Now or never? The value of not working in a start-up right away

Not working in a startup

I have a dear friend – a former colleague from many years ago – who I think of as one of the most savvy, insightful people in the booming “fashtech” (fashion + technology) space. She has some of the most killer, unparalleled insights in the sector, and if I had my long-awaited lottery winnings (still waiting every week…) I would put my money on her and her killer idea for a wearable tech data platform.

The funny thing is, she’s not an entrepreneur.

Don’t get me wrong, she has the “itch” and is keen to make the leap into entrepreneurship, but she has been taking her time, and for all the right reasons:

1. Problem-orientation. Many startups are based on a planned or fortuitous development of a piece of IP that is the core of a product, then scrambling to identify that holy grail of “product-market fit.” She turned that equation upside down – with her in-depth knowledge of consumers, retail, technology adoption rates, and more, she can clearly see gaps in the market, and build a solution oriented to that.

2. Credibility. Most investors say they’d rather put money on a B idea led by with an A team, instead of vice versa. What makes that A team? That depends – but usually it’s not your school or GPA, but rather your work experience. Successful startup backgrounds (especially with exits) are certainly a plus, but someone with a decade of operational experience who knows the industry, key influencers, and trends is another step ahead.

3. Potential strategic advisors. Related to the above, current or past employers are not just great for building operational expertise – they are also great for networking with the sector’s heavy hitters and innovators. More often than not these people will be the foundation – advisors, board members, investors – of a future endeavor with someone who was a rockstar employee and knows the industry.

4. “Free” training. I remember when I first tried “marketing.” Not consulting about it, or being an intern watching it, but really being responsible for how many new customers my company had. I was scared that I couldn’t deliver results – or at an even more basic level, that I don’t have “real” skills (to be fair – that’s still debatable ;)). I was given a budget and connected to advisors to help me along the way, but was still skittish until my CEO took me aside and said – “Peri. You’re the only one on this team who can at least try to do this. Take the budget, and just keep learning.” And with that I understood the value of a free education. From the rigorous training sessions I was lucky enough to have as a consultant – things like analysis, synthesis, and storytelling – to the tactical, street-smart training I received in mobile user acquisition, I realized that the best training is the one you can get on someone else’s dime. I don’t mean that in a crude or transactional way, but I mean that I had investors who were willing to take the risk as I learned with their capital over the course of successes and failures. It is much easier to do so, to get both book and hands-on training, when it is not your bootstrapped venture putting your ability to pay rent on the line. Indeed, one might even find themselves stepping into too risk averse-a role to really be able to flourish.

Some people have the itch and will take the leap into startups straight from college / high school / the crib – and that’s fantastic. My point here is that age, or operational experience should not be seen as a negative; quite the opposite, it can help create an even stronger product and a more engaging story.

U.S.-Turkey Innovation Summit

Ekran Resmi 2016-05-23 22.05.16

Turkey’s innovation, R&D, and entrepreneurship ecosystems have drastically improved in recent years, shaping perceptions of Turkey as an emerging innovation center. Situated in the heart of a 25 trillion dollar regional economy, and graced by a young, dynamic, and tech-savvy population, companies have taken notice of Turkey’s brimming potential. Many have seized the opportunities recently made available to move their innovation operations to buzzing Turkish hubs like Istanbul and Izmir.

In response, the American-Turkish Council (ATC), a leading business association, announces the U.S.-Turkey Innovation Summit, taking place on July 21st at Harvard University’s Knafel Center in Boston, Massachusetts. The Summit will convene and connect private companies, universities, and government institutions to facilitate partnerships in R&D and address related topics including innovation ecosystems, methodology, risk, and legal considerations.

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How To Avoid Time Wasters

Ekran Resmi 2016-05-20 12.10.36

Whether you’re a business leader, or a newly entrepreneur, you must avoid these time wasters:

 

  • Salesman: It’s a fact that small business leaders get a lot of phone calls from salesman. Really time consuming. Maybe you won’t be polite but you either have to interrupt their speech, tell you’re not interested and shut the phone or even if possible you may not hang up at all.
  • Employees: Every business needs their employees, without them, the business means nothing for sure. But you can spend hours and hours to find a good employee on the recruiting, managing, training or hiring periods. Think about the conversations you have with 1 employee in the day, think of the times you exchange emails, think of the meetings, think of the time you spend when creating the documents for their training etc. This way you can measure and reduce the time. Hiring on the other hand is maybe the most important part and you can’t just gloss over it. You have to take as much time as necessary to make sure you do the interviews right, in order not to hire the wrong person.

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Required Reading: Startup Rising

Ekran Resmi 2016-05-20 10.13.50

As my friends and family know, at the moment I’m painfully behind in most aspects of my personal life – my unread gmails recently hit 4 digits, my to-do list is embarrassingly outdated, even my blog posts here have been delayed (related: don’t expect time management-related posts from me anytime soon…) – but what troubles me most is how far behind I’ve fallen on my preferred reading list. I used to be a voracious reader, loving how a few pages can quickly transport you to a new place or spark excitement in heretofore sleeping neurons. Whether modern or classic, fact or fiction, books are the key to keeping the brain well-fed, creative, and curious.

I always wonder – “Why did you work in that company / sector / country? And how did you get there?” I recently huddled down with a book at the top of my list – Startup Rising: The Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East, by Christopher Schroeder. The book was published in 2011, but I had the opportunity to meet Chris in 2015, and since then learn more about his experiences that led him on his path from US-based entrepreneur to investor and mentor in the Middle East in what is truly an inspiring read.

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Finding Investors Is Not That Hard

Ekran Resmi 2016-05-20 10.25.30

According to researches, especially since 25 years, only 5 percent of the entrepreneurs could find investors. What may be the problems? Finding ways to understand what the issues are can really help creative ideas to be successful. We spotted 3 important reasons about this issue:

  • The method that investors use to find and qualify a potentially successful entrepreneur is not a good system really. It gives most of the the responsibility to the entrepreneur. A scoring system however would work better, it may help determine if you are really ready to offer your Project to professional investors. And you may find the right resources on the way.

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School’s Out for Summer: Best Practices in Internships

Ekran Resmi 2016-05-20 10.10.35

In the United States, internships are a critical aspect of a CV or even a college application – from junior year of high school til the end of college (and again in grad school), students would put ourselves under stress to find the perfect ‘summer internship.’ These could be paid or not, in your hometown or far away, but for everything from getting into university to securing the first full-time job, these internship roles played a critical role in academic and professional progression. In Turkey, the idea of interns is less critical and less structured, but has increasingly gained momentum in recent years. To that end, a few best practices from hiring interns into your start-up:

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Spring Cleaning: Q2 is upon us

Ekran Resmi 2016-05-19 10.32.24

Remember in January when you set all those goals for 2016? Gentle reminder here: the first quarter has officially ended, and Q2 is here.

That gives the perfect opportunity for a little temperature check around your organization to see whether things are on track. It will help energize the team for another push before summer holidays inevitably interrupt. Specifically –

·         How is revenue trending relative to expectations? If your business is seasonal, how does it match up to the previous year’s Q1?

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Mark Solon will be in Startup Istanbul Event this year

Ekran Resmi 2016-05-18 13.13.05

Startup Istanbul is the leading startup event which gathers founders, investors and executives in the region. It brings together some leading startups, internet companies, business angels and venture capitalists from Asia and Europe. This event is made for networking. This year’s event will have more than 500 selected startups and more than 4.000 attendees.

The event will be between 6-10 October 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey and the first speaker of the event is announced: Mark Solon. He is one of the Managing Partners at TechStars. Previously, he co-founded and was the Managing Partner of “Highway 12 Ventures”.

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5 Reasons To Know User-Generated Content

Ekran Resmi 2016-05-17 09.34.38

User-generated content is very important nowadays in the business world. Your social media followers can promote your product or company in a more natural and authentic way. According to a research 1.6 billion people use social media (mostly Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest) spending more than 5 hours a day consuming content created by the accounts they follow.

So how can you use UGC do for your own business and why is it this much important? We’ll give you 5 reasons why.

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