Discussing qualifications with your collaborators

Discussing qualifications with your collaborators

Startup ideas can be devised individually at first, but over the long run, they unavoidably are projects of collective endeavor. Typically, most innovative ventures require a tremendous amount of dedication, endurance, ingenuity and specific knowledge from different realms of study that’s just too difficult for a single person to cope with. A perfect collection of the above qualities is elusively scarce, which explains the reason why most venerable, well-established startups are rare to find.

Throughout the intensive weekend of our event, you will be encouraged to seek for those ingredients by matching with like-minded individuals and combining your skills together within the framework of a business idea. In fact, you have already identified the kind of activities you are most likely to engage, by selecting your ticket class and registering for the event. Keep in mind though, that different tasks might entail interdisciplinary input and there could be occasions when a team member will be asked to utilize knowledge outside their main responsibilities. Taking into consideration the above-mentioned facts, it’s useful to get accustomed to presenting your skills to your team and work only the objectives which you feel most qualified for.

Developers. Writing code, developing software are the most common phrases you will receive as answers when asking “what do you do?” to this group. According to Bjarne Stroustrup (the man who developed C++) nobody should call themselves a professional unless they know a handful of programming languages reasonably well. However, many languages share syntax similarities and quite often startups can tolerate having a less experienced programmer with a rudimentary understanding of only a single one and its most popular libraries. Developers are typically expected to ponder on vibrant, contemporary and developing technology trends that will enable their teams to test a conceivably novel idea in a relatively rapid and cost-efficient manner such as artificial intelligence, data commoditization, blockchain technologies, voice/speech recognition, computer vision and 5G applications.

Designers. Most of them spend their time polishing raster images by applying different layers and color effects or even creating stunning vector graphics from the ground up. Working as visual artists, they are expected to be familiar with designing commercial objects used in logos, business cards, flyers and deciding on key aspects of UX/UI design when building mockups for websites and mobile applications. Assisting with slide presentations themes might also come in handy during the event, so they’d better put some of those skills to some good use when preparing your final-day pitch presentation. Naturally, they dispose their talent to different segments of computer developers (web, desktop, mobile, data scientists) with whom should communicate and collaborate in every step of a given project.

Business. These usually are considerably less experienced in technical skills compared with the previous two, indeed their contribution in any business setting should never be downplayed. Many might have relevant studies or work experience in different sectors regarding business activity planning such as marketing and public relations. Of course, others might not have strictly business management education and either apply knowledge acquired through many occupations or throughout the course of their academic studies. Their role is instrumental in contemplating on the startup’s vision, organizing workflow patterns and deciding on many topics surrounding business strategy. They are expected to moderate seamless integration and constant refinement among the company’s talent pool, by putting all the different kinds of knowledge in context.

Education. Normally, after formal introductions and a fair amount of chit-chat, each team member is expected to provide with some insight on their academic background and how that could relate with different segments of developing the business idea. Although the person who pitched the idea might have an intimate relationship with a particular field of interest, others can also fit in by complementing with knowledge from different areas of study. If you don’t feel adequately qualified, try to address other learning opportunities that you’ve picked up during your studies like internships, electives, workshops and seminars. Shake off your hesitance when it comes to confessing not having a higher education degree. Keep in mind that if conventional education was so indispensable for an upcoming company’s success then lucrative startups would have been ubiquitous. Nonetheless, they still do comprise an astonishing minority.

Experience. Having significant past involvement in a related business sector is rather commonplace for someone who elects to launch a disruptive product or service. The experience acquired usually galvanizes an aspiring founder into action, in order to attempt entering a market with a more innovative approach by summoning equally competent collaborators. Despite your position in the team, you should always come forward and provide concise, extensive information about the companies you have worked for, the duration of your employment as well as the title of your position. Make sure to produce short bullet points for explaining each of your tasks and duties, no more than one or two lines of text and communicate those in plain English and refrain from peculiar terminology.

Don’t rush to reckon any of your experiences as unimportant, rather reflect on the initiatives you’ve taken and the risks you’ve assumed throughout your professional career. Several of your capabilities, particularly social or personal ones, might seem less sought after as opposed to more business-oriented dexterities. On that occasion, you should take into account how a lack of these could impinge on qualities like productive cooperation within your group and essentially compromise the viability of your business in the future.

How to pitch your startup idea

During the first day of the event, after arriving at the venue and connecting with fellow startuppers, you will be given the opportunity to line up and support your business idea in a short verbal presentation, commonly referred to as the pitch. Within only 2 minutes of time you will be asked to efficiently deliver your startup pitch in a compelling, succinct and effective way, like you would to potential investors. The feedback received afterwards based on your performance, will determine your collaborators and influence the potential of your business idea as a competitive candidate for the final presentation.

As hair-raising as it might sound, delivering a startup pitch is a pivotal aspect of a young entrepreneur’s trajectory and a unique moment when an aspiring individual is asked to pinpoint precisely what their business is supposed to do, how’s that different between competitors and where they plan to take it next. Showcasing your idea not only facilitates in attracting investor capital but also sharing your vision and helps forging solid collaborations with like-minded, hard-working cofounders. Both of the aforementioned elements are crucial to your success, hence sufficient preparation for a business pitch is only guaranteed to yield better results for any ambitious venture.

One proven, rather useful rule of thumb is to stick to the four-point method of pitching; problem-solution-market-business, in order to organize your arguments better and deliver them more coherently.

First, you have to address the problem using simple, common terms and give context to a viable solution that your product or service is supposed to offer. This way, you orient your audience on how your business idea will fulfill a given need by invoking their natural problem-solution thought process. Typically, future customers deal with high costs, inconvenience or inability to achieve certain goals and you have to state those in the most explicit and understandable way. If you cannot identify a very specific problem, think about trends to set the premise for your solution. Reflect on the iPod, a disruptive device that flowed from a social trend; the need to carry digital music everywhere in a fast and inexpensive way. Problems and trends are not mutually exclusive and the latter can be found in technology and economy not just social habits.

Keep in mind that coming up with a solution to a problem doesn’t conclude a business pitch. Ideas are meant to be capitalized and provide value to the ones who execute them (founders), as well as the parties that fund them (investors). Knowing the market that you attempt to enter, you should describe what an average customer looks like (age, gender, lifestyle, daily activities), estimate your market size (how many customers could possibly buy your product or service and how many of them you can reach at any given stage of growth) and also your capability to go after the market and differentiate yourself from competitors by offering unique qualities such as features, services or pricing. Finally, after you identify a market it’s time to describe how to capture it by explaining the business plan to get, keep and grow customers and discuss marketing, distribution channels and partnerships. Bringing a product to a market also entails a viable, long-term scheme of monetizing known as the revenue model. Make sure to emphasize on at least one, primary source of sales and elaborate on the costs that come with it, along with your pricing proposal.

Remember that many audiences including investors hear business pitches all the time, that’s why you have to demonstrate a genuine interest in your idea and communicate your points with fervent passion. Being brutally honest about several key metrics of your business, like market share, profit margins and expected growth rate will boost your credibility and convince the audience about you serious you take your startup journey. Keep in mind that brilliant ideas are pointless without equally exciting teams who would be required to execute them, so make sure to explain your personal dedication to the project and why you are the perfect person for the task.

At any case remember to sit back and relax, enjoying the process is the most notable part of the whole experience, especially the memorable moments you’ll spent at the event along with the new acquaintances you will make. Good luck on your startup pitch!