For the last several years I have been enjoying giving the Boostcamp’s Financial workshop. Together with Xavier Corman (now working at edebex.com) at the very start; and since then with Impulse (formerly Brussels Agency for Enterprises). Throughout, it has always been a great experience for me to listen to the participants, their stories and their projects.
Now, over the years, which types of boostcampers do I usually meet again at a later stage?
The ones I usually run into again usually display the following characteristics:
- They have a clear understanding of the problem they are trying to solve. So many starters think they solve world problems, but are fully oblivious to the difference between “must have” and “nice to have”.
- They do not overestimate their expected value or price of “a good idea that solves a problem”. They have also understood that other aspects come into play in the minds of potential customers on deciding or not to open their wallets.
- They are mostly teams. So, try to join up, collaborate, be more than just yourself (think Startup weekend events, where teams are created on the fly). Even better is obviously a heterogeneous team; where members complement each other rather than replicate. It is the combination and diversity of characteristics and capabilities that usually will bring you, as the captain of the vessel, further.
- Finally, the “stayers” are the ones with holistic views and good knowledge on their “money matters”. Call it “quick and dirty”, call it “a back-of-a-envelop financial plan”, these starters have a firm grasp on their financial big picture of interactions and how to impact them. In short, they see the forest and don’t get lost in the trees. They often also consider subsidies in their scenarios. In my view, most nascent boostcampers tend to overrate the importance of external funding. Rather, they may wish to consider funding it themselves at the very start, get funding from their customers and/or suppliers afterwards, and only once they have a solid base and a cash-proof of your business, they might start to consider external funding. We should not forget that there is only a 1% (maximum!) success rate to get such funding after discussions lasting 8-12 months on average.
So, rather than looking at the charges you want to cover with your sales, approach the matter the other way around: Find a solution for a real problem (in the lean strategy wording: get out of the building!); and be sure people will be willing to pay you a “fair price”. Based hereupon, define what kind of organisation is financially feasible, for now and later, and how you will survive the classical starter’s cash valley of death.
Finally, remember that, an idea is just….well…an idea.
Martin van Wunnik is a seasoned and experienced independent project manager for financial projects. Next to realizing projects for large multi-nationals, he is a financial coach and strategist for individual starters (mainly tech). Martin also provides workshops and information sessions for several public and private organizations (e.g. Microsoft Innovation Center, Sirris) and co-founded in 2012 the Finance for Startups-community in Brussels (transferred to the Betagroup in 2014). Feel free to follow #MvanWunnik on twitter or browse through Martin’s previous presentations for starters on slideshare http://www.slideshare.net/financecoach24/ .