BLAST 2017: valuable business advices from our speakers

by | Apr 5, 2017

At BLAST 2017 you’ll be able not only to meet the professionals you are interested in (angel investors, VC, incubators, accelerators and so on), but also to improve your knowledge about the entrepreneurship and the startup business. Each speaker that will be on our Main Stage or in Startup Academy will provide you valuable advice, which are the result of many years of hard working, failures and successes. Some example?

Here below, just for you, some advices from some of our speakers. Take it as a sort of “preview” of what’s waiting for you. Many other advices will come in the next days and during the event itself every mentor, entrepreneur, investor and expert will speak more deeply about his specific area of competence. Keep in mind this and do not miss the chance to meet the Big names of the international business and learn something new by their lessons and speeches: apply now for our Startup Program or book your attendee pass! Here you can find some suggestions for aspiring entrepreneurs or influencers, founders and marketing professionals. Enjoy your reading!

The good match between startups and investors

An investor can bring the obvious elements of money and networks but also may provide new perspectives and strategies for the start-up founder and his team to pursue. Ideally, the investor also should come up with useful ideas and solutions. Ultimately, you hope that you have invested in a great team that understands your value but foremost knows how to execute its business strategy in an ever-changing and challenging business environment.

(@Spiros Margaris, Globally Ranked by Onalytica as the No. 1 Fintech and No. 2 Insurtech Influencer, Venture Capitalist and Senior Advisor)

An advice for young aspiring entrepreneurs 

Focus on learning and be intentional about how you spend your time. Whether you’re working on a startup or thinking about starting one, there are so many things you could do every day to get better as a professional. All the small things from connecting with people, reading articles, attending events, over time they will add up to a lot over time

(@Ada Chen Rekhi, entrepreneur and marketer based in Silicon Valley with over a decade of experience in technology companies including SurveyMonkey, LinkedIn and Microsoft. She was also the founder of Connected, that was acquired by LinkedIn in 2011)

What is productivity and how is it measured?

In an experiment I used the Pomodoro Technique, the Getting Things Done method and the Maker Time theory together to improve productivity. The results were staggering! While writing, I feel more focused and efficient, I learned plenty of new things, and exercised at previously unimaginable times. This post walks you through the process and tell you what happened, when my peers joined the initiative.

(@Peter Szanto, USC Trojan and founder of SpringTab.com and Szanto.co. He helps companies like Time-WarnerL’Oreal, OTP, Fashion Street and TripTrotting in digital business development to grow their revenue!  He was recognized as a 30 under the age of 30 by Forbes Magazine Hungarian edition, nominated to Entrepreneurs’ Role Model Award 2015. Currently, he is working using smart productivity hacks to personalize the Internet)

Giving talks that have impact

I think the most important thing is to be present. People can instantly tell if you are engaged in the people in front of you, or simply ranting of some talk for the Xth time. I go to tonnes of conferences a year, and see 100s of talks (although I actually mostly avoid talks and prioritize networking). I always judge the talks by looking at the crowd, and I think it’s important to do the same when you are the speaker yourself. If people are not with you, ask them a question. If the look bored, make a joke. If they look excited, keep them locked in.

(@Mads Dalsgaard, Ex-Cofounder @ TrunkBird, is CMO @ Funderbeam, the world’s first primary and secondary marketplace for early-stage investments, secured by the blockchain.)

Being an influencer

To be recognized for your influence and work and to be considered a thought leader among the many great women and men with whom I constantly exchange my thoughts is a great honour.

To be an influencer means that your efforts help to advance a particular industry – in my case, the fintech or insurtech industries – and are effective and useful. As I always say, and I do repeat myself again, a real influencer tries to make other people shine and uses his or her influence to help other great voices and ideas be heard.

(@Spiros Margaris)

Visual storytelling

The way you communicate your story determines your path. It’s crucial to know your audience to adapt your way of presenting. But before getting there, and in order not to fall into the typical pitches structures, understanding the journey of the service or product you are providing can help you not only uncover new assets and opportunities and the process behind, but also come up with new ways of telling it.

Emotion is important, and one way of getting there is to be able to visualize it because you naturally get immersed in your own storytelling, which is a fundamental element of a successful design presentation. It’s also something that you have to work on continuously, and I believe it is a key element for startups as well, often with limited pitching resources.

(@Maria MatloubService Designer at Deloitte Digital)

The most important thing that a startup has to take in account…

The most important thing for every startup to do is to get close to the customer.

When is the last time you talked to someone who is loving your product? If you can build a really strong connection with your customer base, naturally you will develop a strong understanding of what tools they use, what topics they care about, and where they spend their time. All of your marketing promotion and branding efforts should be focused on serving their needs.

(@Ada Chen Rekhi)

The “secret” to find the right co-founder

Finding the right skills to match with your own is easier than finding a match in personalities.  It’s the same as when I was cofounder of my four startups, and what I found to critical in other startups that trust is essential (…)

I’m guessing that at least a quarter of startups fail due to a breakdown in trust and chemistry, so it’s the same in launching a new venture capital fund.  We need to establish and build it up.  Trust, real trust, doesn’t come in a box. It takes time, commitment and many situations and conversations to build it up, and this is what we went through during the first couple years.

(@Bernard Moon, Co-founder & Partner at SparkLabs Global Ventures. He is also one of the Fintech and IoT experts)

Why a startup should contact a mentor?

A mentor normally is a senior person that already had experience, already made mistakes, already failed maybe in the past and he can help a lot the startups in avoiding mistakes or other problems he had, so he can really help in accelerating their business.

In my opinion it’s really relevant to find someone that had already a strong experience (so let’s say 10-15 years experience) and finding someone that has experience in certain fields. Mentors normally have one or two topics where they are stronger and other where they are less stronger, so my recommendation is to have more than one mentor (two or three), according to the know-how and the experience that the mentors have. Anyway the recommendation is: having mentors is recommended because they can really be helpful and they can accelerate the grow of the startup 3 or 10 times what it can happen for startups that don’t have mentors.

(@Claudio Rossi, entrepreneur, business advisor, angel investor, mentor, co-founder and Vice President Startup Engagement of Neomobile)

Storytelling and design

Do not fall in the ‘that’s how it should be’ trap, there is not only one way, but many. You must be able to take what is best for you and adapt it to your needs, and as long as you are able to justify your process and capture your audience, then you’re onto something.

Make sure you are honest with yourself in the way you tell your product/service story, as it will open up a world of possibilities. As a designer and design teacher (although I don’t like the word ‘teaching’, it’s actually more like ‘guiding’ as you cannot ‘teach’ design) I used to tell my students that there is nothing right or wrong, and this is the beauty of design: there is good design and bad design, but not wrong nor right design.

(@Maria Matloub)

The importance of networking

Networking is so important in both the business and personal world. It’s not a transaction or about getting immediate help on something you’re working on, but far more about a long-term investment in people. It’s about building relationships and connecting with people to discuss ideas or simply enjoy time with each other.

(@Ada Chen Rekhi)

The features of a successful pitch

Conveying the founders’ story on why their product or service is going to change the world. Informing us how it will change an industry and make an impact. So I think the pitch as to be passionate but practical because I’m a person that is pretty neutral during such discussions. I’m listening for the passion, but rarely moved by it so I’m waiting for the next set of information, which is how a team is going to execute or how they have executed so far.

(@Bernard Moon)

An effective pitch? Just be YOU and tell your story in they way it works best for YOU. The problem today is that too many founders spend time downloading pitch templates from the internet because that is the format and style that investors require. My take is stand out from the crowd and be different. Don’t follow the norm as there are no rules in this game.

Integrity, Knowledge, Emotion and Passion. If you are not in love with what you do, if you don’t get goose bumps when pitching, then go home until you are able to deliver a pitch that will give you and your audience goose bumps. Remember, it’s all about YOU!

(@Peter Lazou, creative venture builder, co-founder at SportScientia and co-founder and CEO at Pitch60)

Common mistakes made by entrepreneurs and startuppers

Don’t be afraid to share your ideas, an idea is just an idea, and believe me, no one will copy it! One idea can be taken to so many different levels and lead to a plethora of concepts and results.

I’d also add that before spending huge amounts of time developing a product for the market, test it first, iterate it, showcase it, to get feedback. This is what we call prototyping in design. This is how I fell into this trap by not being patient. Listening to opinions which everyone has, constructive criticism as well as observing reactions will help you build your product.

You might encounter obstacles and opposition regarding all what you are trying to do even by the closest people around you, but don’t lose your drive and enthusiasm, just keep going. Because, at the end of the day, no matter what happens, you will learn something that you might never learn elsewhere, and it will be awesome.

(@Maria Matloub)

Some advices to give to those who decide to launch their first startup

Think big, stay lean, don’t launch to early but don’t wait too much to get a perfect idea. Take care building a team with different and complementary competences and choose a place equipped with material and immaterial infrastructures helping you to bear and scale.

(Patrizia Saroglia, Project Manager at Open INCET – Open Innovation Center)

First you have to find a skilled and united team and when you find it let’s concentrate your energies on the problem before on the solution.

Every startupper should ask himself 3 questions:

  1. Have I found a real problem?
  2. Can I solve it?
  3. Who are my customers?
  4. will they pay for the solution that I want to propose ?

(Federico Belli, CMO and CO-FOUNDER at Peekaboo, partner of BLAST 2017).

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