Archives for the month of: April, 2013

In a recent article Marc Andreessen suggested that we have made a 180 degree turn away from the lean startup methodologies of the last decade. The essence of what he says is correct. A change is overdue because of the rise of superficial lightweight startups that lack purpose.

Lean methodologies have made a big impact and are here to stay.  There is little doubt that the old methodologies needed to change.  Too much time was spent on market analysis and the resulting products were brought to market at huge expense only to find out there was no demand.  Lean methodologies minimised the risk of failure by taking a more iterative approach to innovation. The crucial part of the process has been to ascertain product/market fit before scaling.  Unfortunately, it is this stage that often gets overlooked.

Marc Andreessen points out that lean is being replaced by an obsession on getting the product right. This can drag out product launch to unacceptable levels.  However, this is not a u-turn from lean methodologies, rather a tightening of the principles.

The UK tech startup scene suffers from a superficiality that has come about partly as a result of Lean methodologies.  Startup founders see lean as an excuse to create ‘quick and dirty’ businesses without going through the stages in the proscribed manner. This is resulting in startups with little depth and limited appeal.

It is time to get serious about startups.  We need more businesses that solve ‘real’ problems with innovative solutions.  Founders will still make use of lean methodologies but need to be more rigorous on holding back on scaling until they have truly established product/market fit.

This will involve greater obsession on product development as a whole with particular focus on UX and testing.

Dreamstake www.dreamstake.com is Europe’s fastest growing platform for early stage internet startups. Our objective is to help build robust new businesses by providing access to knowledge, resources and funding. We run weekly Dreamstake Academy workshops as well as larger networking events at Google Campus. We also provide Startup Loans and access to angel investment.

We are keen to help European startups to get noticed by potential users, investors and the press.  We help by offering guest slots at our ‘startup stories’ events and welcome suggestions for guest blogs. Our unique rating system allows others to track progress of startups as they emerge.

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rocketshipDoing your first internet startup is an exciting and slightly daunting prospect.  You may have given up the day job or decided to stop contracting on a high daily rate.  You will have limited cash and the whole process possibly seems like a complete mystery.  Get a copy of The Lean Startup by Eric Reis http://amzn.to/12xEELZ and get started.  The www.dreamstake.com platform has been set up to help you on the journey to startup success by connecting you with tangible support.  Here are just a few examples of how we can support you;

  1. Track your progress. The unique rating system on the platform allows you to see your progress. It is based on critical success factors and is a good indicator of how attractive your startup is to investors.
  2. Find a co-founder. Use the platform to identify suitable candidates or network at our events to find someone to complement your skills. http://www.dreamstake.net/dreamsearch
  3. Attend free workshops. Dreamstake Academy is a series of ten weekly workshops run at London School of Economics. We cover the basics of launching a startup in a pragmatic way. http://www.dreamstake.net/academy
  4. Feature at our events. Startup Stories are monthly events at Google Campus in London. We aim to put the spotlight on 5 inspiring founders at each event. http://www.dreamstake.net/events
  5. Get advice. The Dreamstake network connects you with nearly 9,000 other entrepreneurs, mentors, lawyers, accountants and investors.
  6. Build your startup team. Use the search facility to search for team members. http://www.dreamstake.net/dreamsearch
  7. Create a buzz. We can write about you or feature articles about you in our guest blog. http://www.dreamstake.net/blog/
  8. Work with us.  DreamLab is open for business in London.  We would like to help a few selected startups with a creative environment and lots of support from our team. http://www.dreamstake.net/dreamlab
  9. Get a government loan.  If you are 30 years old or younger and live in England the Government is eager to help you get your business started. We can approve loans of up to £10K against an acceptable business plan. http://www.dreamstake.net/startup-loans
  10. Find you investor. We have built up an extensive network of angels who are interested in funding tech startups.  We use the Dreamrate to gauge investment readiness and offer support through our academy and other offers. Once your startup is ready we will introduce you to appropriate investors. http://www.dreamstake.net/fast-track-to-funding

We don’t provide any silver bullet to success.  This is very much in your own hands.  Creating a successful startup is still tough.  The chances of success are low and the work involved is intense.  However, it is the most fulfilling undertaking and is an opportunity to make a real difference to the world we live in.

The Dreamstake platform aims to make your path to success a little bit easier by connecting you to all the resources you are likely to need.

 

Dreamstake www.dreamstake.com is Europe’s fastest growing platform for early stage internet startups. Our objective is to help build robust new businesses by providing access to knowledge, resources and funding. We run weekly Dreamstake Academy workshops as well as larger networking events at Google Campus. We also provide Startup Loans and access to angel investment.

We are keen to help European startups to get noticed by potential users, investors and the press.  We help by offering guest slots at our ‘startup stories’ events and welcome suggestions for guest blogs. Our unique rating system allows others to track progress of startups as they emerge.

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In 2012, UK mobile advertising grew 148% year-over-year to £526m, up from £203m in 2011. Total digital ad spend hit £5bn in 2012 as well.

Yes, numbers are great, but this still is a small fraction of where digital ad spend could have been by now. So, why is mobile advertising not there yet? What issues are traditionally non-mobile companies still not aware of?

1. Mobile is a completely new platform. Companies entering the mobile world do not yet understand the differences of this platform. Mobile requires a completely different strategy!

2. Unlike desktop users, mobile users are all about convenience, speed, social networking and multiscreen! They are more tech savvy, so desktop advertising rules do not apply in this space at all.

3. Tracking. Mobile is a diverse space. We have various operating systems (iOS, Android, Windows) and each of those require separate attention. What works on iOS does not work on Android and vice versa.

4. Unlike desktop, mobile changes almost daily. To be competitive within the sector, you have to be fast!

5. Many mobile app developers have not thought about monetization beyond simple banner advertising, which does not bring enough revenue. Some of them do not even know where to start in order to monetize their apps. They have not built apps with in-app advertising in mind; hence it is more difficult for them to integrate new SDKs (there are lots of them that make the app really heavy!) or find that one partner who can bring quality advertisers. All that leads to a lack of mobile inventory, which consequently increases prices and reduces quality.

6. For the reasons above, the industry has seen a lot of mobile advertising agencies/networks entering the market. Developers should be aware that many of these buy mobile inventory from each other, which increases media cost and decreases reach.

7. Mobile developers do not yet know what metrics to look at when determining whether or not their traffic has been monetized successfully. Developers would probably go after traditional metrics like CPM, CPU, and MAU. Traditional desktop metrics mean nothing in mobile. Developers need to find news way to calculate their users’ LTV in the mobile space.

Overall, mobile is still a relatively young space. It’s no wonder not everyone has managed to get it yet!

http://betteru.touch-spark.com/

t: @msmikals

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Creating a positive buzz about your startup is a key factor in achieving future success. However, it is not as easy as it sometimes looks. Until very recently startup founders would wait until the proposition was well developed before starting to get feedback from potential clients. Remember the time when everyone was working in stealth mode?  The lean startup methodology changed all that. So here are a few tips for gaining forbesmomentum for your early stage business;

  1. Start very early – Make sure that customer feedback becomes part of your development process from day one.  Unless you have a product that can be patented don’t hold back from getting opinions wherever you go. Build a following for your proposition as you develop it.
  2. Use social media from day one- Get all the channels set up very early in the product lifecycle.  Make sure you have Twitter and Facebook ids and set up linkedin groups where appropriate.  Write a weekly diary about your startup journey and build followers from the beginning.
  3. Enter competitions – It is well worth entering competitions for the PR that can be generated by participating. It is not always necessary to win. Just being in the ‘hot 100′ can be enough.
  4. Get featured at events – It is a good experience to participate in startup events.  This can involving pitching for investment or simply telling your story. It provides practice as well as getting valuable feedback from the audience.
  5. Do your own PR – PR agencies are very rarely the answer for early stage startups. They tend to charge a monthly retainer which is unrelated to performance. The advent of social media makes it far more easy for founders to create their own buzz.  Nobody knows your startup better than you do. Look out for influential bloggers in your sector and reach out to them. Ask them to feature your startup in a guest blog. Dreamstake will do this for you!
  6. Pull a stunt – Be careful to make sure that any stunt arrange doesn’t damage your reputation. However, a well planned stunt in support of a product launch can attract attention from the press and users alike. Use all social media channels to get the word out.
  7. Hold a launch event – Arranging an event is an excellent way of creating buzz around the launch of your product and needn’t cost much.  Find an interesting free venue, arrange some refreshments and entertainment and invite potential users, bloggers and the press.

In summary, it is very practical to do your own PR and create significant buzz for your startup, leading up to and beyond product launch. It is worth devoting time to developing interesting and original campaigns to help differentiate your offering from the start.

Dreamstake www.dreamstake.net is Europe’s fastest growing platform for early stage internet startups. Our objective is to help build robust new businesses by providing access to knowledge, resources and funding. We run weekly Dreamstake Academy workshops as well as larger networking events at Google Campus. We also provide Startup Loans and access to angel investment.

We are keen to help European startups to get noticed by potential users, investors and the press.  We help by offering guest slots at our ‘startup stories’ events and welcome suggestions for guest blogs. Our unique rating system allows others to track progress of startups as they emerge.

tech_city_roundabout2-460x276We are always hearing why Silicon Valley is such a successful startup hotspot and most of the reasons given are true.  There is just so much more of everything; more startups, more investors and more experienced mentors.  However, physical location is slowly becoming less important.  The internet is linking up the startup eco-system on a global basis and if we play our cards right Europe can rival the Valley. Here are ten good reasons why I believe that London makes a good focal point for European startup activity;

  1. Large internet savvy population – The population of London is 10 times that of San Francisco. The UK has the highest proportion of the GDP attributable to internet commerce, at 8.3% . This represents a massive market for new internet ideas.
  2. Cultural diversity – London has the richest cultural mix in the world. The city is a melting pot of talent bringing new ideas and energy.
  3. Creative industries – We are lucky to have creative industries sitting side by side with technology firms.  The next phase of the internet will be fueled by rich content. Silicon Valley cannot provide the same access to fashion, film , music and other art-forms.
  4. Entrepreneur visas – The UK government has been quick to recognise that it is crucial to attract talent from across the globe and has made it easier for entrepreneurs to develop their startups here in the UK.
  5. Government support for investors – The EIS and SEIS schemes provide unrivaled tax breaks for investors in early stage businesses.
  6. Crowd-funding – The UK leads the world in equity based crowd-funding. This is legislated against in the US and will provide UK based startups with a great source of early stage investment.
  7. Startup Loans – The government backed Startup Loan scheme provides seed funding to startups on low interest rates with a repayment holiday included.  This is providing stimulus to help startups get off the ground.
  8. Networking – London now has more networking events than San Francisco. This provides a vibrant environment for founders to share their ideas and get support from each other.
  9. Universities - London’s universities have always been a hotbed of ideas and talent. The issue in the past has been commercialisation of the innovations.  The current environment will address this.
  10. Engineers – Silicon Valley suffers a shortage of quality engineering talent which drives costs up.  It is never easy to find technical co-founders anywhere. However, it is considerably easier in London than in SV.

These are all great reasons why London can flourish in the internet age.  We need to address our inherent aversion to risk and get out there and create some great success stories. We are held back by a lame banking sector and a widening gap between the corporate and startup worlds.  The UK media, in particular the tech press are negative and do little to highlight startups.  However, the climate is now right for change and startup activity is starting to blossom.  It can’t be long before we see some amazing success stories.

Dreamstake www.dreamstake.net is Europe’s fastest growing platform for early stage internet startups. Our objective is to help build robust new businesses by providing access to knowledge, resources and funding. We run weekly Dreamstake Academy workshops as well as larger networking events at Google Campus. We also provide Startup Loans and access to angel investment.

The European tech startup scene is rapidly evolving.  The more mature startup hotspots are starting to look like they might produce some big success stories.  The grass-roots are strong and governments are encouraging investors to take tech seriously. Over the last few years it has become cool to ‘do’ a startup. However, this has fueled an unhealthy culture of  ‘style over substance’, with Friday evening drinkabouts and hero worship of second rate role models. If we want to rival Silicon Valley we need to get serious about executing on our dreams – less talk and more action!

Here are six reasons why we should take action now;

- Large European cities such as London represent a vast market for any new startup. Many internet propositions require a large local population to achieve scale before globalisation. London has ten times the population of San Francisco. Imagine 10 million customers on the doorstep!  What a great potential market for emerging taxi, courier, delivery or other location based startup ideas.

- The technology has never been cheaper. It is now possible to launch an internet business for under $15k! In many cases this is enough to create a ‘beta’ and test the proposition with some real customers.

- Launch funding has never been easier. It can still be challenging to scrape together those first few thousand but new forms of funding are emerging.  The UK is a leader in equity crowd-funding with companies such as Crowdcube and Seedrs making their mark.  Government backed Startup Loans are designed to help younger people, of 30 years or younger, to get their business launched.

- First class engineering skills are available. Wage inflation has escalated engineers wages in Silicon Valley to a point where it is a real problem. This side of the Atlantic engineers are still a sought after resource but by no means as unaffordable.

- The internet is stimulating demand. The UK has the highest percentage internet related component of GDP of any major economy, at 8.3%. This means that the British public are spending on-line.  UK tech startup founders should be tapping into this massive demand.

- Diversity will prevail. Cities like London have amazing diversity.  They produce a melting pot of creativity, drawing upon the best talent from across the globe.  The UK Government have been quick to introduce an entrepreneurs visa which will further enhance the situation.  The mix of tech and creative sectors in close proximity will produce a competitive advantages as the internet moves towards more innovative propositions.

So we are poised for an explosion of tech startup activity.  It is now in the hands of the startup community to grasp the opportunity and get serious about producing sustainable businesses.  This requires total focus and a level of maturity that has been lacking in European scene. The scene is set for an exciting future. It is now in the hands of a few brave entrepreneurs to raise their game and produce some great European startups.

Dreamstake www.dreamstake.net is Europe’s fastest growing platform for early stage internet startups. Our objective is to help build robust new businesses by providing access to knowledge, resources and funding. We run weekly Dreamstake Academy workshops as well as larger networking events at Google Campus. We also provide Startup Loans and access to angel investment.