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Starting and running a technology company & taking investments By: Alex Blom Twitter: @alexblom Web: www.alexblom.com E-mail me: email@example.com
Agenda. Who am I? On Technology Starting a technology company: Idea Bootstrap Traction Taking investment On Social Media
Australian Citizen, living in Canada and selling to Americans (confused). Nominee for YAA Young Business Person of the Year, winner of numerous YAA marketing titles, awarded Shoalhaven Young Citizen of the Year. Regularly profiled as a digital media influencer. Who am I?
First company at 14. Door to door selling websites through offshore lab Within two years had 7 employees At this point have founded / sold four technology companies. Co-founded not for profits, trouble-shooted retail operations and worked as a Sales / Marketing Manager.
What I do. Digital Media Consulting Live seminars Angel Investing Strategy consultant Idea no.5
And of course I blog on Digital Marketing & Technology entrepreneurship. http://www.alexblom.com
On technology. Things move fast Most barriers to entry are gone Push to remove software patents Core technologies are free Techniques and KPI’s are common knowledge Everybody is savvy
The ‘consumer’ internet is only around 12 years old, it is not even a teenager. We are still in the pioneering days.
Getting started in technology. Idea Bootstrap to a prototype Gain traction Grow
Idea. You will not get investment for ideas, prototypes are expected Because of competition you almost always need traction too. You are probably not important enough for stealth mode. Ring up potential customers and ask. Get feedback.
All you need is a rough business case. Can you make money? Who will buy you? Who are the players? USP?
Entrepreneurs ‘create’ Most have many ideas and need to execute on their best It is a huge risk to move forward. There is no safety and no salary. If you don’t like the risk don’t take it. Idea.
1-2 people; sometimes 3-4 All members add to core value Not necessary for a business person yet But they can add value (I am non technical) Culture is as important as skill Structure a team.
Rules of Bootstrapping. Just do it Your projections are meaningless (hence 1) It shouldn’t cost any more than $10,000 to prototype Only do things that add to your core value.
Everything will be happening all at once. Can you keep up?
Now is when we go traditional. Fill out company Add real data for realistic projections Formalize business plan / investment proposals and shop around Is this idea still worth it?
Traction is hard, you are trying to get users into something ‘new’ It is unlikely you have a budget This is why social media has become so huge
Figure out where your customers are and target them: Are they on Twitter? Facebook? Or something more obscure. Leave comments on blogs and forums. Don’t blast press releases but talk to journalists. What is your cost of acquisition? Look into PPC. Get to as many events as possible.
Success Factors. Visibility Relevance Simplicity Speed Follow-up ROI Authenticity
Bring on somebody non technical. Bring on somebody non technical Your struggle will be staying afloat, scaling and adding new features Engineers, even co-founders, should not be doing anything else Let the business guy do the business stuff
This is why a non-technical founder early on is useful. You should have already built relationships, lined up media and spoken to customers.
Angel Investing: I won’t bore you with Term Sheets
Brad Feld has a solid, practical summary: http://bit.ly/feldtermsheet
On Taking Investments Taking Investments. Wait for a good deal For technology companies, a minimum of $1.5m post Please do not mention Dragon’s Den Investments are like marriages Are you aligned with your investors?
On Taking Investments Taking Investments. Investors rarely get a proposal in the post and say ‘yes’ Even if your idea is good they want to get to know you first Shop around for investment before you need it and take more than you need
Pivoting. Sometimes users end up doing ‘b’ when we were expecting ‘a’ Don’t fight it, go with the flow I wrote a very simple article on Pivoting http://bit.ly/pivotingsmb
Technology & ecommerce start-ups are like teen sex. Nobody is entirely sure what to do, but you get the hang of it eventually.
On Social Media Social Media. 2/3 of the Global population (and ¾ of Americans) use social technology. 93% of users think you should have a presence. 85% of these users think a presence is not enough. They want you to interact with them.
Social Media is not a new thing
Two high growth areas Small business SaaS Geo-local commerce
Thanks. Do get in touch. By: Alex Blom Twitter: @alexblom Web: www.alexblom.com E-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org