For some years passed, I have been seriously thinking of starting a startup. A small company that will solve a problem in an innovative way and that will grow rapidly. One that will help and bring ease to its customers or clients. I began ideating how to go about developing my objective, which has not concreted into a formidable solution yet. I started attending conferences where ideas and innovative solutions were being discussed. The only thing missing was how to go about turning them into real viable businesses. And so this year June, I got to attend a startup conference called Heureka, The Founder’s Conference, in Berlin. It gathered more than a 100 startup founders and successful startup owners and directors of companies like Airbnb, Uber, Zalando etc.
To say the least, I was inspired but demotivated of starting a startup, after conversing and hearing a lot of people tell their stories. I was inspired because of the success they achieved but daunted by learning the fact that it takes a huge effort in making your startups into reality.
While I still wondered about my next move, during the break session, I approached Microsoft Accelerator Programme in Berlin occupying one of the exhibition booths. I wanted to know how I can get into their 12 week accelerator programme.
The following conversation ensued between me and the Gonen, the person I met.
“Do you have a prototype or a startup.”Me: “No! only an idea.” “Everybody has ideas. Everyone on the street has ideas, but not all are good ideas. To get in (Microsoft Accelerator Programme), you need to know that people want your idea, people are interested in the solution you will bring. Cut the story short, do these 3 things, I guarantee you, it will make a beeline in becoming successful:
- Test your idea
- Assemble the right team
- Read this book”
Let’s get into the details of what these steps mean
Testing Your Idea
So you have an idea you are thinking will become a huge success, right? How do you know people will be interested in your solutions? In a poll made for why most startups fail, the number reason (totalling 30% of the votes) is because they build something nobody wants. Build a prototype using the lean startup method (using the least resources to build a basic version), test it and get instant feedback. If your solution is a digital one, one that people can easily access, quickly develop it and launch it online. The number of people who sign up will tell you how many people are interested. If you cannot build any prototype, make a story about your solution and share it online. Ask people who are interested in the solution to drop their emails and they will be the first to know when the product is finally ready. If you do this, you will no doubt know whether you need to invest more time or not in developing your product. Even if you cannot build a prototype, run a Facebook ad or wherever you can tell people about the solution you have in mind. Have them sign up if they are interested in the soultion when the product or service gets ready.
Traction is a wonderful book put together by two startup founders. It is the result of interviews with 40 company owners and deep research and understanding of countless successful companies, about how they gained traction. In other words, how they increased their customer base. Because that is all you need, number of customers or clients. This book detailed exactly how you can use 19 different ways of doing it. I am sure you will find one or two ways you can easily start using without spending a dime. The book is available for free download here.
Assemble the Right Team
To build a dream company, you need a dream team. Why? Because everyone will have a role to play and you can easily have more time to focus and do much in your role. You need at least 3 people for you team. It is not a most, but it will be easier. Also when investors are looking at your team, they will easily see how competent you are. Remember, people do not invest in ideas, they invest in people. So hire wisely. The number 2 reason (18% of the votes) why most startups fail is because of hiring the wrong people. Hire people to complement your skills. An associated failure rate is also not finding the right co-founders. At least have an engineer, a graphic designer and a marketing/sales personnel. You need someone to make the beautiful designs that will appeal to the potential customers, the images, the posters, the videos etc. The engineer does the programming of the site, the solution or takes care of the technical side of the company. Then you need the sales/marketing guy to do the marketing. I believe you all know how difficult it is to market a new product.
“With this, you will definitely see tangible results.” These is the best advice I received from Gonen, a current intern at Microsoft Accelerator in Berlin. With his team, they are working on Raklet, an online platform to help associations with membership subscriptions manage their association through sending messages to their members, updating their payment profile and the likes, all through one platform. I totally recommend it for the association you belong to.
I got more motivated as the steps were made clearer to me. But one thing must be be stressed; it requires hardwork.
If you enjoy reading this post, please share it with an ambitious entrepreneur out there. Like me, some things may become clearer to her or him. Are you about starting your startup too? Do you find these suggestions I received relevant or how do you like to begin? Please share your thoughts or formula.