“Think big, start small, scale quick.” Those were the closing remarks of Patrick Peters, founder of Appsulting at StartupMixers.com latest event at Fueled Collective.
The event “I have an idea…now what?” focused on key points in the early stages of the startup lifecycle. Peters, as well as Aaron Price, founder of We Craft, NJ Tech Meetup, and current Entrepreneur at Large at DFJ Gotham Ventures and Rob Caucci, founder of Space Splitter shared candid insights about their experiences as entrepreneurs.
A few key takeaways from Patrick:
1) Plan Ahead (and keep optimistic)
Peters said he spent about 3 months living paycheck to paycheck before landing a big deal for his mobile enablement firm. During that time, he said he always kept in mind that one day he would work for himself.
2) Identify your needs
“This is a relationship business, that’s the bottom line,” he said, noting that an effective way to both research and build partnerships was to frequent events or organize focus groups and simply ask what people needed. He makes it a habit to present his ideas to as many people as he can to get their feedback.
3) Create and stick to processes and methodology for your company
Whether a client provides $5,000 or $20,000, Peters says he makes sure to give them the same level of respect and conduct business in the same professional way no matter the client.
Additionally, Peters said it’s important to have dedicated people on your team and cited his own company, which regularly holds weekly 2-3 hour meetings, as an example of their shared goals to propel their business.
Rob Caucci also noted how important a dedicated startup team was, especially considering that he did not have a tech background. A few of Caucci’s key points:
1) Your primary goal should be the impact, not the money
Despite excelling at his financial services job, Caucci branched out from corporate America after realizing he wanted to create a greater impact on society. His current company, SpaceSplitter, can be seen as an evolution from previous startup ideas because of that motivating drive. His first startup was Effin Textbooks, a site that allowed students to find the lowest price for textbooks. While the company found some success, Caucci saw that the textbook market was too saturated with no radical innovation in the field and soon lost interest. His next idea, The Roommate Project, which sought to match ideal roommates, developed after his experiences as a Resident Advisor when he became familiar with the difficulties associated with roommate relationships. While the project noted a 4.3 percent reduction in roommate conflicts, Caucci again saw that not enough of an impact was being made and thus shifted focus towards solving roommate financial and behavioral conflicts.
2) Balance optimism with realism
Caucci’s decision to shift startups was a result of realizing that there were greater needs to be met by a bigger audience. He stressed the importance of making sure to ask objective and honest questions about your product to find out what impact it’s really having.
“The difference between losers and winners is the ability to not give up and persevere,” said Caucci, reflecting on the many ups and downs an entrepreneur will have to face.
Aaron Price’s presentation reiterated some of the earlier points with a focus on the execution of an idea.
1) With the right execution, a common idea can go far
“Ideas are a dime a dozen,” he said, noting that while an idea may not be a unique, the solution can be. He provided Google as an example, noting that thousands of people have probably thought: “Wouldn’t it be nice if you could search for anything you wanted to on the internet?” And yet, with all the search engines out there (or that used to be out there), which is the only one you use as a verb?
2) Once you have an idea, don’t hesitate to go for it
Price cited Diapers.com as a company which, while “not the sexiest idea,” beat other competitors such as Amazon to the game because it provided a solution that people needed and was simply the first to do so.
3) Pay attention to feedback
There’s a fine line between a crazy idea being a good idea or an actual crazy idea, Price noted. To help you find out where your ideas lie, talking to as many people as possible is essential to gauging interest. Price suggested that some cost effective ways to do this when starting might be to build a prototype at places such as 99designs.com or put up ads on Facebook and then analyze response to those ads.