On second day of “Silicon Valley comes to the Baltics” I’ve came to Litexpo premises little bit later, so rushed to the first speech.
Don’t be a f***ing wantrepreneur
With provoking title Vitaly Golomb started his keynote and highlighted that when you do a startup, you must know your sh*t. There were no reasons to doubt that as his slides were just awesome – dude really knew what he was doing, so probably nobody was surprised he’s a designer. And a startuper since thirteen, actually. There were a lot of interesting quotes I’ve wrote down, here are some:
- Corporate people are experts in one area, it takes years to climb career ladder, stable lifestyle is preferred which comes with real responsibilities and life balance;
- Now in contrast startup people are generalists, start early (like himself), have cheap lifestyle and pretty much nothing to loose;
- Startup is not a smaller version of a large company – there are so many major differences between;
- You have to be comfortable in chaos, otherwise don’t do a startup;
- 30% of startups fail, 30% are unprofitable, 30% are somewhat profitable and only 10% achieve big success and make 5x money that was invested;
- Anything worth going is not easy;
- If you’re lucky and you’re good, you’ll yet be acquired;
- In corporate you have a boss. In startup each and every customer is your boss;
- Find a problem you can’t live without solving;
- No competition = no problem;
- You can’t outsource your core competence.
Grown: what it means and how to measure it. Silicon Valley approach
Marvin Liao talked not only about growth but also how important is to understand the stage your startup is actually at. Even being so experienced in startups, he stressed that startups are still hell hard to do – it’s basically brutal process.
Marvin also suggested not forgetting Pareto’s Law that usually 20% of your customers are going to be those who generate 80% of your revenue.
And make sure you describe your product in the language your customer defines it.
David and Goliath: how to partner with multi-billion $ businesses when you’re just starting
Victor Belfor kicked off his speech with controversal point – if you think about partnership, don’t do that. But soon explained – focus on your product. Partner is really similar to your customer and here partnership is a kind of outdated. Critical element of a startup is not partnership but love. One must love your product.
- You have to make it customer-centric, get deep into heads of your customers;
- Never assume, ask questions first.
Main Victor’s message was that companies don’t partner – people do. As there are many companies, in the end you do business with friends.
(Hyper)growth: engineering lessons from Uber
Oliver Nicholas’ keyword was fierceness – you have to be fierce for quality. Customer might not know something detailed exists, but he/she feel it. As an example was taken first Mac ever. Steve Jobs perfected fonts in this device even though someone thought that’s not so much important. But that felt good and did conquer attention.
Key areas fierceness is critial are:
- code quality
- collecting data (about your customer and his/her behaviour);
- learning from your mistakes.
And always remember to document if question arise more than once. Wiki is perfect for that.
Rasing series A ,B, C – things to know and expect from an investor
Jon Soberg told he’s actually invest 70% outside US and highlighted that most venture capitalists invest in area he/she understands best, not just about anything one has vague understanding. Don’t expect that. Jon said he funds somewhat 1 of 1000 startups coming at him.
Here are some keys:
- fundraising sucks (you have to always compete with everyone);
- do your research on investors before comming to them with your idea;
- get a good intro – you have to get your startup above the noise;
- raise little bit more than you need
Don’t forget product market fit – some proof-of-concept. If you come to investor without any users, no luck ever guaranteed. Investors are looking for repeatable sales model, so you should really overdeliver. Must show exceptional growth.
There are two major reasons companies fail:
- run out of money (that’s why you should raise more than actually need);
- team leave
The magical word “exit”
Main message of panel discussion I think was that great companies are bought, not sold. As I interpret it, when it’s time, a potential buyer will come to you, not the opposite way. If it’s you aiming to sell a company badly, you probably missed the right time to exit.
Prizes were won by team TutoToons whose idea was drag-and-drop game creation platform for just about anyone. I honestly didn’t find any startup that would make me scream “wow, that’s gonna change the world!”, so I will just list those others who passed to finals:
Silicon Valley comes to the Baltics 2014 over, see you next year! Make sure to purify your ideas and bring them to light in the new battles 🙂
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