It was great as ever to see so many of you at Google Campus last night for GaP-GaS!, that’s “Got A Problem-> Get A Solution, our third-Monday-of-every-month event that allows entrepreneurs to get up on stage and vent about issues they are experiencing as they try to grow their start-ups, and ask the knowledgeable audience to help crowd-solve their problems.
Last night our stellar presenter Laura welcomed 2 very special guests; Aiden Cramer of JobLab and his co-founder, plus Palo Alto veteran Shelley Taylor, founder and CEO of trellyz, a network of non-profit organisations and cities working together to help their communities find the services they need. Stay tuned for Shelley’s take on why Wily E. Coyote is the perfect metaphor for the start-up founder. Say What!
How To Hire The Perfect Intern, Anyone?
First up we were treated to a fascinating talk from Aidan about hiring interns. Sure, there are ways around appointing an intern – sites like zirtual or timeetc provide capable virtual assistants, but if it’s a human being to light up the office you are after, then an intern is what you need. They’re smarter, can handle more complex tasks and are willing to learn.
Aidan advised all start-up founders to have a clear plan for their interns and to manage both sides’ expectations so all parties know where they stand. You can find interns on job boards at campuses and universities, or through sites like Inspiring Interns but why not try JobLab which curates some of the finest talent, and includes a ranking system, video cover letters, and personalised searches, essentially helping you become one of the “internship good guys”, getting the relationship right, right from the start!
Palo Alto Secrets Uncovered – Why Founders Are Wily E Coyote & Investors Are Road Runner!
Shelley Taylor is the undisputed master of “extreme bootstrapping” and sadly, she knows all too well that in start-up life, 99.9% of businesses don’t make it. Shelley has lived through big failures, but has also won big too – her latest project, trellyz the Non-Profit and City data platform, currently hiring software developers, is a sure-fire Unicorn, she believes.
Shelley’s presentation explored the personality of Wily E. Coyote and compared it to the plight of the founder – a long history of good ideas, too much competition, rejected by investors for lacking a strong revenue stream or too little traction – the investor is like the road runner – but you only have to catch them once, which is what makes the chase so thrilling!
The Giant Failure!
Shelley discussed her “Giant Failure” and the reasons for it; she had the “BEST” idea, lots of developers, plenty of employees, features, users – but no revenue!
The Big Idea!
Shelley started again this time selling into a “Huge Market”, but this time the business suffered from too many potential customer segments and too much customisation.
The Next Big Idea!
Finally, the pivot changed everything – now there is a huge market, 2 standalone products, no customisation, and upfront fees.
Shelley’s top tips included not worrying about paid marketing (prioritise face-to-face meetings and, door-to-door and cold calling, go wherever you can physically meet people!), or focusing on profit (re-invest your profits back into the company to help it scale fast!) and building for the short term – in this day-and-age, builds take less time than ever before. Take advantage!
Oh, and do your own book-keeping – keep track of every penny you spend!
Shelley was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the HHH year, a passionate, pragmatic business mind on a mission and what an encyclopaedic knowledge of what it takes to make a start-up work.
Our speakers on the night certainly benefitted from Shelley’s advice; here are the usual potted highlights. Have a scroll through, there are links to sites and contact details galore and these founders are actively seeking your help!
Stefano First up we had Stefano, looking for people to collaborate on a project gathering data from 28 different European countries – how could he attract investment to this project which is focused on strategy and data analytics.
Answers From The Audience: Crowdfunding is not only a great way to raise money but it’s a handy marketing tool, too, so think about launching your project in conjunction with a campaign.
Pick a niche – the project is too broad. Find the methodological angle that matters most to you and plan a communications campaign along those lines.
Dwight Harrison (07967 734263) wants to build an international business working with leaders to help the promote their services, innovate, and build a better society, strengthening the British Economy. He’s looking for a web developer or CTO to begin building out the platform.
Answers From The Audience: One web developer in the audience suggested that working relationships happen naturally – don’t try to force it but keep networking and the right conversations will eventually happen.
Find a business mentor (preferably one looking to invest, with great contacts) to work with – ask around and keep building your network.
Shelley’s advice? Get a side-hustle going, the plan still needs a lot of work – find a way to earn in the short to medium term.
Ben at Tickthebucket.com is building a site for adventurers to share “bucket list” items they want to achieve in their lifetimes and find ways to make them happen. The site launches in January ’17 but where can the team go to build partnerships and find more support for the project?
Answers From The Audience: Presenter Laura runs Digital Tribes which is definitely worth a visit if you’re looking to build an online community; Shelley recommended “brick and mortar locations – somewhere you can make real-life connections and generate higher interest levels.
Try discounted offers to attract corporate sponsors and marketers perhaps? Reach out to travel and adventure bloggers.
Sam wanted to discuss one of the most bizarre ideas we have ever come across at an HHH event – he has a new word he wants to become part of the lingo – are you ready…
It means a win-win situation, apparently, and Sam is trying it out on people to see what kind of reaction he gets.“It’s a social thing” Sam told us.
Answers From The Audience: Our audience loved it – build a platform, ask people to submit their top “SYMBY’s”, select a “SYMBY” of the week – and so on. Monetisation might be tricky, although stranger things have happened ; )
Simon Meadon spoke in praise of developers and their free open source communities that means you can answer nearly any software development problem by googling it or visiting Github. Wow – how do you go about “squeezing customers for money or obtaining genuine feedback?”
Answers From The audience: Well we couldn’t give Simon a straight answer but we did love this metaphor from longtime audience member and start-up consultant Andrew Lockley; as a founder, imagine you are sat in a boat on a river full of money. From time to time you have to take your hat off and dip it in the river – fill the “bucket with water” – just to keep yourself going.
Don’t be too greedy – don’t take too little!
And finally there is just time to tell you about Ingrid who is a consultant at Queen Mary University helping to run a consultancy called QConsult Commercial that places teams of students into corporate or charity companies for up to 100 hours of project work – 20 hours per student.
The students can do all kinds of works around data analytics and metrics and have demonstrated how effective they can be during past projects, Ingrid says. How can she find more students to sign up (use this link!) and increase the project’s visibility?
Let’s leave this week’s final word to Shelley: “great idea – learn how to quickly say what your business does and treat every experience as a challenge. When my business failed I had to turn my home into a restaurant to make ends meet – but I made it work and got back on my feet by treating every customer as a potential sale and it kept me interested and confident.”
Give me a team of Shelley’s and I will build you a billion-dollar company!
That’s all for this month’s GaP->GaS folks, we hope you enjoyed the write-up, if you did there’s plenty more content on the HHH site for you to enjoy as well as advice, and links to products, services and people that can help you!
Sadly that was out last Gap->GaS of the year, but we’ll be back in Feb next year – and we’ll see you soon at one of our other events.
Keep on ‘hustlin
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