Read, listen and research to avoid fatal mistakes

Read, listen and research to avoid fatal mistakes

When you found a startup there is one fundamental truth that you cannot avoid: you will make mistakes. The trick is to avoid making fatal mistakes.

So long as you have some money in the bank, a few customers and a small team, you can always find a way forward. The best strategy is to avoid making mistakes in the first place. The second best is to recognise mistakes that are under way so that you can correct them.

The joys and perils of founder singledom when crafting your own startup

The joys and perils of founder singledom when crafting your own startup

I started this company, Voxgig, as a single founder. That's a pretty big no-no in the world of startups.

I've been lucky enough to subsequently find a co-founder, Natalie Gray, who fills in the gaps on the business side. But finding a co-founder was by no means guaranteed, and as we entered a period of initial fund-raising over the subsequent 12 months, I could easily have faced quite a few closed doors from investors as a result.

The demo is in the details - but let client do the talking

The demo is in the details - but let client do the talking

I recently wrote about the importance of selling and about using your network to branch out and meet new prospects. Let's talk about what you do with those prospects when you find them.

This is a particularly pertinent issue for voxgig at the moment. We are building a small group of early customers, and running a series of product trials with them. Getting somebody to agree to use your product, even on a trial basis, can be just as much effort as getting a sale, especially in the early days. They have to develop enough trust in you to commit their time.

Forget 'always be closing' - listen up if you want to get more sales in pipeline

Forget 'always be closing' - listen up if you want to get more sales in pipeline

As an entrepreneur I have a short list of favourite "business" films. One that you absolutely must see is 'Glengarry Glen Ross'. The film covers two days in the life of a bunch of "loser" real-estate salesmen. The cast is impressive for such an unpromising subject: Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Alec Baldwin, and more. The salesmen are deplorable characters one and all, and yet it gets under your skin, and helps you get into "sales" mode.

The value of having a startup 'meta game'

The value of having a startup 'meta game'

When you found a startup, you learn that you need to develop the skill of getting inside people's heads.

The best founders, in general, have a great deal of empathy. That might seem like a strange thing to say - the cliche of the ruthless startup CEO hiring and firing, and making tough decisions, is very strong in popular culture.

Software - don't build it until you know that they will come

Software - don't build it until you know that they will come

This is the diary of a technology startup, but I have been remiss in not discussing technology for the last few weeks. What has been happening on the software front since our soft-launch in March?

The question of how to get your software built is a very pressing one for many startups. I'm a technical adviser to a number of Dublin-based startups and this really is one of the biggest challenges that they face. It also comes up in many casual conversations that I have with other founders.

When we all need to stop the dreaming and get stuff done

When we all need to stop the dreaming and get stuff done

LET'S take our startup diary back to practical day-to-day matters. In the last two articles we got quite theoretical and focused on the fundamentals of our competitive strategy. Let's take a look now at some of the tactics that we are using to make this strategy happen. What are the core activities that the voxgig team is spending time on?

Developing Facebook-style network effect and startup holy grail of the viral loop are a must

Developing Facebook-style network effect and startup holy grail of the viral loop are a must

Last week I discussed all the ways we won't be trying to compete: on service quality; on user experience and design; on geography; on depth of features; on price; and on being the first-mover. If we're not going to use any of those to compete, what are we going to do?