success

How to Build Traction Starting from an MVP

How to Build Traction Starting from an MVP

A vision without traction is merely a hallucination. Cultivating and creating a successful startup is more than just offering a product or service, it’s a consistent effort of building, measuring, and learning. However, one of the most important factors to venture capitalists (VCs) is traction and measuring the potential success of your product. In regard to measuring traction for your startup, below is a list of what potential investors will value when looking for investments.

Minimal Viable Product

Let’s begin off with an MVP (Minimum Viable Product). This is not a beta or prototype you are launching it’s rather a product or service you make to see if there is a market for it. You are trying to learn what your users want and don’t want and minimize the amount of time you spend on creating features or aspects of the product which is not valuable. Believe it or not, many big companies we know today originated from an MVP.

Dropbox

A good example to represent this is cloud database company called “DropBox.” Their MVP product was essentially a video which showed what they wanted to do and a signup form for people who were interested in the idea and wanted to be early adopters. Almost overnight, there were over 75,000 signups all with only a 3-minute video of Dropbox and not even an actual product of the software. If you are very early in your startup, make sure there is indeed a market for your product or service using an MVP. This is a valuable aspect to present to investors if you haven’t created real customer data points yet.

Below is a list of more MVP’s which you may find very interesting and see how the actual product which has derived from this has changed.

1. Airbnb

Airbnb

Co-founders of Airbnb needed help paying their rent in San Francisco. They also noticed lots of business conferences around; hotels were very expensive in their area. They wondered if strangers would pay to live in someone else’s house for a night. They provided all the facilities and tested out their product assumption using the interface you see above. Creating a website like this especially in the type of technology we have right now would cost you couple hundred dollars max.. If you have no idea about coding then check out ShareTribe, it is great place to create a peer to peer marketplace website and they take of everything for you. You get to focus on building your customer base and they take care of everything that’s technical. Base plans start at $100 a month and this is definitely a great way to see your your product has a market fit without spending tens of thousands of dollars into something that hasn’t been validated yet. In addition to this, hiring university students in computer science is also a great cheap alternative as well.

(MVP is estimated to be $100/ month and 2–3 weeks of coding)

2.Groupon

the point

They first started off creating “the point” which was a platform for bringing people together for fundraising or boycotting a retailer. This platform failed and from this they created Groupon. They used a customized wordpress blog and didn’t invest any time in developing a coupon system or designing a new website. They just took whatever resources they had and made a MVP out of it. It definitely was not scalable but it did answer Groupon’s questions for them. To recreate this type of MVP a simple subscription to “WordPress” will work as well. Relaying information on your own customizable wordpress website is great and more importantly relatively cheap compared to investing in a dedicated server and a team maintaining the site.

3.Buffer

Buffer

What Buffer did for their MVP was create a landing page where they showed what it would do for potential users; if you were interested, you could sign up as a paying customer. If you still weren’t sure as to why you wouldn’t join, it you could still sign up for their email alerts and executives would reach out to to find out why you weren’t convinced to use the platform. Hundreds of people responded and the demand for Buffer was evident. This strategy helped give valuable feedback and find out what users really wanted out of the service. In today’s day and age creating a landing page to show potential users is very simple. The only real aspect of what is being invested is essentially your time to review and analyse what users are saying about your potential product or service.

You can use WordPress for $10–33 dollars a month and creating the static landing page will take a few days.

4.Zappos

Zappos

The founder began off by posting photos from the local shoe store and uploaded them to this website. He then checked if anyone was interested and if there was he would go to the store and buy the shoe and then sell it to the customer. Doing this overtime he found out there was indeed a need for this type of service and answered his question if his product would be accepted into the market. Only after that, he invested into infrastructure and inventory. Reselling is becoming very common in the 21st century and online commerce is almost everywhere around the world. To recreate this type of MVP it is very cheap, quick and easy. For example you can get a subscription on “Wix” for $5–10 dollars a month and use a premade template to upload photos onto your site. This process can take as little as a day. There are multiple website builders such as Wix, Shopify and SquareSpace and all with free and paid options as suited to your individual needs.

You can get this website running in 1 day and $5-$10/month on Wix

5.Twitter

Twttr

It was first used as an internal messaging system for Odeo employees and it picked up so much that the monthly bill for the messaging system went into the hundreds of dollars. They noticed the demand and prepared to take Twitter large scale and release Twitter publicly. Creating an MVP like this is more expensive than the other options available. Creating a whole messaging system for internal use requires some capital equipment which many startups may not be able to afford. However if you do have a reasonable number of assets and capital equipment then you should consider creating something for a specific group of people then expanding once you see the validation. Another way to overcome this issue is getting a developer on your team who can use today’s available tools to create a messaging system more efficiently and cheaply.

6.Zynga

Zynga

Zynga uses landing pages and adword MVP tests to direct available resources into developing projects. What this means is that they launch ads for games in existing games and if the user clicks on it and seems interested in the new game, then they would continue developing the new game and put more attention towards it. Farmville, Yoville, etc. are all games that were developed this way and based of users interests. This type of MVP is essentially placing ads whiles users are playing games or browsing through Zynga. Sending ads to your own users are virtually free but placing ads through the Google Search Engine costs about $0.58 per CPC.

Creating and launching your own ads take a few days.

7.Foursquare

Foursquare

Foursquare began with a single featured MVP which is essentially a version of the product where design and features were minimal. They started off with user check in and offering gamification rewards. Once they realized users like this they added more features and then tested those out. It was a very repetitive process but in the end it creates a product completely sculpted by users. Although it is still very pricey to outsource work in the creation of making an app as an MVP (50,000–1,000,0000) it is strongly advisable to have a experienced coder who has coded apps before. This saves on a lot of money and you make it completely customizable towards your needs. The whole app making process however takes a number of months. If you are still insistent on hiring a company to create your apps there are few who are great at that (247 Labs, Openxcell, etc.)

This MVP takes 3–4 months to build.

8.Pebble

Pebble

Pebble actually was actually able to get money from investors; however, over time, the money ran out and they needed funding to showcase their research in E Ink displays in watches. They really wanted to find out if people would be interested in a smartwatch that had an exceptional battery and could connect to your phone. They started a kickstarter which had a video explainer describing the product and reached their goal of $100,000 in 2 hours. At the end of the fundraising they had raised 10.2 million for the project and then finally they went to manufacture the product after the evident market demand. Kickstarter is a great way to really see if your product has a market fit without starting to mass produce the product. It’s free to launch on Kickstarter but there is one catch. You need to get all the funding you submitted for, if not you lose the funding you raised. In addition to this there will be a certain percentage kickstarter will take away from each successful fundraising effort. Furthermore, you need to have pictures and a live demonstration of your product in order for you to be valid for kickstarter. This whole process will take a number of days and it will be for. More specifically the Kickstarter team spends 30 hours reviewing your submission and will reply back in 2–3 business days.

If accepted, this costs $0 and 1–10 days to make the graphics/ video. (This does not include promotional campaigns.)

9.Spotify

Spotify

Spotify has a 4 step cycle when it comes to creating and testing out its MVP. “Think it, Build It, Ship it, Tweak it.” Spotify is made up of many small teams and they have many ideas, the way they get this idea validated is by first creating the MVP based off their idea. Then they release it to users very slowly and take in a mass amount of reviews from their MVP. After, they tweak the MVP based off the reviews and users’ thoughts. They used this very process to scale from bottom up. While Spotify’s MVP product was very expensive because of its strong software background, Spotify was still able to minimize costs by creating a complete roadmap of early and cheap prototypes. They only completely launched when baseline of quantity was met.

The next sign of traction I would like to focus upon is customer acquisition. How are you going to reach out to customers? What’s the cheapest way to reach them? How much customer growth have you had? Different traction channels works for a variety of startups and can cause a chain of explosive growth for your venture. A few examples of channels for traction is through targeting blogs and search engine marketing.

A) Targeting blogs is one of the most effective ways to reach out to your first wave of customers and create your presence.

  1. The first step is to find a blog which is in the similar field as your product or service and ensure there are an appropriate number of followers on that blog suited to your needs.
  2. Secondly, reach out and offer your product or service to its readership to develop and build traction. Popular startups such as Code Academy , Mint and Reddit all got their start by targeting blogs. Mint actually gained initial traction by reaching out to mid sized blogs and ensured the bloggers were a good fit for their service. The famous bloggers used to exemplify the service and showcase it while Mint gave them VIP service in return through the service. This essentially grew the customer database.
Search Engine Marketing

B) Another channel to gain traction is through “Search Engine Marketing.” This term refers to placing ads on search engines such as Google and Bing and because SEO is so broad it will be applicable to any startup. This whole SEM process works by finding high-potential keywords which leads to your website or business online. The page that a potential customer lands on is called a landing page, and this is one the most important pages on your website. Key SEM metrics to reflect upon are CTR and the CPC. CTR (Click-Through Rate) is the percentage of people who clicked on your ads compared to the amount of people who actually saw your ads. The CPC (Cost per Click) on the other hand is the amount it costs to buy a click on an advertisement. What this means is how much are you willing to pay to get a potential customer on your website.

www.ancestry.com

A good example of a company that used this method to generate traction is Inflection, this is the company behind Archives.com which was soon to be acquired by Ancestry. They spent over $100,000 a month and dedicated several employees to customer acquisition through this method. Obviously very early startups don’t have this type of resources, but Monahan’s input on SEO is that “even if you decide to send less than 5,000, do it, because you get to have an early base of customers and users and it will create a whole bunch of things that are important in terms of regular metrics.”

The harsh reality is that majority of startups fail, and investors know that, that’s why traction is very important to them and making sure there is a market for that product or service. A MVP (Minimum Viable Product is a great way to see whether or not a business opportunity exists and ensures your long run potential. There are many ways to gain traction and I have showed many examples of it from successful startups who have all taken very different routes. Ensure there is a product market fit and traction will follow. The more traction you have, the greater the chance to catch an eye of an investor and finding external investment. “Almost every failed startup has a product. What failed startups don’t have are enough customers”- Gabriel Weinberg (CEO/Founder of DuckDuckGo)

To learn more about examples of traction feel free to head on over to the article written by us on how letters of intent can increase your startup’s funding success.

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VenturX is a Startup Awards Finalist 2018!

VenturX is a Startup Awards Finalist 2018!

 

Honored that VenturX is a finalist for Startup Awards by Startup Canada

It was a beautiful night that took place at Le Gare and Ubisoft in Montreal with multiple categories recognizing the hard work and accomplishment of diverse entrepreneurs. It was truly an honour to be recognized by an incredible organization such as Startup Canada among our extraordinary peers and award recipients.

About Startup Awards

Each year, hundreds of nominations pour in from across Canada, and thousands join us as we celebrate the regional winners at local, grassroots ceremonies in startup spaces and education hubs.

Nominations for the 2018 Startup Canada Awards will open in February 2018.

The winners of the Startup Canada Awards are selected by an esteemed adjudication committee which consists of a diverse group of leading entrepreneurs, ecosystem builders, and previous Startup Canada Award recipients. Regional and National Adjudications committees to be announced.

This year, we are delighted to announce 6 regions for the 2018 Startup Canada Awards: British Columbia, Ontario, the Prairies, Quebec, the Atlantic, and the North! The Startup Canada Awards culminates in October 2018 with a red carpet Grand Finale in Ottawa celebrating the national winners. Click here to register for a regional event near you or the Grand Finale today.

Objectives of the Startup Canada Awards:

Celebrate those working to advance entrepreneurship in Canada;

  • Increase awareness of the importance of strengthening Canada’s entrepreneurship ecosystem and culture
  • Incentivize efforts and elevate the ambitions of the Canadian entrepreneurial community
  • Nominations for the 2018 Startup Canada Awards will open in February 2018.

The winners of the Startup Canada Awards are selected by an esteemed adjudication committee which consists of a diverse group of leading entrepreneurs, ecosystem builders, and previous Startup Canada Award recipients. Regional and National Adjudications committees to be announced

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The Art of the Ask

The Art of the Ask

Have you ever someone say, “Well, you should have asked.” The lesson learned that those who don’t ask, don’t get. This article will tell you about top reservations why people don’t ask for things, what business opportunities can be missed, and how to structure the Art of the Ask!

The art of asking questions

The art of asking questions

The Art of the Ask could be anything such as inquiring questions to which you don’t know the answers, sharing where your company is really at and what you are looking for, asking for help, etc..The ask isn’t always a favour but it can make people feel that way.

For startups that means there are many missed opportunities over their journey because they didn’t ask; they know they could have asked; ultimately, they didn’t get the opportunity. Sometimes, these missed opportunities mean they missed meeting an investor, meeting a potential customer or learning about a new resource that would make their business more productive.

When you are running a lean startup, your main advantage is speed. Startups are all about catching opportunities at an accelerated speed! As they grow, new opportunities arise every day and it is either a gain or lost.

So then why are people so afraid of asking for things? Here are some top reasons why people don’t ask and how to master those reservations.

1. Fear of bothering or annoying others

As people, we want to be liked. So it is natural to not want to bother others. This is also a fear that the other person will say no. A simple and collaborative way to ask for help with something is to prepare to offer something in return. When we offer our expertise, services, etc., we get the opportunity to meet the needs of others. In turn, it helps limit the fear of bothering or annoying others.

For example, when our company was going through UX testing, I wanted to find a way to repay a user for going out of his way to meet us and give feedback. I found out that he was hosting an event so I knew how I could help. I lead a group of entrepreneurs within the Internations.org organization and I could help him promote his event in our community. So my promotion efforts filled up his remaining seats at his event.

2. Fear of showing your vulnerability

Sometimes an ask is indirect such as a description of how the business is going and what you need. When you express your need, you may be surprised how often others try to help. Because our clientele are startups, whenever I ask someone how business is going, the first automatic answer is “things are going really well.” This is because we are so used to saying it and so used to feeling the need to protect our “baby” (which in this case is the business). People tend to not let others in because they are afraid of any potential criticism. An easy way to perform the “tell others what your need is” would be to structure your sentence this way, “Things are going well. We just hired a new developer and we are just starting to look for funding.” It gives a realistic sense of how things are going and gives a peek about what you might need. When performing this one, just remember to keep an open mind. Don’t expect that others will suddenly know an investor to refer you to. However, when you keep an open mind, you may find opportunity in the unlikeliest of places.

Don’t be afraid to share things that you need. It takes a lot of strength to own your vulnerabilities. You would be surprised about the opportunities it open up when you share your truth. Like a child, it takes a village to build a company and startups need to grow as fast as they can. Unforeseen opportunities from unexpected sources can help you alleviate some of those “growing pains.”

3. “Oblivion is Bliss”

Oblivion

Oblivion

When we don’t ask for help or insights from others, we will be sure to stay on the same path. At the time same, we will also be sure to protect our egos. When people start companies, the market does not care about your ego; therefore, living in blissful oblivion will not help your startup in the long run. Startups need to ask, learn, and reiterate. It all starts with the ask.

When we were doing our market research when we first started, I met an entrepreneur who told me that his biggest fear was to be copied by competitors. He didn’t show me his product. It was ok. He told me that he was so afraid of being copied that he spent 3 years building it and never talked to a single potential customer. He did not want feedback and did not welcome it. It was very surprising to me that even though there were best practices on how to do product market fit and why market research was important, there are many startups who choose to build businesses their way.

Ultimately, there are always going to be new reservations about why first time entrepreneurs will not ask for things such as help, insights, and perspectives. When you do, you get the chance to uncover the possibility of the good, the bad, and the ugly from others. But here is the key thing, at least you get to uncover A POSSIBILITY that wasn’t there before! I want to leave you with a quote from my grandfather who said, “Those who ask the most questions, get the most answers.”

Asking Questions

Asking Questions

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3 Reasons Why Every SaaS Startup Need to be Consultants!

3 Reasons Why Every SaaS Startup Need to be Consultants!

As a super busy startup in today’s world, it seems impossible to be doing anything extra. Today, we want to tell you why that extra added service will go miles for your new SaaS (Software as a Service) business.

1. Research on Your Customer’s Needs

Customer-centric companies win. Getting there, however, requires getting to know customers so well that there’s not only understanding of what they do, but why they do it. This is the mentality that Founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, always understood.

An excellent way to do it is to simply ask. Work with them on the solutions directly. Help your target market to achieve their goals so you can benefit from key takeaways to that will benefit your technological solutions. Find out what not only what the solution should be but how customers want to use it and any other extra features that would make it more valuable.

When startups are close with the customers, that relationship will act as an insightful competitive advantage. (This rings true if the target market for your SaaS is the same as your consultant clients.) For us for example, it would startups who are first time business owners looking for their first round of funding (Pre-Seed — Series A). If you are very specific with your target, the more you will benefit in the long run.

2. Use it as Your Side Hustle

Get some revenue coming in from the side hustle. Depending on how much you charged, your startup can still reinvest that money into things such as Facebook or Instagram ads like we did. If your consultancy packages enough for you to invest in automation softwares or salaries, even better!

This would also be play a helpful hand when you are applying for government grants where they require you to show some form of revenue.

3. Use It to Build Your Startup Brand

To utilize the customer feedback and questions to build your brand will show community engagement as well as branding your company as an expert in this industry. It is always hard for startups with no money to build a brand so utilizing as much content in a consistent format as possible is a big step in the right direction.

For example, VenturX, has free monthly Health Checks for subscriber users. This takes place on Skype. Because I have a close friend who is a startup on our platform, I asked if our Health Checks can be recorded. This recording would show her asking questions about our VenturX metrics, why these metrics are important to investors and what other considerations she needs to think about before submitting to investors. She agreed it was a good idea. So starting March 4th at 8PM EST, we will have our first Health Check session. This is ideal for branding because her questions may be the same as others in our target market when it comes to investing and it gives a sneak preview of what to expect as a VenturX user. If you want to catch the video, please follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Youtube.

In addition, we will be writing a Medium blog and Youtube debrief on how the first session went. We expect there to be at least 2 sessions so you would be able to see a typical startup user’s improvements and added value.

Resources on how to get started on branching out your consultancy services

  1. Post your services on your website

2. You will need a consultancy package to send to potential clients so the understand what your field of expertise is and the price.

Here is a sample of how ours look like:

Pricing Package

Pricing Package

3. Other places to post your consultancy services:

a) ME University

We put ours under Raising Capital and Funding. You can see ours as an example of a typical description of the services:

ME University

ME University

b) Freelance Service Sites: FiverrUpwork, and Guru.

c) Post it on your social media as announcements of your new services

d) If you have a newsletter, make sure your audience is aware.

The main thing startups should beware of is contributing too much too little time. If your SaaS company is your main operation, be sure to devote the necessary care and time to it. When startups do not have the history of clients and built up a reputation yet, a lot of clients may have a lot of questions in order to feel more trusting and secure about taking that next step with you. This could take a lot of time to “nurture” new leads. From our experience, we help answer some of those questions on our website and our latest blog post to explain the pros and cons of hiring startup consultants here!

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Should First Time Entrepreneurs Pay for a Startup Consultant or Not?

Should First Time Entrepreneurs Pay for a Startup Consultant or Not?

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” — famous Chinese proverb

With entrepreneurship becoming so popular nowadays, it is certainly overwhelming to know which resources are right for you (ie. investor platform, incubators, accelerators, startup consultants, etc..)

As our business who mainly targets startups, we devote a lot of time keeping our ears to the ground and finding interesting startup problems, solutions, and ideas to explore. Here is a post that inspired this post. It was from a popular Facebook group.

Facebook
Facebook Post

This post was from a first time entrepreneur who received 54 comments in 24 hours from startup consultants, entrepreneurs who have used consultants, people who have not used consultants, etc.. (This post has been edited several times and we cannot find the original post.)

The most detailed and interesting comment was this one:

“I started my business with $100 and a hunger to create freedom in my life.

At the time I couldn’t afford coaching or programs and guess what?

I didn’t buy any.

I did market research by talking to people (that costs me nothing).

I then created a membership program (in the B2C space) on WordPress (had to learn how to use WordPress) — that costed me the $100 of Siteground hosting and nothing else.

I had a Facebook group I was running the community in. That cost me nothing.

I then went on and started doing live videos and promote my membership (costed me nothing).

I sold 60 memberships, that replaced my banking job. So I quit.

I then with the money I made bought a new MacBook so I can work faster.

I then sold more memberships and more memberships and here I was making $5000 a month.

And that’s when I decided to invest $2000 in the 90 Day Year.

This year (1.5 years later) I am on track to have a 7 figure year by the end of 2018.

You see… all these programs you see.. you don’t have to buy them.

Also.. the people that sell them.. they don’t need to change their pricing to accommodate “people who can’t afford it”.

Coaching IS NOT a right.

It’s a privilege.

Programs and courses are NOT a right.

They are a privilege.

And Iike any privilege, you either

1) make money and work to deserve it (and reward yourself with it)

2) don’t make money and don’t buy it.

3) look for organizations that offer free mentorship for startups (lots of them in the World)

Sooooo

I don’t understand what the issue is.

Work hard.
Make money.
THEN invest.” — Anonymous

There were also other comments from the post explaining how startups who are new to the world of entrepreneurship have reservations about investing because of these following reasons.

Why People Don’t Pay for Startup Consultants

  1. Insecure feelings about their business- or the consultant
  2. Not 100% sure about their own ROI from the business enough to pay for a consultant
  3. Lack trust in the consultant
  4. Feel that there are enough free resources about certain areas on the internet
  5. They do not understand the long term value of the business and how a consultant can make a difference (ie. spending $1000 to make $20,000)
  6. They cannot find the right fit for the exact field of expertise that they need

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

You don’t know what you don’t know

You don’t know what you don’t know

This famous saying rings true in entrepreneurship. This boils down to whether this million dollar idea is worth the risk you are taking or not. For most first startups who come to our team and ask for investment money, it tends to stop right here and they will tend to go back to their full time jobs or take our advice to ponder about whether or not they go forward for another 4–6 months.

Since we run a startup platform, VenturX, that helps prepare and connect early stage startups for investments, we have the opportunity to see with our own eyes what success and failures within startups look like everyday. Even though they come from diverse backgrounds, the checklist of startups we can accept in order to maintain a high level of successful launches and investments are still the same. We can quickly tell a) if they are in our target market and b) what their next step would be in order to best be prepare for big investors like ours.

Time VS Money VS Quality

Time, Money, Quality

Time, Money, Quality

From working with over 300 startups and hearing their stories of successes and failures, there are only so many things you can invest into your business if you don’t have the luxury of quality. Quality stems from knowledge and experience. Every investor who has been an entrepreneur in a previous life always talks about getting your hands dirty. That is where your “je ne sais quoi” value comes from and therefore enhancing your overall “quality.” If it is your first time, you really only have the options of investing your time (known as sweat equity) or your money (known as hiring people or purchasing resources).

Even though we have a platform where potential clients can already see there are startups using our platform and getting investment, they have valid questions before signing up or hiring our consultation services. Their questions are ones that all startups should consider when investing any amount of money into their business.

Why Should First Time Entrepreneurs Hire Startup Consultants? (What do potential clients ask?)

  1. What is your field of expertise? Why should I choose you?

Answer: Helping prepare you for your first big round of funding and helping get to you launch with business intelligenceFrom working in the startup industry, we get to see the ingredients of success and failures on a daily basis that we use to benefit our consultation clients so they don’t have to suffer with their time and money in the long run.

2. Do you have referrals from other startups?

Answer: Yes — some are on our website: www.venturx.ca and others can be sent to you privately. We strongly recommend our best practices such as developing good positive relationships with clients in order to collect those success stories!

3. How does the consultation services work?

Answer: You can purchase specific packages such as “Review my investor’s pitch deck” or purchase a set of 5 or 20 hours of consultation. We meet on a call to help you with specific goals and come up with a structured plan of implementation and we make sure this plan is executed in the best manner possible.

4. Do you connect us with contacts?

Yes! As an added bonuses are connections and contacts when applicable. We know that not all consultants, coaches or mentors do that; however, it is part of our practice. There are some that are exclusive to only VenturX platform users.

4. Can I get a discount?

Answer: Discounts are available to all VenturX platform users or those who purchased larger set of consultation hours (ie. over 20 hours).

There you have it! The reasons why first time entrepreneurs opt to hire or not hire help. We hope this article helps you make informed decisions that can help your startup in the future years to come! For more startup tips, check out our other blogs!

Work

Work

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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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BIG Mistakes business owners make when hiring ’TOP’ Employee’s

Guest Post by: Jeff Consul, Institute Of Innovation

1.) Skills can be Taught — VALUES CANNOT. Always first confirm that you would trust them to work on your grandmothers house, or babysit your kids — before you start to see how they handle the tools. People with crappy attitudes and bad values are NEVER worth the effort. Inevitably they find something to externalize about; you’re not paying them enough, they don’t get enough time off, the gravity is too heavy…

2.) Confirming GRINDABILTY — But don’t ask how hard there last job was. Ask How LONG this hard job lasted, ask why they DIDN’T quit, ask what they LEARNED from this hard job, and how it changed them as a person.

3.) Call References — BUT — ask questions that allow you to see if you were right about their character. Remember that’s what you’re ultimately judging. 70% of the stuff on any resume is going to be questionable/exaggerated. When they worked for you; What were they the most proud of? When were they the happiest? What’s something most people wouldn’t know about them?

Call References

4.) Always remember that doing one or two more interviews is always MUCH less time than retraining anyone. Wait for the right person, even if their particular skill is lower — someone who lines up with your values can be leveraged over the long run, someone who quits in the middle of a job because the gravity is a little too heavy that day… is always going to be a let down

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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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