Day 2 of Newcastle Startup Week has been busy with two fringe events including our immersive tech showcase at PROTO and the creative industries session at Gateshead College. We were excited to see every venue filled with enterprising individuals who benefited from the insights shared by our speakers. Here are some of your key lessons.
#1 Approach your heroes – Pitch Black Productions
Our first speaker at the PROTO Immersive Tech Showcase event, Dave Black (Founder, Pitch Black Productions), encouraged the audience to ‘just go for it’. Approach your heroes for advice. The worst you can get is a ‘no’, which makes you no worse off.
#2 Digital storytelling can improve engagement – SUB 10
Kicking off his talk, Peter Stephenson (Co-Founder, SUB 10) demonstrated a video that showcased the story of their company. The video featured pixelated versions of the founders, which was met with amusement from the audience. This reminded us of how thinking outside the box and using technology with a spark of creativity can help improve engagement.
#3 Just get started – Cintel Global
Tomorrow is day one. A powerful statement made by one of our speakers yesterday, but still not the same as ‘Today is day one’. Tom and Cameron (Cintel Global) encouraged us to shift out mindsets, just go for it and get started now. Live our dreams! It’s inevitably better than sitting on them. There is never a perfect time, so stop postponing, go for it, and enjoy the ride.
#4 Know your target market – Troy Lonergan
Getting started and energised is one thing but you’ve got to make sure your product or service can be monetised. Our final speaker at the first fringe event, Troy Lonergan, reminded us of the importance of finding a target audience who are willing to pay for what you do. In addition, the audience acquisition costs have to be less than the revenue they will contribute to.
#5 Don’t be so obsessed with starting ‘big’ – Busy BackPack
We’re more likely to hear from large company success stories than the small beginnings. Our first speaker at Gateshead College, WeiTing Huang (Founder, Busy Backpack), shared her inspiring story of how she started her business. WeiTing started volunteering at Newcastle Startup Week which helped her develop connections and gain the inspiration to start and grow.
#6 Refresh, revisit, revise – Porto Creative
It can be tempting to surge toward your goals and jump from opportunity to opportunity. However, Anna-Maria and Mo (Founders, Porto Creative) reminded us that sometimes, we need to take a step back and reflect in order to move forward.
#7 It’s never too early to be socially responsible – Copenhagen Tech Festival
The move toward developing socially responsible businesses is growing. Marie Gorvild (Founder of Copenhagen Tech Festival) and Sophia Stovall (Head of Development, TWAM) reminded us of the increasing pressures on businesses and technologies to create good, rather than bad. When starting a business, think of what positive impact you can make in the world.
#8 Build trust with your viewers – Demi Donnellyx
Youtube sensation Demi Donnellyx highlighted the importance of building trust, which was a recurring theme across startup week. To get buy-in from customers, you need to them trust you. Trust can occur through transparency, authenticity and consistency. Ask yourself, where trust is reflected within your business and messages?
#9 Assess your scalability potential – BrewGoodr
To assess feasibility of your model, ask yourself whether your business is scalable. Can you develop more of the same to a larger number of customers? Alan Mahon (Founder, BrewGoodr) shared an example of his own business journey and his scaleup challenges. Alan started his journey brewing his own beer, which was unreliable and sometimes exploded in cans. Despite his passion and commitment, he admitted this was not a scalable model. He revisited his plan, partnered with larger organisations who had brewing experience, and has now grown into a successful social enterprise.
#10 Target your communications – CIPR North East
The key message at our CIPR panel on day 2 was to target your communications. Don’t chase publicity for publicity’s sake. There is no value in releasing a press release into a magazine that is not read by your potential customers. Don’t waste your time but think who you want to target your communications to, and where you can find them.
#11 Learn from others – Sunderland Software City
Jeni Banks (Business Support Specialist, Sunderland Software City) shared a list of startup experiences, including the advice to stay open-minded. Everyone has had different life and work experiences and, unless you have exactly the same brain as someone else, everyone knows something that you don’t! Stay curious and try to learn from new people to expand your knowledge.
#12 be PARC, not CRAP – Simon Raybould
Simon Raybould shared the PARC method with us to improve your content production. Your key messages should follow the ‘Purpose, Audience, Resources and Content’ structure. Start why your ‘why’ and ‘who’ you are doing it for. If you do it the other way around, it will be CRAP instead.
#13 Don’t chase unicorns – Daisy Ford-Downes
Sorry to break it you, but unicorns are not real. In this talk, Daisy Ford-Downes discussed the importance of celebrating regular businesses, and not just the big tech unicorns. Start with your passion and grow from that, instead of chasing the goal of making lots of money ‘the American way’.
#14 Protect your future with the right legal agreements – Sintons Law
Our sponsors at Sintons provided an overview of legal arrangements to take into consideration when starting out. Teaming up with another person? Make sure you have your shareholder agreements in place to avoid ‘deadlock’ scenarios when in severe disagreement. Taking on a big supplier? Make sure the contract protects your independence and enables you to scale and grow. For legal advice, visit Sintons at one of our Founders’ Friday events, taking place on the last Friday of every month at Tuspark Newcastle Barclays Eagle Labs.
#15 Prepare for Risk – Talbot Jones
Entrepreneurs are known to be optimistic and energetic whilst exploring growth opportunities. However, Clare and Richard from Talbot Jones encouraged the audience to also have a plan in place for when things go wrong. What happens if your cyber security is breached, or you have a data leak? What if your computer dies and you lose all your content? Conduct a risk assessment and develop plans to mitigate issues.
#16 Don’t be a people pleaser – Digital marketing panel
Not everyone will like your product, and that’s OK. As Jon Waite, Founder of Advertise1, said on our Digital Marketing panel (hosted by Laura Richards from Sunderland Software City): “you can’t be everyone’s cup of tea, otherwise you’d be a mug.”
#17 Adopt the right mindset – Natwest
There is no shortage of books and theories describing the entrepreneur’s mindset. Although there is no absolute answer on the magic skills traits that defines a ‘successful’ entrepreneur, mindset is important in developing a resilient business with passion and energy. Melissa and Adam, from NatWest, highlighted the importance of nurturing mindset to improve business development.
#18 Don’t be afraid to clean toilets – Blu Sky & Atomhawk
In a Q&A session between Blu Sky Chartered Accountants and Atomhawk, Ron Ashtiani (Founder, Atomhawk) shared the story of him cleaning toilets when staff weren’t around. When starting a business, every penny matters and you may not have the luxury of outsourcing ‘less sexy’ tasks. The Founder’s role is more than just talking to investors in board rooms. You have to be willing to do basic tasks when needed.
#19 Get out of your comfort zone – Nevil Tynemouth
How bad is it when we step a little outside our comfort zone? What happens when we do? In our final day 2 session, Nevil reminded us that we will never grow or disrupt if we do things the way we have always done them. Step outside your comfort zone, even if it’s just a little.
That concludes Day 2 at Newcastle Startup Week. What was your favourite insight? Let us know in a comment below or on social media!
Keep an eye on our blog for a recap of the other days,