Tech Transformers

No slideshows! Amazon has some advice for start-ups

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Amazon is known for its innovation in the e-commerce space, pioneering everything from online grocery shopping to drone delivery. Now, the U.S. company's Chief Technology Officer, Werner Vogels, wants to share some words of wisdom with the future Amazons of the world.

"We will continue to experiment and learn from our failures," Vogels said, quoting a letter written by CEO Jeff Bezos in 1997, at The Next Web conference in Amsterdam.

He then went on to give his top five tips for budding start-ups looking to become the next big thing.

1. Innovation in your DNA

Talking about Amazon's evolving products in e-commerce, Vogels said that companies needed to have innovation in their blood.

"You cannot wake up one morning and say: 'I'm going to be innovative.' It is something you need to put into the DNA of your company…you need to make it a fundamental part of how your company is operating if you want it to be continually innovative," the exec said on stage.

2. No slides in meetings

Slideshow presentations are banned in Amazon meetings, Vogel said, as they make participants "passive." (Tweet this)

Instead the company starts off meetings with people reading a six page document of a new idea or product in silence for 30 minutes.

"Producing a good narrative about a particular new product or solving of a particular…problem is something you have to work really hard on….After that you can have a really informed discussion," Vogels explained.

3. The 'two pizza' rule

If your team cannot be fed with two pizzas then it is too big, Vogels said. (Tweet this)

The key to a successful start-up is a lean team, the Amazon executive said, suggesting an ideal group size of 10 to 12. If the problem is too big to be solved with a team this size, then it needs to be "decomposed" into smaller problems.

"We expect everyone in Amazon to be a leader. Ownership means that no matter where you are, the whole company is your responsibility," Vogels added.

4. 'Institutional yes'

Ever go to a meeting with an idea you think is amazing, just to have somebody knock it down -- and then spend ages trying to convince them of its worth?

Well Vogels said that at Amazon, the impetus is on the naysayer to prove why the idea is bad, rather than the other way around.

"The one that has to do the works is the one that wants to block something .That cuts out 95 percent of all objections," he said.

5. How to pitch in meetings

If you want to pitch an idea in a meeting, there a few key documents you should prepare, according to Vogels.

These include a press release outlining the product -- as it allows you to write the idea in a simple way -- a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page about the product, and a "nasty" FAQ, with questions about the product if it goes wrong at launch.

"This prepares you for answering all the questions about the product you are going to build," Vogels said.