customer

Do Networking Events Contribute to Your Business Goals?

Do Networking Events Contribute to Your Business Goals?

Networking

Networking

People always say that a plan without a goal is just a dream. Networking events should be part of your overall plan to ensure you get the most out of your valuable time. If there is no connection between your strategy and your actions, there is a problem.

During my first year of business, I personally wasted a lot of time going to startup networking events because I thought I had to. It could easily become a norm or hype to go without reflecting on how it was affecting your overall business strategy. Some people go just to be seen; some stay for 20 mins to take a picture for social media. That could be their overall goal but at least it means they are aware of their goals and understand how networking events fit into those.

Success

Success

Why are goals important?

Goals should be tied to the different tactics of your business. Each thing that requires any piece of your precious 24 hours in a given day should have a goal. Without goals, we have no purpose and no way of measuring the success of our actions.

Networking Event

Networking Event

There are different types of networking event goals:

1. Meeting prospective clients (to generate new leads)

2. Giving a presentation at that event (as a guest speaker or panelist) to boost brand awareness

3. Blowing off steam (that is personal goal but it may have no affect on your business)

4. Boost LinkedIn numbers

5. Find UX testers

6. Meet investors

7. Nurture relationship with particular person you know is attending that event (as part of lead nurturing tactic)

8. Find startups who need help with getting funding of $25,000-$1,000,000+ (which is our goal)

For each networking event, have a goal. As long as we know why we are going and what we are hoping to expect from the opportunity, our business strategy will look more and more clear every day.

Stayed tuned for our upcoming startup event on February 15th at 6PM EST by checking out our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram LIVE!

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3 Erreurs commises par les Startups: Sur quoi se concentrent les jeunes startups à part leurs Métriques?

Les startups en phase de démarrage ont énormément de choses à faire. Au fil de leur progression, leurs jours semblent de plus en plus courts. J’ai trouvé que beaucoup d’entre elles consacraient beaucoup de temps dans des choses à moyen et long terme plutôt que de se concentrer sur le présent. Lorsque je leur demande quelles sont les métriques sur lesquelles elles se concentrent, ce qui est important pour elles, etc… la variété de réponses obtenues est surprenante.

Cet article passe en revue les 3 erreurs les plus commises par les startups et explique comment un recentrage sur ses métriques remet les choses en perspective. Gardez à l’esprit que nous nous concentrons sur les startups en phase de démarrage et qui viennent seulement de créer leur entreprise.

1) Pas assez d’ACTION!

Les gens vous recommanderont toujours de lire ce dernier livre sur les startups ou bien les dernières tactiques de marketing pour atteindre des sommets.

Ce n’est pas pour vous décourager d’apprendre mais l’expérience de vos actions déterminera davantage ce que vous aurez appris que vos lectures. La stratégie marketing de quelqu’un d’autre, les canaux de distribution et la négociation commerciale ne sont peut-être pas adaptés à vous. Puisque chaque entreprise est si unique, vous ne saurez jamais quelles sont les meilleures pratiques à moins que vous sortiez et expérimentiez votre activité.

« L’ambition repose sur vos actions » — Gary Vaynerchuk, Entrepreneur, Animateur du AskGaryVee Show

POINT D’ACTION: Réservez-vous un ou deux jours dédiés à la lecture, la recherche, etc. Et consacrez les autres jours à la mise en pratique. (Je peux vous dire, par expérience, que si vous lisez un livre sur les startups, vous n’avez pas besoin de le terminer pour vous entraîner).

J’aime personnellement m’informer sur le marketing des réseaux sociaux car c’est un complément à ma formation de marketing en ligne. Je consacre généralement mon Samedi à apprendre de nouvelles choses. Pour atteindre mon public cible composé de startups, j’essaye tous les réseaux sociaux afin de voir où ma clientèle cible est la plus active et engagée. Je réalise des vidéos éducatives, des retransmissions en direct et des blogs sur Youtube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter et Medium. Je cherche quotidiennement les canaux de communication qui fonctionnent les mieux afin de décider quels seront mes futurs investissements en marketing.

2) Se projeter trop loin dans le temps

Les fondateurs sont tiraillés dans tous les sens à cause des nombreuses sources d’influence qui les entourent, que ça soit l’effervescence des évènements de startups, des retours d’amis ou de la famille, des recommandations de partenariats potentiels ou encore des « tu sais à qui tu devrais parler? ». Je suis sur que vous avez des exemples en tête!

Il est peu judicieux de concentrer son énergie sur des partenariats à moyen et long terme, plutôt que de se concentrer sur le prochain essai ou projet pilote.

Exemple: N’attendez pas pour embaucher la personne parfaite qui vous aidera à mettre en place votre projet pilote ou votre test bêta plutôt que de le faire vous-même.

Je l’admets, je suis parfois tombé dans le piège mais une chose m’a encouragée à me concentrer sur les partenariats à établir maintenant, les recommandations à suivre ou bien où allouer mes précieuses 24 heures, l’analyse de mes métriques en temps-réel! (Voir diagramme ci-dessous).

POINT D’ACTION: Marquez vos futures tâches sur une durée de 1 à 3 mois. Si vous pouvez rapidement identifier les missions ou les partenariats possibles à exécuter en un mois, alors inscrivez-les dans votre calendrier sur un délai d’un mois à compter d’aujourd’hui. Vous n’avez pas besoin de tout faire d’un coup et être dépassé par la quantité de choses à faire. Quand tout cela commence à s’empiler, un tas d’opportunités peut facilement devenir un tas de distractions. Une chose pratique à faire est de trouver un rythme. S’il y a une nouvelle ressource ou un nouveau canal à explorer, mettez-le de côté jusqu’à ce que vous ayez complété ce qui est important pour le moment comme faire de votre premier projet pilote un succès!

3) Éviter ses Clients

« La vente est le remède de tous les maux » — Mark Cuban, Shark Tank de ABC, Investisseur, Entrepreneur

Comment les startups peuvent avoir ce remède si leurs clients ne sont pas le centre de leur attention?

Éviter ses clients peut être expliqué de deux façons:

a) Découverte Client: Certains entrepreneurs en phase de démarrage connaissent des cycles de procrastination avant de faire quelconque étude de marché ou enquête sur leur Product Market Fit.

POINT D’ACTION: Pour apprendre à enquêter sur votre Product Market Fit en 24 heures, référez-vous à cet article: https://medium.com/@VenturX_team/comment-trouver-son-product-market-fit-en-24-heures-c00d07c77820

(Il va vous guider à travers les différentes étapes avec des exemples concrets). Si vous voulez un modèle de questionnaire, envoyez-moi un courriel, et je vous en enverrai un!

b) Ignorer les retours de nouveaux clients et réitérer

En tant qu’être humain, nous faisons ce que nous voulons faire et non pas ce que nous devrions faire. Si c’est plus simple pour certains de travailler sur la création d’un beau site internet plutôt que de récolter des retours clients, vous pouvez être sur qu’ils concentreront leurs efforts dans l’option #1.

POINT D’ACTION: Planifiez des rendez-vous avec vos clients pour avoir leurs retours de façon régulière. Essayez de les programmer en avance. Même si vous avez de nouvelles distractions telles que des évènements de startups, embaucher des nouveaux membres dans votre équipe, etc. ces rencontres régulières vont vous assurer de rester au contact de vos clients et montrer que vous ne les évitez pas.

Afin d’avoir des retours pour le lancement du produit VenturX, je programme des appels Skype toutes les 3 semaines avec des amis en startup pour leur montrer la refonte du site et avoir leurs retours. Je contacte aussi une startup, tous les après-midis entre 14H et 16H, pour lui parler de ses Métriques VenturX. Il m’a dit qu’il préférait les notifications SMS. Pour lui montrer ma gratitude, je lui envoie ces rapports individuels journaliers depuis mon téléphone.

Sur quelles Métriques devrais-je me concentrer?

C’est une très bonne question. Une question bien détaillée dans ce livre:

« Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster » — Alistair Croll et Benjamin Yoskovitz

Ils expliquent que les startups devraient se concentrer sur une métrique à la fois, et que cela dépend du type d’industrie et de leur phase de développement. Voici un diagramme détaillé provenant du livre:

Avez-vous découvert dans quelle phase vous vous positionnez?

Génial!

Pouvez-vous déterminer quelle métrique est la plus importante?

Excellent travail!

Maintenant vous pouvez inverser la formule pour vous débarrasser de ces 3 erreurs commises par les startups en phase de démarrage!

Gardez en tête que même si ces informations proviennent principalement de nos observations de startups en phase de démarrage et de jeunes entrepreneurs, de nouvelles informations sont amenées à venir!

Il pourrait y avoir plus qu’une métrique que vous allez pointer du doigt comme un faible Product Market Fit ou des finances trop basses.

En tant que chercheuse dans le monde des startups, je souhaitais vous partager mes observations sur cette industrie fascinante. J’espère qu’avec ce simple guide, les débuts de votre entreprise seront sans heurt! Si vous avez des questions concernant vos métriques, envoyez-moi un courriel à l’adresse sydney.wong@venturx.ca et nous jetterons un coup d’œil ensemble!

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Founder Spotlight: Jennae Gedeon de Ecoeats – Une application alimentaire pas comme les autres!

Founder Spotlight: Jennae Gedeon de Ecoeats – Une application alimentaire pas comme les autres!

Dans cet article nous allons découvrir comment son esprit visionnaire l’a menée à un tel succès chez Ecoeats. Et comment vous pouvez y participer.

In this article we will discover how her visionary spirit led her to such success at Ecoeats. And how can you participate?

Jennae Gedeon

Ce mois-ci, notre équipe a eu l’occasion d’accompagner quelques jours Jennae Gedeon dans les rues de Vancouver. Durant ce temps, nous avons tendu l’oreille pour comprendre comment devenir l’une des entreprises  les plus en vogue de notre génération!

Ecoeats, comme VenturX, souhaite avoir un réel impact sur la société, et avance pas à pas vers l’application qui révolutionnera la vente alimentaire. Au fil de la discussion avec Jennae, nous avons tout de suite compris que son esprit visionnaire et son leadership allaient faire de Ecoeats, une application indispensable.

Tout a commencé lorsque Jennae décide de se lancer dans le Youth Biis Startup Program où elle suit un programme d’accélérateur d’entreprises en démarrage à Vancouver, en décembre 2016. Dès lors, elle fonde Ecoeats et avance à pas de géants. En signant un partenariat avec le Metro Vancouver hub et en participant aux programmes Red Academy et BCIT ISSP, elle établit une base solide pour le lancement de son entreprise.

Phil, professeur au Youth Biis SFU et mentor en affaires, explique ce qui démarque Jennae des autres entrepreneurs ayant participé à son programme.

« Jennae est dynamique, passionnée et sait ce qu’elle veut. C’est généralement le signe qu’une personne est efficace, car elle fait en sorte d’atteindre ses objectifs. Elle a un but précis… très visionnaire! » -̶̶ Philippe, Youth Biis Start-up Program

Ecoeats

Ecoeats

Parlez-nous de votre entreprise

L’application Ecoeats relie les particuliers aux commerçants en proposant leurs produits invendus. C’est l’occasion de découvrir de bons produits de qualité tout en participant à la réduction du gaspillage alimentaire. Ecoeats redéfinit la perception de la durabilité de nos aliments et cherche à convaincre le consommateur que les invendus sont tout aussi délicieux. Selon moi, l’application est une réponse au chaînon manquant dans notre communauté entre le commerçant et le consommateur pour, en fin de compte, mieux manger et consommer de façon durable. C’est l’occasion de répondre aux problématiques du gaspillage alimentaire en proposant de nouveaux canaux de collaboration et de rendre notre monde meilleur.

Ecoeats

Ecoeats invite tout le monde à s’inscrire dès maintenant sur ecoeats.ca.

Quelle est la prochaine étape décisive?

La prochaine étape importante est de préparer le pilote. Le pilote consiste à mettre en place le produit minimum viable, une offre minimum cohérente afin de mettre en relation les épiceries/supermarchés avec les consommateurs et les œuvres caritatives dans le secteur de Metro Vancouver. Venez visiter notre site si vous souhaitez voir quel restaurant ou épicerie fait partie de notre offre depuis l’automne 2017.

Quelle journée type pour notre entrepreneur?

Les scores sur VenturX

Matin, débute à 7 h :

• Réveil pour répondre aux courriels

Après-midi :

• Réunions portant sur les produits pour transformer l’offre à la production minimale viable

• Encadrer les nouveaux membres de notre équipe

• Mener des réunions stratégiques et de partenariats avec nos mentors en affaires, nos collègues et nos associés

• Rédiger des documents Google à titre d’information destinée à l’équipe responsable des produits et de la stratégie

• Créer des infographies très utiles en réunion pour les mémoires visuelles (elles sont géniales!)

Soirée :

• 15 minutes consacrées à la revue et à la mise à jour de son horaire pour la journée suivante

• Mise à jour de son calendrier de projets pour les objectifs à court terme et réponse aux courriels

• Préparation des objectifs à long terme tels que les stratégies de partenariats

Une qualité qui fait de Jennae un leader exceptionnel : son sens de l’organisation! Avec son carnet de notes toujours en main pour écrire la moindre information, elle est une source d’inspiration pour tous les entrepreneurs!

Jennae Gedeon

« Peu importe ce que l’avenir me réserve, c’est quelque chose qui me passionne et qui fera toujours partie de qui je suis! »

Contact Jennae Gedeon at team@ecoeats.ca or on LinkedIn

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Comment trouver son Product Market Fit en 24 heures

Comment trouver son Product Market Fit en 24 heures

Parmi les notions à la mode dans le monde de l’entreprenariat; venture capital, accélération, growth hacking, etc. il y en a toujours une qui laisse les entrepreneurs perplexes, le PRODUCT MARKET FIT!

J’ai trouvé ce sujet si intéressant, que depuis 2016, j’en étudie tous les aspects afin de mettre au point un outil capable de le mesurer pour les startups. Voilà comment VenturX a vu le jour, une startup exploitant les données dans le but d’aider les entreprises, en phase de démarrage, à passer du Product Market Fit au financement. Nous nous concentrons sur les indicateurs-clés de performance (ICP) essentiels pour les jeunes entreprises, comme le Product Market Fit.

Chez VenturX, nous offrons les outils qui permettent aux jeunes entrepreneurs de réussir; nous leur recommandons toujours de commencer par déterminer leur Product Market Fit. C’est non seulement une des principales raisons d’échec chez les startups (selon un rapport de CBInsights), mais aussi la plus compliquée à atteindre en raison du travail colossale que peut représenter la collecte de données afin de prouver que son idée répond à un réel besoin.

Cependant, l’évaluation initiale de son Product Market Fit ne nécessite pas forcément beaucoup de temps ou d’argent. Nous allons vous détailler quatre étapes essentielles à suivre pour avoir une vision claire de l’adéquation entre votre idée et son marché.

Top Reasons Startups Fail

CBS Insights

Que signifie le Product Market Fit?

Le Product Market Fit désigne une rencontre et un accord parfait entre un produit et son marché. Le premier à employer le terme, Marc Andreessen, le définit ainsi :

« Product/market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy the market » — Marc Andreessen, Entrepreneur & Co-fondateur de Silicon Valley Venture Capital (Source: http://web.stanford.edu/class/ee204/ProductMarketFit.html)

4 étapes pour déterminer le Product Market Fit

1. Déterminez votre public cible

Si vous ne savez pas par où commencer, demandez-vous: à qui est-ce que vous vendez? Qui a besoin de votre produit/service ?

Après avoir rencontré de nombreux entrepreneurs cette année, j’ai appris que le plus difficile était d’interroger les 5 premiers clients. Pour l’accomplir en 24 heures, pourquoi pas trouver un évènement ou un lieu où se trouve cette clientèle cible? Mais rappelez-vous, vous n’êtes pas ici pour lui vendre quelque chose mais simplement mener votre enquête.

Exemple: Concernant VenturX, une partie des clients ciblés sont les investisseurs en capital-risque. Il me semblait évident que ces investisseurs seraient présents à des compétitions de startups où ils servent généralement de juges. Je savais que participer à un tel évènement serait l’occasion idéale pour collecter un maximum de données en 24 heures.

« Si vous pouvez en faire 5 (interviews clients), vous pouvez en faire 35 » — Robert Bennett, Viatec Accelerator

Astuce: Tout le monde n’aime pas parler à des inconnus, alors pourquoi pas le faire avec un ami qui adore ça! Si vous êtes à Montréal, envoyez moi un message ou laissez un commentaire et je m’occupe de vos 5 premiers répondants!

2. Posez les bonnes questions

J’ai interrogé beaucoup de startups sur leur manière de chercher leur Product Market Fit et ont toutes répondu qu’elles intégraient leurs informations dans un fichier qui ne sera plus jamais réutilisé.

Le problème est qu’elles ne collectent principalement que des données qualitatives et ne savent donc pas comment les comparer. Le recours à des données quantitatives leur permettrait de mieux cerner le niveau de difficultés et d’avantages du marché ciblé.

La solution? Au lieu de poser des questions ouvertes comme « Que pensez-vous de cette idée? », faites en sorte que votre répondant décrive les difficultés et avantages de votre idée en les notant sur une échelle numérique. Voici un exemple de ce à quoi devrait ressembler votre questionnaire. Si vous souhaitez bénéficier d’une copie de ce questionnaire, envoyez moi un courriel à l’adresse sydney.wong@venturx.ca avec comme objet intitulé « Product Market Fit Survey » et je vous l’envoie!

Exemple de Difficulté: Les startups qui ne sont pas prêtes pour un financement font perdre beaucoup de temps aux investisseurs entre les présentations initiales et les due diligences. Les investisseurs finissent généralement par expliquer aux startups qui ont atteint leur Product Market Fit de rester en contact car ce n’est pas le bon moment ou bien de les contacter ultérieurement.

Exemple d’Avantage: Et si vous aviez une solution vous permettant de remplacer votre processus actuel d’inscription aux financements et simplifier vos due diligences? Vous verriez les meilleures startups ayant atteint leur niveau de Product Market Fit avec des notes plus élevées que leur industrie de référence.

Astuce: Toujours poser la question des difficultés avant celle des avantages. Si vous ne faites que parler de votre solution, il ne s’agit plus de recherche mais d’une présentation commerciale!

Astuce: Si vous n’êtes pas certain de votre affirmation concernant les difficultés et les avantages et que vous avez peu de temps, simplifiez-vous la tâche en recensant au moins deux affirmations de difficultés et avantages afin de comparer leurs réponses.

3. Suivez vos réponses

Pour le moment, la plupart des startups ont tendance à suivre et enregistrer manuellement leurs réponses sur un fichier. L’avantage de cet outil est qu’il est familier, facile d’utilisation et vous permet de créer manuellement des graphiques à présenter à votre équipe, à partir de vos données.

L’autre option, c’est d’utiliser notre outil conçu pour les startups. VenturX va vous permettre d’enregistrer les données de vos questionnaires et de calculer automatiquement votre Product Market Fit Score.

Cela ne prend alors que 30 secondes pour avoir votre score comme dans l’exemple ci-dessous ! Essayez vous-même sur www.venturx.ca.

Trouvez votre niveau de product market fit sur le site www.venturx.ca

VenturX

Voyez l’exemple de ma note lorsque j’ai interrogé les investisseurs spécialisés dans les entreprises en démarrage sur leurs Difficultés et Avantages.

Astuce: Ne surtout pas laisser votre clientèle cible voir les réponses des autres, cela pourrait influencer leur jugement.

4. Recommencez !

C’est tout à fait normal de ne pas avoir beaucoup de 9 ou de 10 lors de votre première enquête, il faut simplement rester cohérent. Ne commencez pas à modifier votre affirmation de difficultés et avantages après seulement quelques réponses. Vous saurez si vous êtes sur le bon chemin lorsque vous aurez constamment de bonnes notes (9 et 10) dans vos enquêtes.

Exemple: J’ai dû affiner mon marché cible aux investisseurs de capital-risque spécialisés dans les startups en démarrage plutôt que de m’adresser à tous les investisseurs. Si je souhaite enrichir mon offre avec davantage de caractéristiques, je vais devoir recommencer ce processus avec une nouvelle enquête sur mon Product Market Fit pour une nouvelle clientèle!

Une fois ces étapes complétées, prenez du recul et analysez vos résultats. Que vos notes soient élevées ou basses, vous avez tout de même accompli quelque chose. Vous avez désormais une note quantifiée vous permettant soit de valider votre idée, soit de tenter un nouveau marché cible ou bien d’ajuster votre angle d’attaque. Quoi qu’il en soit, restez fort, motivé, persistant et continuez à quantifier!

Voilà! Vous avez désormais les étapes nécessaires pour déterminer rapidement et efficacement votre Product Market Fit en disposant réellement d’une analyse sur ce que recherche votre marché. Le Product Market Fit est un des ICP sur lequel VenturX aide les startups à progresser en temps réel. Pour plus d’information sur ce sujet ou bien d’autres ICP, visitez notre site www.venturx.ca.

Contactez l’auteur à l’adresse sydney.wong@venturx.ca

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5 best free apps for startups for 2018

5 best free apps for startups for 2018

5 best free apps for startups for 2018

Here is a countdown of the top must-have apps that startups should have on their phones or computers to start 2018 on the right foot. As a startup in this digital age, you can bet that there are very creative solutions out there to help savvy entrepreneurs save time, money, or headache. Here are our top picks.

5. Vidyard

Vidyard is a Google Chrome extension that captures videos and uploads it for you. From there, you can share the link to the video or upload it directly into gmail email or your Youtube channel. With just one click, you can capture video and audio on what is happening on your screen. You do need strong internet to in order for this to work. As a technology software startup, we mainly use this for demonstrations to clients to showing bugs to the development team.

A video tells a better story about what the user is seeing or should be seeing than screenshots with text. To see an example of how it works, here is an example of a video we made recently for a prospective startup customer: https://share.vidyard.com/watch/Qwm9VwRj5udCNZ74Evwd86

4. Hellosign

HelloSign

This is a digital way to sign contracts. You can use the web version for free at www.hellosign.com. The neat thing about this fan favourite is that you can sign your own signature and email it to others to sign too within a few clicks. Not only do we not have to find an old school printer somewhere in the city…but it saves us a lot of time and money! Make sure this is marked down as one of your must have’s. Personally, I use the web version to do this.

 

 

 

 

3. Paperspan

PaperSpan

Paperspan is a very interesting app that instantly downloads webpages/articles to save offline and reads it out loud to you later. This is particularly useful when I was flying a lot this year from Montreal to Vancouver to run beta tests with incubators for our startup success tool. This came in handy because I got to read up on different Facebook campaigns, eBooks, etc..It is perfect to catch up on reading and research during transport such as in airplanes, subways, or even just walking.

Voicealoud is a similar app that reads out loud but you require internet.

These audio apps are what I used to read one of my favourite eBooks, Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk, Entrepreneur and CEO of Vayner Media. Voice is dominating because it gives the concept of saving time. Here is a great segment on Gary Vaynerchuk’s take on voice https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgGllljdC-k&t=1698s

That means that these audio apps are the ultimate “time saving” apps especially for people who don’t like read. I put it on the startup list because we have to learn so much in such a short time. We put on many hats during the day. Any time we want to find research on best practices can be done here.

2. Crowdfire

Crowdfire

A lot of first time entrepreneurs know they should use social media but don’t know how. They either don’t know what content to put, when to publish or what channels would be most effective. Crowdfire has a long free trial (about 100 posts) that helps you post cross Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. It can include other mediums as a part of the premium paid package. We used this and saw instant success that helped VenturX grow:

400–900 followers on Twitter

from 0 to 500 followers on Instagram,

boost engagement on our Facebook.

It also teaches users how to do it and what to look for. For example, the app encourages users to like similar topics, when to repost your latest Youtube video or Medium blog post, etc.. It helped us maximize exposure to our startup fans and it drove traffic to our website.

One thing that really stood out about Crowdfire was how user-friendly it was. They had a unique chatbox technology combined with their AI algorithm to maximize its effective interaction with the users. Even though VenturX used it for B2B, I expected it would be even more successful for B2C startup businesses.

1. Shapr

Shapr

Welcome to the “Tinder for LinkedIn.” You can swipe left and right on people’s profile and get matched. It is especially great for B2B businesses like VenturX because it targets keywords and job titles. For example, VenturX would interested in these job titles: “CEO, Founder, or investor” and we scroll through 20 daily picks with those related job titles as close to our geographical area as possible. Just like the hot in market dating mobile applications, you can only talk to each other when you match. Also, users can get suggestions such as “ask them for a coffee meeting” in order to encourage more offline meetings.

I loved this app so much that I tweeted a customer testimonial video to them directly.

This is how you know your work is really changing the market.

The forgotten app of 2018:

Saying goodbye to Hunter.io app.

Hunter.io

This Google Chrome extension was a stellar business development assistant that helps you search email addresses on Linkedin. They had to shut down or got acquired unfortunately. Otherwise, this would be on the list of top 5 too.

So there you have it! You are well on your way to boost your startup with a bang in 2018!

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From Zero to Thirty Clients in Less Than 3 Months

The journey of how a solo tech founder, Arvind, cracked sales and grew his client base at Infosec Future.

 

India is world’s fastest growing startup ecosystem where 3–4 new firms are born every day. We have grown significantly in the past five years and are expected to grow 10–12% YOY for the next five years till 2020.

This boom has also led to the evolution of many service-based companies catering to the requirements of the startups.

There are around 9k Indian companies on AngelList with the “Service” tag.(Its shocking right?)

Angel List

Angel List

Credits: AngelList

On top of this, you will find every second person calling him a freelancer these days. (The power of social media)

It has become very difficult for a company to differentiate and standout in this highly competitive marketplace.

Read through this interview to know:

“How Arvind found his niche, differentiated in the marketplace and cracked sales being from a technical background.”

This is the second interview of the series “PushInterview: Interviews that helps you Pushstart” powered by Pushstart.

Check out our first interview “How I built one of the most active startup community of India” if you missed it out.

Who are you?

My name is Dr. Arvind K. Singh, and I am an information security researcher, speaker, and consultant.

I did masters in Computer Science from IIT-Patna and pursued Ph.D. in Information Assurance and Security from Colorado Technical University-USA.

From the past 3 months, I have been working on building Infosec Future Pvt Ltd — a company providing complete cybersecurity services specifically designed for startups and SMEs.

Since our launch in August 2017, we’ve grown our client base from zero to thirty.

2. What’s the deal with Infosec Future?

Well, the deal is in its name. The most valuable asset at present is “Information”. It is the information, which holds our future.

Information stored in digital form, is accessible from anywhere in this world just by the click of a button. It is its security which matters the most to secure our future.

We, at Infosec Future, are trying to secure the future of our society, by securing information.

Our services include annual security audits, penetration testing, threat modeling, readiness awareness, application testing, software development life cycle security integration, security code review, and more.

3. What motivated you to start Infosec Future?

When I came back to India in March 2017, I was astonished by the scale at which data and processes were getting digitized. Digital India, a mission started in the year 2015, had turned into a revolution.

But no one was aware of the threat it possessed. The threat to information security.

A few months back, Aadhar card (unique and universal identity card for the citizens of India) data was hacked by a person in less than 6 hours.

Our whole economy can be shutdown, just at the click of a button, from practically anywhere in this world.

Two factors which play a vital role:

  1. Lack of awareness and resources.
  2. The high cost of security.

Being an entrepreneur myself, (I started a company called CyberInjection in the USA in Nov-2014, which was later acquired by Federal Government in mid-2016), I knew that startups are always tight on their budget.

With this domain being untouched by the leaders in cyber security, I saw an opportunity here to provide affordable cyber security. And this is how, the journey of Infosec Future Began.

4. What all went into building the MVP?

“Idea validation is the most important step in a service-based startup where MVP is the founder.”

For the month of May and June, I was out there meeting entrepreneurs, discussing about their startups, trying to figure out:

  1. What challenges are they facing in terms of information security?
  2. How are they handling it currently?
  3. What are their future plans?

I would tell them about my idea and offer my experience and expertise. I personally went to 13 meet-ups, in 7 cities, and met hundreds of Entrepreneurs.

Meeting and interacting with entrepreneurs greatly helped me identify the core problem and develop an enormous amount of market insights. Some of them were:

  1. Almost one-tenth of the entrepreneurs I met, had already faced attacks or have been a victim of hacking in the past.
  2. Half of them were completely aware of the risk but couldn’t proceed due to the high cost.
  3. While rest of them were not even aware.

After processing the insights and doing my homework, it was time to validate my idea. So, I reached out to people, on LinkedIn and Facebook (I personally don’t use any other Social media platform except these two), and introduced them to my idea.

As I knew that startups are always tight on their budget and security is an ongoing process, I kept the offering to be low-cost subscription based.

I got such an overwhelming response from the community that I instantly registered Infosec Future. Getting Startup India recognition within 72 hours of registration further bolstered my belief.

This was when, I realized that we have built our MVP, and it was time to go live, go practical, and go after securing the startup ecosystem.

5. How did you get your initial clients and how did it grow?

I am a complete techie and I had no idea about sales and marketing when I was starting out. So, I took the most logical step of feeding on social channels to get the initial clients.

There are tons of startup communities out there on Facebook. Become part of them and connect with your target audience.

would start the conversation by talking about their startup and giving ample amount of time to express themselves.

“People like talking about themselves, it is human psychology. Just give them what they like.”

And then, it was always the other person who would ask about me and my startup. Since I had patiently listened to their idea, they would happily give me time, and thus, none of my conversations went into vain.

We either ended up signing a MoU or becoming friends. Either way, my network was increasing day by day. I got the first few clients even when I didn’t have a proper website.

In September, when we started our operations as a team, this cold-reach out helped us get 10 clients in the very first month. By mid-October, we had on-boarded 20 clients.

The thing which has helped us grow rapidly is our unconventional approach of starting a two-way interaction and genuine conversations rather than up-selling.

The strategy we implemented was simple yet effective :

  1. Start the conversation by talking about their idea.
  2. Listen to them patiently and provide your valuable feedback. Tell them what you like about their initiative.
  3. Try to figure out the core problems that they are facing currently.
  4. Never sell directly, rather try educating them about the depth of the problem.
  5. And then offer your experience and expertise as the solution.

Some screenshots to make things more understandable:

How I usually start a conversation:

How I usually start a conversation

How I usually break the first barrier to a fruitful introduction:

How I usually break the first barrier of a fruitful introduction

Do note that this strategy worked well for us because our product was unique, affordable and solved a core problem.”

6. What is your business model and how have you grown your revenue?

Our business model is similar to any other company catering in the service industry which is to deliver satisfactory services to the client in return for a monthly or annual fee.

We provide an annual subscription for our security packages targeting different segments in various industries.

Our package starts with securing a single website to a whole network of websites, which grants us the opportunity to work with a startup throughout their growth journey.

Growth in revenue till now has been largely dependent upon the growth in our client base.

“Our unique and affordable offering, core-problem solving service, and an unconventional approach to on-boarding clients have helped us in growing our client base and thus the revenue.”

How our revenue has grown in the last 3 months:

August: Rs 9000

September: Rs 27000

October: Rs 84000

7. What are your future goals and how do you plan to achieve them?

Our long-term goal is to secure data of every startup and SME of India and capture 50% of the market share in the next 5 years.

The immediate short-term goal is to secure data of 2000 Indian startups and SMEs by the end of 2018.

We have opted for balanced outbound and inbound strategy with upfront value to the market by quality content and free reports to achieve this.

Further on the product front, we are in the process of automating the complete process of the security audit, job allocation to teams, and report generation for various tests. Currently, this is in its prototype stage and will hopefully launch in the first quarter of 2018.

We are also building a free security audit tool, which will be embedded on our website, so that people can check the basic security details of their website, without even interacting with us. This will help us in capturing precise leads at scale.

Growing average revenue per client is also one of our major goals.

“For growing revenue especially in the service industry: It is all about maintaining healthy retention, as acquiring a new customer is comparatively costlier than retaining the current one.”

Therefore, to grow retention for Infosec Future, we have laid down a separate client servicing strategy which even includes remembering our clients’ birthday and we soon will be hiring relationship managers for the same.

8. The biggest challenges you have faced till now and how did you cope with them?

The first challenge I faced was to get a decent website developed for Infosec Future. I worked with two freelancers and an agency for three months, but nothing really kicked-off. I was not at all satisfied with their work.

In the end, I decided to work on my website. I designed a good looking website in just 2 days with the help of WordPress.

“If you can’t find a person with the required skill, learn that skill and become that person.”

The biggest challenge I have faced till now is to onboard quality like-minded folks in my team. Sadly, the first three people I employed, left within the first month of joining. I coped with this challenge by hiring interns for every function of my company.

My background and profile have helped me in hiring interns from some of the top Business Schools in India. You will be shocked to know that I am currently working with 27 interns and it is somehow working out for me.

Team @ Infosec Future:

Team @ Infosec Future

9. What is your advice to Pushstarters starting out?

“Focus on giving rather than taking. Give all you have to offer to your clients, without expecting anything in return. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.”

Don’t go around hunting for clients, rather build a strong network of friends.

Innovation is about “How you do things rather than What you do”. Being an entrepreneur, you are the biggest innovation. Believe in yourself, things will fall into place eventually.

10. How can we reach out to you?

You can visit infosecfuture.com to learn more about us.

Connect with guest blogger on LinkedInFacebookEmail or Skype if you want to geek out about startups.

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3 Effective Methods to Get Customer Referrals

“People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.” — Mark Zuckerberg, CEO

A customer referral is one of the best signs of success. It’s what fuels many entrepreneurs.

Customer referral is a fancy way of saying “word of mouth.” It is the oldest form of marketing and it is still the most powerful. This why startups need to pay attention! Every good marketer understands that people have busy schedules and sometimes they just need a gentle reminder (or trigger) to give you that golden referral your business needs.

The power of customer referrals

Here are three easy and effective methods about when and how to ask for customer referrals.

Method #1

When: During customer discovery interviews

Even early stage startups can use the referrals they get from Day 1. After you survey about your target audience’s pain and benefit, see if they have other friends/colleagues that are in a similar. Remember to take every opportunity to expand your customer base early on!

Leave no stone unturned

Method #2

When: After closing a happy customer

Take advantage of that rush or good feeling that the customer has after you have closed that deal/provided them value. For example, when our startup users went through our platform and closed their first Seed round with the help with of VenturX, we took that opportunity to get customer testimonial and ask for referrals. One founder said that his experience was easy and efficient for him so that is a good time to ask for recommendations. Beware, though: this is momentary. It will fade fast in today’s noisy world; also be watching for those opportunity moments. Timing is key.

Method #3

Referral link on website/application

For some industries, referral links on your company website or mobile application is second nature. Successful companies such as Groupon or Uber expands their network by five-fold just by:

  1. making it easy to refer people
  2. giving users an incentive to refer people (ie. Uber credit)

The less the effort and the better the incentive, the more effective this method would be.

Invite a friend

*Customer referrals are among the best things you can do for your business. At VenturX, we consider it a bonus factor in our “engagement metric” for startups; so the more referrals they get, the better their overall engagement becomes and the closer they are to entrepreneurial success.

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How do Startups Keep Customers Loyal?

Startups can find it hard to build their product and keep customers loyal at the same time! While studying the startup industry across the country, we have noticed that one thing is always true… customer loyalty remains a key part of any startup’s success. There are many techniques for building customer loyalty, but we are going for focus on the three most effective ones that every startup should use.

Customer Loyalty

There is a big difference between a satisfied customer and a loyal customer.” — Shep Hyken

Tip #1: Hold feedback sessions with customers (on a regular basis)

How:

  1. Keep track of who you talked to during customer discovery and market research, especially those who are interested in your solution.
  2. Contact them individually for feedback sessions (that way, you know you have their undivided attention during those moments).
  3. Schedule a meeting online, in person, on the phone, etc..
  4. You can even offer to buy them a coffee or beer for their input.

Benefits:

  1. They know how much you care about their opinion.
  2. They feel they had a say in building the product with you so they feel connected and familiar with it.
  3. It brightens the sense of product disposition and awareness in the customer’s mind. You remind them of your solution and benefits. Each feedback session is another opportunity to market to them.
  4. Customers get the VIP experience of seeing their ideas come to life.
Customer feedback

Tip #2: Create the waitlist of future customers

How:

  1. Start early!
  2. Some startups may not be ready to sell right away but you can still create that waitlist of people who are ready to buy when your solution is ready.

Benefits:

  1. Organizing a simple waitlist will save you a lot of time in the long run when your product is actually ready to sell. You don’t have to go back and rumble through your notes to find those leads.
  2. Great for investors! If you are running a startup that has not yet generated any revenue, you need to show that potential customers are demonstrating interest. This is the best way to show early stage investors that your business is viable.
Waitlist

Tip #3: How to regular updates

How:

  1. Create a monthly newsletter to show consistency and progress to your fans. Here is a quick video on how to create a newsletter.
  2. You can create multiple segments in the newsletter. For example, VenturX has a newsletter for startups that is more product-focused, and one for investors. The newsletter for our investors gives a bigger overview of VenturX’s market penetration across the country.

Benefits:

  1. This keeps your company at the top of mind.
  2. Founders can reflect back on what was accomplished the past month and analyze what worked and what didn’t work. This reflection is often overlooked by startups.

Here is an example of our last newsletter.

VenturX newsletter example

These tips may vary from business to business. One thing that doesn’t change, though, is how important customers are. Loyalty is something that takes years to build and minutes to destroy. Like any relationship, it takes a effort but with these 3 tips you’ll be better equipped to tackle this business challenge! And trust me, the relationship you have with your customers is definitely worth every ounce of effort — and then some.

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Founder Spotlight: Jennifer Chan (Preview Careers) – #1 Career Platform for Students

Founder Spotlight: Jennifer Chan (Preview Careers) – #1 Career Platform for Students

This week, I had the lucky opportunity to follow and engage with a Vancouver-based entrepreneur who is a true Lead by Example type! Jennifer Chan, Co-Founder of Preview Careers opens the door into her startup world!

Jennifer Chan, Entrepreneur, Co-Founder of Preview Careers

Jennifer Chan, Entrepreneur, Co-Founder of Preview Careers

I knew that this startup was definitely someone to watch out for when she scored over 140+ personal customer discovery interviews in a matter of DAYS with just 3 people hustling like warriors; these are results that other entrepreneurs take a year to accomplish. Preview Careers’ passion is predicated by their actions and their impact. There is no doubt Jennifer Chan was the perfect choice to highlight as someone who truly stands out! Not only did we get to see the next big thing being built, but we also got a lot of great startup tips from Jennifer Chan that you can check out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmpTxB8ZsSg&list=PLCZnT5ANSu9ZxOGg-dcyc9sqYXFWaw7eC

Preview Careers is the second product to come out of Appfabriqa, the parent company. Being education focused, Preview Careers took their mission back on campus. Jennifer took the bright initiative to personally survey students on campus one on one to understand their pain points when it comes to careers. She quickly built out a sign up page on Wix and starting building out features that the users wanted.

Jennifer’s customer-focused attitude is something that came from her previous startup experience and drove much of how the startup was run. It was a major influence on hiring decisions, product features, task management, etc..

What does a typical week look like for this founder?

She works from 9am-9pm consistently. (It’s pretty impressive!)

Preview Careers’ scores on VenturX’s Entrepreneurship Tool

Preview Careers’ scores on VenturX’s Entrepreneurship Tool

Mornings:

· Starts work at 9AM

· Design creative assets for marketing content in order to acquire new student users

· Send emails and update her team

Afternoons:

· Track user sign ups and send them over to product manager

· Customer research via online forums, social media, feedback from users to further identify the pain points and analyze in depth research of this market

· Attend afternoon meetings: check out new office space, interview new brand ambassador for student user recruiting at UBC, etc..

· Film mentor videos for website all around Vancouver

Evenings:

· Review marketing content from Marketing Intern

· 9PM meetings with her international team

What is Preview Careers?

The PREVIEW mission is to help driven, ambitious, young people explore and discover which career paths will lead them to doing work they love. PREVIEW believes that one of the key ways to exploring the career opportunities that exist, understanding the competitive landscape of the job market, and knowing the nuances of specific roles/titles is through connecting with mentors/advisors that can share their experiences, insight, and wisdom.

www.previewcareers.com

www.previewcareers.com

What is the next big milestone?

The next milestone is preparing for Back to School! If you are a university student in Vancouver, check out Preview’s student activities and giveaways on campus coming September 2017! Don’t miss out! Sign up today at www.previewcareers.com!

Get connected to your next mentor!

Preview Mentors

Preview Mentors

That is all for today! If you are a student or mentor and have questions for Preview Careers, we added her contact info at the bottom!

Contact info: Jennifer Chan

Email: Jennifer@appfabriqa.com

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenchanbarnes/

Website: https://www.previewcareers.com

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Success Doesn’t Just Happen, It’s Planned For!

Success Doesn’t Just Happen, It’s Planned For!

Success Doesn’t Just Happen, It’s Planned For!

Startups plan and plan and plan…but where does it all go?

We wanted to find out how many startups like to draw out plans so we sent out a survey across Canada and the US to 175 startups. A whopping 68% of startups still like to use Post Its and visually draw it out. Nowadays, we have so many amazing business tool that we can use to make sure that your plan is:

  1. Improving your metrics (ie. conversion, engagement, etc..)
  2. Thorough (so not a single note gets lost)
  3. Visual (65% of people are visual learners according to Forbes Magazine Article — https://www.forbes.com/sites/tjmccue/2013/01/08/what-is-an-infographic-and-ways-to-make-it-go-viral/#6452cd047272)

So check out how your startup is planning for your success!

Old and New Ways to Build Your Strategic Plan

Old and New Ways to Build Your Strategic Plan

For more ways to make sure you are planning SMART, check out this great read: http://blog.venturx.ca/2017/08/23/smart-startup-goals/

Thanks for reading!  If you enjoyed this article,

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