The Internet technology scene is bursting with new innovations every month. If you’ve spent any time researching social media then you may be familiar with the term “startup”. This generally describes a new business launch in a particular market i.e. tech startup would be a startup based on a tech product or service. Facebook could once have been deemed a startup, along with Twitter. More current examples are Foursquare and Pinterest.
Emerging technologies show with each Internet startup. That’s what makes them so great but behind the scenes, the startup route requires very long working hours and extreme dedication. You must focus on a number of strategies including product design, programming, marketing, and business structures. It’s a lot of work but also very rewarding in the long run.
In this article I want to discuss a handful of ideas for starting up your own startup. This may target teams already working on products, or even freelancers interested in launching their own. No matter what your situation, these tips should leave you inspired and thinking with the entrepreneurial spirit.
Creating a Bold Idea
To push forward with a tech startup you must have a somewhat grounded idea in place. This could be a new website concept, mobile app, web hosting solution, systems management, etc. The more information you have in the beginning stages, the easier it’ll be down the road.
My recommendation is to setup a list of pros and cons for any new idea. Let’s say social networking project; maybe this website idea has some exclusive features for connecting people locally, rather than globally like how it is working out with current social networks.
Is this better or is this lacking? It’s important to visualize a clear and concise overview of what you have to offer against the competition. Use a bulleted list with commentary if this makes brainstorming easier.
Ttrust that there is always going to be competition – but that’s also what makes the world so great. We can innovate based on another person’s ideas to build a new product which other people would love using and can benefit from. The idea is about learning from previous mistakes and fixing them in your own projects.
Assembling your Team
It may sound lucrative to freelancers to launch a startup and run everything on your own. And if you are only looking for mild success then this route is possible. But note that once your idea picks up steam there will be simply too many tasks for one person to handle.
The CEO is generally the guy running day-to-day tasks anyways but he’ll need help staff to answer e-mail support and common user issues. There is also a need for the tech idea to have some web presence, and for that, a web designer/frontend developer is required, along with marketing and branding execs
Assign by purpose
At first you may choose to get each member’s opinion on what they enjoy most and what they would like to do. However, try not to fit roles based on each person’s desires, but rather based on your startup’s core purpose. Multi-tasking is quite common in such a fast-paced work environment. But the faster you hustle during the early years, the sooner you’ll begin turning real profits.
Keep in mind that a good team is based on the quality of work, not quantity of members.
If the idea is very technical then this process may be drawn-out to finding the right talent. But many startups can succeed even with merely 2 or 3 employees to start. If you have a group of friends with enough passion and dedication to a project, it shouldn’t be difficult to teach yourself new areas of development or business skills. The way to get yourself recognized is by working in numbers and never giving up!
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Having a good idea and a great team will get your tech startup off on the right footing. The first roadblock you’ll hit is developing the initial product. This pre-production phase can be very tedious for everybody involved. The goal is to get something out online as soon as possible.
(Image Source: jadecilcleton)
Don’t produce sloppy code or parts of the website which are broken, but also don’t wait to have every single feature working before releasing a beta application. This initial launch will build up your brand’s name and you can garner a lot of support right from the get-go.
Twitter came out a much simpler version when it first launched in 2006. Over time their development team had included direct (private) messages, @replys, link shortening, inline photo/video media and tons of other features. None of these ideas were produced overnight. And Twitter also did not wait until the application was perfect before they launched it. When users began signing up and tweeting that brought the social network to life. A couple of years after launch, Twitter releases an API for developers as more users join and begin actively using the network on their phones.
The lesson here should be to dream big yet work locally. Keep yourself grounded and focused on completing 1-2 major tasks per day. Don’t wait around for everything to be perfect before going live. In fact, the first couple of months after the initial launch can be seen as a pilot run for collecting user feedback.
Design for Usability
There are a few different ways to interpret developing a “product”. After your website / app / company is officially online, the product development phase doesn’t end. Your team will change gears into cleaning up bugs and maybe even developing some additional features ever so often. This is a stage where startups tend to veer off-course. It’s all too easy to be wrapped up in trying to complete a new interface design for the 3rd time in the same month.
Keep product development purposeful – that is to say, focus on things that will actually impact your business. Update pieces of the layout for the user’s benefit and not your own idiosyncrasies.
Pitch and Marketing
If you’re somewhat familiar with the startup world you may also be interested in high finance. On the business end this can translate into angel investors and venture capital for young budding ideas. Who’s to say your startup couldn’t be part of the crowd?
Money for tech startups is easier to come by now although it’s still not a 100% viable option and you shouldn’t rest the fate of your idea on expecting any seed funding. Y Combinator is an excellent example of some very smart entrepreneurs working together to gather funding and grow major startups.
As for pitching for funding, you don’t need to go to fancy meetings to run your killer pitch. You can however develop a few different summaries for your product, explaining what you are hoping to achieve. These could be mini-presentations which span 30 seconds, 1 minute, 3 minutes, or at maximum 5 minutes. Each would contain the same information but filtered down to save time. Getting your concepts in order is important for business relations, especially for marketing trends.
Whatever your tech startup happens to be, it can likely find an outlet for online marketing. The Internet is definitely the quickest way to build buzz around your product and do some company branding. To start off you can create social media profiles with a vanity URL matching your own company brand. We can see a perfect example on the @hongkiat Twitter page. Depending on your target audience, it may be worthwhile to join a few other networks such as Facebook, Google+, or LinkedIn.
True marketing is about flooding your product in an area of people with similar interests. You may try placing advertisements for your hosting startup on webmaster forums and online bulletin boards. Alternatively, you could target blogs and smaller websites, and instead of paying for ad space provide some type of link exchange. You can also try seeking out blogs to review your products and publish a couple of posts online.
There are no limits to marketing for any given product. I suggest getting a small team of 2-3 close associates who can brainstorm on creative techniques. It never hurts to attempt new methods of building your web presence.
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Instill a Purpose
There are dozens of startups who got going without defining a real purpose. It’s also common to see companies grow then change their goals to fit a changing userbase. You should be comfortable with these ideas when moving to launch your own startup. It takes courage to admit it when areas of your plan are failing. But this type of leadership will keep the team alive and dedicated towards a better end result. If it makes things easier, keep your goals resting on the opinion of your users. Whatever product you’re developing should be created to help people in different areas of industry.
This overarching purpose can’t be planned out in its entirety from the beginning. Like most things in business, this comes with time and patience. But you can still develop an action plan to achieve purpose and be willing to adjust your strategies, too.
Of course you should work towards turning a profit. There are bills to pay but keep money where it belongs and don’t sell out on your personal morals & standards for a few extra dollars. If you can find value in your life from building these tech products then stick with it! There is so much to learn by working in a startup environment.
If you’re interested in reading more, check out the Q&A website Quora which is loaded with information on startup culture and raising capital. Derive the purpose of your startup at your own choosing and others will begin to pile on board.
We have covered a lot of points to get newcomers up-to-date in the startup scene. Creating a startup environment is different from putting a simple website online. You’ll want to cater to a specific need that the public will embrace. Tech startups really work for the people in developing new systems of communication and connectivity.
I can’t guarantee every startup idea will succeed. All too often founders will lose touch with their original goals and the team begins to splinter. Learning how to act and react in the startup industry comes with experience, regardless of your current age. Getting started now will get you that experience earlier, and hopefully you’ll notice positive results after a few years of hard work.