Last week, the spring generation of SK75 investment recipients concluded the accelerator programme Start:up GeekHouse together with Matt Mayfield from CEED Slovenia and some advice for successful global sales. The programme included ten educational modules, covering all key processes of startups in the development stage of finding their product/market fit. This is one of the most complicated stages, with one or two crises that are completely expected. So – if you aren’t yet earning revenue, if the money on the account is going fast and there is no new investment on the horizon, pay a lot of attention to every single euro you spend. And be very careful about what works on the market and what doesn’t. If something doesn’t work, stop spending money on it, innovate, and try something new.
Among stars or zombies?
The psychological character of these crises – one or two are completely normal and expected in startups that are breaking new ground with innovative products on the market – is one of the key factors that launch the company amongst the stars or amongst zombies that are barely scraping by instead of stopping with the idea that doesn’t give results and starting something new.
Negotiate for every bill, be careful and professional when possibly borrowing from family and friends, and make sure to start generating profit or to get to a new investment round as soon as possible. This is the key advice for overcoming potential crises in the process of finding product/market fit that startups heard at the end of bootcamp.
Watch your money
What’s most difficult for entrepreneurs is if they run out of money while they are still very far from their product/market and without any exact market reaction metrics. So if your product still isn’t generating suitable income, if the money from the first investment is going away fast and there is no imminent new capital on the horizon, then it’s crucial that you truly pay attention to every euro you spend. You always have to watch your money in business, but even more so during potential crises.
Quickly find out what works and what doesn't!
Also pay attention to signals from the market and stop spending money on solutions that don’t work soon enough. “So if after the sixth fair visit, numerous personal pitches and sales meetings or a strong Google Adwords campaign there are still no customers, something must be wrong. Experiment, test, and listen to the market. And if something doesn’t work, innovate or try something new,” emphasized Blaž Kos from the Initiative Start:up Slovenia during the last bootcamp meeting.
Customer is king. And it isn't easy to understand a king. Focusing on market signals was also the main thread in the module with Rok Stritar about the lean and agile company, and rapid prototyping.
Bootcamp participants learned about product management, which is the bridge between development, design, market and customer needs, from Tilen Travnik from D.Labs.
A programme for avoiding traps
The programme of this year’s SK75 accelerator programme Start:up Geek House was designed to help startups avoid traps that most often lie in wait for them. Start:up Geek House bootcamp took place from September to November at regular weekly meetings, hosting 13 established lecturers and startup mentors, experts from different business fields – from prototyping, product management and user experience, to lean and agile company, sales, web marketing, business metrics, entrepreneurship finances and investing.
How to create a good elevator pitch in 30 seconds, how to lead an agile development team and why is revenue the main indicator of success, with Robert Rolih (left) from Uspeh, Voranc Kutnik (middle) from Agilspot, and Darko Butina (right) from Sash Reporting.
Sales and entering markets abroad
As bootcamp participants say, what was most valuable was mostly the knowledge and advice in the field of sales and entering markets abroad – for example how to use LinkedIn as a sales tool, how to start finding distributors abroad and choose them based on which criteria, how to make a good 30-second elevator pitch, or how to make a website that sells.
About the meaning of design with Matevž Medja from the accelerator DsgnFwd (middle), about the meaning of business metrics with startup mentors Kristjan Pečanac (left) and Tomaž Frelih (right) from Hekovnik.
Networking and building a community
An important part of the bootcamp is also networking – entrepreneurs, lecturers and startup mentors get to know each other and socialize. “We’ve built a good relationship with the participants, personally as well as business-wise. But since our business areas don’t overlap, we mostly collaborate by exchanging advice and experiences,” said a representative from LUX MEDIA
at the end of the bootcamp.
Exchanging useful information and peer pressure
Jernej Mirt from Viar
says that they exchanged quite a bit of useful information with bootcamp participants, but peer pressure is also welcome, since some competitiveness encourages entrepreneurs to want to be even better. Entrepreneurs also proactively gave quite a few suggestions for improving the programme, most of which will be implemented in the next SK generation. What was also very positive was the fact that bootcamp participants are ready to actively help next generations.
Visits from entrepreneurs of the previous SK generation
In the spirit of connections and community-building, we organized that entrepreneurs who received an SK50 investment last year visited this generation of SK75 investment recipients to share their experiences and directions for developing a product and company.
Announcement of new tenders
New applications for Slovene Enterprise Fund’s SK investments are planned to open in the first quarter of next year. So subscribe to our e-news to get definite and timely information about all programmes.