: 10 Games That Successful Startups Must Win Quickly

March 17, 2010

Have You Seen the New NBC show “Minute to Win it?” It reminds me of watching entrepreneurs in a start-up company grow from start-up through to the expansion stage through to completing a company exit event.

The similarities include:

  • Win 10 games, win a $1 million prize (although for companies it is more like win $1 billion if all the games are won well).
  • Each of the games are known, so if the participants have the right characteristics, figure out how to win the games, and execute well, they win the ultimate prize.
  • The contest can be stopped at various milestones with the participants having won a subset of the games, with the participants walking away with a good sum of money, but not the ultimate prize.

Summary of “Minute To Win It” (from the show’s website): The show features competitors participating in a series of simple, yet nerve-wracking, games that can lead to a $1 million prize. In each one-hour episode, competitors will face 10 challenges that escalate in level of difficulty using everyday household items. Each game has a one-minute time limit and failure to finish the task on time will eliminate the contestant. If a contestant finishes the 10 tasks, the contestant wins $1 million. At various points throughout the game, the competitor can walk away with the money earned up to that point — but it’ll take nerves of steel to complete all 10 tasks to win $1 million. The competitors, who come from all walks of life, are shown over 60 games prior to the competition and are encouraged to practice these one-of-a-kind challenges at home.

The great thing is that all of the games are known and published on the show’s website, so if the contestants have the right core characteristics and learn the skills of each of the games and can execute well in front of the live audience, the contestant should win $1 million.

Doesn’t this sound like a successful start-up that must win their games quickly (before competitors win and before money runs out)?

10 fast-paced entrepreneur games that, when completed successfully, will win your company a $1 billion exit:

  • Game 1 – Get started: The game is won through generating enough raw ingredients and passion to get started and start winning games, including a core team of one or more people with the right characteristics and enough capital to win one or more games.
  • Game 2 – Understand targets: The game is won by generating target Market, User, and Buyer Clarity and Insights that will allow the company to exploit an attractive market opportunity and wow the market participants.
  • Game 3 – Create users through well designed user “touch points”: The game is won by creating whole product and development strategy and execution that wows the users, ultimately optimize value for the users (Like Aspirin, Vitamins, and/or do for their users) and ensures that the ongoing touch points with the users grow the value and relationship (thereby minimizing attrition, maximizing ongoing revenue, and maximizing word of mouth from existing customers [the most important ingredient in influence marketing]).
  • Game 4 – Create buyers through well designed buyer “touch points”: The game is won by generating a Go-To-Market strategy and execution that finds, wows, and converts target prospects into buyers effectively and efficiently.
  • Game 5 – Improve target, user, and buyer methodologies: The game is won through methodology development (e.g., processes) that allow the performance of games 2-4 to be improved, creates efficiency and allows the company to be scaled.
  • Game 6 – Understand people issues and opportunities: Understand the current state of what the ideal characteristics are of people the organization needs, the current people in the organization, and the possible people that the organization could attract.
  • Game 7 – Develop great people and teams: Organizational and operational methodologies aimed at improving people and their results, including recruiting and performance management of individuals and management systems that help to organize the individuals into teams and departments that maximize the results (with the goal being a linear or better scale-up with increased resources. The better the people fit with the needs of the organization and the better they work together, the more a company wins this game.
  • Game 8 – Use financial and economic understanding and insights to improve economic value: Business model and economic model development that helps to play all the games in ways that optimize economic value and, when looked at by “financial types”, the numbers communicate that the company is attractive and valuable.
  • Game 9 – Make all of the above games work efficiently and effectively and stay out of trouble: operational methodologies that support all of the above, including Financial, Legal, Human Resources (the portions of HR that are not in game 7 such as benefits programs), IT, and Administration.
  • Game 10 – Develop and execute the final company exit strategy (Liquidity Event). Game over.
  • Clearly, just like Minute to Win It, a company could stop at various points and sell the company before getting through game 10.

    Note: clearly the difference between the show’s games and real life company development is that in company development the games are generally played again and again in an iterative manner, hopefully with significant improvements with each iteration, and the senior management focus is probably on 2-4 games at once, rather than on a single game.

Founder & Partner

As the founder of OpenView, Scott focuses on distinctive business models and products that uniquely address a meaningful market pain point. This includes a broad interest in application and infrastructure companies, and businesses that are addressing the next generation of technology, including SaaS, cloud computing, mobile platforms, storage, networking, IT tools, and development tools.