Thanks to Rennes’ U.S. Consulate, we had the opportunity to converse live with Robert Neivert, Venture Partner at 500 Startups and veteran of nine companies (twice as CEO and multiple times as CFO, COO and Heads of Sales and Marketing Organizations).
Participants from Paris, Rennes, Bordeaux and Marseille were also live thanks to their local U.S. offices. If you missed it, don’t panic.
Here is what you need to know!
1 – Fail
“I failed so many times I can’t count, but nobody is writing about that.” Well, we are! In fact, you can learn a lot from your failures, the important thing is not to do it so catastrophically. It’s all about persistence, accept that things are going to be difficult and take time to ask questions.
2 – Be a people person
It’s more about people than ideas. They have more worth and more value, they find solutions! Don’t hire complainers, only problem solvers. People can be your best assets or your worst nightmares. Surprisingly, not even laws or regulations can give you such a hard time. Find good talents with vision, skills and ready to make sacrifices. Good people find solutions and can tackle anything!
3 – Don’t raise funds if you don’t have to
A lot of entrepreneurs actually do not need to raise funds in order to be successful. They are hundreds of paths beside going to VC funding. If you do need to, you should already have a precise plan on how to give it back.
4 – Adapt
We were asked the following question: “After 3 years, guess how many startups changed their initial idea?” Don’t know? 90%. Let that sink in for a second. Ninety per cent! That’s because we don’t know what customers really want. Keep asking yourselves if you’re going down the right path at least every 6 weeks. Does it still make sense? Should I tweak some aspects of my projects? Did I gather enough feedback? Solid planning MUST be replaced by flexibility and quick learning.
5 – Pick your market carefully
Pick a primary country and expand when you’re ready. Just don’t do two countries at once until you’re bigger! It’s the best way to scatter your money. Also, don’t run away from a country because your product is failing. It’s already not a good sign. Sure, sometimes a market might not be mature enough, but in that case, you adapt and you don’t pick it as a primary market. Simple.
6 – Have a strong Business Plan
As we explained, don’t think the idea will be enough. You need to have charts and they need to look good.
7 – Prospect
We were advised against huge tech events as it often turns out in procrastinating. Go to smaller conventions where you can target your market and anticipate meetings beforehand. It will mean less cost and a higher yield. Meet face to face and prep to add value.
8 – Have a no asshole policy
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