People always hint at the ambiguity that surrounds the role of the non-tech co-founder in a startup. What is his role until the product is ready, is a question asked by many. Well, I was part of the same pool until we started working on our own startup.
Let’s just say that the work is abysmal while the product is getting ready but your actions in this period will have a huge effect on your startup’s eventual success. You need to get prospects to pilot, funds to run, a good team to work with, mentors to guide, and so on.
Personal experiences are the best teachers, and here’s a quick list of the important aspects that worked for us while the product was getting ready:
‘Imitation is the best form of flattery’ doesn’t hold much meaning from a product creation perspective. However, one can always learn from the competitors. Spy on them, like a cop! Follow them on social media, read their blogs, watch their demos, product videos, pitch decks, clients list, growth, etc…
Register as a customer and ask them to provide a demo of their product, ask hell of a lot of questions (which might come handy while answering your own customers), ask them to send help docs, observe how they follow-up to get you onboard.
Startups should hustle to the core, be it getting clients or investors or accelerators or startup competitions. Talk to as many prospects as possible, create a simple PPT, talk to them as if your product is ready and get their feedback or commitments. Same works with accelerators and investors as well. There are numerous examples of startups that have raised funding or got into accelerators with just a PPT. Who knows, people might like your idea on PPT itself!
My personal advice to every start-up is to explore and apply to various startup competitions across their niche. It’s all about hustling; there isn’t a defined process as such.
If you’re a startup guy, you should be reading a lot every day. It’s good to learn what fellow entrepreneurs are doing, dos and don’ts, tips and tricks, who raised funding, who got acquired and what’s happening in entire startup eco-system. Staying ahead of the game is a trick that has never failed. Along with great learnings and insights, it keeps you connected with like-minded people within the startup ecosystem, the place where you belong to.
Being active in communities like Hackernews, Quora, ProductHunt, Betalist, Growthhackers.com and other relevant forums adds a lot of value to your profile.
Very few people get the requisite response to these highly curated and engaging platforms, and the start-ups gain a lot due to the immense value these platforms add to it. You can submit your own startup once your product is launched or let such platforms reach out to you.
I know a few startups who have dedicated community managers to make sure they are active on all these platforms. If the need be, hire one!
Make a habit to attend almost all the startup events in your vicinity. This is the place where you meet, pitch and network with lot of fellow entrepreneurs and investors. You don’t really need to have a product to pitch, just make an elevator pitch to as many people as possible. This creates a lot of buzz by the time you actually release your product. Even at the time of raising money, people recognize you and they recall that you’re in this startup space for quite a long time.
It also important to remember that attending events doesn’t drive you followers or investors, you should make sure to stay in touch with them. Follow them on social media, send them updates and extend your network.
Sharing is caring! Do share your experiences and observations with fellow entrepreneurs. There are plenty of ways to do it and of the best ways is to have a blog and share your experiences. Another interesting way is through a ‘guest post’, if you feel it makes more sense to post it somewhere else. Again this builds credibility and would help you reach followers, prospects and future investors in no time.
7) Sleep Well
Last but not least, don’t forget to sleep well, and occasionally order a Six-Pack Of Craft Beer for yourself and the team. This is the best time to savor, since the path ahead would constitute many sleepless nights!
What did you do to build your start-up when your techie co-founder was building the product?