Nail the Right Things in the Right Order.
Nail It Then Scale It is the first lean startup book to help entrepreneurs through the process of launching a high-growth company. The book combines high-level principles and a step-by-step guide of what key actions successful entrepreneurs take to reduce risk and increase success. Nail It Then Scale It answers key questions that entrepreneurs have, including: Why do most new businesses fail? What first steps do successful serial entrepreneurs take? What are the most common traps that lead to failure and how can I avoid them?
Based on years of academic research and real world experience, Dr. Nathan Furr and Paul Ahlstrom conclude that startups often fail by doing the “right things,” but doing them out of order. In other words, conventional wisdom and human nature combined with entrepreneurial drive puts the entrepreneur on autopilot to become part of the 70-90% of new ventures that fail.
From Thomas Edison to Steve Jobs, the Nail It Then Scale It method is based on the timeless principles and key practices used by successful entrepreneurs to repeatedly innovate. These processes and principles have now been distilled into a handbook to guide entrepreneurs step by step to victory. Stop following conventional wisdom and join the few entrepreneurs that consistently take their innovative ideas all the way to a successful launch.
Dr. Nathan Furr is a best-selling author, assistant professor of strategy at INSEAD, and visiting scholar at ESSEC. He has published his research in leading journals such as the Strategic Management Journal, Organization Science, and Stategic Entrepreneurship Journal, and has received numerous awards from the Academy of Management, the Kauffman Foundation, the Sloan Foundation, and other presigious academic institutions. He earned his PhD from the Stanford Technology Ventures Program at Stanford University.
Meet the Authors.
Paul Ahlstrom is a co-founder and managing director of Alta Ventures, an early-stage venture fund. For more than 30 years, Paul has operated on both sides of the table as a venture-backed entrepreneur (founder of Knowlix, sold to Peregrine Systems, sold to HP) and as an investor. To date, he has raised over $1B and directly invested over $500M in more than 125 startup companies. He earned his BA in communications from Brigham Young University and an honorary doctorate from the Netanya Academic College in Israel.
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'Nail It' Like Ryan Smith & Qualtrics.
"I subscribe [to a model] called 'Nail It, Then Scale It.' A great example of how Qualtrics adheres to this philosophy is in our international expansion efforts. Before opening up offices globally, we adjusted our U.S. work schedule to accomodate the European workday. That meant starting work here in the U.S. at 3AM MST. This went on for well over a year. Staff worked long hours, but established a great customer base in Europe before we opened up our first physical office there. Fast forward and the team is hard at work, opening our Dublin office. This office will scale quickly with more than 50 employees in the first year.
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Scaling the business is significantly easier if you know exactly what you want to do, so that you can figure out what you need to do to make it happen. Why do we know what to do? Because we used the 'Nail It Then Scale It' model. I believe that we will experience heightened growth using this model because we know it works, and it will allow us to continue scaling very, very quickly."
50 of the Fortune 100
99 of the Top 100
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Download the Big Idea Canvas
Join the Big Idea Course
Join our Virtual Startup 101 Course.
Based on the Nail It Then Scale It concepts and methods found in the book, the Big Idea Course is designed to guide aspiring entrepreneurs through the startup process. The Big Idea Course shares best practices of founders, investors, and innovators from all over the world as they share inspiring stories of entrepreneurial success and failure.
By carefully following the method outlined in the course, you will avoid common pitfalls and improve your chances of achieving a successful startup outcomes.
Explore the 5 Key Elements of a Big Startup Idea:
Do You Have a Big Idea? Let's Test.
Before you spend the next three to five years working on your next startup, take a few minutes to create a hypothesis that you can go out and test. Created with the intent to help you expand your thinking, the Big Idea Canvas is also a hypothesis generator and will walk you step-by-step, asking tough questions to help you analyze your idea from different perspectives.
Download the canvas and fill it out on paper or engage with our interactive digital canvas online.
Start Your Big Idea Canvas Now!
Pain of the Customer
Potential of the Market
Prescription for the Pain
Positioning in the Market
Path to the Exit
Tools Used by Top Programs.
To ensure that students in its top-ranked entrepreneurship program (#2 by The Princeton Review) are focused on chasing big ideas, BYU is using the Big Idea Canvas as the first step for those participating in its world-class startup competitions.
Length: Approximately 12-15 Week
Format: Self-Paced Curriculum
Outcome: Certificate of Completion
Startup Chile is a highly successful accelerator that has placed startup companies at top programs like YCombinator, 500 Startups, and TechStars. They're using the Big Idea Accelerator Program as their prep course for incoming cohorts.
To improve the process of turning patented university IP into scalable startups, the U of Utah's Technology & Venture Commercialization Office is using the Big Idea Canvas to spot ideas with high commercialization potential. And they love using it.
Our Tools Will Help Lead You Down the Right Path!
Contributions from Startup Gurus:
Mike Maples, Jr.
#2 Entrepreneurship Program
#20 Startup Ecosystem Index
#24 Entrepreneurship Program
(The Princeton Review)
(Startup Ecosystem Report)
(The Princeton Review)
Book a Speaking Engagement.
Paul Ahlstrom is a regular keynote speaker at economic and entrepreneurship conferences around the world on various topics, including how to evaluate an early-stage idea that's worth pursuing (using the Big Idea Canvas), how to nail a business model before scaling it into a successful startup (using the Nail It Then Scale It methodology), and how to avoid common startup pitfalls in his popular "3 Ways to Guarantee Your Startup Will Fail" speech.
We'll Help You Take it to the Next Level!
Graphics from the Book
Videos & Keynotes
Get in Touch with Us.
'Nail It Then Scale It' Companies
"3 Strategies to Guarantee Startup Failure"
Startup Grind Conference - Feb. 2015
Redwood City, California
"Nail It Then Scale It in Fintech"
Finnosummitt Conference - Sep. 2015
Mexico City, Mexico
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"Nail It Then Scale It is a book and methodology for reducing uncertainty in the very early stages of a startup and made a tremendous impact on how we went to market."
"One of the key elements of our success was in applying certain Nail It Then Scale It principles. Focusing on nailing the problem set first saved us an enormous amount of time and energy in later stages of the product development life cycle.”
"Nail It Then Scale It doesn’t dance around theory, it dives right into the nuts and bolts of identifying need and the step-by-step process of building a great product that will sell the moment it ships."
"Because we used NISI principles we learned very early that while nurses loved our idea, hospital admins did not see the value. We learned that there was a much bigger pain to be solved by serving worried parents."
"The Nail It Then Scale It methodology empowered us to get Rhomobile started on firm ground.”
"I believe that we will experience heightened growth using this model because we know it works and it will allow us to continue to scale very, very quickly."
- Mike Wolfgramm, former CTO
-Garin Hess, Co-founder & CEO
- Jared Allgood, Co-founder & CEO
- Ryan Smith, Founder & CEO
- Adam Blum, Founder
- Jordan Monroe, VP Sales
Alta Innovation Institute
More than a think tank, the Alta Innovation Institute is a catalytic organization committed to helping regions and countries create knowledge economy jobs. Our team of thought leaders in technology, entrepreneurship and capital formation are committed to unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit to improve the quality of life for people throughout the world. The Institute provides world-class startup resources in the following areas: