Angry Bird Start Up Strategy

A week ago I got sick. Some flu bug that was going around.  I mention this because it put me in bed for 48 hours straight during which time I finally broke down and added Angry Birds from Rovio to my iPhone.  Now I had seen it on other people’s phones and you can hardly ignore the buzz but I really didn’t ever feel the urge to play.  But I was on a lot of cold medication and had nothing but time so the Halloween edition it was.

Now I am not going to tell you how Rovio creates compelling games or how their marketing is top-notch.  Nope I actually think that there are 4 real world lessons for start-ups in the game itself.

1. Know What Birds You Have

Look around your team, look at your product.  Be critical.  Be honest.  If you don’t have a business developer that can fly through stone walls don’t slingshot him/her at one.  There are often more than one way to achieve your goal make sure that you are using your birds in the way best suited to their skills.

2. Look for Weaknesses, Tipping Points and Interdependency

Markets are often not uniform.  Look for the areas that easy to penetrate then branch out from there.  Look for key early adopters or influencers that will tip others your way.  Think about going to market as a multi-step process where each moves build momentum or makes it easier for your product’s next move.

3. Know the Difference between Execution Fails and Strategy Fails

Start ups live and die based on the speed with which they can learn.  Simple frameworks like the age-old “5 Whys” can help you to diagnose the root cause of a fail.  Many times because of the push to quickly iterate it is easy to stop questioning when you come to the FIRST right answer.  While undoubtedly part of the cause, the  right answers that come further down are often more powerful.  Strategy fails often require you to pivot some part of your business model.  Execution fails often require nothing more than picking yourself up and trying it again.

4. The Fast Fail

Finally I like the quick iterations of Angry Birds’ levels.  And if I have an assumption of how things are supposed to go I don’t wait until the last bird I hit replay right then.  Iterate, pivot, adjust, modify, whatever you want to call it, just start with assumptions and pay attention.


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