GaP->GaS #12 – Open Mic Night – Any Problem Solved!

As Axl Rose put it, sometimes “it’s hard to hold a candle in the cold November rain” and last night’s coldest-day-of-the-year style temperatures certainly snuffed out some of the usual enthusiasm for a Tuesday night GaP->GaS session – but if audience levels were down a touch then the boisterousness and general bonhomie of the crowd who did turn up more than made up for it!

Perhaps HHH’ers are finally getting exhausted from a year’s worth of go-getting, fund-raising, downsizing, up-scaling, bootstrapping, pivoting, disrupting and what not. Or maybe not – more people than ever before are setting up businesses in London, across the country and across the world – the only problem is where they are all going to find space to work?

One man trying to solve this problem and develop an entrepreneurial plan at the same time is Hector Kolonas from included.co who opened up proceedings on Tuesday evening with a keynote explaining about the work he does with co-working spaces.

That is of course, after I reminded everyone how wonderful Hipsters, Hackers & Hustlers is, how our membership is growing exponentially we are launching in new cities all the time nationally and internationally, thanked our lovely sponsors Moo, Campus London, Viber, EventNinja, SnapZap, Glisser, Perlimpinpin, Zymge, Moteefe, Cherry and Waterfront Solicitors, and reminded you all that:

Over to Hector ; )

Hector, who divides his time between the UK and Cyprus, claims to have the unsexiest job in start-up land; his start-up, included, is a concierge service that provides everything you might need at your co-working space. So far, 83 independent co-working hubs have joined Hector’s scheme in 20 different countries.

As soon as you become a member at one of these workspaces you can contribute alongside other start-ups to the concierge fund which is administered by Hector and his team, who search out all the best deals and bargains and find the best products and services that you need. Their site allows you to search for spaces participating in the scheme, and in case you missed it last night, here are Hector’s 9 reasons to join a co-working space – hope you have a phone within reach you’ll be wanting to make some calls after this!

1. “Avoid cabin fever”
Straightforward, don’t sit at home twiddling your thumbs all day get out there and work and mix with some like-minded people!

2. “Hey, can you?…”
In other words, networking, who knows who you might meet – but there’s a good chance they can help your business – perhaps they can solve that bug on your system you’ve been sweating over for months.

3. “A reason to put your trousers on”
You can stagnate when there’s no one nearby to compete with – working in your pants is not cool people!

4. “A space that fits you just right”
Not too big, or small, or far away, or near, or smelly, or rat infested, or…you get the picture!

5. “Running costs are shared”
Indeed they are, and it’s just another reason to love your “space-mates”!

6. “Plug and play”
Always connected, never out of juice, or in the wrong place – your co-working space is also your safe-house.

7. “Scale up or down”
There’s room in the office for the both of you – and plenty more – no worries about moving!

8. “Do more business”
The office is where you have your game face on and finally (and most importantly).

9/ “Have more like-minded discussions”
Face-to-face, productive, real, effective – co-working spaces – gotta love ‘em.

Big thanks to Hector and it was great to catch up with him at the bar – I’m sure you will anyway but remember the name!

There’s no substitute for crowd-solving a problem.

There’s no substitute for crowd-solving a problem.

So what problems did our audience member’s drag with them like presents in a sack for our beloved HHH audience to dissect, study, rearrange, and ultimately solve? Let’s begin at the beginning.

 

Problem:
Kiano
is a food blogger making a transition for her food blog from contributor based content to user generated content including video uploads amongst other features; will she need to hire a tech guy or girl to help her accomplish this?

Answers:
No, just fake it! For video hosting try Wistia; it allows you to host your own videos and and receive free data and analytics plus video marketing tools. After Kiano admitted she hadn’t checked her traffic stats for months, another audience member suggested hiring a full time dev – it’s hard to find someone for free so allocate budget if you can.

Just use WordPress! Cried another audience member – you can build everything on WP and if there are features you need to add just search through the plugins – or use a service like Maqtoob to find out the latest and greatest apps for business.

Fail fast, fail cheap! And keep it as real and as close to your dream site as you can – it’s your baby after all– were two other helpful and incisive pieces of advice. The real cost will be the web hosting, not the site maintenance, pointed out another founder running a successful site. And Hector reminded Kiano, if you do hire, vested equity is a great incentive for Devs and means you can keep hold of valuable capital and make sure you get your money’s worth.

 

Problem:
Next up Laura told us about Behere.be a new app for solo travellers to connect with fellow adventurers, meet up and explore new destinations together. The app will be submitted to the iTunes store soon but Laura has a problem – her co-founder, a recent graduate, is demanding more cash and doesn’t have savings to put into the business – what should she do?

Solutions:
Vest on milestones!
Don’t give a partner free money, be clear about the growth trajectory of the business and offer to reward your co-founder when certain milestones are achieved – this will keep them interested and ensure that if you do end up paying out to your co-founder, because of what you have achieved you’ll be glad to do so.

Audience member Karl asked 3 questions – is your co-founder in financial distress? Are they living at home? How much involvement in the business will they have? Ask these questions first then make your mind up, he advised.

Give them equity and support them if it feels right – a co-founder is like a soulmate and if you have a good one don’t cast them off carelessly thinking there’s another round the corner – there may very well not be – sound advice – sometimes it’s a case of “better the Devil you know”.

 

Problem:
Celestine is running
a 1 year old business improvement consultancy and wanted to know – how do I advertise to my potential clients for free?

Solutions:
Hack databases!
In a nice, legal, fair way, of course – the point this audience member was making is that there are many lists and sites out there that, although they may not be intended as such, can provide all kinds of helpful information about where to source your next customer.

Get in the press! Was another suggestion – hit newspapers with a press release, follow up with journalists (try #journolist) and do some genuine outreach – go to events, stand up, speak and offer some nuggets of advice as a teaser to potential clients. Try guest posting on blogs, attend a start-up weekend, write a booklet even – just as long as you do something!

 

Problem:
Glyn is a developer
who, just for fun, has built a Twitter tool which can filter and search tweets to help you with your business intelligence. “It kind of works” he says; it’s called Crowdcc.com, but how can Glyn get the word out there and encourage users to try the service?

Solutions:
Try betalist! It was built for exactly this purpose, somebody suggested. Try the London Open Coffee meetup. Hear, hear! (and get on their email network too – many great and lofty start-up subjects are discussed there every day).

Bubbles app is a new messaging app launching in Shoreditch (there must be a few of these by now!) but what’s the best way to gain traction quickly?

Be like DoJo! These guys worked like crazy to get their message out there – flyer-ing Old Street roundabout, trying different techniques to delight and surprise potential users – approaching people with the confidence to talk about the product – if it worked for the DoJo guys it could work for you – if you’re prepared to put the work in.

Get yourself along to a few events such as Websummit or SXSW – if you can’t find people to test your app at events like these – time for a career re-think! And don’t forget, since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – have a look at the competition, like Yik Yak app.

 

Problem:
Tomas
is running a platform that allows users to visit his site and select a video advertisement to watch; watching the video entitles them to make a donation to a charity of their choice. He’s about to launch a crowdfunding rewards based campaign – but what rewards should he be offering?

Solutions:
Offer experiences!
Lunch with a celebrity, a day out, a chance to visit the development team, free invite to the launch – that kind of thing, said a lady who sounded experienced in these matters. Tie the rewards to your core principle, keep everything on the same tack, said another.

Here is an old chestnut from an audience member who raised £48k in just 30 days – make sure the campaign is at least 30% funded within the first couple of days of going live. Get family, friends and investors to be the first to show their faith in your campaign – if they don’t nobody will. People simply don’t back campaigns that start at 0 – they need to know other people who are more in the know are behind the project also.

Oh boy! We’re nearly out of time / blog space / in danger of your losing interest dear reader, so let’s skip through the last 3 problems of the night real quick before we say goodbye;

 

Problem:
Anand at Deep Vision
is over from the States working at Google Campus for a few weeks – his software allows you to hover over pictures – of a celeb, for example, and find out where to buy the clobber they are dressed in. How to do this most effectively?

Solutions:
A range of answers here; add a footnote explaining how to use the hover function, introduce a “folded corner”, explain at beginning and end of accompanying article. Our view? That’s a decision the founders will ultimately have to make but kudos to Deep Vision for gauging the opinion of expert HHH’ers first!

 

Problem:
Ethel
at SmileyGo wants to meet more people interested in this philanthropic platform which helps to provide resources for non-profits; empower your people and your organisation and check this platform out!

 

Problem:
Rob
(robtaylor480@gmail.com) is launching Archangel Studios in Hackney, a space to record music, play music, and party! After wandering down several blind alleys with potential investors, Rob is going down the crowdfunding route; is he doing the right thing?For a studio, that can pull in a big community following – we think so! We like Rob’s ambition and enthusiasm!

 

And why should you listen to us – because we are HHH, that’s why. And so are you! What a shame we’ll have to wait until next year for our next instalment of all that’s great, good and not so good about London’s early stage start-up scene. And since it’s nearly Christmas, I’ll end with a joke;

“Knock knock”

“Who’s there?”

“HHH”

“Huh?”

“Exactly!”

Keep on hustlin’!

Rob

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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