Startup Grind’s global conference consistently ranks as one of my favorite events of the year. This year’s Global 2020 didn’t disappoint with its all-star lineup, insightful sessions, and plenty of networking opportunities.
The theme of “Learn. Build. Scale.” was on full display as more than 10,000 attendees learned how to build their solutions and scale their businesses and startup infrastructure.
With the likes of Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures, Frederic Kerrest of Okta, and Eric Sager of Plaid in attendance, there was no shortage of top-notch takeaways. I’ve tried to capture some of the wisest insights, informed by my own experiences as a veteran entrepreneur and corporate executive, into these five essential pieces of advice.
Corporates can be a startup’s greatest growth hack. Startups limit themselves when they think about corporate partners only in terms of VC – just checks and capital. Corporations can be the strategic partners that help startups generate market awareness, reach new customers, and enhance their technologies.
By partnering with larger, more established companies, startups tap into a wealth of resources like engineering and product development, as well as the expertise of business and technology mentors.
For example, Oracle for Startups gives growing companies access to marketing opportunities, global customer meetings, and deep discounts on cloud solutions, without taking any equity. (Check it out and start with $500 in free cloud.)
Your story is secret weapon, learn to leverage it. We all know that storytelling is crucial. Trouble is, most aren’t doing it well. Telling a good story means really understanding what makes you unique, then packaging it into a digestible and relatable narrative.
No one actually likes to be pitched. Strive to make a connection through the human mechanism of storytelling, and make sure the moral of the story is that your solution solves a pain point. This core story can then be adapted and tweaked to resonate with many vital audiences, from VCs to media to customers to future employees.
Constantly be learning, asking, seeing what’s next. This sounds obvious, but so often founders get mired in the daily grind and forget to look up and around corners. This isn’t a founder-only responsibility. Make this a priority for everyone in your company.
Think about adjacent markets and technologies. Focus on what you’re doing with a constant eye towards how to get better and adapt for changes. Be like Shigero Miyamoto, who used futurist thinking to transform a playing card and novelty company into a video game juggernaut. You may not know his name, but you are probably aware of his legacy as the man who brought us Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros. from his role as a developer for Nintendo.
Build diversity into your team from the start. Founders often hire people just like themselves. It’s a common and often unconscious mistake, but founders can benefit by hiring people with different backgrounds.
Successful startups hire people who bring a diversity of ideas, backgrounds, and skillsets. Embracing our differences widens our point of view and expands our ability to see around corners and what’s next (see “Think like a futurist” above).
Fresh perspectives can challenge the status quo and help founders embrace new approaches to common problems.
You might be a 3-person startup today, but you will experience growth. Stay ready by making sure your cloud architecture is robust enough to future-proof your startup when it’s time to scale fast, reliably and efficiently.
Take it from a technical founder that found this out the hard way. Start with a cloud solution that can handle your current workloads but can scale up and down without surprises, adapt, and be flexible enough for your growing and ever-changing cloud startup.