Were you born in a crossfire hurricane? Do you feel drowned, washed up and left for dead? Were you schooled with a strap across your back?
Chances are if you are a startup founder the answer is yes, yes, yes! But don’t worry, the Hipsters Hackers & Hustlers team have always got your back – here’s a reminder of how we turn all of your startup teething problems into a GaS GaS GaS!
Yes, this Monday evening we were back at Google Campus for another iteration of our ground-breaking, game-changing, original and best crowd-solving-early-stage-startup-problems GAPGAS night!
GaP?->GaS! stands for “Got a Problem?->Get a Solution!” and it’s where founders clamber on stage in front of a wonderful audience of mentors, developers, entrepreneurs…all members of the HHH clan (we’re 30,000 strong now with cohorts across the world), outline a problem or an issue that their startup is facing, and let the audience guide them, suggest where they might be going wrong, propose alternative paths and solutions, and help you break on through to the other side!
What’s with these 60’s rock and roll references? Well folks, I guess I must be getting nostalgic because after nearly 3 years running HHH from its spiritual home, Google Campus, “Tech City”, Shoreditch, East London, it’s nearly time for me to say goodbye.
But wipe that tear, baby dear, from your eye-ee…I am handing over master of ceremony duties to the fantastic Laura, an ex-journalist, comedian, entrepreneur and founder of Club Soda, a social club for heavy drinkers looking to cut down their alcohol intake and have fun without putting their livers under too much strain. Brilliant and worthy.
Laura will handle all of our London events, while I, for my sins, am relocating to the Dominican Republic, where I am building a world first – “Startups of the Caribbean” – an incubator, accelerator and co-working space for entrepreneurs who want to get away from it all while they put together their blueprints for game-changing tech startups.
Did you know that Monty Python wrote Life of Brian in the Caribbean? Or that Ian Fleming created the character of James Bond from his hideaway in Jamaica – there must be something in the water over there. Creative juices are on tap, and soon, true to my gregarious nature, I will be inviting you all to join me – stay tuned!
Back to Monday – we kicked off with a special treat – not one, but two guest speakers. Our first, Jean-Marc Pierson, runs storytelling, public speaking and confidence building workshops for those of us who find talking in front of large audiences a spine tingling, nerve jangling nightmare – here’s what he had to say:
Jean-Marc doesn’t use notes on stage (maybe keep some handy just in case but strictly as a last resort). He has his own “Mind Map”. And on that map there is a message all public speakers must take heed of. “Delivery beats content!” That’s right – how you say something is more important than what you say, and that’s not to belittle what you have to say. Look at it like this – if you have a website that is full of genius content but is also ugly as hell, no one will ever see that content. If your website is a stunning assault on the senses, people will read it, whatever the standard of the content. So if you want to get your message across you must present beautifully and eloquently!
How to do it? There are 3 things you need to think about; energy, engagement, packaging. You have to make people feel! Jean-Marc is a charismatic performer no question, unorthodox, off the cuff and spellbinding at times – so his techniques, as you might expect, are challenging.
Try this one – before you go on stage head for the bathroom, and strike your best superhero pose (you do have one, right), then hold it for two minutes. Believe it or not, experiments show that it drastically improves your on stage performance – let’s be honest, if you can strike a superhero pose in a loo and not feel silly what threat does presenting to a room full of people hold?
Or, as you take the stage, imagine you have a crown on your head, regal clothing and maybe you are even holding a staff or sceptre – remember you have to play the character – so don’t play a weak, forgettable character, play a King, Queen or superhero – be entertaining! And your audience will love you for it.
To overcome your fear, feel it! Don’t pretend it’s not there, because, whoever you are and however experienced or talented a speaker you may be, there is always a little fear. Jean-Marc recalled performing on the flute in front of hundreds of parents at a show in France – he tried to busy himself, rearranging chairs and finding excuses to take his mind off his fear – but when he took the stage, there was the fear – hello darkness my old friend! So embrace it, get to understand what fear is like, de-construct it until it truly feels like an old friend – one that you know how to control.
Make eye contact, and lots of it! According to research teams in Palo Alto, communication happens simultaneously on two levels. In public speaking, you are carrying on all kinds of communications and everybody in the audience is interpreting your words and actions differently – the challenge is to keep everybody interested and engaged. So smile, puff your chest out and deliver! Remember the audience are nervous too – everybody wants to feel part of the group, and that is your, the speaker’s responsibility.
And with that, Jean-Marc unleashed his superhero pose, beating his chest and roaring with delight – if you like the sound of that, you can join one of his courses here.
Next, next, next we presented Simon K Williams – and his guide to Making It Happen! Simon became known as the “Appman” thanks to his early adoption of the now ubiquitous app concept and formulation of a business that built more than 250 of them for a variety of clients across all kinds of different sectors. Simon did great, before he semi-retired and relocated to Thailand – but 18 months ago he launched a new project – a project management platform for mobile developers.
Simon refers to entrepreneurs as “designers with balls”; the trick to a great app, he says, is to get inside the minds of the users. One of his favourite techniques is to construct an avatar of his typical user, adding as much detail as he possibly can. Are they married or single? Do they have kids? Where do they shop? What TV shows so they watch – the more information, the more layers, the better.
Now the real science of selling to customers is something called “P4P, P1, P2” – let’s break it down.
P4P stands for “Products For Prospects”. Why do kids prefer McDonalds to other restaurants? Because McDonalds gives them toys – it’s also known as a loss leader.
Your P1 is your primary service – the service you are most known for providing – in McDonalds’ case that’s hamburgers, chicken burgers and fries. But where does McDonalds derive the bulk of its value? Actually it’s property – McDonalds real estate portfolio is one of the biggest in the world.
So remember, first you have to draw your customer in, then you need to deliver a credible primary service that cements your reputation. But the real profit making side of your business may derive from a source are unaware of. Rolex, for example, makes its money through franchising, not watches.
Good business is about constructing layers and satisfying your customers. It takes ingenuity, patience and subtlety.
Ok, so now we’re up to speed with how to present, and how to construct a business, let’s look at some of our startups’ problems!
Let’s start with Keith, who was struggling to persuade music platforms to pay him affiliate fees for directing traffic to their websites. What approach can he take that will help turn referrals into revenues?
- Well says our old friend and ever present Andrew Lockley, first off, don’t sweat it. How about focusing specifically on the sites that will pay affiliate fees. Redouble your efforts to direct traffic their way, and let the rest stew as their users and visitor numbers decline. Success will come when the platforms change their tune and start chasing you with enticing affiliate offers.
- “Degenerate the ones that won’t pay in your search suggestions”, echoed another audience member. Approach the labels directly via a platform like Twitter – target the decision makers and see if they can help – a direct approach to a warm lead is worth a thousand cold calls.
- Finally, try connecting your music app using an aggregator of some kind, suggested audience member Peter.
Next up, consultant and project manager Adam is nearly ready to go full time on a new startup project, but he needs coders. Should he look to hire one, possibly UK based CTO to look after the technical build or consider outsourcing to an entire team, perhaps to Eastern Europe or India where labour costs are cheaper?
- Andrew Lockley again; “try to find a designer who operates in the market you are selling into; try to hire a UK based developer consultant but be quick and if it turns out to be “unusable shite”, move on fast! Don’t give them the chance to get their feet under the table! Typical Andrew ; )
- Try TopTal, it’s a solid, Silicon Valley based coding consultancy that can deal with pretty much everything and has a stamp of quality, perhaps?
- Nishi, who runs a software consultancy, advises nailing down a fixed fee and getting your terms and conditions as water tight as you can – so you know exactly what you will get, when, and for how much. Finally, an audience member suggested importantinternships.com – emerging talent at a very reasonable price where the emphasis is on placing candidates within socially aware businesses.
Great advice – next!
There was a day when a house party was a spontaneous thing, but this is the age of disruptive tech and therefore why not use an app – after all, recall your teens and twenties and tot up the number of great parties you went to versus the number of times you couldn’t find the venue / discovered you knew nobody there/ were only there for 45 minutes because your friend felt sick!
Claudia has launched 3 Degrees, a new app that makes houseparties legendary again! She was here to discover new ways to find her audience – could anybody recommend events, tactics, or techniques Claudia could use?
- Andrew; (again – this man gets through some advice, doesn’t he!) get yourself on some mailing lists; there are plenty of startup PR agencies who send weekly emails to huge numbers of people (including us at HHH but sorry Claudia, we have to charge for a mailshot to avoid being inundated with requests and so we can keep our HHH members happy!), like 3Beards, for example, who also run free networking event Silicon Roundabout, with free beer!
- Above and beyond there are radio shows, video (London / Silicon Real perhaps), and more events than you can drunkenly shake a rum punch cocktail in a plastic glass at!
- Our new host Laura suggested Ada’s list, a fantastic site aimed at all things women-in-tech related.
- Finally, don’t forget Twitter and Snapchat!
Our next entrepreneur, only 19 years old, has had a roller coaster ride to date, from overcoming severe depression in his teens to running raves and parties around London, and now he wants to create the biggest media network in the world for young people. He’s been talking to the likes of Google and BBC 1 Extra, and wants to turbo charge the youth powered media landscape. How can he find more people with the 100X mentality? And where can he source dynamic young, legal and accounting support?
- Nachos, a marketeer has some experience in this field having attempted something similar whilst at Christchurch University. Accountants are mostly old, and tired, he sympathised, so talk to the students themselves and be brave! Try the Princes Trust suggested Toni, audience member and early stage startup founder.
- Check out the Impact Hubs which are similarly geared towards promoting events and courses to help young people get upwardly mobile, another audience member suggested. Good luck, said just about everyone…it brings a tear to your eye : )
Now next up we had Lin, an artist selling her works to High Net Worth individuals but who has struggled to show her art online – her designs have been stolen and broadcast elsewhere, including on YouTube, without her knowledge (or permission), garnering more than 5m views. How can she stop this happening without sacrificing the power of online marketing?
This, ladies and gentlemen, was a knotty problem and it got our audience thinking. The type of art we are talking about here is heavily technical, involving programming, performance art, animation and traditional painting techniques.
- One school of thought was “try litigation, go after them”
- Another “reveal parts of the work, but not the whole thing so the whole product remains a mystery” – but would a HNW pay for something they have only partially seen?
Finally, Camilo, a rather cool teen who waited oh-so patiently, pitched his Ruby Programming credentials; “please talk to me!”, he said. Now everyone knows you are not supposed to pitch at GaP->GaS, but on this occasion, and because it was my last (sniff) ever time presenting this magnificent event, I let it go.
Letting go – easier said than done. Good Luck Laura, I won’t miss that Cold November Rain, but soon I’ll be leaving, on a jet plane…I do hope you will come and see me it would make me smile ; )
Keep on hustlin’ folks
P.S. – Don’t miss our next event, Speed Pitching and Co-Founder Dating – it’s bigger than a big thing – and then some!