Startup DNA

Understand your company, the people within it, and then go out and change the world.

If you missed my previous post, we discussed how it might be an important step for all projects to start with why. After you review Start with WHY, a good exercise to bring the team through is Startup DNA. Happy Startup School influenced my decision in this being next up.

What’s your Startup DNA?

This post is broken down in three components when:

  1. RESEARCH: curated shortlist of research specifically designed to prime your mind for this exercise
  2. EXERCISE: answer the questions to get a strategy embedded into the DNA of your organization.
  3. DEADLINE: you’re the boss



I recommend answering the following questions individually, and then bring your answers together with your team. This allows you to see where your team has improvement for alignment, developing a shared vocabulary, and is a great overall icebreaker for the digital transformation process.

  • Purpose: Why does your organization exist? Why do you do what you do?
  • Vision: What change do you want to see in the world?
  • Values: Which 4-5 values are core to the fabric of your organization?
  • Story: What story do you want people to tell about your organization?
  • Problems: What are the top three problems you hope to solve?
  • Solutions: Briefly outline a possible solution for each, thus turning each problem into an opportunity
  • Early Adopters: Who are most likely your early evangelists? (early adopters, people with enough capital/trust/risk to give a new startup a shot)
  • Value Proposition: What will any of these customers become early evangelists?


You are in charge so this is up to you. In order to move to the next phase of this scaffolded process, you’ll want to have the answers to the above questions.

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"Daniel is a unique visionary. Empathetic, sensitive and resourceful, he leads through facilitation. His programs are always built around the concept of getting the right people to participate. I look forward to seeing his initiatives work for the good of society." -Vijay Chakravarthy, Industrial Designer Society of America, Chapter President

"I raised $3 million from Eduardo Saverin (Co-Founder of Facebook) & Tim Draper (VC and Founder of Draper University). I owe a lot to Dan for simplifying complex ideas and being the initial spark of inspiration that motivated me to go for it all." -Josh Rosenheck

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