First of all, big thanks to a few people who are making sure young, diverse and vibrant entrepreneur scene in Limerick stays that way. Peter Hunt from Node, Shane McCarthy and Stephen Dunworth from BlueChief, Kehlan from Red Eye Media, Pat Caroll, Gene Murphy from Bank of Ireland Startup Division, Mark Carrey from Steamboat music, Gurt O’Rourke and Simone Power from Nexus. Without you, recent event of Startup Weekend Limerick would not happen. It is just awesome when community feeds itself and grows. This is insane and awesome. If few well networked teams can achieve such outstanding results, imagine what will happen once groups grow and other would join in with their awesome powers. Sorry if I forgot someone, comment names and I will add them up.
I participated in swlimerick three times now, and only now I got it, it is not designed solely to launch startups but to provide entrepreneurial learning. After doing same model three times, after working with a team using same method three times, having creative arguments in search of gems, I got answers to an old painful question. What it takes to launch a startup, and how to concentrate on brief way before you signed yourself for three years of unknown. Why 3 years, it seems that’s how long it takes to make it or break it. This time half joking, half seriously, we had 9 year old CEO. And he did very good job to be frank did exactly what the CEO had to do – delegate, inspire and lead. Quietly sitting in the corner, I was able to scribble some notes and share five points of what should you have done before going to next SW or before you submitted your memorandum of incorporation.
1. Know what you need to-do and get skills for it.
First of all it would really help if you can do something well yourself. People management and motivation is a valuable skill to but in order to have a blast few hard skills in core areas will be required.
- Programming or ways around it – For sure if your idea is technical coding is the answer, but in a same time creating a website before the phone starts ringing is not necessary, to be safe brush up your creative skills with content management software such as WiXX, coders are very repeat very popular on Startup Weekend.
- Sales Sales Sales – Selling yourself, idea, validating a product, getting exquisite introductions will require rare seasoning. Pinch of personality, teaspoon of courage, assertiveness and just right level of extravert. On energy of one sales person you should be able to power Dingle for a year.
- Business know how – If you are from technical background you should know what bottleneck means. Most beautifully designed PC won’t run to its optimal if one part if weak. If you are going to Startup Weekend suss out before pitch who might be good. Engineers might love to think it’s easier to convert into business, but this is not going to be easy at all.
- Video – No need to be a pro, and need good gear (but recommended), most smartphones are ish alright. Video will be needed, and probably will take some touching up. What would really help is trying something before you need to make it. The learning process will allow you to save your precious time, because video editing often can break more hearts than Revenue.
- Graphic Design and 3D magic – If it comes out that you will make a product, you will definitely will need 3d design for prototype. It can be iterated before you spend money on expensive materials. Good news it seems that product designers from UL are very capable and proactive (and don’t hide like some).
2. Know your team and learn to dedicate.
It is difficult to have all the skills and is highly counterproductive to work on the same task twice. Make everything as simple as possible and have the guts to cut something if it’s not needed for now. Perfection is when there is nothing to take away. Last Startup Weekend we cut words from sentences to make the time and deliver the full message on the presentation.
3. Get a team or at least launch group as diverse as possible
Leaning towards one idea can lead to groupthink, big problem for a Startup. Some people even love, then everyone is following them and only do as told. But having a devil’s advocate, a mix of sexes and ages would give perspective on things way deeper than your own ideas.
4. Customer Insights are worth gold
If you know your target market have one on your team. Knowing your customer will give you valuable information and face of that customer in your marketing communications act as validation and micro celebrity endorsement. Many dream about making a difference. Having someone’s customer can relate to will motivate, support of the idea and peer validation will fast forward consumer journey.
5. Mission before product
Reason why an Entrepreneur is creating a business has to be more than money. It has to better the world around them. Fix the problem and make a difference. Cliche? If you have a team joining you, at least in Startup Weekend all would want to have an input, and that’s ok, even welcomed. If the main objective is product and not mission, team dynamics and unnecessary disagreements can hinder progress allot.
This time I was blessed. All of us as in rugby match contributed to each other’s strengths and overcome our ego for the good of the team. EmoJo won the competition. Things outlined above are to “blame” for success and are well tested. We are still in global startup battle and if you love unicorns please vote for us. To be honest we are very close to winning a spot and you could be the one to put Ireland on the Global map for something positive. In a same time use information provided to you and make your own mix, also comment, share and give one compliment a day.