Today we speak with Beth Temple, mentor at Women Innovate Mobile, the first startup accelerator to focus its investment strategy on mobile-first female led startup ventures.
Beth’s specialty is helping companies re-think and grow their digital business through building new products, entering new markets, identifying new opportunities, and solving strategic challenges. Her clients are companies that need to digitize a core piece of their business or are expanding their digital portfolio but don’t have a core competency building new digital products. Beth’s digital career has been a combination of working for AOL, CBS MarketWatch, Software Etc. and Talkingpoint (a start-up where she was the #2 executive); and, through her consulting practice, with Target, Wells Fargo, Credit Suisse, HBO, Magnify.net, and Music Gremlin; along with many other Fortune 500 companies and emerging ventures in retail, media, and financial services.
What’s the worst mistake a founder can make?
Hiring too fast. Every start-up I’ve been in or worked with has had some issue around making a wrong hire. I know founders are under time pressures but the time (and stress) of letting someone go is far out-weighed by being diligent in hiring.
What’s the most common Startup error?
Not really knowing who their customers are. It never ceases to amaze me that a founder can tell me how big the market is for her product but not what actual customers (hopefully a percentage of that market) she is after! Not knowing has a cascading effect – you can’t test with the right customers and you can’t market to them, if you don’t know who they are.
What does “fail fast” mean to you?
Fail fast, for me, is asking really tough questions about the viability of your product/business so that you can root out the problems before they become success barriers. The classic 5 whys? is a good practice. Starting with the ‘why do we exist’?
If you could fix one thing in the startup eco-system right now, what would it be?
The hype machine. This is detrimental to the company on the roller-coaster ride and those that wish they were on it. I’m a marketer by background and so I completely support PR efforts in general. But the 24/7 media cycle creates distraction for many founders who are doing amazing things but aren’t getting the recognition.
What should startups be focusing on in 2013?
Business model. For a grand majority of start-ups how they will make money will determine the long-term viability of their business. It will also help you build the product but giving it a clear reason for being. This is also getting to be more important for investors.
When’s the right time to seek funding?
Classic answer is when you don’t need it. Which is true; but rarely a reality. You should be thinking about funding early on. Most critically begin creating relationships with those who would be the best advocates of your business so when the time comes, you’ll have done the ground work. For sure don’t wait until you really need it – that is too late.
Thoughts on crowd-funding?
I think it is interesting and I have certainly participated. I think as long as the buyer is aware of what they are doing and how it works, it’s a great proving ground for products and their marketability (and pricing model).
Best advice you’ve ever gotten?
You are stronger than you think. I was going through a rough piece in my own business and a friend of mine sent me a card with this in it and it really resonated with me. Sometimes we forget how strong we are and how much perseverance we have stored up to take on the hardest of challenges. I’d add for every founder: never doubt yourself! Your business you should be critical of – but not you!
Guess who’s coming for dinner…who would be your dream dinner guest(s) and why?
This will be very un-tech:
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler for sure – brilliant and something fun will definitely happen.
Hillary Clinton because she can do both serious and fun and will have some great stories!
And my three best friends from home because they would KILL me if I didn’t invite them and they are also super creative and fun.
Oh, and the caterer!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Yes, the most important thing you can be is true to yourself. Life will throw you plenty of opportunities to come off that path – don’t!
Reprinted by permission.