When you are deep in the entrepreneurial trenches, startup tips are invaluable nuggets of wisdom that could push you in the right direction and save you from falling flat on your face. These days, it seems like everyone is hoping to become an entrepreneur and come up with “the next big thing”. Who can blame them?
When successful, the benefits of running your own startup are obvious: being your own boss, creating something from scratch, bringing value to the people around you and, of course, making a bit of coin along the way. However, the key phrase in that equation is, “when successful”. Too often, startups fail – at least 75% of them, to be exact, according to the Harvard Business Review.
With three-quarters of startups failing to succeed, how can you make sure that your new business won’t be one of them? Listed below are three invaluable startup tips to help you on your long journey ahead.
Part of living and working in the startup world is learning from mistakes, both your own and others. You have the chance to see what differentiates the companies that ended up having success from those that ultimately fell flat. With any luck, you can spot those lessons before making the same blunders yourself.
Absorb and learn from the plethora of literature other founders like yourself and senior professionals have churned out. There is no shame in asking for help and, especially in this day and age, there are a variety of startup support programs that are available. From extensive accelerator and pre-accelerator programs to mentors packed with a wealth of knowledge and skills, these resources, if utilized effectively, really help put startups in the right direction.
Ignore the hype you see about other startups in the press. Focus on building your own business so you can be the one left standing. Don’t get bogged down by all that the world throws at you – arm yourself with a can-do attitude and you will be able to conquer a lot of your hurdles.
To convince the vital people that you’re worth their time, you’ll have to capture their attention within 30 seconds. If you can develop an elevator pitch that will intrigue people and show your idea has potential in that amount of time, you’ll inevitably be afforded more time to discuss matters with them later. Armed with your elevator pitch, go out there and make the right connections.
Harness the power of social media to help connect you with potential employees, partners, clients, providers, or people that can promote your product or service. However, never forget offline opportunities. Step away from the computer and find people in real life at conferences and networking events. The connection you can make with a person face-to-face is naturally stronger than one mediated between screens.
You can have an invention or product that is creative and exciting, however, the most important measure of success is meeting a real need for the market that you’re trying to serve. The best companies are the ones that meet consumers’ needs and are able to adapt as those needs change.
Venture capitalist database, CB Insights, conducted an extensive review examining what contributes to the failure of new businesses. After analyzing 101 startup post-mortems, the reviewers found that 42% suffered from a lack of demand for the product or service being offered and, simply put, their product had “no market need’’.This one flaw harmed significantly more companies than well-known startup challenges such as cash flow (29%), competition (19%), and poor timing (13%), to name a few.
Yet another one of the many startup tips to ensure that your product or service has a market need would be to try looking for an industry with successful competitors. When it comes to establishing demand, thriving competitors are a good sign, not the red flag many entrepreneurs view them to be. Being the first mover in a space can produce situational advantages, but showing up late gives you the benefit of added perspective.
Furthermore, check for search traffic. When people are searching for a product to solve a problem they’re facing, they type what they’re looking for into Google. Through extensive research of this, entrepreneurs can learn what people are searching for and use the findings to gauge demand for a product or service idea.
Learn to spot when helpful advice is merely a suggestion to conform to the popular paradigm of the time. Do deep research into your ideas, but always trust your instincts. Actively seek guidance, but know the advice may often conflict, which means you need to depend on your own conviction. Be aware of the competition, but don’t worry about them too much. Be direct with your team, but always kind, empathetic, and self-aware.
For more startup tips and how to take your business to the next level visit JumpStartMe.
Accessing finances in any economic climate can be challenging and, given the current volatile state of affairs, securing funds is as tough as ever. Startups and business development don’t just require funding anymore but also depend on organisations to provide them with expert guidance and access to a wealth of knowledge and connections.
With so many startups experiencing difficulty kicking things off and growing, there is significant room for support in terms of funding and guidance. From Angel investors to various foundations to Municipal councils, all these players are cutting themselves a generous slice of the largely appealing startup cake.
In this article, we provide you with a few key players fuelling startups today.
Many corporations are pinning their futures on their venture investment portfolios. They adopt the mindset that if you can’t beat startups at the innovation game, go into business with them as financial partners. While competition has a lot to do with corporations getting involved, talent and idea sourcing is yet another point of emphasis. Given that most startups address new and unresolved challenges, they are perfect in this regard.
For example, corporations such as Google utilise investment wings of their company to identify unique economic opportunities to be found in startups across the globe that could benefit their corporation’s goals and targets as well.
Google’s VP for search and Google assistant echoed the same sentiments when he highlighted how Google is “focused on fostering an open ecosystem for developers, device makers, and content partners to build new experiences”. To help promote this, Google is opening a new investment program for early-stage startups.
An angel investor is someone who puts their own finances into the growth and support of a small business at an early stage, in addition to potentially contributing their advice and business experience. According to research presented in The Globalization of Angel Investments, angels are an integral part of a startup’s growth, performance, and survival.
Australia plays hosts to many angel investors and groups but one that stands out is Sydneys Angels which is an organisation that brings together high-net-worth individuals who invest their money, expertise and time in helping entrepreneurs achieve their startup dreams. It’s Australia’s largest network of startup angel investors with around 115 members on its books. The group has also recently ticked over a total of $10 million invested. Along with Sydney Angels, there are other groups such as the Australian Angel Investment Network, Melbourne Angels, Business Angels, and Capital Angels.
Venture capitalism usually involves an entire firm, comprising investors, board members, and people whose job is to identify talent and new ideas. The ultimate goal here is to nurture the business in a manner that facilitates growth.
Australian venture capital firms are investing more now into Australian startups than ever before. According to KPMG’s Venture Pulse report on global VC trends, a record $848 million ($US630 million) was invested during the 2017-18 financial year. This trend is expected to continue in the years to come – a sentiment validated by StartupAus’ chief executive, Alex McCauley, who said he expects VC investment in Australia to continue to increase with no signs of slowing down.
When the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation started giving money to a small biotech firm back in 2000, its best-case scenario was that the company would discover a new treatment for the debilitating disease. It worked, and it came with an extra benefit – in November, the foundation sold its royalty rights to Vertex Pharmaceuticals cystic fibrosis drugs, including breakthrough Kalydeco, for a whopping $3.3 billion, returning 22 times what the foundation gave to Vertex.
This is spurring more nonprofits to adopt the controversial tactic of investing like venture capitalists. Organisations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, whose total venture budget has grown from $400 million to $1.5 billion.
Startup accelerators are fueling entrepreneurs and startups with supportive ecosystems and plenty of fresh funding opportunities. These programs support early-stage, growth-driven companies through education on mentorship and financing, and are generally based on a fixed period of time.
The accelerator experience is a process of intense, rapid, and immersive education aimed at accelerating the life cycle of young innovative companies, compressing years’ worth of learning-by-doing into just a few months depending on your needs and growth. Without the help of accelerators, companies such as Airbnb, Twitch, Stripe, Dropbox, Twilio, Simple, Pluto TV, and ClassPass might not have even seen the light of day.
Municipal Councils and other local government agencies have programs geared towards promoting entrepreneurship and start-up ecosystems in their locality. They facilitate a startups journey by providing them with a wide variety of valuable facilities – from coworking spaces to relevant guidance on the formalities of starting your business to other necessary materials a startup may need.
For example, last year the Melbourne Municipality released a Startup Action Plan, a series of recommendations aimed at bolstering Melbourne’s startup scene through funding, collaboration, and access to resources.
Among the recommendations are actions geared towards helping startups commercialise their intellectual property, harnessing international connections to help startups pivot globally, continued funding through small business grants, linking startups to training and mentorship programs, and holding annual learning events.
Having worked with many Municipal councils, it’s my firm belief that councils play one of the most important roles in business development.
For more information on the intricately extensive startup ecosystem visit JumpStartMe.
Nowadays, big companies and organisations are investing in business development initiatives and startups because they need fuel for innovation, they have a desire for top talent, and they need to maintain a competitive advantage. They are holding entrepreneurship contests, investing in startups, and bringing on entrepreneurs in-house. It’s for this reason that, in the war for talent and innovation, investing in startups is an avenue that many organisations leverage.
With this in mind, it can still be baffling to some that such corporations often promote a business strategy of actively seeking out and investing in promising startups. There are a variety of reasons as to why startups and business development initiatives can prove to be invaluable investments for large organisations – I’ve highlighted a few in the sections below.
Large companies are significantly accelerating their pace of growth-oriented innovation, augmenting internal ingenuity by aggressively tapping into a broader marketplace of ideas and business opportunities – innovative startups. These startups allow big companies to sample new technologies or product categories that might become a part of their businesses without the direct expense of staffing an in-house unit.
Investing in an existing startup or in initiatives that foster business development with a product/service that has already proved its value is often seen as a faster and more reliable source of innovation than traditional Research and Development teams. Corporations such as Google utilise investment wings of their company to identify unique economic opportunities and innovative startups across the globe.
Part of this trend is driven by economic necessity. When both profit margins and a corporation’s position in the global marketplace are endangered by Research and Development projects not fully blooming, providing funding and networking opportunities to existing technology is often a far more attractive solution. Typically, investment teams will seek out startups to complement their own niche within the industry and/or expand into an entirely new venture. Such a strategy ensures a corporation can maintain a focus on its brand while also extending upon the functionality of its services.
Everyone is looking for the next big thing. This is especially the case for any corporation looking to maintain its edge within the marketplace. However, as any entrepreneur knows, market disruption can come from a number of places. This is why corporate investment branches may also be on the lookout for potential competitors or market revolutionaries still in their early stages to get them on their team early on.
Identifying market game-changers in advance can be the best way to ensure a large corporation is able to get in on the game or successfully adapt if a market change is imminent. The best startups typically have products and services that have the critical edge to outperform existing groups within their respective industry.
Occasionally, it’s easier for a corporation to rely on the groundwork already provided by a startup when working within an unfamiliar region or locality. Rather than focusing on funnelling money into researching potential market entry points and understanding local trends and tastes, turning to a startup with a pre-existing foothold or an insightful outlook on an area can be a safer way to spend money.
By teaming with start-ups, large companies can take advantage of the smaller partner’s nimbleness to enter new regions, using newer channels of engagement. For example, Unilever recently backed seven innovative digital companies as part of its “Go Global” program, giving each company funds, mentoring, and a range of services in exchange for a customised digital marketing pilot for its brands. The campaigns will go live across Africa, Europe, and Asia.
A smaller company is more agile. Therefore, it’s easier to make decisions and implement plans without multiple layers of management having to sign off on each action item and being bogged down by various bureaucratic formalities.
This, of course, is just a few reasons as to why corporations often seem to take interest in startup investment. There are a plethora of other reasons why organisations may venture into adopting a startup into their investment portfolio, which we’ll explore in subsequent articles. Until then, for more information on the complex interactions between startups and larger corporations and how they shape the economic landscape of today visit JumpStartMe.
The term “startup” has been thrown around with increasing frequency over the last few years to describe everything from the scrappy garage-based ventures and hip social apps to colossal tech companies. Australia’s startup ecosystem is flourishing. Each year, thousands of talented Australian entrepreneurs come pouring out of the woodwork – starting fresh new startups with bold ideas, and seeking funding, customers, or just recognition. Industries from finance to recruitment and food are all prime for disruption by young startups in Australia according to a recent review by Linkedin.
Here in Australia, we are hosts to an impressive roster of star-studded startups including Atlassian, Envato, Campaign Monitor, Canva, Hey You, and Vinomofo – to name a few. But the big and successful stories we hear of are really only the tip of the iceberg – it’s a big iceberg with over 50,000 people with the job title ‘founder’ in Australia.
Understandably not all of these ventures succeed. The very nature of running a startup means the odds are against you – evidenced by HuffPost’s recent report that highlighted how a staggering 95% of all startups in Australia fail.
However, without shedding doom and gloom upon this fine Spring day, let us look at the startups in Australia that have made the cut. In the following sections, we run through a few startups that have succeeded in defying the statistics and changed the very landscape of their industry.
Graphic design platform Canva has had a stellar 2018 so far, achieving unicorn status in January — a title given to startups valued at over $1 billion. In the six years since its launch, the Sydney-based tech company, with main offices in Manila and San Francisco, has amassed a global following. The platform now churns out 13 designs per second, produced by 10 million users in 190 countries, using 100 languages.
The idea for Canva came to founder Melanie Perkins while she was teaching graphic design programs at the University of Western Australia. She quickly realised that the underlying tech had far greater potential than simply helping students capture their memories and it is with this in mind that Canva was founded on New Year’s Day 2012.
It’s been quite a run for the founders of the personalised cancer patient care app, CancerAid. After closing a $1.25 million funding round at the end of 2016, receiving further investment from investor Glen Richards on Shark Tank, and being named as a “standout launch” by Apple on its app store, the application has reached great heights already.
The CancerAid app helps patients organise their cancer journey and manage their awareness and expectations in an individualised way, while also working with clinicians to deliver tailored information.
The main goal of the founders is to make CancerAid the number one resource for patients when faced with a cancer diagnosis or undergoing therapy to improve their outcomes and satisfaction. This app operates as a smartphone application allowing cancer patients and their caregivers the ability to improve their health outcomes and patient experience through treatment planning, journals, an online community, and peer-reviewed cancer treatment information.
Power Ledger, with their gender diverse founding team, is bringing P2P solar energy trading blockchain technology to the world. The technology allows renewable energy asset owners to decide who they want to sell their surplus energy to and at what price. Power Ledger was founded by Jemma Green, Jenni Conroy, Dave Martin, and John Bulich in 2016.
Through blockchain technology, they can provide a transparent, auditable, and automated market trading and clearing mechanism for the benefit of producers and consumers. To date, they have raised $34 million AUD. The blockchain company raised $17 million in a pre-sale ICO in September, after 190 million Power Ledger tokens called POWRs — were snapped up in just 72 hours by buyers on the Ethereum cryptocurrency network.
The energy trading startup then followed with an additional $34 million, and to kick off 2018, Power Ledger was named as one of three finalists in the 2018 Extreme Tech Challenge. Their path seems to be illuminated with promise and potential.
Each of these startups in Australia has had illustrious careers since their respective inception and have defied their industries with their sheer innovation and dedication. No doubt, they are game changers in their respective industries and this is only the beginning of the journey.
To keep tabs on the startups that are changing the world or to find out how you can take your startup to the next level feel free to visit JumpStartMe and read our latest blogs for more information.