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Social Media and Community Management for Startups: Part 2

Last week, I wrote an overview of Community Management for Startups, explaining why community management can become an important part of a business’s evolving success as it grows; particularly if it grows very fast. Today, we’re going to take a deeper look at just one aspect of Community Management: growing your community on and off social media.

How Facebook and Twitter Work: In Theory


If you’re a startup that’s offering a SaaS platform, a consumer product, consumer content, or any other service, you should probably be familiar with the Pareto Principle. Named from an early 20th century Italian economist who observed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of its population, the principle states that this 80/20 distribution, or “the principle of factor sparsity,” roughly reflects the total activity in a system, in proportion with its most active users.

For example, if you have 100 Facebook friends, then you can expect that about 80% of the content shared, messages sent, and likes and shares executed among your Facebook friends, will be the work of just 20 of those friends. A similar distribution is common in many economic and commercial fields. For example, most companies can expect that 80% of their profits are generated by 20% of their customers. Likewise, about 80% of a company’s productivity is generated in just 20% of its employee’s working time.

Corollaries to this rule, as  applied to social networking by blogger/entrepreneur Andrew Chen and others, are the 1/9/90 principle, and the Metcalf Principle, which state respectively that within any content platform, for every 1 creator of content, 9 will interact with the content, and 90 will view it, and that the value of a network is proportional to the square of the number of users. However, this is an average, and doesn’t account for the relevance of content to the users- some content is highly sharable, and other content is worthless.

Facebook somewhat complicates this situation by applying an algorithm to its feed content, which preferences those who are more likely to be engaged with a particular post. This raises the chances that people will view it, but lowers the possibility that you will reach someone who has not expressed interest in something similar before. Effectively, Facebook artificially raises the value of the users in its networks by preferencing connections which are more likely to lead to interaction.

This is something that Twitter does not do (as much), and it is a major point of departure between the two. With Twitter, the Metcalf Principle- the idea that the value of a network scales exactly according to its size, as applied to the whole platform, and to networks inside it, is valid. With Facebook, the size of the network is still important, but Facebook is playing from both ends: anticipating what users want to see, while limiting the number of users that a publisher can reach by default (which happens to be about 16%, again on average). This makes individual impressions theoretically more valuable, because they should be more relevant, while making overall virality (proportional to the total network load) less important, and the appearance of virality almost completely unimportant.  This has allowed Facebook to develop a much more valuable ad platform than Twitter has managed, and this is partly because Facebook has kept individual users more actively engaged in multiple “networks” at the same time, accessible to many different layers of advertising and influence. Facebook isn’t for single issue accounts -something that Twitter thrives on-  meaning that Facebook can foster more connections and more network value out of individual users.


Here’s What That All Means

In essence this all means that the rules for building a base of users for your platform/content/service, and the rules for building a community on social media are similar, but slightly different. The rules are also different on different platforms. When building a base of users, you need to understand that your highest value users, the ones who contribute 80% of the money you make, could represent just 20% of the total. However, an early mistake that many startupers make is to assume that the rules for growing a social media presence, and growing their base of users, are the same thing- they see value in the number at the top of the page, assuming that 1000 users is always 10 times better than 100.
But network effects on Social Media are far more complicated than they are in a closed product platform. For starters, a single influencer in your network can be more influential on his/her own than your entire network is without them. This is particularly true on less controlled platforms like Twitter- which is the attraction there for celebrities, tycoons, and those that wield huge personal and brand networks. StartupYard may have over 2000 followers, but if just one of those followers is Richard Branson, Jack Dorsey, or Elon Musk, then powerful network effects can come into play.

The situation is even more complex on Facebook, where network effects are not directly visible- no single user can see how many times a post has been shared or liked across all possible networks on the platform, because the platform doesn’t show users information not relevant to networks they are directly connected to, affecting people’s interaction with content. On Twitter, the network effect is a part of the story: tweets are famous because they’re famous. On Facebook, virality is distilled more purely into that which attracts interaction, generating more interaction, and being selectively promoted for that reason alone.


Putting it in Action


Knowing all of this is good. And I recommend reading through more of Andrew Chen’s amazing work on the subject to get a better understanding of the theory behind social media marketing. But here are a few of the actionable insights you can apply to building your network:

        1. Do NOT focus on the Vanity Statistics

StartupYard isn’t a product company. We don’t make anything (unless you consider Startups a product, and we don’t), and we don’t provide a service directly to the public. Nothing we do is for sale. So the idea that we need a huge network on Twitter should seem deeply silly to us. But like all slaves of fashion, we find ourselves becoming concerned with that number at the top of the page. Why isn’t it higher? Why is it lower today than yesterday? Is it growing fast enough?

These questions can distract us from the actually important data. How many people are reading our posts? Are we getting retweeted and favorited? Is our network growing in quality, as it grows in quantity? Are we following and being followed by valuable contacts? Despite not having thousands of followers, our posts are regularly clicked on by up to 7% of our followers. That’s a pretty damn good number on Twitter.

If what you’re interested in is being heard, and being noticed, not by anyone, but by the right people, then you should be willing to trade 1000 Twitter followers for one follower, if that person has a network of high enough quality him or herself. So focusing on the right networks within social media is key to a successful strategy.

Invest some time in products like FollowerWonk that allow you to analyze social networks, and identify key influencers, focusing your efforts on capturing the attention of their networks. People on social media are ultimately looking for what is of value to them. So finding networks that have already coalesced around shared values is going to work better than trying to create them from nothing. What are they talking about? What interests them? And what do you have to say about that? This isn’t rocket science, but it’s not sales either. Don’t treat Twitter and Facebook like you would email marketing. It’s not the same at all.


  1. Watch Your Networks

There are many ways to monitor and be on top of your social media networks. And this effort goes hand-in-hand with understanding what people are concerned with, and talking about on different platforms, and in different communities. Hootsuite, and TweetDeck are popular for monitoring and managing multiple accounts at the same time, while BufferApp, and lesser known, but beautifully executed, are designed to help you find, curate, and share relevant content to your networks, staying a part of the overall conversation, even when you aren’t on hand to participate directly.

Social media scrapers and analytics companies like or BuzzSumo will also help you identify which content is being shared accross social media networks- information that isn’t always as apparent on the platforms themselves- particularly Facebook. It will show you which posts in your field of interest are popular, and on which networks, and it will grow to focus more and more on the networks that are relevant to your interests, and those of your followers.


  1. Automate Your Network: But Not For Evil

Now hang on. Don’t be that guy. Don’t set up automatic direct messages to everyone who follows you, and don’t follow back every bot that follows you either. Let’s all calm down.

There are good and non-evil ways of automating your Twitter network, and making it better. For example, using IFTT, you can automatically gather a list of people who use certain hashtags, and then analyze that list for people who might be interesting to follow on their own, or tweet to, or simply respond to.

You can also use the same service to save lists of people who would be interesting to follow, and by gathering these users in a spreadsheet, you can start to identify which of them are the biggest influencers within their networks, and within your domain as a whole. You can use IFTT or to collect and currate posts by influencers in your network, making yourself part of the conversation. After working with this process for a time, you’ll also be able to anticipate which stories will interest your community, and publish them first, be the first to comment, and write and publish your own blog posts about those topics, as they relate to your products and your company vision. Having your finger on the pulse is just the first step to being a bigger influence on your community.

StartupYard at Bulgaria Web Summit, April 18, 2015

Bulgaria Web Summit, the 11 year-running, not for profit conference for startups and web companies, has invited me, Lloyd Waldo, as a speaker this year.

The summit, a unique event in the region, bills itself as the antidote to expensive, boring conferences, and focuses on the open source, locally grown Bulgarian tech ecosystem. Though this is my first trip to Bulgaria on behalf of StartupYard, our ties to the region include mentor Rumen Iliev, and workshop host and resident growth hacker Bogomil Shopov, one of the event’s organizers, and a friend of StartupYard.

My talk will be titled: “Positioning and Story: Copywriting For Startups,” and it will focus on topics, I have covered on this blog extensively.

Why Is StartupYard Interested in Bulgaria?

Bulgaria’s rapidly developing tech ecosystem is an interesting place on its own. But over the past year, StartupYard has seen some very exciting startups from the area. During our current selections, we’ve talked to several Bulgarian startups, and have been impressed with their enthusiasm, their candor, and their willingness to tackle big ideas in new ways. Not only is the open-source community very strong in Sofia and across the country, but the mentality of modern day entrepreneurship permeates the region. Last year, for example, StartupYard accelerated Gjirafa, a burgeoning player and competitor with Google in the search market of Albania/Kosovo. Since then, our contacts with the region have only grown, and developments grown more interesting as well.

StartupYard is interested in the future of Startups in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, and we believe that a base of talent, creative energy, and new ideas is growing in the region; developments which will benefit Central Europe, and provide fodder for great investments from StartupYard and all of our partners and investors.

I Look Forward to Meeting You

I hope to meet and exchange views with as many startupers and entrepreneurs in Bulgaria as possible. Especially for those that may be interested in finding more about StartupYard, I’d be happy to answer your questions, and give you an idea of what we do, and what we can do for you.  I hope that if you’re there, you’ll find me and say hello.

Lloyd Waldo

What It’s Like to Select Startups for An Accelerator

As of this week, we’ve narrowed hundreds of applications for our 2015 accelerator round, down to a very special final 13. I hope none of them are superstitious. These 13 teams will be invited to join us at StartupYard next week for an all-day, in person workshop, including pitches, meetings with the StartupYard team, and selected StartupYard mentors. No more than 10 teams will be accepted to the accelerator, and we’re really excited about our choices this year.

We can’t tell you anything about any of the startups we’ve talked to (yet), but I can tell you a little bit about the process so far.

What are we looking for?

The interview process is pretty simple. It starts with a few questions that we ask all the startups: “What problem is your startup trying to solve?”and “how did this project start?,” and similar queries. Then, reacting to the initial answers, we press the startups for clarifications, or for their ideas about how the products can be evolved, how they can be marketed and sold, and how they might become profitable. Why does the startup want to join an accelerator? Why ours? This helps us to gauge the communicativeness of the team, and their preparedness for our program, as well as giving us a basic overview of how they see their project developing in the near future.

But what we’re really looking for is, above everything, a great team. As a first-time evaluator, I’d seen interviews before, but I hadn’t voted on startups, and I hadn’t been one of the people asking questions. I was sometimes surprised by how little the actual product matters in the final decision about which teams we want to move on: the team matters the most. We talked to teams that had interesting products, but for which we could garner little collective enthusiasm, while other teams had objectively weaker products, but for which several of the evaluators fought vigorously- because the team was so good.

More than just a great team, we are looking for great value. A team that is accomplished and knowledgeable is fine, but we also look for teams that can benefit the most from our program- teams that seem flexible enough to hone and expand their skills, and resilient enough to take a lot of negative feedback from us, and our mentors. If a founder is brilliant but timid and rigid, unwilling or unable to engage in discussion and react to new ideas, then what difference can we make in the success of their startup? They may be aware that they need help, but they may be unable to take advantage of it when it’s offered. The product may be interesting, but if the founder doesn’t respond well to challenges, we won’t be able to improve his or her chances of success. To us, that’s good money after bad.

Doing it For the Right Reasons

Our managing director Cedric Maloux and I were chatting after our first day of interviews this week, when he asked me this: “which of these startups do you think we’ll take for the right reasons?” In my experience, the answer to that question can’t be known until we’ve worked with the startups for some time. In the interview process, you can try to be objective and to look at your job as picking teams and their ideas, and not your ideas of what the products they are working on could be. But this is always a danger. It’s easy to see a lot of potential in other people and their ideas, because we don’t have any experience with those people. But sometimes, inevitably, we find that the founder doesn’t have the vision to execute the ideas that they can present so inspiringly. Perhaps the person is lazy, perhaps they fear failure, and they aren’t willing to risk enough to follow the vision they lay out, or perhaps they simply don’t see the potential in their own ideas that other people see there. Some people make great first impressions, but can’t sustain their charm.

In Why Do We Love Tall Men? an essay from his bestseller (and one of my favorite books) Blink, Malcom Gladwell postulates that the noted preponderance of tall men (the average CEO of a fortune 500 company is nearly 8cm taller than the average man) among the CEOs of fortune 500 companies is part of a greater pattern. Specifically, that we have an idea about what we are usually looking for among leaders and successful people, and that we pick people to follow, help, and promote, based on that idea. If you seem to represent the ideal of, say, a startup founder, then you are more likely to be accepted to, say, an accelerator. And if you are accepted to an accelerator, you are more likely to succeed as a founder- and the cycle will repeat, with others believing that the way you appear is connected with your success- that you were destined for what you achieved, because you represent a preformed ideal.

But these preconceptions are dangerous. They not only lead us to believe in people for the wrong reasons, they also lead us to dismiss others who have enormous potential to succeed.

And these preconceptions are not just connected to appearance or to personal style. We can also be swayed by how apparently successful a product or a startup already appears to be, and we can be further swayed by the idea that this startup is “in the right space.” Is the startup a gaming company? They may tell you that gaming represents a $16 billion a year business. But why would that affect your decision about a particular team? You would hope that it doesn’t. On the other hand, a startup in the same business as others that you have previously worked on, which have themselves failed to gain traction, may be associated in your mind with losers- that other application that did something similar failed, therefore this will fail too. As an evaluator, I caught myself thinking those thoughts from time to time. Likewise, we tend to associate startups in crowded market with “me too” ideas, even when the ideas are actually very unique, and solve a real pain in the industry they’re targeting. All industries that experience significant growth are crowded, and most dominant players in those industries weren’t the first. Competition and a dynamic marketplace can be good things, and we shouldn’t be afraid of them.

Startup Nirvana and the Fear of Missing It

The evaluators chatted on the second day of interviews about “The Fear of Missing It.” This is the thing that looking at startups and seed-stage investments is really all about. When a startup pitches an idea, and you find yourself later that day, or that week, turning over the idea in your mind, and thinking about how you don’t want to be left behind, that is The Fear of Missing It. When we meet founders, and experience that fear, it’s very exciting. It rarely happens, but it means that the idea is something very special. It is an idea that may not be new, may not be completely unique, and may not be perfect, but that has the potential, if executed properly, to have a major impact. More than that, the idea is not simply so broad or so generic that it can mean anything to anyone. It is obvious, but only obvious after seeing it in action. Sometimes, when we interview startups, 10 or 20 ways that the idea could succeed will simply present themselves in our minds. The possibilities seem enormous, and yet the idea remains very focused. This week, I took to calling it ” Startup Nirvana.”

You Are not a Startup, or “Productification”

A few months ago, I attended an accelerator conference in Paris hosted by Numa in Paris (home of Le Camping). One of the sessions discussed the problem of scouting and selecting startups- a problem every accelerator faces. One of the things that many of the other accelerator directors and managers complained of was “productification,” or “false startups.” These are companies, usually consultancies or design houses, that have prepared a particular technical solution for a particular client, or have developed an expertise in a particular area. Now they want to turn that technical solution or expertise into its own business. There is nothing wrong with doing this- it’s how tens of thousands of new businesses are born every year. But that doesn’t mean that the businesses they’re starting are, or should be, startups.

Startups are a particular animal: they are ideas that have 1) enormous growth potential 2) a time sensitive nature that requires them to be developed and to grow quickly in order to succeed and 3) are exploiting an unproven product or market concept, attempting to be among the first to capitalize on an unknown, or unmet, market need. And StartupYard, like all accelerators, is built to capitalize on that kind of groundbreaking innovation. Slow and steady may win the race (and startups are supposed to transition into established companies eventually), but Startups are a sprint at the beginning, and that’s where we can add real value.


A lot of companies apply to StartupYard, despite their being nothing like startups. They’re regular companies, that have the potential to do good business, and to grow steadily and provide a nice income for their founders and their shareholders.  What they don’t have, is the potential to grow quickly, or on a global scale. We catch most of these in the application process, and they don’t continue. But sometimes a company slips through to the interview stage, because they are trying to “productify,” or make something into a product, when that isn’t how it was originally conceived. Often these are consultancies who are trying to automate their internal processes, and sell them on a broader market. Again, this is fine if it works, but if your business plan involves steadily gaining individual clients, and slowly refining your process to make it more cost efficient, that doesn’t necessarily make you a startup. Having an app doesn’t make you a startup- evidenced by the fact that there are many apps, popular ones, developed by non-startup companies.

Startups, as the saying goes, are supposed to “move fast and break things.” But that isn’t just a macho motto, or a style of working. It’s a basic difference in what type of business a company really is. We’re not all startups. 

Social Media and Community Management For Startups: Part 1

This will be the first of a series of articles from StartupYard about the basics of Social Media and Community Management for Startupers. We’ll focus on companies who are just getting started with social media.

While the social media landscape constantly changes, best practices, in many ways, extend to a time before Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They are based in the age-old skills of clear, consistent and effective print marketing and customer relations. So that’s where we’ll start.

A future installment of this series will deal with the basics of building and maintaining your online communities in social networks. But first, let’s cover a few basics about Community Management:

Should My Company Be on Social Media?

Where should you go to start your business? Prague is an easy choice.

This is a surprisingly important question for many startups. The answer is: not necessarily. Marketing blogs and (surprise) social media evangelists will tell you that social media is the cure-all marketing solution for any business in the 21st century. The truth is that social media is the perfect venue for marketing blogs and social media evangelists to talk about how great social media is for growing your business. For social media companies, this is true, and because they focus on social media- they’re great at getting that message out. As in the above “tips,” for startups, many of these people stand to benefit from you wasting a lot of effort on a social media presence you might not need.

Social has become an important channel in the past decade for 4 main things: inbound marketing, content, advertising, and customer care. Now, if you’re a B2B business with a small pool of potential clients, and you have to go door to door to recruit them personally, then social media is not going to represent a huge growth opportunity for you. In that case, it may even be preferable not to engage in social media, because it is a) a waste of time and effort, and b) your lack of engagement in social channels may reflect badly upon your company image. What happens when a potential client who you’ve contact by email follows you on Twitter, or looks up your Facebook page, and discovers that you have 3 likes, an outdated set of team pictures, and no new posts for 6 months? Once you start a social media presence, you have to commit to maintaining it, so the cost/benefit ratio has to be clear before you start. Until you can see a reason why having a Facebook page or active Twitter handle will have some real benefit, you should hold off.


Which Social Media Should I Use?


This is of course a question that pertains to your goals in using social media. Supposing that you are a B2C company that would like to grow word-of-mouth buzz about your products, Facebook and Twitter are the natural yin and yang of social media. Other networks, like Instagram or Pinterest, are more of interest to media and niche product companies, interested in promoting specific products or content. If, for example, your products are used to create beautiful pieces of art, or if you sell something physical and photogenic, then these platforms should be interesting from a content perspective. If not, though, you should seriously consider confining yourself to the big two.

Between the “big two,” Twitter encourages more active engagement, media sharing, and content curation than Facebook, but Facebook offers a cleaner, simpler, safer relationship with your followers. Think of Twitter like a party where you have the opportunity to hand out your business cards to 300 Million people at once. Facebook is more like a city, where you can set up your own shop. People can stop by, and they’ll see your posts as they pass by, but you can’t go out and flag them down.

These two approaches have their own intrinsic values, and you can consider them complimentary. Facebook posts made from company pages garner “impressions” (that is, they appear in front of users, whether they are clicked or noticed or not), on average about 16% of the time. This means that if your Facebook page has 1000 followers, say, and you post at regular intervals every few days, then your average post will appear for about 160 people. If the post is liked and shared, these numbers can increase dramatically. A post that is shared by a friend who also likes the same page has about a 35% chance of being seen. Facebook’s algorithm, while it remains mysterious, also appears to favor posts that have early traction, and shows these to even more of your followers.

On the contrary, tweets are much more ephemeral. Twitter Analytics, indicates, for example, that with over 2000 followers, we generate between 100 and 400 impressions for the typical Tweet. But since Twitter feeds are updated on a constant basis, “views,” probably include a larger number of users who skip past most of the posts in their feed at any given moment. Engagement rates with those tweets show that indeed, of those impressions, only a small percentage (between 1% and 4%), engage with a tweet in any way. That may seem impressive on the surface, but it comes out to between 1 and 10 people actually engaging with a particular tweet, out of 2000 followers and nearly 250 Million active users.

On the other hand, the fast pace of Twitter allows for much faster organic growth, as you can retweet, favorite, be retweeted and favorited, and other users will see and be able to follow you based on your interactions- unlike with Facebook. This makes it much easier to alter and hone your tweeting style to engage with more followers. Also, Twitter doesn’t appear to alter the ratio of views/followers based on the number of tweets you make in a day, granted the number is not excessive (less than 10 “broadcast” tweets per day). Thus, Twitter tends to yield a larger number of followers, while delivering a lower average number of impression for anything you happen to post. This encourages you to post more, and to target more specific hashtags or even specific other accounts for interaction.

Twitter is also a much more efficient channel for communicating multi-laterally with your existing users, as Facebook pages don’t allow for public one-to-one interactions as Twitter does. This makes Twitter a much more commonly employed platform for Social CRM or “Customer Relationship Management,” which I’ll talk more about later.

In sum, most B2C web companies should probably be on Facebook, and should at least have a Twitter handle reserved for themselves, even if they’re not necessarily ready to use it. But don’t open 5 social media accounts all at once. Focus on the ones that serve your immediate interests: Facebook for building buzz, and perhaps for some advertising; Twitter for talking with your community.

What is Community Management?

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Community management in its many current forms, is a relatively new development in web business, and it means different things to different companies and industries. But at its base, it is a mix of marketing, branding, and customer service. As web businesses have built themselves around communities of users, leveraging their existing customer base to promote and sell their latest products, community management has emerged as a way of handling the concurrent interests of a company’s marketing, branding, and customer relationships in a more fluid way.

Whereas a tech company might in the past have needed dedicated sales, marketing, customer service, and Q/A departments all dealing with their separate domains, today many of these activities all occur in the same places online. If you are using Facebook and Twitter, along with email to announce a new product, the success of that announcement depends upon you having a strong following on those platforms- a base of users who are paying attention to what you say in all of those channels. That strong following depends on your community manager’s using that platform to provide value to your followers and users.

Below is a sampling of a Community Manager’s possible roles. Depending on the size of a company, the community manager may be the same person running sales and marketing for the whole company. If your company has a biz dev specialist, a marketer, and a sales specialist, then often the marketer will be responsible for community management as well, in collaboration with the other two. For larger teams that have customer service, Q/A, marketing, and sales teams, a community manager can be brought in as a role that bridges many of their individual responsibilities.

A Community Manager’s Roles



  1. Maintaining an Internal Community

The “Community Manager” role grew early on through message board admin roles. Today, a similar role is still played in online communities based around gaming, content sharing, and discussion. If your product has an internal community feature, it’s likely that a community management role will have to evolve relatively early on to manage the safety and stability of your internal community. Common jobs include maintaining an FAQ, being able to escalate and resolve user complaints, and enforcing the platform’s terms of use. The role may be filled by someone with a focus on customer service, rather than marketing.

  1. Social Media Outreach

For companies with a respectable base of engaged users, a community manager can encourage cohesiveness of its communities on social media, outside the company’s own platform. This role sits between customer service and marketing, with a good community manager also being familiar with the company’s Q/A processes, and being able to pass along valuable user-generated information on bugs and missing features in the company’s products.

The community manager in this role must be able to handle customer inquiries about sales, as well as handle simple customer issues, with the ability to escalate customer complaints to the appropriate colleagues efficiently, following up on the results to ensure satisfaction. In addition, the community manager has to use positive interactions to make impressions on the community, by, for example, sharing successful customer service interactions and positive reviews for the company and products with the community on social media, or by email. He or she may also currate and share chatter about company products from around the web on the company’s social media accounts.

The community manager controls the conversation: making sure that misapprehensions and rumors about your company and products are sorted out quickly, and don’t spread. Are people sharing a blog post bashing your company, full of false statements and innuendo? Your community manager should spot this, and provide the official line- taking steps to make sure that rumors and negative buzz don’t have any room to grow. At the same time, the community manager spots and promotes positive reviews and mentions of the product, so that they are seen by even more people. If you aren’t in the conversation, you can’t influence it.

Depending on the size of a company, this role may be shared with PR, and marketing, and the community manager may also be the company’s general head of communication, blogger, and marketer (such as in the case with Startupyard itself- I currently fill all of those roles at once). In other cases, this role may evolve from customer service, or from an internal community management role.

  1. Customer Advocate

One of a community manager’s most important roles is observation and intelligence gathering. As the person with their finger on the pulse of the company’s customers, the community manager should be able to deliver key insights into customer sentiment and behavior. They should be able to identify common problems and common positive feelings about a company’s products, and the company itself. They should also have some insight into the makeup of the company’s active community demographics: who are the users? What defines them as a group?

A good community manager should be able to tell a head of marketing what customers are most interested in hearing about, and what bothers them most about the company’s products. They should also be able to identify Q/A and UX failures, and to provide some insight into user preferences in these areas. They should be able to identify which competitors customers are most interested in.

Do We Need A Community Manager?

A friend of mine who is a producer for a very popular gaming company told me this recently: “Nobody needs a community manager, until they really need a community manager.” This is to say, if your intention is to grow a base of users quickly, and to leverage them to grow your community and public awareness of your products, you’ll need a community manager eventually. And that need will arise suddenly, and possibly unpleasantly, when you realize that a lot of people are discussing your products, and that you are not in control of the conversation.

Yours would not be the first company, for example, to receive a great deal of negative press over a particular failure (a bug, a privacy lapse, platform instability, or other issue), that could have been mitigated by the presence of a community manager. Suppose a journalist or blogger wants to write about your company, but the contact email you’ve provided isn’t read by anyone, and no one answers direct messages via social media? An article or blog post can go out without you having an opportunity to engage with it, and give your side of the story. Worse, an article can float around for days and weeks without you even noticing it’s there. When people are googling you, or checking Twitter, they’ll be getting information you don’t even know about.

Social CRM

Social CRM, or “Customer Relationship Management,” is a relatively new but rapidly growing industry. These are primarily tools for customer service and community management, increasingly focused on social media channels, but including sms, telephony, email, and community message boards as well. Today, a small to medium sized company can access off-the-shelf web based products for monitoring and engaging with their online communities, whether their primary focus is in sales, marketing, or customer care. In fact, StartupYard accelerated a Social CRM company called Brand Embassy, which is doing increasingly well in the customer care segment of Social CRM.

These products allow a single person or a team to monitor conversation across multiple social media channels and internal communication platforms (like email), and get a snapshot of all the conversations going on in a company’s community at any given time. They will let you know when your products or company are being mentioned, and where, and allow you to respond on multiple channels from the same place, allowing you to efficiently manage your community as a whole.


Meet Helena Nehasilová, StartupYard’s Newest Team Member

The StartupYard team is excited to announce another brand new member. Helena Nehasilová will serve as StartupYard’s much needed Administrative Associate. Her many duties will include facilitating the StartupYard accelerator program, helping to organize and run StartupYard events, and managing the StartupYard team’s hectic calendar and administrative paperwork. Her job for now is to support the StartupYard team, and keep us working efficiently and effectively. She will be a welcome asset to the team when it welcomes up to 10 new startups in March, and mentoring begins in ernest.

I talked with Helena this week about what uniquely suits her to working with Startups. Here’s what she had to say:


Hi Helena! Welcome to the team. Tell us a little about yourself.
Hello there! I am young life enthusiast. I am interested in startups, creative people, music and yoga. I studied at the Economic faculty of ČZU in Prague and worked in several offices as an office manager. After some time spent in the corporate world, I decided to create my own project (Office yoga) and do more “creative” stuff in my life. When I am not at StartupYard, I do yoga or play the piano in my band Lady Merlot.


So you have some experience as an entrepreneur? What have you learned from creating Office Yoga?

I can say that I do. I am happy that i didn’t give up on my dream, and tried to create my own project. It started from the idea of doing yoga and healthy stretching right in the workplace, as a new employee benefit, and continued with all the administrative “nightmare” of dealing with public offices (trade license, financial office etc.), then with creating a business plan, website, hiring good teachers, meeting all the business HR people, etc. I ended up with lessons and workshops in companies on a regular basis. I’ve learned so many things I wouldn’t have, had I only worked as an employee. I can also say that being an entrepreneur is not a picnic, but it is worth a try at least. The company is still going steady, but slowly.


What makes you want to work with StartupYard?

I really like the atmosphere of startups. It’s a “fresh” environment full of really interesting ideas and projects. One can be really inspired, not only by the dreams which can become real, but also by the remarkable and smart people. It’s a pleasure to work in this area, with such people.

I also really love the atmosphere at Node5, where we started working this month. The people here and the Node5 team have been really welcoming and friendly, and it’s a great location, so I think our incoming startups will really enjoy being here.


What do your friends think about you working in “Startupland?”

They are really excited about it. Some of them envy the friendly and smart environment of “Startupland”. Definitely better than working for some “fossilized”, boring, non-creative public office. Some of them appreciate that my work is part of something bigger – not only myself or StartupYard, but we help other people, to grow their ideas into real and working projects and companies.


You grew up in Prague, unlike most of the StartupYard team. How have things changed here since you can remember? What has changed for the better, or the worse?

I can see Prague is becoming a more metropolitan and cosmopolitan city, but it still holds on to the hallmarks of a unique place in the heart of Europe. It is more open to foreigners (more people can speak English, more services are available in English) than before. These days there new communities of expats are still forming; local art areas with small and pleasant cafes, bars and pubs, coworking places, creative people or LGBT groups. I think the city is more open to new trends, styles and unusual activities. I can’t say anything has become worse, except for the politics. Maybe the prices have increased, but in comparison with the rest of the EU, it is still super cheap here.


How do you hope to positively influence the StartupYard program and the teams when they arrive?

I think I am a really friendly, open-minded person and I like meeting new people. I hope I will charge up the teams with my positive and welcoming attitude. Don’t worry, there won’t be just hard work. You can look forward to fun and relaxing activities. I am looking forward to all the teams! Can’t wait.


What about this type of work seems like the biggest challenge for you?

The biggest challenge for me is to arrange the smooth running of all the workshops and events organised by StartupYard and also organization of our future teams and mentors. But I am sure it will be fun and I am really excited about that.


Hacking the Prague Life, Part 2

Quality of Life Metrics: Prague leads Central Europe


Last year we posted a somewhat controversial piece about why we thought Prague was the darling of Europe, and the best place, for our money, to live the Startup Life. And honestly, our assessment has nothing to do with hookers, despite some reactions. Today, we’re going to revisit that opinion (about Prague, not hookers), and expand upon it with some more detail.

Prague is only the 14th largest city in the European Union by population, just behind Milan and Munich. Though it’s much smaller than places like London, Paris, and Berlin, with just over 1 million in population, several quality of life metrics rate it as one of the best cities, in the world, to live in, and it is routinely ranked the best in all of Central and Eastern Europe.


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According to the European Commission report on perceived quality of life, Prague rates alongside London and Paris for its transportation system. The modern, 3 line Prague Metro is the most widely used, per capita, in the world, and its tram network is also the most heavily used in Europe, second only to Zurich, with total patronage numbers rivaling the larger systems of St. Petersburg and Budapest. Prague transport is also a trend-setter in technology, first with the world-renowned classic Tatra T3 trams that have been copied and exported around the world, and lately with the Porsche-designed Skoda 15T, which is being exported to China, and is already also in use in Riga. With over 800 active rolling stock, it is one of the densest, and most accessible tram networks in the world. And operating 24 hours a day, it can get you anywhere in the city that you need to be, and is usually as fast as taking a cab.

Add to that the cost of transportation to the consumer. Prague transport operates on a unified, open ticketing system, with tickets available by sms, or through machines. A single trip costs about one Euro, 30% less than average for systems in Germany or France, with over half the total real cost covered by the city. Monthly all access passes are priced at just 20 Euros, making transport a fraction of the expense it is in other capitals like Berlin, Paris, and London.


Employment and Entrepreneurism

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The above study also showed that employee confidence is the 3rd highest in Europe, with 56% of those surveyed saying that finding a job in Prague is easy. The city employs a stunning 150,000 foreign workers, nearly a quarter of the worker total, and over 80% of total jobs are in services. Eurostat research also shows that Prague ranks 5th in Europe for GDP per capita, at 172% of the EU average.

The low cost of living and high quality infrastructure has translated to a haven for entrepreneurs from across Europe, who come for the snappy local economy, and stay for the low cost of good living that is hard to give up.

Self-employment in the Czech Republic is also straightforward, and taxes and regulation on independent contractors are light, and lightly enforced. While the biggest obstacle to gaining employment here is the language, international workers, particularly in tech, find that to be a minor issue, as English is the official language, or a lingua franca, for virtually all international firms, and an employment requirement in most tech jobs.

This makes hiring local workers, such as marketers, software engineers, and IT workers exceedingly easy and painless for small companies, giving employers a great amount of flexibility in finding great local talent.



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According to statistics compiled by Numbeo, which tracks visitor perception, Prague has one of the lowest crime indexes in Europe, on par with Helsinki, a full 10 points below London, and 20 points below Paris. Users rate Prague as safe or very safe for walking alone in at night, and the biggest perceived criminal problem in the city is corruption- an issue that extends more into politics than it does local business or the tourist trade. The Czech Republic boasts a murder rate of just 1 per 100,000, which is the same as the UK, less than 1/4th that of the United States, and 1/10th that of Russia.


Culture and Food

Prague is well known and appreciated for its amazing variety of good eats, good beer, and a wide selection of places to go for just about anything. The cottage industry of local food blogs is testament to the vibrant gustatory scene, and a highly decent lunch can be had for as little as €5, with a world class half-liter of beer coming in at around €1.

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Housing In Prague

 I won’t attempt a definitive neighborhood guide to Prague. But I’ll give you an idea of what some of the living options are. For those who will be attending our program in 2015, I will mark locations convenient to our offices (either by transport or nearby), with an asterisk (*).

Old Town: Prague 1

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The old town comprises several neighborhoods, on either side of the river, close to the central, historical part of the city. Here you will find most of the high-end restaurants, theaters, bar/clubs and hotels in the city. The sections of Old Town that surround Old Town Square, at the heart of the city, are usually swarming with tourists, and are, at least in my opinion, unattractive for day-to-day living. They are also expensive, and transport is crowded and difficult.

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The neighborhoods of Mala Strana* (the “small side”), are those across the river from the old town. This is traditionally the haunt of the city’s best known writers and artists of ages past, and today it hosts a number of the best cafes, wine bars, and theaters in the city. The area is also host to a number of foreign Embassies, and has a high concentration of art galleries and museums, including the Museum Kampa, the modern Art Museum in Kamp Park, along the river. Here can also be found the city’s only funicular railway, at Petrin hill, which offers beautiful views of the castle and the city. Many parts of this neighborhood are very attractive for living, including those blocks which connect Mala Strana with Smichov, between the Ujezd and Svandovo Divadlo tram stops. Mala Strana is connected to the old town via Charles Bridge.

New Town: Prague 2*

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New Town, or “Nove Mesto,” is an area that includes a series of neighborhoods from the lower edge of Old town, down the right bank of the Vltava river. Some important areas here are Na Plavka, the riverside embarcadero that hosts a thriving farmer’s market in warm months, and Karlovo Namesti, one of the largest open public squares in Europe. This area also contains Prague’s second largest Castle, Vysehrad, which is ideal for walking and relaxing, with idyllic beer gardens and paths. The area also has one of Prague’s best swimming facilities, Podoli, where the Czech national swim team trains, and which is open to the public. Areas such as Palackeho Namesti, Vysehrad, and Vyton are very attractive for living, with easy transport to the center, and plenty of good dining opportunities.

When looking for housing, you’ll find more attractive rents and larger flats in these neighborhoods. I lived in this area for 5 years myself, and fell in love with it.

Vinohrady and Zizkov: Prague 2 and 3

Up the hill to the east of New Town are the neighborhoods of Vinohrady and Zizkov. Historically cheaper areas, these neighborhoods have been consistently popular with foreigners, and have a wonderful home-grown feeling cafe culture. Vinohrady between Italska street and Riegrovy Sady (a park with an unparalleled set of beer gardens), is traditionally the gay quarter of Prague, although clubs and bars catering to LGBT customers have also migrated more and more towards the city center in recent years. Further up the hill, Jiriho Z Podebrad is an area that has much improved in recent years, and is known for a lively alternative club scene. Lower Zizkov, the area that reaches up the hill from the central train station, Hlavni Nadrazi, is a traditionally seedier and cheaper part of town, where low rents mix with bars open until very early in the morning.

The Vinohrady and Zizkov will offer attractive rents in comparison with more central areas, and have a great variety of things to do. Transport connections there are generally pretty good as well.

Letna and Dejvice Prague 6 and 7

On the other side of the river, and to the north of Mala Strana, are the areas of Letna and Dejvice, which are generally seen as quieter, more established, and family oriented districts. When my wife and I started a family, for example, these are the areas in which we looked for a place to raise children. The Dejvice area is also thick with foreign Embassies and diplomats, including the enormous Russian embassy, and the US Ambassador’s residence, which would probably embarrass most heads of state for its size and luxury.  Still, if you like parks, quieter restaurants, high end shopping (gourmet foods, wines and foreign shops) and a more local atmosphere, these areas can be ideal.


Smichov: Prague 5*

A traditionally industrial area to the south of Mala Strana, Smichov has developed into a vibrant business center in recent years. Still the home of several of The Czech Republic’s largest breweries, it is built up around a large train interchange. Seznam, Google, ING, and other international firms have their homes in Smichov, and the area offers corporate apartment living on a monthly basis, and has a high concentration of business-travel hotels. It is not, strictly speaking, the most attractive area in the city, but it has convenient shopping, and a number of very good restaurants around the Andel area, where Node5 and StartupYard are located.

Housing here is generally cheaper than in the center, with some higher priced offerings closer to Mala Strana. Transport to the city center via metro is not terribly inconvenient from this area, although night transport can be difficult, as night trams (after midnight) are less accessible than in other areas.

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Housing Via Social Media:

Several busy Facebook groups serve the Flat-Sharing and rental market in Prague, and these may offer the most convenient short term options for housing.

  • a Czech language flatsharing group

Flatshare in Prague

  • an international flatsharing group

You can also find answers to simple and complex questions from groups like:

Expats in Prague

  • an expat focused community board for Prague


  • A question and answer group for anyone in the city


Photo Credits Via Flickr: Jan FidlerRoman BoedThomas DepenbuschBrad Hammonds, and Ian Zakharov

Philip Staehelin: StartupYard’s New “Executive In Residence”

Anyone in the StartupYard community is probably familiar with Philip Staehelin, who we profiled recently on this blog. Well today, we’re very excited to be able to announce that Staehelin will be joining the StartupYard team officially, as our new “Executive in Residence.”

As accelerators have evolved in recent years, and as StartupYard has grown to encompass more international projects, and helped its startups to secure investments, the need for such a position has been made abundantly clear. As Executive in Residence for 2015, Staehelin will be more than just a mentor to the StartupYard 2015 cohort. He will be a model of an executive for the startups that join the accelerator, and he will take personal initiative to provide valuable, responsive leadership and advice on an ongoing, personal basis with the StartupYard teams. He will compliment and enhance the mentorship that teams will receive throughout the program, and help the startups to follow through on their goals.

Staehelin listens to pitches at December's StartupYard pitch-off.

Staehelin listens to pitches at December’s StartupYard pitch-off.

We believe that Philip is an ideal candidate for this position, not only owing to his stellar resume, and his long experience as an expatriate in The Czech Republic, but also for his valued prior contributions to StartupYard mentorship. Continuity of the StartupYard experience for our alumni and current mentors is an important focus of the accelerator in 2015 and beyond. We must become a resource that continues to support and advocate for the startups that we accelerate, long after they leave our program. A team member whose sole responsibility is the teams themselves, is our answer to that challenge. Staehelin is the man for the job, and we are happy to welcome him to the team.

I caught up with Philip this week, and asked him to comment on how he sees the role he will play going forward. Here is what he had to say:

Why do you think an Executive-in-Residence is an important asset for StartupYard? 

StartupYard is a fantastic accelerator, with an experienced inhouse team and a great assembly of mentors. However, while serving as a mentor for last year’s intake, I felt like some of the startups would have benefited from a bit more “outside” guidance at various stages of the program – not just during the early mentoring sessions. Although it wasn’t part of my mandate, I followed up with a number of the startups during the last few weeks of the program, and when I offered my help to review/critique business cases, business plans, pitches, etc., the offer was always immediately accepted. So… working together with the StartupYard team, we developed the concept of Executive-in-Residence (EIR) that fills this gap on a more formal basis. The startup teams can approach the EIR at any stage of the program and get the help they need to get them to the next level. The StartupYard EIR will also take a longer term perspective, and serve as an external advisor to the teams moving forward – well beyond the timeframe of the actual accelerator program. This will be helpful in making sure the startup teams still have access to assistance as they meet future challenges as they strive to become profitable companies. And finally, the Executive-in-Residence is a new concept for the Czech (perhaps even European?) accelerator landscape, and it should help to differentiate StartupYard from the competition. By substantially increasing a startup’s chance of becoming a viable company with a bright future, StartupYard itself will be able to attract more and more top startups from around Europe to participate in its accelerator program. It’s a win-win-win.


How do you plan to impact the development of StartupYard teams in 2015? 

I’m super excited to pilot the Executive in Residence concept for StartupYard, and to help the 2015 teams to reach their dreams. But before we get to that stage, I’m involved in the startup team evaluation process, and along with the other expert evaluators we hope to pick 10 startups that have the best shot at making the transition to high growth companies. Once we kickstart the 2015 class, I’ll be engaged as necessary – trying not to get in the way of the flow, but making sure teams don’t get stuck along the way. I’ll work with Cedric and the team to identify the early needs of the startup teams, to challenge them on their strategies, to help them digest the messages from mentors, and generally give them helpful advice at the right time during the program. I want to pass along helpful tips from my real life business experience (which ranges from multinational corporations to startups to NGOs) as well as the insights I gained through many years of top management consulting. Some teams may leverage my experience early in the program, and others only when they start looking to approach investors near the end of their time in the program. There will certainly not be a “one size fits all” approach as the teams will differ tremendously in terms of their stage of development, their skill sets, and their experience. My rule of thumb will simply be: if I can help, I will.
startupyard how it works

6 Things I’ve Learned From My First Startup Selection

StartupYard closed applications for our 2015 accelerator round on Dec. 15. Now we’ve cracked open those applications, and we’ve started making our preliminary selections. The teams that pass this round will be invited to interview with us via skype, and some of those companies will be invited to meet with us here, in person, at Node5 in Prague.

Though I’ve been with the accelerator team since late 2013, this is my first time as a participant in the early selection process. So I’ve seen teams during their skype interviews, but I haven’t seen all of our applicants from previous rounds. The experience has been… revealing. In a few points, here’s why:

1. Keep It Simple, Stupid

At the end of the day, we take a close look at over 100 applications. To get through the very first round, it’s basically important that an applicant prove that they can operate a keyboard, and are familiar with the English language. a solid chunk of applications don’t pass that level of muster, but that’s to be expected in any open call. We got one application from a hair salon in Latvia… which was interesting, but a little beyond our current scope.

No, the incomplete applications are a nuisance, but not a major hastle. The really vexing part of the application process is encountering walls of text that read something like this:

We are developing a B2C SaaS for monitoring optimum system throughput in a CYS2 standard 3rd generation YTS transistor for use on an inline, 3-tiered, dual-gauge system management terminal via fully integrated latest generation user feedback monitors.

The feeling you’re experiencing is similar to my own, when reading a few of our applications to myself. We don’t expect applicants to write as if they’re talking to their own grandmothers, but we do expect that they can explain their products to reasonably educated, reasonably techy people like me. And yet quite a few of the messages back and forth amongst the team in the past few weeks have been of the “what does X company do?” variety. Some we were never able to figure out.


2. We Can Tell If You Care

We know you’re not a publicist or a copywriter. We don’t want publicists and copywriters (except as mentors of course). But what we do want is people who care desperately about their products, and are enthusiastic about moving them forward. On the whole, our applications aren’t all that hard. And if it’s obvious you don’t care, don’t bother to answer every question fully and accurately, include a video when asked, and spellcheck your application, then that’s a fairly good sign that we don’t want to work with you. Who would?

3. We Can Tell Who is Keen

On the other hand, in a sea of applications, a little effort goes a long way. There were teams who produced cool introductory videos, and worked hard to look good, but the applications we ended up liking the most were the ones where the founders seemed enthusiastic. That’s it. Really simply stuff: they smiled in their videos, they showed that they were thinking about the questions, and they took the time to answer carefully and honestly.

Personally, I respond well to an applicant who writes as if he or she is laying the groundwork for meeting me. The person who is trying actively to convince me to take the next step and invite them for an interview, is the person who gets invited. We even felt that way about several of the teams whose applications were frankly weaker than the others: they seemed to care, and so we care about them- at least enough to look at them during the next round.

4. If You’re A Me-Too Product, Be Honest About Yourself

“Me-too,” products are not absolute kryptonite to us. On one hand, me-too companies tend to be overconfident about just how much they can differentiate themselves against strong competition. But on the other hand,  if you’re a startup that thinks it has no competition, you’re almost certainly wrong, and you’re definitely lazy. Which is why we ask companies who they see as their competition. That helps us to understand how the companies see themselves. Your product is a delivery service. Is it competition for Uber, or Taskrabbit? If not, why not? And there is nothing wrong with being competition for big companies. Sometimes small-scale solutions really are better, and sometimes there’s a corner of your market that the big companies ignore.

But “me-too” products tend to talk about the size of the market they’re in, as if that justifies their business model being essentially the same as a dominant competitor. But the competitor they’re facing had to fight for the market they control, and if your weapons for that fight are the same as theirs, then they’ll win. Usually, they’ll win without even noticing you were there. Often, there’s a grain of a good business in the ideas that try to differentiate a me-too product from the competition. What a lot of founders have a hard time dealing with, is that these small differentiating factors have to become the basis for their business. And they really, really have to work. You can be “twitter for X” or “Uber for X,” but that X has to be something that you can do really well, and that the competition, by dint of its size or its lack of focus, can’t do for some reason. That’s where me-too products really get bogged down, and it’s why we’re wary of talking with them. 

5. Small Products Think They Have to Be Big

As a corollary to the “me-too” issue, a few applicants obviously thought that they would impress us with big ideas. We like big ideas, don’t get me wrong, but big ideas are dangerous. Big ideas, for a seed-stage startup, are dependent on a million little details. If you’re thinking about being the world leader by next year, you aren’t necessarily thinking about making the best decisions for your business this week.

And most great big ideas start as small ideas that the person cultivates from personal, in-depth experience. The examples of this are endless, and counterexamples are nearly impossible to find. So a focus and clarity of vision on the details and the small-scale aspects of a startup are important signs to me that it has a chance at bigger successes later.


6. Getting a P.H.D. In Nameology

A good recent episode of the startup podcast Startup, from Gimlet Media goes deeply into the vagaries and fears and  recriminations that go into a choosing a name. I can’t pretend to be an expert in this department. Several of the companies we accelerated last year had long struggles in choosing a name, and there were disagreements up to the moment that the final decisions needed to be made. I didn’t always win. Others came with a name, and it stuck. Something about it just worked.

I can only say this: it’s harder than you think, and your first instinct is probably wrong. If my experience is any indication, you need to go through a few names before you settle on the one that’s really going to work. And as you start to build up your brand identity and your company culture around the name, you’ll see how important a name can be. So choosing the right one shouldn’t be a 5 minute discussion. Take some time with it.



SOS: StartupYard Open-Source

Last month, we announced that we would be “open-sourcing” The StartupYard Program, and inviting local Prague-based startups to attend workshops with the StartupYard team. We’re happy to announce that this program has now started.


SOS: StartupYard Open-Source: The Schedule

There will be 4 sessions a week, initially, and the first term will run from next week, until the end of February. Depending on the interests of both local startups and our StartupYard mentors, we may soon be able to add more sessions, including some run by members of the StartupYard Community.

The Workshops will be individual for each team, and will take place at our homebase at Node5 and will not be public.

The sessions will be free of charge. Teams need only fill out a short application, and they will then be invited to sign up for a slot in one of 4 workshops.

  • Mondays: Write the Perfect Press Release, with Lloyd Waldo

  • Tuesdays: Keys to an Effective Landing Page, with Lloyd Waldo

  • Wednesdays: Writing and Presenting A Killer Pitch, with Cedric Maloux

  • Thursday: Perfecting User and Financial Projections, with Cedric Maloux


Sign Up For A Private SOS Workshop

Note: We may select which teams will be invited for the workshop based on various factors. 

Thank you for the opportunity to consult our project with Mr. Maloux, it was very inspiring and beneficial. I appreciate his advices very much and of course we will use them.  He does a great job!” – Marie Ratajová


Why Open-Source StartupYard?


The aim of SOS is to give a small slice of the StartupYard experience to a local team, and just as importantly, to open StartupYard’s doors to the local tech community, and increase the quality and depth of our connections with local entrepreneurs. As our director Cedric Maloux stated when we announced this program, we hope to see StartupYard grow in its important role as a vital resource for local tech entrepreneurs, as well as the investors and advisors who make entrepreneurship in the local ecosystem possible.

What benefits the local tech community, in terms of the quality of work being done, the quality of the investors interested in the region, and the innovativeness of new projects, ultimately benefits StartupYard and our investors. We have to recognize and promote this virtuous cycle with the local tech community, and that’s what we aim to do.

What you Can Expect from SOS

These sessions by no means comprise a complete list of the skills that StartupYard promotes among its accelerator teams. However, they focus on the key areas of weakness that we consistently observe among local startups and entrepreneurs. The communication workshops (on Press Releases and Landing Pages), which I will run myself, focus on the key concepts of good communication that will help a small company to avoid quite a few common mistakes. They will also lay the groundwork for a company to develop a strong communication style that can be applied to many different areas, by focusing on a few crucial communication formats that all startups have to master.

Cedric’s sessions, dealing with the topics of pitching and making financial and user projections, will focus on another crucial failure point for startups: investment. Not only will his workshops focus on practical skills for pitching, and practical issues of creating and maintaining good projections, including specific best practices, but they will also show how crafting a pitch and a financial plan will define the early success or failure of a company in the eyes of investors, and help make clear the best path forward for a growing company.