StartupYard’s current management team is celebrating an anniversary next month. 5 years together investing in startups from all over the world.
One that we set out to do was create a space where important ideas and voices could be heard, by our community, our startups, and anyone else who might come across this blog. In that time, around 250,000 unique visitors have come to these pages. At times we’ve seen 20,000 unique visitors in a month. A typical month is more like 7,000.
Many of our visitors find us via Google search, and one of the most important draws for them is the trove of interviews we’ve published over the years.
Today I wanted to share what I consider to be a special selection of those interviews. My top 10: the ones I’ve come back to again and again over the years for inspiration. I hope you enjoy them too.
CTO : Y-Soft
“We need to support trial and failure cycle on the system level. Not only will this make startups more accessible to everybody, but also this will give a strong message to the society, where we as a nation want to go.”
“Everybody talks about how we have to replicate Silicon Valley culture. It’s funny because when we say that, or try to do that, we are completely missing the point. What I see when we try to replicate Silicon Valley culture, is that we take a few companies, we cram them into a small space, and we simply believe that density equals cooperation. Do we work according to the right principles and values? What do we contribute to the system? Are the startups staffed and surrounded by people in a culture of cooperation? Do they understand how cooperation will benefit them as an industry? We don’t know, or sometimes, we don’t care.”
“And no, investors do not love previous failures. Investors like success, like anybody else and if you say otherwise, you are not fit for a startup. Failure is only good if it’s fast and leads to improvement. The challenge is that acknowledging failure is the hard part, but living the improvement is even harder. To me, Embracing Failure is about Lean Quality Management and the Deming wheel says Plan-Do-Check-Act, not Plan-Do-Like-Boast!”
General Partner, Rockaway Blockchain
“Overcome fear. Often I see startup entrepreneurs doing what is easy: sitting behind a computer developing the next feature set.
Call a prospective buyer or an expert to get early feedback. Find an expert via LinkedIn. Send the deck or a link to the demo and set-up a call. There are plenty of people out there who would help you. Doing it you have nothing to lose. Not doing it, you lose the opportunity to score your first customer or a future team member.
Sometimes it feels the hardest part for startups is to listen. Whether the founders are really able to listen, hear, reflect and incorporate the advice is what I am looking for during interviews.”
“Creating a product is not equivalent to creating a business. I think without Startupyard we could have succeeded on the product part, but definitely not on the business part. And if you can’t solve the business problem, it doesn’t matter what product you have.
And this is a big threat for product focused founders, like me. We’re obsessed with our product, thinking about new features, and tend to forget that somebody has to pay for the product at the end of the day. We like to say that ‘if the product is good enough somebody will pay for it.’ For sure, this is the easy way to deal with this topic, but real life goes the other way. You have to know for whom you are building the product and what is the real problem you try to solve.”
StartupYard Alum, Rossum.ai
“Machines can replace humans, like machines have replaced humans throughout history. But there is an important distinction: the machines do not replace humans by doing exactly what humans used to do. Hand-sewing was replaced by the loom. Hand crafting of parts has been replaced by machine tools and moldings, and now 3D printing. The machines that replace humans don’t function the way we do, or produce exactly the same results we would.
So when we consider machines replacing humans, a mistake we can make is to imagine that the process or the product carries on as it did before. But that doesn’t happen. The process and the product are changed, and we as a society and different industries adapt to those changes out of necessity or convenience. If something used to be handmade out of wood, but is now made of plastic, we accept this change because of the cost savings, or because of the superior qualities of the plastic.”
“Research shows that 60% of customers keep unwanted products because returns are too hard. At first sight, this might seem like a good news for e-shops, because they don’t have to process them and offer the refunds. But guess what? That customer who failed to return the product will likely never make another purchase on that same shop again. It doesn’t even matter if it isn’t the e-shop’s fault. The experience just sours the relationship.
I was talking with a director of another large fashion store recently, and he told me that their return rates doubled shortly after ZOOT came to the market with a great returns process. Think of that – this is how fast the customer landscape can shift. What ZOOT did was to introduce a mix of online/offline retail that suited their customers much better.”
“We can make the wrong choices. We have in the past – though not often, thankfully. StartupYard takes a big risk in trusting people we barely know, to be strong and committed and honest and open enough to go through a really demanding experience. It is very humbling. And I know we aren’t always right about people. We invest in founders, but you don’t really know someone until you spend every day, all day, with that person. Sometimes we’re not sure, and they turn out to be just amazing. Other times we are sure, and it turns out we were off.”
CEO, BudgetBakers and SY Investor
StartupYard investor, mentor, and CEO of StartupYard alum BudgetBakers, Michal Kratochvil joined the world of startups after a career in corporations as Managing Director of Accenture Consulting in Prague. Michal gives us an idea of how working with startups has changed his view of business in the past few years, and how he became a believer in Acceleration.
Posted by StartupYard on Monday, 15 January 2018