Top Ten Questions and Answers from the Founder / CEO of KillerStartups for the just launched entrepreneurial community site on AdvisorGarage.com. KillerStartups is one of the latest and one of the fastest growing startups sites. Challenges, tips, tricks, motivations and more covered by this fast moving web 2.0 company founder.
1. Tell us about ‘KillerStartups’.
KillerStartups.com is a user driven internet startups community. Entrepreneurs, investors and bloggers are staying updated on up-and-coming internet startups using our blog platform, where internet entrepreneurs submit their startup to see what others think about it.
Our vision: “Tapping the wisdom of crowds to find the next internet big thing.”
We deeply believe in the power of crowds and we want to put it to good use, detecting in an early stage what’s going to be big.
2. What was your motivation for starting ‘KillerStartups’?
Basically I read a lot Fred Wilson’s A VC blog and Techcrunch. I also personally love startups, so basically what I did was to create a mashup of Digg + TechCrunch and that’s how KillerStartups.com came to be.
The motivation is to provide a site where the million of people involved in the internet business can participate in a community to try to pick the next internet big thing.
3. What were some of the early challenges?
Well, when it comes to internet startups, technology is always a challenge. We started out using pligg.com, a digg.com/meneame.net script but really couldn’t catch up with the growing traffic and customizations we wanted it to do for us. We needed to develop everything from scratch, and that always delays your execution plan. In our case, it delayed us 1 month.
4. How did you overcome them?
Asking lots of questions to my friends, having lots of meetings with smart people, and putting long long hours.
5. What did you learn from these challenges?
Normally when you create a startup things are, or at least seem to be, harder because you lack financial resources. If I had money to launch KillerStartups.com, something I believe is that I’d have lost tons of money that could’ve done on a shoestring (as I did).
6. How did you get early traction for your site?
MyBlogLog.com helped a lot at that time, and still does. I remember I launched on January 20th and at the same time registered as a member on MyBlogLog. I placed the widget on killerstartups and visitors started coming in to check it out. Right now we’re very close to become one of the top 50 communities there.
Then, because we created unique content in an everyday basis, people at Netvibes added us to their list of blogs, which helped also quite a bit.
And the rest was word of mouth that did the job of promoting KillerStartups. Users that liked our site told their friends and kept growing that way. A few days ago we were 6,800 in Alexa, which encourages to keep going to reach our goal: 50,000 unique visitors per day.
7. What mistakes did you make, if any? And what were the consequences?
Lots. Too many to mention here, but the funniest one was the day we migrated from a shared hosting to a dedicated hosting with another company. My background is business, not technology, so I was asking for help to different people to set things up. When I did the migration, the DNS took 2 days to propagate so basically we were down for 2 days. Can you imagine the pain? Now I sort of laugh about it, but back then it was pain, pure pain. What I learned from that is to let the techies do their work.
8. What’s next for Killerstartups?
We’re heavily working in our redesign, we’re changing the look and feel of KillerStartups to a more visually appealing image. We’re following our users advice. Also we keep working on new Content partnerships. Already have content deals with profy.com, centernetworks.com, everybodygoto.com and several more high-quality blogs. They’re interested in displaying KillerStartups content in their blog, and so we have a win-win situation.
9. What do you hope to achieve with your business as it grows?
We hope to create a vibrant community interested in the internet startup scene, in creating new opportunities. In terms of traffic, we’re aiming at 50,000 unique visitors per day, as I mentioned earlier.
10. What would be a few suggestions, tips and tricks you would give to other entrepreneurs?
Nothing new really:
Follow your dream, Visualize your success, Focus on the goal, and work as if your project were already successful. Work hard and enjoy the ride, being an entrepreneur is a way of life.
Andrew – Founder
You are a brand! What me? Yes You! How many online accounts do you have? How many online communities are you a part of?
If the answer is more than one then yes…you too are a brand. The question is, are you making the most of your brand?
Top Five Personal Brand Building List:
1) Brand Image:
Pick a personal photo or icon and use it consistently. If you have multiple accounts with sites such as Facebook, go back to each of them and use the same image for each.
2) Brand Messages:
If you are like me, whenever you sign up to a site, the goal is to get through the sign up process as quickly and pianlessly as possible right? Wrong. Open a blank word document, look at one of your online profiles, cut and paste the text into the word doc and then spend ten minutes thinking through what you specifically want people to know about you. Rewrite it, tweaks, polish, refine. When you are happy, go and post that set of personal brand messages into all your profiles. So consistent brand image and now consistent brand messaging.
3) Brand Coverage:
Which sites have you joined? How many? Pick those that mostly closely align with what you want to get out of being part of a community site and focus on a small number. Get those profiles perfect!
4) Share of Voice:
Spend time in those communities that you really want to be a part of, sharing, adding value and being part of the group. Build up your Share of voice in those groups, be a ‘go to’ person if possible – ‘Can’ those memberships that you joined one wet rainy afternoon and now don’t have time or motivation to continue.
5) Brand Equity:
As you get more involved, keep refining your positioning within the communities – make sure that your profile improves as you do. Keep it up to date and your brand will strengthen and grow.
Just a few personal branding thoughts – in a nutshell, focus, clarity, consistency, and activity. Add them together and your online personal brand can be a global powerhouse and who knows what benefits that will bring!
Andrew – Founder
(Guest Blogger: Akira Hirai)
Potential investors want answers. In deciding whether or not they want to continue discussions, they generally want you to answer The Ten Big Questions:
1. What’s the problem? Basically, if there isn’t a big problem in the market – a major unfilled need – then there’s no point in trying to sell a solution. So explain how people or companies are experiencing a significant level of pain because existing solutions are deficient.
2. What is your solution, and what makes it special? This one is obvious. Tell them what you do, and how your customers will benefit relative to existing solutions.
3. How big / severe is the problem? An attractive problem, from the investor’s point of view, is a big problem – preferably one that the market will collectively spend a billion dollars or more to solve.
4. How will you make money? This may be obvious for some companies (we will sell widgets for $10 each), but not so obvious for many others. Software, for example, can be sold on a per-user or per-site basis, with or without recurring licensing fees, with or without recurring maintenance fees, with or without installation or customization fees, and so forth. Or you could give away the razor and make your money on blades.
5. Who will buy it, and how will you sell it to them? That is, how do you segment your potential customers, and what is your plan to efficiently make them aware of your product and decide to give you their money in exchange for it?
6. Why are YOU the best team to do this? You may have a great solution to a big problem, but you won’t get an investor if your team doesn’t have the skills to be able to execute your vision.
7. What are the alternative solutions, and what makes yours the best? No matter what you may think, you do have competitors. If you’ve invented a teleporter that moves people from point A to point B, your competititors still include trains, planes, and automobiles (and bicycles and sneakers). What makes your solution better than the alternative solutions for getting from A to B?
8. What have you done, and what will you do? Ideas are dime-a-dozen. Execution is what really counts. You need to show that you have the ability to make the right things happen. A good track record and aggressive future milestones (along with a realistic plan for making it happen) shows that you mean business.
9. What are the economics? Investors want a means of measuring your progress, often in the form of metrics that can be measured. Many of these metrics are economic – revenue per headcount, expense per headcount, marginal gross margins, revenue per customer, cumulative units to break-even, and so forth.
10. How much do you need, and what will you do with my money? Investors want to know if you have a realistic understanding of the costs involved in starting and growing your business.
These ten questions only touch the surface of what investors need to feel comfortable with before they make an investment decision. However, if you can offer good answers to these ten, you’re almost guaranteed to be invited in for further discussions.
Guest Blogger: Akira Hirai
Cayenne Consulting, LLC
Begged Akira to have this on our blog! Any comments?
As ever, a subtle plug… Go Join http://www.AdvisorGarage.com
Advisors like Akira really can help!
I have written many times about how Advisor Garage finds the Advisors and Entrepreneurs who join every day…the reality is…we don’t! They find us.
Every person who joins Advisor Garage is either brought onboard by an existing member or somehow stumbles across us. Each day I am more and more amazed by how geographically spread the members are – China, India, Europe, South America and of course the United States. The power of word of mouth is an amazing thing!
On our home page (http://www.AdvisorGarage.com), we capture the last fifteen Advisors to join so entrepreneur members can see some of the most recent additions – I thought I would include in today’s article the Advisor at the top of today’s list:
User Name: RReiner.
|An internationally-recognized expert in the field of information security; frequently quoted by the business and technology press (NY Times, CNN, CBS, NBC, CIO Magazine, etc.); holder of a Ph.D. and multiple patents in the field. Founder and original CEO (later CTO) of Assurent Secure Technologies, a provider of IT security research, software, and professional services, which was acquired in 2006 by a Fortune 1000 company. Currently hold an executive position at a large public company, active in advising startups and angel investing.||rreiner|
Interested? Click here to reach out to this advisor…
If we can continue to get this kind of top quality advisor to join Advisor Garage then our service can’t help but be invaluable to entrepreneurs around the world.
Thanks to all that have joined Advisor Garage so far! The more people that join – the more opportunities for all members. Tell a friend!
Often dubbed a growth architect by his clients, this Advisor thrives in overcoming business start-up challenges, positioning each company to achieve its highest potential. He is well known and respected in his field both nationally and internationally, developing start-up, pre-revenue and middle market businesses within a range of industries, offering advisory services and professional speaking engagements including conferences, workshops, telephone seminars and university appearances. This Advisor is a best selling author, assisting hopeful entrepreneurs worldwide with publications in The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and Investors Business Daily.
This Advisor began his career at Price Waterhouse, later developing his own successful real estate syndication firm. His proudest accomplishment to date was in the successful creation and marketing of Financial Fax, a personalized newspaper of selected stock market information. Financial Fax was sold to Los Angeles Times in 1995, at which time it was widely distributed throughout the investment community. In 1990, this Advisor founded his current business, Growth-Logic. In this role, he does what he most enjoys – teaching other entrepreneurs and business leaders how to be extremely successful.
An out-of-the-box strategist, he advises companies on ways they can be more profitable in their entrepreneurial ventures using innovative means. As Americas Business Growth Guru, Joel’s media-coined title, he accelerates organizational growth, helping both new and existing businesses recognize their greatest potential and retain their competitive edge in our growing global marketplace.
|Experience:||More than 20 years|
Interested? Click here to reach out to this advisor…
Reach out to Joel today if you have a business that could benefit from his help!
Three startups later and I have made more than my share of mistakes. Some of them real whoppers. Maybe if I had read this beforehand I’d have made fewer…perhaps not!
The worst way of having your startup fail is never starting it. Its guaranteed to fail then. If you are reading this and do not have a startup – why not? Still waiting for that unique idea? It doesn’t exist! It really is all about executing better than the next startup down the street – that’s one way your business will be unique. How you deliver the value to the customer is how you will differ from all the other ‘me too’s’.
The Right Funds:
All cash is the same right? Wrong! When you accept someone’s money, then you have a responsibility to the investor – even Aunty Cathy. You need to take onboard their likes and dislikes, their suggestions and manage their expectations. It becomes part of your full time job. Be careful who you accept cash from – and try to get more than just cash – so always be on the look out for ‘smart money’ – so called because they add more than just the green stuff.
Keep the Cash Burn Down:
Whatever it is you probably don’t need it! Or if you really do need it, perhaps you don’t need to own it…beg, borrow, haggle perhaps go to eBay but whatever it is – don’t be tempted to pay full retail. Having it does not mean you are a real company – every cent spent before real revenue is another second off of the life of your startup. If you really, really, really need it – perhaps get it next week instead of today. If you got to where you are without it – give yourselves a few more days – you’ll be that much closer to revenue.
Meet the Milestones
Meet the milestones. Not just for your investors (if you have any) but for your employees, your fellow founders, yourself and perhaps even your customers. Make sure you have some small milestones too – ones that track the progress and growth of your wonderful idea. Have huge hairy milestones too but don’t gamble your reputation on achieving them – make those the ‘let’s get their soon people’ rather than ‘ we’ll get there next Tuesday’.
The Right Team:
Not just people that can do the job today but people who can do the next job next month and next year. People who won’t drive each other crazy – picking their feet over the workstation may be cute during your early tie die days but won’t help you if Kleiner Perkins comes calling. Think about the now and the tomorrow when picking the team – try not to be too relieved that someone else is just as crazy as you and wants to join – they’ll need more than that to make the cut as a valuable team member.
The Right First Customers:
The right first customer sees you for what you are and still wants to be your partner. Stop. A partner…not just a customer. The best and worst day for my first business was winning the big elephant deal – they were the most challenging customer we ever had! Certainly NOT a good first customer!
Don’t build it unless you absolutely and positively need it yesterday. Back to cash burn. But when you become a real engine propelled company, make sure you recognize when you need to take the company to the next level – they’ll come a point where the old, cute, cheap ways hack off the employees and even worse – the customers.
Introduce it from day 1. Especially from a financial perspective and its nice to be a ‘friend’ to everyone as the founder and CEO but the buck still stops with you. Make sure its respectful friendship because when the brown stuff starts to flow (and it will) – you need to be able to quickly and efficiently guide all the people in the business.
Focus everything on one perhaps two things – each new idea should not be pursued but saved for when the top 1 or 2 priorities come to fruition. Avoid flip flopping in your focus if something doesn’t immediately come through. Figure out why it hasn’t and try again. Save those great ideas – don’t chase them.
Publicity is king. Its almost free and people believe it a lot more than a one page ad in your magazine of choice. Don’t spend the cash on lots of marketing – but do invest in ‘looking’ like a big and real company through inexpensive means such as your website.
Just a few thoughts. Let me know your list!
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