Publicis Groupe Launches Publicis90 Startup Fund

Publicis Groupe celebrates its 90th anniversary by selecting 90 digital start-ups to mentor & fund

Publicis Groupe – which was founded by Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet in 1926 – is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year. When it all started in a little Parisian apartment on Rue Montmartre, the founder’s only staff was his secretary. He would never have thought that, 90 years later, his Groupe would be one of the three largest in the world, with close to 80,000 employees.

Back then, Publicis Groupe began just like many of today’s start-ups. It is with its founder in mind, as well as the entrepreneurial spirit of so many of its employees around the world, that Publicis Groupe has chosen to celebrate its 90th anniversary by providing mentoring, support and funding to 90 entrepreneurial projects in the digital field.

To take part, projects can be submitted via the Publicis90 platform (www.publicis90.com) which will be available online as of January 18th. Whether you are a student, a new start-up, a successful entrepreneur or a Publicis Groupe employee anywhere in the world, you are welcome to put forward your idea and apply for support from the Groupe. Taking part is really easy. The goal is to provide entrepreneurs with the support they need to bring their projects to life, or to take it to the next level.

The Publicis90 platform (www.publicis90.com) will be open for submissions until February 28. Projects will be pre-selected by region (the Americas, Asia-Pacific, and Europe-Middle-East & Africa), with a first round of votes open to all Publicis Groupe employees (all projects submitted remain anonymous). A regional jury will then draw up a short-list from the pre-selected projects, before the final selection is made by a prestigious global jury that will pick the 90 most promising projects or start-ups.

The selected projects will be mentored by Publicis Groupe experts in marketing, communications, management and technology. They will also receive funding in the form of an investment ranging from 10,000 euros for projects about to be launched to 500,000 euros for start-ups that are already ramping up. As for selected projects submitted by Publicis Groupe employees, they will have the benefit of a special internal incubation scheme.

The holders of the 90 selected projects will be invited to participate to Viva Technology Paris (www.vivatechnologyparis.com), the first forum in France to bring together the people who matter most in digital throughout the world with over 5,000 start-ups. This event – created by Publicis Groupe and Groupe Les Echos – will be held from June 30 to July 2, 2016 at the Paris Expo Exhibition Centre at Porte de Versailles. The 90 selected projects will be honored at an awards ceremony held during Viva Technology Paris.

Maurice Lévy, Chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe, declared:

Publicis90 is very much in line with the philosophy of Publicis Groupe and its founder, Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet. The idea is to help young entrepreneurs achieve their goals. Not just through investment but also by putting Groupe resources at their disposal for a year. Rather than look back and pat ourselves on the back for 90 years of history, we have taken the forward-looking approach of extending a helping hand to young entrepreneurs.

Digital startup naming mistakes that everyone should avoid

Imagine, you’ve got a fantastic business idea with great prospects, clearly defined audience and the revenue model is crystal clear too. You are absolutely bullish about its chances to become “the next big thing”.

Suddenly, everything comes crashing down because your billion dollar dream domain is not available.

Any why not, the world consists of nearly 6,500 spoken languages. Thousands of new, weird words are coming to life every year. No matter how smart you may be, there is no way of knowing all of the words in the world or who, in the online arena, has used them before you.

Choosing a name just like that is absolutely out of question because the name you’ve chosen may have a negative connotation in the real or virtual world. It could be a bad omen in certain specific cultures or a slang used in some absurd social context. You would obviously want to avoid all those options.

Here are simple tips to help you avoid some of the startup naming mistakes.

Research

Google your desired brand name. What results are in the first page? Anything suspicious there? Are people complaining? Answer these questions by following these steps.

  • Should your new brand name sound like a generic word, evaluate the strengths of the first 10 results and make sure you will be able at all to rank for it. Use the Mozbar to check the Domain and Page authority of each result.
  • Check your new brand name in Google’s Keyword planner. Are there search volumes shown for your new brand name in exact match? Then it must exist somewhere, so you need to Google for it better.

Also Read : 7 Tips to name your company

Domain doesn’t matter

In my experience as a startup consultant, I’ve seen founders losing their night’s sleep over not being able to get the exact domain name as the business name. Frankly speaking, domain name doesn’t matter at all. The name itself matters much more than having the same domain name. Pick a great name, go with a tweaked domain name. Pick a great name, then add something to get a domain name. It really doesn’t matter all that much – whether you get the domain later or don’t. Then get building!

Also Read: Does your company name matter?

Don’t pick too creative names

The problem with having a name like Naymz, Takkle, Flickr, or Speesees is that you will forever have to spell it when you say it, because it isn’t spelled how people hear it. Most importantly, with voice recognition devices like SIRI or Google Now, you would never be able to get your brand search on the top.

Don’t play mixology with your company name

If you invent a new “word” for your name, be careful that it doesn’t sound unnatural. Mashing two words together or mixing up a bunch of letters to form a new word rarely appears or sounds smooth. And be cautious using trendy suffixes to make up a new word. Startups names like Learnyst, Hotelogix, Intelliber, Mobiefit are such examples.

 

Top 6 reasons why digital startups fail

A few months ago, I wrote an article on global trends of failed startups, and guess what, last week I stumbled upon one ex-founder of a failed startup company who has now gone back to his full time job and doing quite well in his new role as a business head.

The pace at which new startups are coming up is less bizarre compared to if you see the pace at which they get shut down.

Question is, why?

Since 2011, 70% of the companies having raised less than $5M overall are dead. Statistics like these can scare the hell out of any young, aspiring entrepreneur. We all read those beautifully written PR stories around few people receiving millions of dollars of funding by VC firms or angel investors, what we miss out on is the list of companies who failed after receiving those funding.

Last year, CB Insights shared below list of top 20 reasons for startup failure which were based on the post mortem done with 100 failed startup founders.

Top reasons startups fail

Top reasons startups fail

 

Let me expand some of these and add some more from my side based on my startup consulting experience:

Single Founder Startups

Let me rephrase the above statement, single “active” founder startup. Incidentally, I’ve worked with couple of them in my career, being a single startup founder is one of the most difficult things in life. Does the destiny sympathizes with these heroes or lady luck favors them? Not really, in fact, it is even more harsh for a single founder to take off their dream. Though there are some nice plus in this situation for e.g. decision making is much faster as the startup is almost like a sole proprietor firm, but considering the single founder cannot be an expert in every single aspect of the business, it sometimes takes a lot more than it should. And sometimes, it may lead to business fatal decision making.

Focused on Niche

If your startup business model targeting a very small segment of audience, you might want to re-look at your business strategy. A lot of founders pick up ideas focussed at a niche audience in order to avoid the competition and carve a stronghold in that segment. But this can be suicidal as it will increase your marketing cost of audience acquisition and if your idea is not strong enough and/or your product experience is weak, a bigger player might just gobble up your segment as well despite yours being a unique idea.

If you make anything good, you’re going to have competitors, so you may as well face that. You can only avoid competition by avoiding good ideas. ~ Paul Graham ( Y Combinator )

Bad Hiring

Also read: How to hire for your bootstrap startup?

One of the most obvious and perhaps the most important reason as to why a lot of startups fail is ‘PEOPLE’. Today, every single early stage startup is going through the worst nightmare of hiring the right people for their idea. There is no doubt that startups need people with a different set of skill sets and more importantly attitude. Needless to say, you cannot filter these people using any job portal. At times, startups end up hiring people in a hurry to get the ball rolling, especially when the investor pressure is high to deliver and scale up. This can also happen when startups hire people based on their background and not the skills they are actually looking for. Result is quite obvious, wrong people get on the bus that leads to project delays and eventually, product failure.

Too longer proof of concept

Also read: 6 Stages of a Startup

Call it a personality issue but some startup founders get themselves into a zone when they spend just too much time in building their product prototype for the proof of concept. It could be because the pandora box of ideas within the parent idea becomes just too much to handle and they just don’t know what to test within their MVP, but this causes massive delay to the project launch and at times so much so that it leads to losing the first mover advantage in the market.

Poor Marketing

This is typical to all B2B startups who raise funding based on their unique product idea which looks really fancy on the presentation, but it is equally difficult to engage audience on that concept. More often than not, there is no clear strategy to build brand as B2B companies focus on customer acquisition without thinking about future growth. Net new customer acquisition becomes increasingly difficult and after a point and lack of repeat business or up-sell starts hitting the bottom lines.

In Fighting

With so much of blood and sweat being put into building a startup, they are extremely prone to ego-battles within the founding team. Once that happen, Decision making becomes increasingly difficult on key issues, positive energies starts to disappear and the balance sheet starts reflecting the reality. This reaches a point where founders can’t see eye to eye and the startup failure becomes increasingly imminent.

Startup Lessons : When to launch your digital startup?

The article was first published in 2009 as a part of Startup Lessons Learned. Author of this article is Eric Ries who is considered to be one of the most powerful individuals in Tech Entrepreneurship space. 

Here’s a common question I get from digital startups, especially in the early stages: when should we launch? My answer is almost always the same: don’t.

First off, what does it mean to launch? Generally, we conflate two unrelated concepts into the term, which is important to clarify right up front.

  1. Announce a new product, start its PR campaign, and engage in buzz marketing activities. (Marketing launch)
  2. Make a new product available to customers in the general public. (Product launch)

In today’s world, there is no reason you have to do these two things at the same time. In fact, in most situations it’s a bad idea for startups to synchronize these events.

Launching is a tactic, not a strategy. In the right situation, it’s a very useful tactic, too. In particular, a marketing launch can help you do three things (courtesy, as is most of my marketing advice, of The Four Steps to the Epiphany):

  1. Drive customers into your sales pipeline. This is the usual reason given for a marketing launch, but for most early stage startups, it’s a failure. That’s because a marketing launch is a one-time event, and rarely translates into renewable audiences. Worse, if you are not geared up to make the best use of those customers when the launch sends them your way, it’s a pretty big waste. And, as we’ll talk about in a moment, you don’t get a second chance.Because this reason is so often used as an excuse, I recommend giving it extra scrutiny. Are you really choosing to engage in marketing in places where your potential customers pay attention? Do your customers really read TechCrunch? If not, do not launch there. Even if you must launch to your customers, avoid the urge to also launch in extra places, just because your PR firm can do it at the same time.
  2. Establish credibility with potential partners. In some businesses, especially in certain industries like traditional enterprise software, you simply cannot bring a new product to market on your own. You need to combine your product with others, and this requires partners like OEM’s or system integrators. A marketing launch can help you get in the door with those partners, if you’re having trouble getting their attention. Again, it’s critical to focus your marketing launch on those publications, venues, and channels that your potential partners are paying attention to. If you don’t know who the partners are, what they pay attention to, or what kind of message they are open to receiving – it’s too early to launch. Do some Customer Development instead.
  3. Help you raise money. If you are having trouble raising money, sometimes a little PR can help. But don’t be too sure. When VC’s and other investors see PR activity, they are going to expect to see significant traction as a result. If you launch and see only mediocre results, it may actually make it harder to raise money. Sometimes, it can be easier to raise money pre-launch, if the launch is not imminent and there is some fear on the part of investors that they might lose the deal when the launch drives awareness of your company to all their peers.

Those are the potential goals of a marketing launch, but those are not its only effects. It also has causes other tectonic shifts that many digital startup founders don’t consider:

  1. A marketing launch establishes your positioning. If you don’t know what the right positioning is for your company, do not launch. Figuring this out takes time, and few entrepreneurs have the patience to wait it out, because the business plan does such a good job of explaining what customers are going to think. The problem is that customers don’t read your business plan.When you launch with the wrong positioning, you have to spend extra effort and money later cleaning it up. For example, we did some early press (in Wired, no less) for IMVU that called us the next generation of IM and compared us positively to AOL. At the time, we thought that was great. Now, I look back and cringe. Being compared to AOL isn’t so great these days, and IM is considered a pretty weak form of socializing. When we finally launched for real, we had to compensate for that early blunder.Of course, we didn’t realize it was a blunder at all. We were actually really proud of the positive coverage. In fact, at that time we were auditing Steve Blank’s class at Haas, since he was an early investor. Since we hadn’t shown him much in the way of progress recently, we actually brought in the article to show off. I won’t recount what happened next (although your can hear us recount it in audio). Suffice to say I can trace my understanding of what it means to launch to that day. We’re lucky we had a mentor on board who could call us on the bad strategy before it was too late. Most startups aren’t so fortunate.
  2. You have to know your business model. Most startups launch before they’ve figured out what business they’re in. Pay attention to your fundamental driver of growth. If the product needs to be tweaked just a little bit in order to convert users into customers, you want to figure that out before the launch. If the viral coefficient is 0.9, keep iterating until it’s 1.1 before you launch. And if your product doesn’t retain customers, what’s the point of driving a bunch of them to use it? Spend your time with renewable sources of customers and iterate.
  3. You never get a second chance to launch. Unlike a lot of other startup activities, PR is not one where you can try it, iterate, learn, and try again. It’s a one-way event, so you’d better get it right. Remember the story about IMVU’s early encounter with Wired? When we finally did launch the company, even though our product had grown and changed significantly, Wired didn’t cover it.

I wrote a little bit about the epic launch we had at a previous startup in my post Achieving a failure. We really did it well, with a great PR firm and great coverage. New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN, the works. But it turned into a crushing defeat, because we couldn’t capitalize on all that attention. The product didn’t convert well enough, the mainstream customers we were driving weren’t ready for the concept, and the event fed expectations about how successful the product was going to be that turned out to be hyper-inflated.

Worse, we tricked ourselves into thinking that what the press said about our success was actually true. And even worse, we’d cranked up the burn rate in order to be ready to handle all those millions of mainstream customers we anticipated. When they failed to materialize, the company was in big trouble.

Why do startups synchronize marketing launch and product launch? I think it has mostly to do with psychology.

  1. Investors push for it. Many investors have a desire to see their companies lauded publicly. This actually makes a lot of sense, if you see the world from their point of view. Third-party validation is one of the few forms of feedback they have available to them. Most investors in startups have a 3, 5 or even 10 year horizon for liquidity. That means they don’t really know if they made a good investment for a very long time. Seeing the press talk about what a great investor they are is a great form of feedback. As a bonus, it gives them something to show their partners and LP’s.This trend is so strong, this is actually a question I recommend to screen potential investors: “How do you know it’s time to launch the company?” See if their answer is about tactics or strategy.
  2. Founders push for it. Who doesn’t want to see their name in print? Investors aren’t the only ones with ego invested in the company. In some ways, founders are even worse. How do they know they are making progress? They spend so much of their time trying to convince everyone around them that their idea is great and the company is doing well: employees, investors, partners, friends, family, significant others – it’s a long list. But when they go to sleep at night, who’s there to convince them that they are making progress? My experience is that many founders actually have a deep anxiety that maybe they are not succeeding. Sure, they are keeping everyone busy, but are they really working on the right things? A marketing launch is a temporary salve for these kinds of worries. Plus, it gives you something you can send home to mom (hi, mom!). Unfortunately, it’s not a long-term solution, so it can become a bit of an addiction and, therefore, a huge distraction.
  3. There is also fear of the accidental launch. Companies that are thinking strategically sometimes reason like this: “if we do a product launch, members of the public will see our early product. They’ll form their own opinions, maybe see our wrong positioning, and maybe talk to members of the press. By the time we’re ready for a marketing launch, it will be too late. Better to launch now and get ahead of the story, or stay in closed beta until we’re ready.”In most situations, this fear is misplaced. Here was our experience at IMVU, which I have seen replicated at many other consumer internet startups. We did alienate and mis-position to our early customers. Luckily, if your product isn’t good enough to have traction, you simply cannot alienate very many customers – because you can’t get them engaged with the product. When you finally do get traction, the millions who see the right positioning will dwarf the few who saw the wrong one. And you can get an astronomical amount of traction before anyone will write about your company of their own accord. IMVU was a top-1000 website in the world, with millions of customers and making millions of dollars without getting any significant press coverage.In fact, we often felt frustrated when new startups with a fraction of our success got terrific write-ups in Silicon Valley-centric venues. We had to resist the urge to launch just to make that frustration stop. And, more often than not, we’d watch those companies flame out and die while we continued to grow steadily every month. If we’d wasted energy chasing their PR coverage, we’d probably have died too.

So don’t combine your product launch with a marketing launch. Instead, do your product launch first. Don’t chicken out and do a closed beta; get real customers in through real renewable channels. Start with a five-dollar-a-day SEM campaign. Iterate as fast and for as long as you can. Don’t scale. Don’t marketing launch.

How do you know you’re ready for marketing launch?

  • When you have a strategy for the launch, which means knowing why you’re doing it. Make sure it’s solving a problem you actually have, and not one that you think you might have some day.
  • Know what the success metrics are for the launch. If you know what the strategy is, you’ll know how to tell it was a success. Write it down ahead of time, and hold yourself accountable for hitting those objectives.
  • Know what your fundamental driver of growth is. Make sure the math for your model makes sense. That way, you’ll be able to predict the future. When customers come in from your marketing launch, you’ll know exactly what they are going to do and how that benefits your business.
  • Know where, when, and how to launch. If you know what your strategy is, and you know your target well (customers, partners, investors) you will also know where they are paying attention, and what messages they are able to absorb. Hold yourself and your PR agency accountable for developing a high level of understanding of these questions ahead of time.

One last suggestions. Think about the psychological motivations that are driving you to want to launch earlier than makes sense for your company. See if there’s anything you can do to address those underlying needs that does make sense. For example, if your employees are feeling frustrated that they don’t get much third-party validation for their work, use a board of advisers to fill that role. Bring in people that they (and you) respect to evaluate your progress and make suggestions. In my experience, this has provided an effective boost to morale and also helpful guidance.

6 stages of Digital Startup business

If you are reading this post, I can assume that you have an idea and you are on your way to build your startup or else you have a deep desire to build one. Don’t worry, you are not alone in your journey. Building startups seems to be the only thing on the mind of every professional.

For a long time, the venture capital world has often correlated the ability to build a successful startup with the age & experience of individuals. Not anymore.  According to a Harvard Business Review report, the average age at founding (a startup) was just over 31, and the median was 30.

 

Startup Founder Age of VC Backed Companies

Startup Founder Age of VC Backed Companies

However, age has nothing to do with the stages of startup but interestingly it can increase or decrease the duration of your pre-startup period.

Now if you search on the Google, you would find different views & opinions about the stages of startup business. Frankly speaking, none of them is incorrect. But the one which has simplified it considerably is created by StartupCommons (see below):

 

Startup Development Phases & Lifecycle

Startup Development Phases & Lifecycle

Key stages of digital startup

Stage I : Ideation

In this stage, the startup founder(s) builds, sharpens, polishes their “potential scalable product or service idea” for a big enough “target market“. There is no need for any team or resources at this stage of startup. A significant amount of time goes into the market research, collecting data about primary & secondary audience. The end outcome is a very simplified 30,000 feet business plan document that defines all the key variables about your business in a nutshell. Most importantly, at the end of this stage you should know, who would pay for your product & service & why?

Also read: How to write a business plan document by Sequoia Capital

Stage II : Concept Development

Once you are convinced about your core startup idea, the next stage is to find your core team of people whom you would want to be part of your journey. A lot of startups (especially tech startups where founders are programmers and core architects) want to keep their idea within the closed room till they get the venture fund. Usually it delays the project considerably as they end up doing a lot of non specialised tasks by themselves.

In the concept development phase, you should start creating your actual business plan with estimated financials  of budgets, possible revenue and key company milestones for the next 2-3 years. Identifying your core team and involving them in the ideation process is absolutely critical as this would set the stage for actual business roll-out.

Stage III : Commitment

This is the stage when the founders actually start building the MVP or Minimum Viable Product for the users to test their business idea. According to Techopedia:

A minimum viable product (MVP) is a development technique in which a new product or website is developed with sufficient features to satisfy early adopters. The final, complete set of features is only designed and developed after considering feedback from the product’s initial users.

In case of services business MVP, it needs to build the tools for service delivery like wireframe of CRM for customer lifecycle management and how it would be linked with an online customer acquisition and final service delivery.

An MVP is one of the most important stages in any startup business. Not just it allows the founders to calibrate their efforts & product idea, it is the stage when you can start marketing about your product/service to prospect angel investors (not VCs).  The commitment stage is also critical to define the roles of the founding team & the shareholding pattern for the first 2-3 years of business.

Most of the early stage hiring happens during this stage of startup. The team size are thin and the founders literally bootstrap it to the maximum by doing multiple roles.

Also read: How to hire for bootstrap startup?

Stage IV : Validation

‘Validation’ or ‘proof of concept’ is one of those stages of startup business where they have to live with a great degree of vulnerability, both from inside & outside. In the validation stage, founding team has to show maximum value for all stakeholders, starting from its current customers, its employees to current angel (if any) & potential investors.

In many ways, this stage decides the fate of your business idea, and hence it gives the maximum stress to the startup owners.

On one side, the founders are struggling to find the right product strategy & brand positioning that would allow them to attract potential Series A/B venture investment, and on the other side, there is a continuous pressure to show some running profits and ensure customer delight. Incidentally, most of the startups lose their plot during this stage of business.

 

Also read: Worldwide Failed Startup Trends

Stage V : Scaling Up

This stage usually start after you’ve received your Series A investment and now you are looking to scale the length & breadth of your business operations. A significant amount of time goes into hiring resources, marketing your product in the target markets to key audience, building a strong word of mouth PR, and accelerating your quarter on quarter revenues.

Stage VI : Growth

This stage is actually subject to how your business idea has performed. Once you’ve achieved a critical mass of customers, you enter the growth stage in which you can diversify your business through possible acquisitions of smaller companies or you can enter newer markets by raising more venture fund. Fundamentally, there is no fixed time duration to this stage as most of the startups want to remain in the startup mode for a long time.

5 ways to get startup funding for your digital agency

If you are an avid follower of the startup news, you might have noticed that most of the startup funding is landing in the tech startup space, that too largely in the mobile apps & e-commerce category. Have you ever wondered why the startup advertising agencies are not in the investment radar.

Why is it that the most innovative or profitable ones (agencies) get acquired, while the rest struggle to make their mark for a very long time?

If you are an owner of a digital agency startup, here are few things you must build in your business plan in order to secure startup funding for your business:

1. Productize your offering

There is a general assumption that agencies are service based companies (which is not incorrect) and their revenue model is fragile. The competition is so intense that you have keep searching for leads all the time. Payment cycles are long and ‘client loyalty’ is limited due to which advertising agency is considered (or perceived) as low cashflow business.

In order to change this perception, you need create a unique product of your service which has a tangible aspect to it. One way you can do it through technology i.e. by building custom proprietary solutions targeting a specific need (like lead generation, customer engagement, user behavior, customer satisfaction) in a particular industry.

Once you do the above, it would lend measurability to your business model. You can actually predict a certain revenue based on the target audience you have made that solution for.

2. How to showcase your solution to an investor?

Every investor wants to see a practical and profitable business application of your service/product. Do your research on different brands across industries, make an attempt to understand their brands and business challenges. In the agency world, this is called working back to the creative brief. Figure out why your solution or service best-suited to help a particular client.

Show examples & case studies to your investor as to how you transformed it for a particular client.

3. Demonstrate Measurement and Support Capabilities

Make sure you have a sophisticated measurement and accountability system embedded into your technology. Analytics are essential components of the agency business, so be sure to address the topic in your presentation. Also mention your team, however small, in your pitch. Even though you may be a small startup, you have to reassure that you and your team will be able to see any project through to the end.

4. Scalability is critical

One of the key criteria of evaluating any business model is to see how quickly it can scale in time. Every agency is currently dealing with this issue of scalability, especially because they have not embraced the technology to the fullest. Most of the processes (especially around Project management, client relationship, resource management), can be automated through various digital tools available on the cloud. These technologies allow you to get more done with limited number of resources at 1/10th of the operating cost.

Once you have a strong business case, the investor would be interested in knowing how you would scale up the revenue & systems to handle hundreds & thousands of clients? That’s why your investor pitch needs to have scalability in its DNA.

5. Demonstrate multiple business opportunities and revenue models

The investor is also interested to see the vision behind your business. Are you thinking ahead of your time and your competitors? Do you have the team who can produce cutting edge solutions based on past, present & upcoming platforms?

A single business model can never succeed and is too risky to put investor’s money. Having said that you must showcase your plan of action around every revenue model that your company would touch in the next 5 years.

What are places where you are trying to generate first mover advantage for yourself? How will you accelerate existing revenue models? What are the new audience segments you would try to penetrate where existing market hasn’t ventured out?

6. Brand your startup agency

There is no doubt that digital is the hottest proposition at the moment. Every company is re-looking at their business models to match the growing requirements of the digital world. In this case, it is absolutely vital for a digital startup agency to build their startup philosophy in order to create a differential.

A smart investor would definitely like to see how good is the social media of the company who claims to bring the next big disruption in the space. Is your website behaving like a notice board (bored) or your achievements or if it is designed to share valuable insights & trigger conversations?

Also read: 25 ways to Brand your startup

Beware! Do not consider creating a fancy parallax website as thought leadership. Disruptive strategy does not require show off. Sometimes, it is doing all the right things in a clinical manner that makes a huge impact.

For more interesting stories & updates, do subscribe to my blog.

How to hire for bootstrapped digital startup?

Hiring for bootstrapped startup is always difficult, especially when you are building your prototype or incubating it using angel fund. A bootstrapped startup always goes through several challenges before they find the right people on board.

If you are one of those bootstrapped startup owners who is running or planning for his digital or tech startup, get ready to face the pain of your lifetime in finding the right set of people for your company.

And the below graphic would be sufficient to demotivate you further:

20 reasons startups fail

According to the above research by CB Insights, 23% of the bootstrapped startups shut down because they could not find the right team. So don’t worry, you are not alone in this pursuit.

With limited funds, poor office space (sometime no office space), lack of technology infrastructure (forget about the Macs, people would be lucky to get some decent Windows PC configuration), and absolutely no brand name, you just don’t have any negotiating or attractive proposition.

Also read: RIP Reports – Worldwide Failed startup trends

But like Friedrich Nietzsche has rightly said,

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”

Here are some suggestions ( I won’t call them tips), which I’ve figured out after working & consulting with different stage startups in my career:

Stop hiring people like yourself

One of the common aspect of most of the early stage startups, is that the founders have very limited or no experience in hiring in their career. Result? They end up hiring resources like themselves so that they feel most comfortable. Eventually, they end up building a team with similar shades of skills. Most of these resources join because of fancy designations offered by the founders.

Remember that you need people who are “go go go” types with 100-percent drive, and also people who are meticulous, detail-oriented and know how to create solid internal processes.

Stop looking for ‘only’ MBA’s or ‘only premier institutes’ candidates

MBAs bring a lot of value on the table for any early stage startup, there is no doubt about that. Polished communications, problem solving skills, fresh ideas etc. But over obsessive nature towards hiring only MBA’s would make your life miserable and could lead to delays in product and brand build up strategy. Look for key skills without which you would not be able to take off your dream, instead of just MBA. For e.g., if you are hiring for a new digital media company, look for candidates who have worked as a media planner in any advertising agency or who have handled marketing operations for any brands.

Also read: Why I Don’t Advise Bootstrapped Startups to Hire M.B.A.s by Vivek Wadhwa

Hire people who make you do something crazy

Another challenge for a lot of younger startup CEOs is that they don’t necessarily have a large enough network from which to pull talent that they need. New founders will often hire friends, and there are pros and cons to that.

On the one hand, there’s a huge amount of loyalty, and you can pull in friends who are in it to win it, and who back you 100-percent. On the flip-side, they might not fall into the normal lines of authority, or you could just end up with yes men who agree to things, even if the ideas are ridiculous. The key is to hire people who will tell you that you’re doing something crazy.

Here’s a must watch video on Bootstrapped Startup hiring strategy: