Event Reports

Real life lessons from a serial entrepreneur

Leo Chen - Friday, November 07, 2014

SBN Venture Ready Program concluded with our last workshop - “Customer Discovery” led by Peter Hudson. Peter is a serial entrepreneur and his recent endeavor is an app called “Bitlit”. The workshop was very interactive and provided some great insights into different aspects of start-ups. In case you missed it, here is a summary of key concepts discussed in this workshop. This is my personal reflection on my learning experiences from this workshop.

Financing (Onion Model) - Every layer of an onion represents a layer of risk. What you want to do is peel it off layer by layer. Each milestone achieved de-risks your business, which is equivalent to peeling one layer.

Is your problem real? What you really need to assess is if the problem you are trying to address is a real problem and what is the real market for your product and services. As a matter of fact, if you have this problem, you can understand it better as you have invested personal interest in it. This becomes especially important if you are a start-up. You should own your problem! If you are solving a fundamental problem, it’s much easier to raise money and make money. These problems can related to the basic, day to day necessities of general public. To analyze where you problem fits, please refer to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Importance of finding right co-founders. An important message put forward by Peter; don’t start a company just with anybody. Choose your co-founders wisely- someone who can complement you or your skill set. It is also important to remember that you can’t do it all by yourself and you alone aren’t going to know it all. People are your biggest asset. So be wise in deciding and using your co-founders for solving your company problem. Another important point to keep in mind is that socializing with your close friends will be different than socializing with your co-founders. Your friends may not have a clear understanding or an appreciation for your challenges and failures- but your co-founder(s) will have a good listening ear and can be a pillar you can lean on during highs and lows of your business. Market- Is there an ideal market for start-ups: Create your own market. On a personal note, I think the best way to go about that is pay attention to things happening around you. Are there any interesting trends in your market? Do you see any missing gaps or holes you can fill through your product/services? Basically do your homework when it comes to your target market.

Competition. Competition does not matter for start-ups. Most of the businesses fail due to reasons other than competition. So don’t obsess over it. Build a product or provide a service that people love, even though it may be a small market. Concentrate your efforts on building or delivering the best products/services and you will stand out.

Project Management. Project Management is all about getting to know your customers and getting your product to the market. It involves different aspects, ranging from strategy, technical aspects, and marketing. A project manager becomes essential when you want to grow your company and hire more employees.

Work culture. Generally speaking, I am a strong believer that work culture is crucial for productivity and happiness at your workplace. Work culture is equally important for start-ups. Hiring the first few employees for your company will set the stage for future hires as well as for the work culture you want to cultivate in your company. Passion is an important trait you should look for as first hires will be the ambassadors of your company and your brand. So they need to have passion and a willingness to work hard and go an extra mile to accomplish goals and meet timelines, if needed.

Marketing. Be shameless about marketing. Talk to everyone or anyone you possibly can talk to. Don’t be discouraged if you get a no. Keep moving forward and persevere. Pick up your phone and call. It is tremendously important for the success of your company, so never undermine the importance of marketing. Essentials for start- ups: Passion, Passion and Passion. Fundamentally believe in your product/services. Good work ethics are important, especially for the first few years. Be willing to give away your life for your company, and struggle. It may not be an easy road, and there will be bumps along the line. But let your passion drive it.

DO IT RATHER THAN REGRETTING IT LATER. If you lose your sleep over an idea you want to pursue or over a problem that you really want to solve, go for it. It is better to take your chances and fail, rather than living with regret that you never tried it.

Closing remarks- On a personal note, SBN Venture Ready Program was a great learning experience. SBN thanks our wonderful panel of speakers for sharing their insights and experiences. Also, congratulations to all our attendees for successful completion of Venture Ready Program.

Kiran Bhullar November 7th 2014

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