“Startup-of-One” – starting all over at 45
The “system” I was born into implied a simple formula: get the best degree you can, look for a job, scale-up your curriculum, build a career — in other words: become entrepreneur for someone else for the rest of your life! This formula was the right recipe for my almost 20-years career during which I have specialized in business development, sales and account management, mostly in the high-tech industry. I have built a global experience strong with travel to many territories such as Africa, the Middle East, Europe, the Arab/Muslim world, Asia, Oceania, North & South America. I came across and learned to adapt to multiple & unique business cultures and, it goes without saying, enjoyed and suffered endless hours of airplane! This experience is what defines who I am today. It was and still is highly valuable, it made me a “citizen of the world” — I had become “global” just before the new digital revolution was going to transform each and everyone of us into a global player de-facto. Almost 3 years ago, after working for the last 9 years within Latin America, I had reached both an age (the Forty-years-crisis?) and mental crossroad. I have been maturing the idea of making a change, one that would be aligned with the shift in paradigm of the digital transformation. There were two conflicting voices inside me, on the one hand: The voice of fear — indeed, married with three kids means responsibility, it requires economic stability; it would mean leaving the comfort zone and implied putting at risk my savings for moving from steady income to nothing, from a well known routine to complete uncertainty. Opportunity, on the other hand, was the other voice calling me for change, inviting me to face new challenges, to take risks, to become my own boss…This process lasted about three to four years until I decided I was ready to jump into the pool…(by the way, “readiness” is completely subjective and personal). A world of opportunities At the age of 45 I eventually founded my own startup, a “Startup of One”. My initiative was based on the assumption that I could “package” those attributes that make me unique and transform them into my value proposition directed to bring commercial and globalization value to other startups. This ‘toolbox of talents’ can be the formula for anyone who wishes to become his own startup. Itwasn’t easy! In fact, quite the opposite!! The first year was tough, it’s the learning curve period that will set the ground for changing or fine-tuning your model. The second year is when you start understanding the potential and experience gradual though modest growth; it is also when people get to know you in the ecosystem in the process of building your place and reputation. The third year — now reaching age 48, ends up with an established and sound business, regular income and a model set for continuous growth. The main ingredients required: self-confidence, believing in your mission and persistence. We live in a new world of gigantic transformation powered by a digital progress never seen before. Many jobs will disappear, others will mutate. If you find yourself in a situation similar to mine a few years back, my recommendation is you take control of your professional destiny, become protagonist of your career by embracing change while building your own ‘talent toolkit’. Despite many threats, opportunities out there are much greater through the birth of the collaboration economy — one needs to find the courage, design a realistic plan and choose the correct (personal) timing. In today’s world, everyone can become a “Startup of One” (or more), it’s easier for the new generations but definitely feasible for older generations as well ! Go for it! ...Read more
Startups, Raising Funds vs. Making Money?
Early stage technological startups are typically founded by highly talented individuals; generally speaking, by at least one technically-oriented brilliant founder. While the question in the title “Raising Funds vs. Making Money?” may not make sense since both are valid tracks that can be adopted separately or in conjunction, the main issue remains the timing of such decision that will determine the faith of the recently born startup… Mypersonal opinion is that early stage B2B startups (the core of my professional activity), beyond proof of concept or MVP, would be better off — both in the short & medium term — if they were to become self-sustained through the traditional commercial model, the one that is put simply: based on selling with a markup and growing out from the value the product or service generates to its customers. Let me explain! The commonly accepted startup growth model is based on raising money for speeding up time-to-market and eventually, some day along the road, hit the jackpot with a miraculous exit. It is no secret that only 10% of startups survive after two years of existence and very few make it to the promised land, putting aside the lonely planet of the world’s unicorns. For early stage, Raising Funds may mean using your own savings, or getting initial angel support from friends and family; but at some point, almost inevitably, as your traction grows, appears the temptation of accepting to join valuable acceleration programs or investment from individuals or companies that will eventually take a relatively high stake of your business even before it takes-off. By the way, it may be the right decision! My claim is that it’s all about the right timing, the perceived value and available alternatives (if any). There are alternatives! If you believe your product or service indeed responds to a market need or actually solves a problem for the masses or for a niche, if you are convinced your solution has potential, then you must first prove it! Start by proving it to yourself and then push forward by disrupting the standard startup acceleration model by simply building a sound sales pipeline, by conquering the market by your own means, by developing sales channels, by bringing about partnerships and alliances and by growing organically through healthy sales! What will you achieve by doing that? A lot!! Hands-on market experience for improving your value proposition, go-to-market and positioning. Users’ feedback for improving your product or service. Learn from commercial insights, market, pricing and competition. Raise your startup valuation! and improve your negotiation position for whenever you decide it’s time to raise funds. Alternatively, if your growth has been sustained by healthy economics, take your business to the next level. There’s no reason why you won’t be able to achieve it through the reinjection of funds from your own sales! Mytwo cents: trust your talent, ask for advice, don’t rush towards raising money, invest all your energy in first making money, if it worked for you, I can assure you no investor will turn its back towards healthy KPIs! ...Read more
My Augmented Me
I must confess, my inspiration for writing this article was this amazing LinkedIn video trailer by Chelsea Krost I watched about 10 days ago. Over five years ago, maybe as a result of a middle-age crisis, I have gone through a "rebranding" process in all aspects by moving from the comfort zone of being an employee to the risky playground of an independent entrepreneur (more details in this article). This led me to creating my own brand as well as formulating a value proposition that has since been evolving continuously. In the highly dynamic digital age we are living, "what defines us is what others perceive of us". Such perception is achieved in multiple ways but mainly, from a positioning standpoint, through creative branding which uses as a basis, one's own talent, skillset, experiences and vision all packaged under a digital graphical identity which is then implemented on our personal brand touch-points: logo, website, social media, presentations, business cards, etc. According to Statista 61% of organic search on Google was performed over mobile. Moreover, on July 1st, 2019 Google launched its "Mobile First Indexing" which means Google predominantly uses the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking. While building responsive websites is definitely a must do, Linkcard brings about an innovative approach via a mobile native format: a "micro-website" a new and growing trend that allows professionals and businesses to customize and personalize their digital profile 100% to the brand, a tool "par excellence" for personal branding. Checkout a few examples: Maxi Panero - An in-company Coaching Expert - Argentina Tony Higueruelo - Founder & CEO of a crowd-based movie Production - Spain Afnan Abdullah - A Digital Marketing & Social Media Professional - Saudi Arabia Sharon Stoakes - A Senior Transformation, Strategy & Technology Expert - New Zealand Roni Grosfeld - Co-founder of Linkcard.app - USA Quoting Chelsea Krost, "you are your most powerful marketing tool" and through your Linkcard micro-web business card, you will now be able to discover how popular is your personal brand: how many viewers? What links were clicked? How many times was your card shared? Through which platform was it shared? Etc. Are you ready for augmenting yourself? Roni Grosfeld | Co-Founder of Linkcard.app | Sign-up for free | Website...Read more