Last week’s Lisbon Web Summit was a testament, if nothing else, to a vibrant and thriving start-up culture both – here in Ireland and internationally. Early stage companies and start-up ventures thronged the various halls at the Parque das Nações, all seeking attention from prime investors, customers, supporters and followers alike.
Innovation and disruptive technologies were top of mind at this Summit where CEOs and company owners all approach the business model in a similar manner. As Thomas Edison is quoted as saying – “There is a way to do it better – find it” Many of the world’s greatest entrepreneurs are not selling anything new, they are selling it different or better. The Lisbon Web Summit provided a much needed lease of life to many Irish and Global entrepreneurs to continue on their journey, a journey where more questions are asked than answered, an intense journey full of self-doubt but paradoxically an exciting journey where ambitions are fulfilled and real creativity unleashed.
If you did not attend, you might have wondered what you could have learned or what you missed. Or if you did you might be struggling to consolidate your learning from the Summit?
Here are some learnings Mind My Business could share with its fellow Irish start-ups:
Whatever you do just start. Time is of the essence and delay is a killer. When you are innovating and creating you are only relevant at that moment of time. Hours in the engine room can lead to wasted time getting out in the marketplace and working out will your product sell. After all that is all that’s important – are you selling anything? Many of the models at the Lisbon Web Summit are still in prototype as their owners are seeking to establish how they will pivot to meet market needs.
Be prepared to pivot and change your idea to meet current market needs. You may have the nugget of an excellent idea but when you go the marketplace you realize you face stiffer competition than you realized. If you are agile in the process, you will be prepared to quickly pivot and adjust your idea to what the consumer wants. Read ‘Lean Start-up’ by Steve Blank if you need more convincing. Many of the businesses at the Web Summit recounted tales of how they were unsuccessful in their first cut of a venture and went on to develop the product/service learning from their failure. Learning from failure was a recurrent theme of the event.
You are not new
Realise you are not new. But you can be different. Focus on your value proposition and how you communicate this to the market. The Lisbon Web Summit was packed full of companies who are doing Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence. Who will succeed? One can only assume it is the ones who market their products, differentiate their products and clearly position them in the ecospace of their competitors.
Talk to your customers
Your start-up does not exist in your mind only and is only a valid proposition when customers are actually interacting with and buying it. The innovator’s classic approach is ‘Get out of the building’ i.e meet and greet your customers, listen to them and build their needs back into your product. The sooner you learn about your customers the faster you will be able to pivot and serve your customers. Lisbon Web Summit provided the chance to learn from others.
Yes you are a start-up but millions of other companies are starting-up too. In sharing those learnings, you can shortcut a long journey and reach success in a far more cost effective and timely manner.