I am StartupGuy
I start a fire with ice

Born: 29th July 19XX


January 9, 2019 StartupGuy0

For decades, entrepreneurs have been creating brands that we have all enjoyed.

But how does this happen? How do people come up with ideas that untimely consume our lives and take over the retail market? It’s pretty simple, they find solutions to problems. That is the key to entrepreneurial success. Let’s look at one of my favorite successful brands:

When Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak invented the Apple I computer, it started as a hobby. They eventually invented the Apple II which became the first personal computer with color graphics and a keyboard. They saw and problem, and then created a solution. That year, they had sales over 3 million dollars. Again, the key to the initial success of the Apple product was they solved a problem.

Most entrepreneurs are very creative people. Not only do they act differently, they think differently. They draw upon their personality traits to come up with ideas that can be either insane or genius, if not both. Even when their ideas are not an original thought, they tend to solve a problem.

Often times the problem was initially solved by someone else, and they improved upon it. The thing that most successful entrepreneurs have in common is they “JUST DO IT”. Just like the Nike slogan. There are so many people with great ideas, yet there are even more people that will give those people with great ideas, a reason that their idea will not work.

There will never be a shortage of people to discourage you from pursuing your dreams. You need to understand that most people don’t have the courage to start and stick with the ups and downs that come with being an entrepreneur or starting something of your own.

This is why there will always be employees and employers. So many people love the security of being able to show up and simply do a job. It rarely requires any planning, and usually requires the simple ability to follow basic instructions and do as you’re told.

Entrepreneurs sometimes learn as they go. Often times there are hard lessons of trial and error. You have to be determined and work hard. Most importantly, if you want to be a success, you can’t quit. It is for these reasons, that so many businesses do not make it.

Many people start a business and don’t have the financial or emotional support to keep it going during the difficult times. Most businesses will experience difficulties here and there. You can’t allow those times to discourage you. I love to look at the big picture.

The reason you started this business and birthed this baby. You saw a need and sought to fix a problem. The next step is to share your resolution with the world. In today’s world of social media. They have made sharing our business or product as easy as the click of a button.

This brings me to the next important point about being a successful entrepreneur. People have to know that you exist. What is the point of solving a problem that so many can benefit from if you are not able to share it with the people that need it most?

Marketing and advertising are so important to the business world that it is generally the largest business expense. Here are a few ways that you can market your business without having to pay a fortune. Embrace social media. There are so many social platforms out there that you can use to talk about who you are and what you are doing.

However, we can never forget about the value and importance of meeting people and talking about what you do and how you two can support each other. There are also the other ways to promote your business: television, radio, and print.

The key is to get your business in front of the world and show as many people as you can what it is that you do, or offer and how they benefit. The more people know about your product or services, the more sales you will have assumed that your product is good and that it does what you say it will do.

Now that you’ve got all of this, what can you do the maximize your opportunity for success? Always keep your big vision in sight. In business, things with inherently go wrong. Keeping the big vision insight will help you to stay on the right path despite the distractions and interruptions you may experience.

It may not be the course that you imagine, but the vision should always lead you back down the correct path. You will need the perseverance to keep moving forward. Sometimes things will get really challenging. You will need to commit yourself to move forward regardless of the discomfort and fear of failure.

Knowing that there will be more people that will encourage you to return to your 9 to 5 working for someone else than those that will encourage you to stay focused on your dream and keep working at it; you must learn to encourage and support yourself through your entrepreneurial endeavors.

Staying focused is going to be very difficult, but necessary. Entrepreneurs are always on. You are the brand, and whatever you are going through personally, you must keep the success of the brand in the forefront of your mind. One of the best ways to stay focused is to create a to-do list. I generally store my list in the notes section of my phone. This way it is always with me and I have the ability to keep it constantly updated.

You will find yourself bombarded with inbox messages and social media posts. You need to be mindful that not only will those constant notifications distract you, but somehow those notifications become others’ to-do list for you. if you aren’t careful, it can easily take priority over your own to do list.

On Sunday nights I plan out accomplishments I want to achieve during the week. Monday mornings, I prioritize what I plan to do during the days, and create time blocks for me to stay focused on those things. I also take the time to schedule breaks.

The mind can only be so great at extended periods of times. Breaks are a very important part of being able to rejuvenate your thoughts and to refocus.


December 24, 2018 StartupGuy2

Today I’m sharing my biggest lessons from my startup activities since 2016.

These were and are true for me — some or all of them may be completely untrue for someone else:

  1. You have to learn to work under pressure, and perform well. When your back is against the wall, use the wall as a backrest.
  2. #1 startup killer — not being able to distinguish between feedback and noise.
  3. Don’t ever lose focus.
  4. You’re going to experience financial insecurity for a long period of time — you’ll get used to it eventually.
  5. Time is your most expensive resource.
  6. Easily the best advice I have ever received: You meet people whether you want to or not. You have no idea what the person in front of you knows, or how they can help you — Ask questions.
  7. The term Future is what happens up to 6–12 months ahead. Don’t worry about what comes after.
  8. Answering “I don’t know” means you’ve discovered a new question you need to explore, and that’s a wonderful thing.
  9. Grow your company naturally, as your business grows, not because other people are growing theirs.
  10. Get ready for sleepless nights filled with all-consuming thoughts and concerns. Sometimes for weeks.
  11. I found the harder you work, the less you feel you’re working.
  12. Vision != Blindness. Think big, dream high — but don’t be blind or stubborn.
  13. Successes are momentary and feel good. Failures are memorable and painful.
  14. Enjoy the journey.
  15. Acquire the art of smiling when things are really shit.
  16. Actually, smile more regardless of the situation, people have a thing for smiling.
  17. Share with people what you are doing now, what you need and where you want to be.
  18. Be prepared with your three wishes, for when you’ll meet a Genie. You will.
  19. Do yourself a favor, and teach yourself to self-promote. I know how hard it is.
  20. Conferences are for people who have time for them.
  21. Office = Home.
  22. Coffee shops are expensive, and will give you a caffeine problem.
  23. Don’t forget to invest in yourself — have hobbies and fields of interests that aren’t related to your startup or market.
  24. Luck only comes to those who try.
  25. Apathy is a gift; it’s easier if you are an apathetic person.
  26. Jeff Bezos said “Your margin is my opportunity” — Invest in growth.
  27. You don’t have to rest — you have to make sure you don’t get burned-out.
  28. You are so deep inside everything that happens with your startup. Every once in awhile stop to look at things from the outside — the bigger picture.
  29. Always know where you want your startup to be 3,6,12 months from now, and define what you need in order to get there.
  30. Measure your own work.

I’m now learning my next 31 lessons

"Being entrepreneur is a not a child’s play. You cannot sit and crib at the losses and bad experiences; you need to develop a thick skin that keeps you well on the track. Not only for your sanity, but to keep calm and those around you who are working with you to build your vision."


December 23, 2018 StartupGuy0


StartupGuy shares hardcore truth about being a startup entrepreneur

Life is tough as hell …. Life as an entrepreneur is even more tougher. Your only safety net is you. There is no health plan with 25 sick days, no paid vacation … nothing. It’s just you are working, working and working round the clock.

It’s up to you if you are going to make it!!
All you get is what you bring to the fight. And the fight gets better every single day. Every day you are learning a new business lesson – some good, some bad and some, very, very, ugly.

With a lot of youngsters moving towards becoming entrepreneurs, it had struck me to write a quick, informative article to those who are thinking about doing something on their own.

Remember, failure is a part of the journey
There is no success formula without falling; it is as simple as that. You are going to fail and guess what? It is good. Failure gives you direction. With failure, the universe is telling you to do something different. Without failure, how would you know what will succeed, or what your customers want? If you think that entrepreneurs have built their empire without failing, then you are wrong. Fail, learn, and gain the experience of not repeating the same mistakes. That is the winning formula to become successful.

Get a THICK skin
Being entrepreneur is a not a child’s play. You cannot sit and crib at the losses and bad experiences; you need to develop a thick skin that keeps you well on the track. Not only for your sanity, but to keep calm and those around you who are working with you to build your vision.

There should be NO room for negativity
We all know that it is impossible to not to feel down and negative. However, it takes a strong willed person to focus on the positives. If you fall into negativity, you are bound to make wrong decisions for your business. You need to surround yourself with positive people, and positive atmosphere is essential for the growth of good business. This practice really works and you will eventually see the difference.

Get into LISTENING practice
A successful entrepreneur is a good listener. Period!! In order to get your brand noticed and your customer to use your products and services, you need to know how to create value. The only way to gauge this is to learn from your customers. Ask the vendors/clients/customers about how they feel about your products and services. Get the feedback and listen to their requirements. Surely, there is a room for improvement and that is how you succeed in your business plan.

GET a Life
It is obvious that starting own business needs putting in 24 hours around the week. But you have a life beyond that. There is no denying the fact that you are hardworking, letting no stone not turned. But take out time for your family and friends. They are your support system when things go wrong, so make time for them. There will always be a hustle in your life, since you are putting brick by brick for your venture. Having a good support system is immensely important.

This is your game. Plan and play it well and you will see success.


December 23, 2018 StartupGuy0

Having attended the Africa 2018 Forum held in Egypt under the high patronage of HE President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi in early December 2018, I got to have a very lovely startup conversation with Mr Alaa Moustafa, who is a Business Support Manager at Egypt’s Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (TIEC). Alaa was moderating my session during the World Youth Forum under the creativity pillar where I made a talk about the role of Startups in global economic development.

I also got to learn a bit more about TIEC’s exciting initiatives including the the African App Launchpad (AAL) initiative, an Africa-wide platform aiming to build capacity of Egyptian and African youth and foster establishment of sustainable Egyptian and African startups in the area of the advanced ever-changing app and game technologies.

AAL targets building capacity of ten thousand learners and establishing one hundred startups. AAL works by availing a high-quality, technology-learning online platform through crowd-sourcing top online content developed by prestigious universities and leading companies, and delivered through three leading MOOCs; Coursera, edX, and Udacity. This initiative was launched as a culmination of the recommendations made During the World Youth Forum.

In this blog, I am going to share some serious learning about launching your app. I hope you enjoy this article. Please do share your views and comments…

The lean startup methodology is to develop quickly, iterate quicker, and learn at the speed of light. It’s very rare to get things right first time, which is why you need to be quick to change and learn – most importantly don’t make the same mistakes. Some startups don’t have the luxury of continuous development, because of depletion of runway, and so never crack it and fail. So here’s some of my advice, from StartupApp’s developments to make sure you get some key things right first time for your app.

Make the value immediately accessible

We were guilty of making the first version of our product land on a profile page for the user. The thinking was that it immediately personalised the experience. However we soon learnt the hard way, and that is with apps, you have around 10 seconds to convince someone your app is worth keeping. How do you do that? Show them the value immediately. Ideally the value will of been effectively communicated in the marketing, but those who followed through to download need to see and feel the value for themselves. Whatever the value in your service, make it super easy to understand the quickest thing the user accesses.

Don’t assume you’ve got a good Product – Market fit

When in startup mode, it can be easy to become obsessed that what you’re doing is right. I mean, you’ve made all the plans, gone over it all in your head and it sounds exactly like something the world needs? This is a common mistake that, particularly for introverts, is hard to overcome. This is because it involves stepping out of your own mindspace and communicating with others. Of course, when we create, we’re innovating and that has to come from one person or persons, but don’t just assume you’ve cracked it.

Even experts in their field will seek validation for theories or work they put forward, and at the earliest of stages, you’re thinking shouldn’t be any different. What you risk is spending time and effort bringing a product to the market that you find out no one really needs, despite all the evidence you’ve done internally pointing to the contrary. Be prepared to work with your market along your development journey and listen to them to find the solution that they want, not what you think they want. This will increase the likelihood of your final product being relevant and sticky and so able to achieve growth.

Make sharing really easy.

The key to most apps’ success is how quickly you can make it go viral. Now there’s no secret formula for this, and if I’d cracked it, I’d be selling it for billions, not blogging about it. There are some simple things you can do however to aid that process and get a strong viral coefficient. It starts with making any sharing functionality you have very easy to access and accessible when the user would want to share it.

Leveraging any users network is powerful, so integrating with a user’s network on Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp for example are great tools and if placed appropriately will be used. What you’re looking to achieve is hammering home the value of your proposition, for the user to go… wow! I need to show someone this.

It’s at that exact point, your integrations or sharing mechanisms need to be there to help the user quickly and easily share that value. This is the creme de la crem of marketing for your start-up because it’s recommendations from trusted sources. You’ve not sold anything and your value is doing the talking. Get this right and you’re laughing.

Be aware of the unforeseen

So wrapping up this blog is a point that does a circle back to my opening comments. Building lean and validating as you go is key because I can’t stress it enough… there WILL be problems and new pieces of feedback that you wouldn’t of even thought of.

Keeping a lean mentality and process will help you deal with the unexpected, so you’re efficiently positioned to react appropriately.  This is the most proactive you can be in this situation and in all honesty, I wish my team and I had this mentality when we started. But that’s the power of hindsight and fortunately it’s not too late for us, so it’s exactly how we’ve been working for the past year.


December 19, 2017 StartupGuy0

Startups are the place to be in today’s day and time. But have you ever pondered over what make one startup better than the other. What is the secret recipe that one startup grows while another fails? Well we found out that the secret recipe lies in the DNA of every startup. And, it is as simple as Charles Darwin’s quote about the evolution of mankind – “Survival of the Fittest”

Survival is the basic technique that guides and governs people, place and things to keep moving ahead and startups are no exception to this rule. I have enlisted a few survival tricks that all startups believe in:

1. Make the first move
Be prompt with your ideas and be the one to make the first move. Start building up on your idea and launch the product in a pilot as soon as you think it is ready. Don’t sleep over your ideas. Pick good co-founders if it is difficult to fly solo. But ensure that your goals are aligned with those of your co-founders. Let your ideas evolve and keep tracking all that your users might want from your product or service.

2. Customer is the King
A famous quote mentions, customer is the king and very rightly so. Hence, it is very important to cater to the wishes of your customers and it is even more important to reward the ones that love your work. Make sure that your pre and post sales service is equally good. While you are at it, make sure that you don’t overspend. As a startup always keep your finances in check.

3. Don’t Give Up
The way to your goal is often filled with distractions, that is how the devil plays its game. But as a startup founder avoid distractions at all costs. And more importantly don’t get demoralized. Fight your demons and keep moving ahead don’t get bogged down at any point because tough situations don’t last but tough people do.

As Swami Vivekananda once said, “Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached.” So just find your dream and go ahead and chase it. At the end you will realize that it was worth all the sacrifices that you might have made on the way.

Wishing you all the best for the new year!


October 23, 2017 StartupGuy0

StartupGuy shares some handy tips on exploring the power and potential of partnerships for your startup…

As a smaller or newer startup, the appeal of going it alone is obvious. All the power, all the rewards, every opportunity to write your own success story. But if there’s one thing history has taught me about success in any area of business, it’s this:

You’re stronger as a team than as an individual.

Think about it – how many of the world’s most successful businesses operate with a skeleton staff of next to none? Likewise, how many operate 100% independently, without any binding partnerships or collaborations with other businesses/service providers?

Of course, the answer is none.
So while it can seem as if proactively seeking collaboration is a sign of weakness, dependency or desperation, it’s actually quite the opposite. The right partnerships at the right time can transform a small and perhaps struggling startup into a competitive powerhouse.

The key question being – how to build the kinds of partnerships that breed positive progress?

Examine multiple collaborative opportunities

Well, the first thing to do is consider your options. That being, think carefully about the different types of collaborative opportunities available, in order to determine which make the most sense for your business. The worst thing any smaller business can do is jump into a collaboration just for the sake of it, without considering its value and relevance. Think about what each collaborative opportunity could offer your business long-term, scrutinising every option until you’re 100% satisfied.

Devise a clear partnership strategy

Of course, in order to make any kind of business relationship work, you first need to determine your partnership strategy. It’s one thing to be interested in collaboration, but what exactly do you expect to get out of it? How will it work? What will you offer and expect in return? What are your long-term plans for the partnership? It’s not enough to simply want partners – you need to consider how they’ll be integrated into your business plan. Otherwise, you’ll struggle to gain the interest of prospective collaborators and are unlikely to get anything meaningful out of the deal.

Fully evaluate partners
After identifying the kinds of partners your business could approach and work with, the time comes to carefully and comprehensively evaluate them. Sure, they’re in the same line of work as you, but are you genuinely on the same page? Do they share your passion, pride and priorities? Do they have the character traits you’re looking for in a partner? Can you honestly say you have complete and total trust in their abilities and attitude? Always remember that it’s the very future of your business that’s on the line. Which means you’ve every right to be as selective, demanding and picky as necessary.

Monitor partnership success

Last up, when creating your partnership strategy in the first place, you will (or should) have defined benchmarks and measures for the success or otherwise of the venture. When the partnership gets underway, it’s of critical importance to continually monitor its performance and efficiency against these benchmarks. Focus on the strengths, weaknesses and areas for possible improvement you identify, working to continually enhance and optimise the partnership for mutual benefit.”


October 20, 2017 StartupGuy0

There are few situations in the workplace that induce the level of stress that giving a presentation does. Not only do you have to speak in front of an audience, but oftentimes the quality of your presentation will decide whether a potential client gives you their business or not.

There are many different roads to giving an engaging and effective presentation, there is no one strategy which is superior. The right strategy for you will depend on a number of factors, including your personality, your preferred conversational style, the client you are hoping to win over, and the project that you are presenting.

Giving the very best presentation you possibly can depends upon more than what’s on your slideshow. In fact, one of the most common mistakes people make with their presentations is that they focus so heavily on making their slides look pretty that they end up becoming cluttered and needlessly complex. Simpler is usually better; you want to ensure that your audience is able to easily understand your presentation and that they walk away having taken in the key points.

Instilling Confidence

In order to really sell your idea, it is important that your audience can see that you have confidence, both in yourself and in the idea that you are trying to sell them on. The most important step to instilling confidence in your audience is to prepare as much as you can beforehand. Don’t just memorize what you’re going to say, but also give some consideration to the kind of questions that the audience is likely to ask, and ensure that you have adequate answers prepared beforehand.

However, it is also possible to over prepare, causing the answers you give to sound as if they have been pre-prepared. You want your presentation and your answers to sound as natural as possible. What you’re doing is essentially a sales pitch, but it shouldn’t feel that way to your audience.

Whenever possible, give your audience examples of similar tasks and projects that you have taken on in the past to demonstrate that you have successfully overcome the necessary hurdles before and that you have experience in delivering on these kinds of promises.

If you are faced with a question that you don’t know the answer to then you should be honest about this fact. The audience can tell when you’re deflecting or being evasive and this will greatly damage their confidence in you. Being willing to say you don’t know will demonstrate honesty and integrity.

When deciding on the content of your presentation, be sure that it prioritizes the client and their needs, not your own. Don’t spend too much time telling the client why you as an individual are perfect for this project. Instead, try to focus on the project itself and reassure your audience that you are confident but not arrogant.

Any way that you can demonstrate your organisational skills will also help to instil confidence in your audience. In fact, it is the little touches that make the most difference here. Ensure that your appearance is smart and if you are bringing any extra documentation, such as a printout copy of your presentation, then use a binder. You can order custom binders for which you can tailor the design to your needs.

Making a Connection
Making a connection with a prospective client will make it much easier to sell to them; as consumers, we all prefer to buy products from individuals and companies that we trust and like.

The easiest way to make a connection is to demonstrate your enthusiasm for the project that you are selling. Clients want to know that they will be working with someone who cares about the end result, and that the investment they are making will be respected and treated seriously. Find something about the project that you can really get behind and demonstrate enthusiasm for. If you can reference and show any previous work you have done that is relevant to the task ahead then do so.

The client will be looking for you to show that your enthusiasm extends beyond the project itself, demonstrate that you are eager to work with the client and that you will give serious consideration to their wants and needs. After the presentation, offer to leave copies of it with the client while they make up their minds. If you’re going to do this, it would be wise to invest in 3-ring binders to secure the documents. This option is ideal for presentations as the client will have both your presentation and your a reminder of your brand in the palm of their hands, making your presentation much more memorable.

You should always try and get their email address and business card to then follow up with and also then if you feel appropriate to connect with via LinkedIn and other business networking platforms.

Another effective tactic for building a connection with the audience is to do as much as you can to make your presentation feel like a discussion. There are a number of different ways that you can make this happen. For example, you could introduce your presentation by saying something along the lines of “I’m going to give you a short presentation which outlines the project and briefly explains why I / we are the right people to take it on. I’ll then open the floor up for any questions or comments you might have.” Another option is to divide your presentation up into logical sections and pause after each section to ask the audience if they are understanding everything and if they have any questions.

Of course, adding a little humour to your presentation will help to establish a rapport between you and the client. If they are not only interested in your presentation but actually enjoy watching it, then they will have a much more positive impression of both it and you.

Obviously, you need to make sure that your humour isn’t in any way offensive or controversial, you need to remain professional at all times.

Don’t Just Read Them a PowerPoint
PowerPoint has become the standard tool for putting together and presenting slideshows and it is certainly an excellent piece of software for this purpose. The mistake that most people make when using PowerPoint is that they feel the need to add all manner of animations, graphics, and other effects, which add nothing to the presentation and in fact may even make it less readable and slow it down. Keep your presentation simple and effective, make sure that everything on the slide needs to be there and has a purpose.

The other common mistake people make when using PowerPoint is that they simply read to the audience what is displayed on the screen.

This is completely pointless and will not create a good impression of you to the client. It is fine for the presentation to summarise what you are saying, but you should ensure that you give the client a reason to listen to what you are saying. If they can simply read everything for themselves, they will feel as if you are wasting their time.

Give a Summary
At the end of your presentation, give the audience a summary of your proposal to ensure that everything is fresh in their minds when you begin to take questions. The summary should be concise and should remind your audience of the most important aspects of the proposal.

Creating and giving an engaging presentation requires just the right amount of preparation and as much confidence as you can muster. Stay calm and analyse your presentation from the perspective of the audience to ensure that you convey everything that you need to and give the best possible impression of yourself.

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October 10, 2017 StartupGuy0

The best way to get your new business recognised is by sharing good content, contributing something worthwhile to the market and getting people excited enough to talk about you too.

You can do all three of these things as a speaker at big events.

Getting a top speaking gig is a big deal. Being recognised as a thought leader is an incredible feeling and gaining access to inspiring speakers and engaged press is a huge bonus. However, the best part is having the opportunity to share your knowledge, challenge assumptions, entertain and teach the audience something new.


Every startup wants to get to the stage where event organisers are inviting them to speak, and Startup Mzansi is no different.

How I secured speaking gigs for my startup (hint: it involved a lot of hustle!)

Firstly, let me reassure you that my journey from small stage to mainstage hasn’t been easy, these opportunities didn’t fall into my lap. It’s taken a lot of hard work, persistence and ambition to get here.


I’ll give you some context:

The first big conference Startup Mzansi attended was Global Entrepreneurship Congress (Liverpool) in 2012. We were new to the game, and understood that we needed to hustle A LOT. So that’s what we did, we created good relationships with the organisers, we would talk to anyone who came to visit our stand as if they were the most important person in the room and stand there all day ignoring our urges to eat, take a break (even visit the bathroom!) because we were afraid of missing out.

We treated every conversation as a potential game changer, and we did that at numerous events globally.


Pitching requires preparation and a good understanding of your audience. A struggle we had to overcome as a sextech brand is gaining the recognition we deserved.

How you can secure speaking gigs for your startup

From one hustler to another, here are my tips for any startup looking to go from pitch to main stage in a year…

Show that you mean business

There’s no room for haphazard effort. If you’re serious about your business’ growth it needs to be obvious and you need to show that you’re in this for the long run. This is where that persistence comes into play.

It’s really important you make good connections with event organisers because they’re your key to connecting with other speakers, business and press. If you want something from someone what do you do? You make an effort to understand how you can help them.

Having this insight allows you to structure your pitch and content accordingly.

Position yourself as a thought leader in your industry

People trust people. If your peers and customers are talking about you, and you’re consistently sharing good content and commenting on the market then you’re halfway there.

You should be considered a thought leader in your industry before speaking at any event, because it’s only then the audience will engage and take you seriously.

Talk about your market, and it’ll talk about you. That’s the formula we’ve been working with.

Expand and develop your network

Networking is the oldest trick in the book, because it works! There’s no better brand ambassador than other thought leaders in your industry giving you good feedback. Some of the best and most exciting opportunities we’ve experienced have come from conversations with interesting people.

If you meet someone cool at a conference and they offer an introduction to someone new, always follow up!

It’s also really important you listen to conversations and offer valuable input. Don’t just give to receive.

Create good content that steals the limelight

This should be your priority. There’s nothing worse than listening to a presentation that lacks enthusiasm and interest. You need to have a good mix of informative, fun and thought provoking content.

You want the audience to go away thinking;

  1. “I want to learn more about that business”
  2. “That talk resonated with me”
  3. “They’re really cool, I enjoyed that”

Deliver on this advice and you’re likely to clinch those great keynote speaker slots that will help your business stand out. Of course, following the steps of one blog post won’t make you the next StartupGuy, but it’s a good place to start…


September 18, 2017 StartupGuy0

A pivot is a significant change in the product, target market, or any other part of the venture that has to be made when it becomes clear that your current path won’t bring you to your goal. In recent years, pivoting has become so widespread and legitimate that it’s no longer automatically associated with failure. Sometimes it seems that entrepreneurs simply like to tell people that they pivoted even if they didn’t need to, as though a successful pivot attests to the strength of the project and the team, and to the entrepreneurs’ ability to adapt to a changing reality.

I’ve often seen instances in which entrepreneurs have chosen to “pivot” as an excuse for giving up early and starting again elsewhere instead of investing more effort in their current direction. Those decisions, of course, are rarely a good sign for the success of their project. A solution as complex and dangerous as pivoting should only be implemented when really necessary. And of course, sometimes a pivot is just a cover story for failure (it sounds so much better). In those instances, the project that performs the pivot quietly vanishes.

However, when a pivot is done for the right reasons, it should not be identified with failure. The need to make a pivot is not always the result of a mistake or a lack of entrepreneurialexperience. Often, it’s the result of external factors such as changes in the target market, in the regulatory environment, the emergence of new competitors, and so on. Whether the need to pivot is forced on you or chosen by you, your best chance of doing it successfully is to do it quickly, efficiently and as early as possible.

In order to identify a need to pivot at an early stage, it is vital to know when you might need to pivot and the types of pivot you might encounter. Here are some examples:

1. Product Pivot – You hit a technological barrier. The product does not solve the problem that you tried to resolve, or any other problem for that matter.

2. Target Market Pivot – The product works but the pricing or some other factor does not match the target market. You’ll either need to find a different market for the product or find ways to lower, upgrade, or modify the product to suit your users.

3. Business or Legal Pivot – The product is great, users are satisfied but your business model doesn’t work. You might have discovered some legal obstacles you didn’t know about or your investors might be demanding higher profits, etc. These kinds of problems usually require a high degree of creativity, and if a solution isn’t found, they can be particularly frustrating.

Did you recognize the time you need to pivot? It’s something that has to be done quickly to minimize the damage caused by loss of time and money, a collapse of faith from investors, and missed opportunities, etc. Especially in fields that are particularly prone to pivoting, you should make sure that your project is “pivot-friendly.” For example, the slimmer your product or service, the easier it will be to make the changes and the better the process will look for customers.
Another important tool that can aid in the early detection and rapid implementation of a pivot is the investment of sufficient resources in the collection and analysis of feedback from users (which unfortunately, few start-ups bother to do). Often, the solutions you are looking for come from customers so it is worth giving them the tools they need to talk to you – and, of course, you have to listen to them.


September 14, 2017 StartupGuy0

Your ideal investor is someone who is so enthusiastic about your idea that he’ll be happy to invest in your venture based solely on his trust in your entrepreneurial talent and possibly his belief that your product has a significant market.

Unfortunately, most investors aren’t like that. They’ll do their homework. They’ll come to a meeting with a list of prepared questions and they’ll expect detailed and grounded answers before they even begin to talk about money. Your seriousness is measured in part by your ability to provide accurate and quick answers to those questions. What can help? Knowing in advance what they’re going to ask, of course.

First, the investor will want to know who the founders are. What experience are they bringing to the table and why did they all decide to work together? The old story of a bunch of college/high school/workplace friends who just wanted to do something together no longer packs a punch. The high-tech market has matured. Many investors and entrepreneurs have already gone through several rounds in other projects. The search for a winning team has become more professional and rigorous and investors have less time and patient for trial and error.

Is your team complete? Does it still need to fill a key role? What important positions in a start-up can the founders fill and what are their special talents/ experience etc. that will make the investor want to invest in this team? You should know what it is and be ready to tell the investor before the investor tells you. You should also know how committed the founders are. Are they ready to go full-time when it becomes relevant? At what stage will they be ready? Under what conditions (e.g. if the company raises X or any other milestone)? Did you invest any of your own money in the start-up (which shows commitment and belief in your dream)?

If you do pass the personality test, the investor will want to know how much money you want to raise and how you plan to use it. Know in advance how much of the investment you want to spend on development, on marketing, on patent registration, on rent, on server maintenance, on employees and consultants, and so on. Prepare a budget that’s detailed and—no less important—realistic. What will your monthly burn rate be? How does that rate compare to other projects in your field at the same stage as you? You don’t want to appear either too wasteful or—just as vital—too optimistic and too thrifty.

What is your business model (if you have one)? If you do have a business model, do you have a revenue forecast? If you do have a revenue forecast, what did you base it on? Clearly, not every venture, in every field, at any stage, can create a serious revenue forecast (and you don’t want to offer a revenue forecast that’s not serious). But can you justify not having a revenue forecast? Some ventures are not build to create serious revenues (at least not during the first few years) and are focused on bringing a lot of users and creating value (usually with the purposed of getting acquired at some stage)? Is that your story? If so, you should tell the investor who might or might not be interested in investing in such a venture.
Be aware that the better your business’s future looks in terms of its business model even though the revenue generation is unclear, the more important it will be for the investor to understand how you plan to market your product. How will you bring in users? What marketing channels do you intend to use (e.g., social networks, monetization tools, marketing partners, influencers, etc.) If your field has a generally accepted price for user acquisition (very common in fields like gaming, gambling, adtech, e-commerce, etc.) you should know that price. That last point emphasizes the importance of having in your team (either as a founder or as an external consultant) someone who knows the industry. Some areas are considered so complex that it will be very difficult to raise money without a real “industry expert.”

The first meeting with the investor is critical because you probably won’t get another chance. Do your homework. Take advice from anyone who can help. An exciting product, a big market and an impressive presentation are certainly important. But the knowledge and preparedness that the investor expects to see in you are just as important. Make sure you’re ready.