“The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else”
Eric Ries, The Lean Startup
The idea of starting a business is always intimidating. Do you have the right idea? Is it financially viable? Do customers actually want your product? When it comes to tech businesses, the task becomes even more daunting. It’s a race against the clock to produce the most up-to-date technology in a rapidly developing industry.
Luckily for our startups, they have an accelerator programme to help them learn the skills they need. Last week, they had a huge amount of guidance from 4 expert speakers.
Andy Hamilton, a master networker, shared the fundamental tools of forming connections in a beneficial way. The top tips from him were:
- Give and take: make sure you are adding value for them. If you’re interested in finding out more, Give and Take is a key read.
- The most effective means of communication is ringing people. If you email, know that most emails are read on mobiles: keep it short and sharp, and avoid attachments.
- Consistent communication is incredibly important. Follow up on every introduction made, and send out updates and press releases to keep people in the loop.
The presentation by Mitch Wainer from Digital Ocean gave the teams a solid basis to kick off their growth hacking efforts. They were also introduced to applied digital behavioural psychology, also known as gamification, through a presentation from Stephen Knightly. Finally, Heath Sadlier offered teams a wealth of knowledge on how to build products people love through testing. His most motivating tip: your product doesn’t have to be perfect for you to test it. Say yes to a deadline, create something that works just well enough to be believable, and get out there and trial it!
So what are the teams taking away from this? I squeezed into their busy schedules to find out what exactly it is that they’re learning.
Nick, the CEO of Rock A.I believes that Lightning Lab has shifted his entire perspective on the strategy of a startup. Having read Zero to One, his mindset was always that you have to create a solution – have the technical answer – and then bring that to customers. Yet what he’s found as part of the programme is that the best strategy is completely the reverse. If he could go through the process again, he would start from scratch: identify customer segment, find out what their problems actually are instead of just hypothesising, and work with them as he creates a solution.
This ties in with the key learning from the burglary prevention company, Wireless Guard. Their thoughts echo the words of entrepreneurs and life coaches alike: don’t be afraid to ask for help. They, and Nick, have discovered that people are surprisingly willing to help you out, especially if you are clear about the fact that you are still learning. They have gained a lot of knowledge from mentors by being open to suggestions and ideas.
There’s definitely a theme coming through: teams are learning the importance of validating the market by talking to people, and following the LEAN canvas model to eradicate assumptions. We’re only 4 weeks into the programme, and there is a lot of learning still to do! If you have any key startup tips you’d like to share, let us know on our twitter @LightningLab #LLAKL, or our Facebook page.