entrepreneurship, Events, Lessons Learned, News

From Nothing to Something at Betahaus Cologne’s Startup Supper

Recently I was invited to speak and share some of my experiences as an entrepreneur at Betahaus Cologne‘s Startup Supper event.

Startup Supper is an informal evening dinner event where invited startup entrepreneurs share selected stories from their experience and answer questions from the audience.

The subject of my little chat was “going from nothing to something”, about how I got from just an idea to building an actual team and shipping an actual product beta with our startup Gauss – The People Magnet.

Here’s the main points:

  • Search XING, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and events for talent, potential co-founders, line up dates
  • Attend as many tech and startup events as possible in your city
  • Create your own events to attract your people if the existing ones aren’t
  • Have coffee dates with as many potential co-founders as possible
  • Avoid people who overlap your skill set too much
  • Avoid people who are all talk and no do
  • Avoid people who don’t align with your values
  • Try to find small projects to work together on before getting to third base
  • Talk to everybody about everything (screw NDAs)
  • Only promise what you can deliver, no ponies and double rainbows (instead: pain, suffering, hard work and real possible risk of personal bankruptcy)
  • Have a name, a logo and some impressive mockups of what you want to build made before you can expect any traction with potential co-founders and other helpers (paint more salient pictures in the real world to accompany your nebulous dream speak before expecting other people to grasp what you’re talking about, let alone join in on your vision and team up
  • Communicate your needs to everyone, everywhere (this is not the time to be secretive)
  • Offer equal equity split for any potential co-founder(s), save discussions
  • Get into a startup competition event, use it as leverage to get accepted to the next, make sure to shoot it on video, bring your own crew to shoot it or have someone in the audience do it for you with their phone or yours
  • Publish everywhere, nag people, get our of your comfort zone
  • Dont’t give up, keep on going (if you are feeling despaired, you’re only just beginning – keep going)

In summary, it took about six months of searching and dating to attract and recruit the right people. From there on it took a month to build a prototype (MVP) and another four months to reach a public beta stage and another three months before we launched on the Apple AppStore.

Images by Thomas Riedel (@boydroid)

If you’re interested in me speaking at your event, why don’t you shoot me a mail and let’s talk.

Education, entrepreneurship, Lessons Learned, News

Lessons Learned – steps2startup at University of Cologne

I was recently invited to speak about my lessons learned as a startup entrepreneur at the steps2startup program at the University of Cologne.

steps2startup is a student initiative at the University of Cologne to help young people interested in startups and entrepreneurship build their network and exchange experiences and ideas with like-minded people. It is important for entrepreneurs to get started on their ideas and build on their business, so they will need as much advice as they can get, this may even mean contacting a trade secret lawyer California firm or a firm in their location so they can see how they can protect their ideas.

It was inspiring to see about 50+ student in attendance at a very busy exam time.

Here are the slides I used:

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WTF: Social Capital

I recently had the pleasure to hold a WTF lecture at the Knowmads business school in Amsterdam.

The subject of my talk was social capital, the difference between bonding capital and bridging capital, why I believe we need more of the latter and how I share the belief that we live in a network economy; I believe it’s no longer about what you know or how you know – It’s about how many types of people you know.

It’s a subject near and dear to me and one of the reasons I’m co-founding Gauss – The People Magnet.

Knowmads is a business school that educate young creative entrepreneurial spirits. Check out this video to learn more:

Thanks for having me over, guys! It was a hoot! I hope we can do it again some time. :)