After recently securing a top 20 finish at the inaugural StartUp Games, which brought together technology startups from across the globe for three days to compete, I wanted to share my experience of being on the startup scene, as CEO of Present.me.
Along the way I have picked up some key lessons and hopefully some handy tips I can pass on to other startups.
1. Have a good idea
Some people think that ideas are hard to come by. I don’t think they are, but good ideas are harder to find and the challenge is sorting the good from the mediocre.
The idea for Present.me came about as we (the founders) worked as communication consultants. We saw a gap where there wasn’t a product that put face, voice and content together easily (which we know is the best way to persuade and inspire), saw our clients saying ‘give me, give me!’ and just went for it.
There is a lot to be said for building on your existing knowledge and not launching yourself into an unknown market. That said, a little bit of naivety goes a long way – if you knew the size of the task that you’re in for, you probably wouldn’t start!
2. Have clear goals
Sounds obvious, right? This is partly related to the first point. Once you have a good idea, it’s very easy to spin off 100 other related good ideas. You need to focus on the goals of the company, not head in multiple directions, and have a good balance of work geared towards customers, product, team, business models and funding.
Having said all this, it’s still worth keeping a fair amount of flexibility baked in as things can change very quickly and being able to shift direction is a major plus. If you’re like me, you’ll learn a huge amount about yourself and be surprised at what you’re capable of. Every day you’re doing something different!
3. A good team
To get to this point in our journey (and win the StartUp Games!), I needed a great team behind me. To build any great startup you need to carefully choose your co-founders, hire great people that believe in your product or business idea, have a breadth of skills and knowledge as well as the motivation to work to make your idea a success. That doesn’t mean you need a big team, just a good one.
4. Be social
Social media has revolutionised a number of industries and the startup world is no different. The best thing about social media for us is that you can reach a huge audience for next to nothing. This doesn’t mean it’s easy, but if you select the right channels, think carefully about content and what you can speak authoritatively on, building a community should come naturally. The opportunities that arise will range from business relationships to new customers.
5. Get noticed
Being social doesn’t just mean online, you need to get out to as many events as you can and network like your life depends on it. If you don’t get out there you will never get noticed.
There are plenty of opportunities for startups to gain recognition, so plan for the year ahead by looking at all the different competitions, awards and networking events. We’ll see you there!
What tips would you add?
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