How to Web is definitely one of those events you are not allowed to miss since it’s the biggest regional conference dedicated to entrepreneurship and web technology. Not to mention that if you’re a newbie startup-up looking to get your idea known, meet up with investors and mentors or win some serious cash prizes to fund your venture, you should definitely consider applying to the Startup Spotlight competition.
But, beyond that, How to Web is the perfect place to meet with some of the most successful entrepreneurs from around the globe, people that have founded startups and who developed products or services we all know and use. And what’s the even better part? They are there to give you advice, share their success stories, their secrets and what they have learnt from their failures. Needless to say, I spent the two days all eyes and ears. So here are some valuable tidbits about entrepreneurship from key speakers I’d like to share with you.
“Always make it personal” – Bram Kanstein, Founder StartupStash.com
Bram held an interesting presentation about how to build a community around a startup and underlined the importance of getting up close to both investors and the users you are targeting with your product. Even before he thought of StartupStash.com, he was actively present in the ProductHunt.com community and it was a little bit easier for him to get support from users when the time came to launch the website. It was slightly harder to get some sponsors, but the fact that he personally contacted some of the companies he was going to feature on his site paid off in a different way. He didn’t receive funds at first, but, since people liked the idea and had a direct interaction with him, they promised to get the word out. All the hype he personally created made his website known and the no. 1 most up-voted product of all times on Product Hunt.
“It’s easy to get customers, but equally easy to lose them.” – Uldis Leiterts , Co-Founder Infogr.am
In a one-to-one discussion with Bogdan Iordache, Co-founder How to Web, Uldis made a small overview of the anatomy of his very own startup Infogr.am, the most popular infographics creator in the world. He went through all the ups and downs of his entrepreneurial journey, but this one phrase really stuck to my mind since it so closely relates to my own perspective. What the whole thing really boils down to is that fact that you have to listen to your clients and try to give them what the need. No matter how attractive your product will be for a user, if they get close to it and realize that it doesn’t actually suits their needs or under delivers, make no mistake…they will leave. So how about sparing yourself the time and money wasted and pay more attention to your users. Ask for feedback and use it constructively.
“Get out of the office. Go to events and make new friends!” – Carlos Espinal, Partner Seedcamp
So you designed this amazing product and you want to get an investor? If you’re expecting to do that behind a screen, comfortably sitting at your desk … you have another thing coming! You have to get out there, go to as many events as you can and meet people, meet investors, and meet users. Practice your elevator speech or ask for feedback and see where it gets you, you might be surprised. Of course, make sure you carefully select the events you are going to so that you maximize your chances of meeting the right people for your startup. You can also find more useful advice on getting investors in Carlos’ book Fundraising Field Guide.
“Acknowledge that emotions are the hardest part” – Jan Reichelt, Co-founder Mendeley
Mendeley is one of the hottest education technology start-ups at the moment and I was surprised to hear about the hardships Jan underwent while developing the product and, especially, when trying to find financing. He even came at a point when, after running out of funding, he was ready to give up on the project. How did he get over this bump in the road? Simple – he believed that failure is temporary and once you become an entrepreneur, you take entrepreneurship as a lifestyle. This means that, no matter what happens to a venture, you are already set in the right mind frame and you can start anything else. Luckily, Jan’s company was finally acquired by a large media company. Needless to say, entrepreneurship is a roller coast of emotions and you have to learn how to tackle it. I know I have my fair share of moments when I don’t know if I’m going in the right direction or I feel like quitting. But I’ve accepted that these things come with the territory and manage to surpass them by doing some of the things that make me happy and surrounding myself with amazing people.
So that’s my take from How to Web, let me know what did you enjoy and what are some of the useful things you are taking away from the event.