The Astonishing Tribe (TAT)

The Astonishing Tribe, or TAT for short, is a software company that specialises in user interfaces. Its technology can be found in 1 out of 7 phones worldwide.

TAT was set up by 6 best friends who wanted to avoid being employed by `The Man´, and so they created their own business. Through the process, TAT now has some valuable lessons to share on what it means to be an entrepreneur, and how to make it work for you.

TAT believes in real innovation, and not incremental improvements to existing products. As a result, it embraces expectations of seeing an 80% failure rate in new developments.

The company also developed a framework of focus and voting process to determine which ideas get worked upon, and which get ignored.

The framework forms a triangle: three corners are dedicated to

1. User experience,

2. Technical feasibility and

3. Market fit.

The center, however, is dedicated to the most focal aspect: Passion. The process begins with the Idea Champion using 5 minutes to pitch an idea to 7 – 12 people randomly selected from all divisions of the company. Each individual, including the Idea Champion then votes on each aspect on a scale of 1 to 10. Mean scores are then calculated. If Passion totals up to less than 5, the idea fails instantly no matter what the other mean scores are. If Passion surpasses 5, the idea moves on to the second stage.

In the second stage, the Idea Champion is given 2 weeks to work on a prototype in which he aims to incorporate feedback for improvements to his idea. After the 2 weeks are up, the Idea Champion relaunches his pitch to a new group of people who then have a similar vote – this time, the Idea Champion wants to see higher mean scores all around. If the prototype passes, the Idea Champion may now decide to form a team to bring the idea to execution.

Passion is the deciding factor because an entrepreneur’s idea will first be ignored, fought (or hated), and then finally accepted. The only way to sustain oneself during the process is to remain dedicated to the value of one’s idea. The idea entrepreneur is required to be super passionate because he will have to present to and recruit others – to do so, he will need to inspire.

TAT acknowledges that determining market fit is the hardest of the cornerstones to pinpoint, but is nonetheless crucial information. TAT strongly believes that social media provides an extremely valuable and cost-effective means for collecting this information, but notes that social media must always be two-way communication and suggests the following points for management of this communication:

  1. Any individual who comments must be responded to, no post should be allowed to be deleted, even if it is insulting
  2. Summarize the findings of each day
  3. Thank all contributors publically
  4. Transparency towards what comments are being used for

TAT also believes that the only way to survive is to be the fastest-mover in the industry, and this is more effective than any patent.

– Sonia Mao

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