Start of the Journey

“Welcome to the world of startups! Rally your courage, intrepid explorers, and set out on an adventure with Venture into Startups. From these warm and welcoming quarters at Home, you will launch your new venture.”

We are not here to deter you from starting, but before you do, we advise to take a couple of steps and then decide whether you should start a business or not. Based on our experience, these are some essential steps to understand not only what you’re building and why, but also who you are and why you’re doing it. 

Here is what we recommend you do before you start:

1. Understand your history: River of Life

There are some core events that happened in your life and determined the values you hold today. Here is a quick exercise to map those: 

3. Understand your soft strengths: How you interact with the world

A strength is something that you’re good at, that you do often and that you enjoy doing. When you use your strengths, you are energised and motivated. It’s not just something that you can do, it’s something that you love doing. Here is a way to identify your soft strengths: (P.S: if you’re lazy, you can also take a test Here)

Uses their inquisitive nature to find ideas to bring back to the team. 

Strengths: Outgoing, enthusiastic. Explores opportunities and develops contacts.

Allowable weaknesses: Might be over-optimistic, and can lose interest once the initial enthusiasm has passed.

Don’t be surprised to find that: They might forget to follow up on a lead.

Helps the team to gel, using their versatility to identify the work required and complete it on behalf of the team.

Strengths: Co-operative, perceptive and diplomatic. Listens and averts friction.

Allowable weaknesses: Can be indecisive in crunch situations and tends to avoid confrontation.

Don’t be surprised to find that: They might be hesitant to make unpopular decisions.

Needed to focus on the team’s objectives, draw out team members and delegate work appropriately.

Strengths: Mature, confident, identifies talent. Clarifies goals.

Allowable weaknesses: Can be seen as manipulative and might offload their own share of the work.

Don’t be surprised to find that: They might over-delegate, leaving themselves little work to do.

Tends to be highly creative and good at solving problems in unconventional ways.

Strengths: Creative, imaginative, free-thinking, generates ideas and solves difficult problems.

Allowable weaknesses: Might ignore incidentals, and may be too preoccupied to communicate effectively.

Don’t be surprised to find that: They could be absent-minded or forgetful.

Provides a logical eye, making impartial judgements where required and weighs up the team’s options in a dispassionate way.

Strengths: Sober, strategic and discerning. Sees all options and judges accurately.

Allowable weaknesses: Sometimes lacks the drive and ability to inspire others and can be overly critical.

Don’t be surprised to find that: They could be slow to come to decisions.

Brings in-depth knowledge of a key area to the team.

Strengths: Single-minded, self-starting and dedicated. They provide specialist knowledge and skills.

Allowable weaknesses: Tends to contribute on a narrow front and can dwell on the technicalities.

Don’t be surprised to find that: They overload you with information.

Provides the necessary drive to ensure that the team keeps moving and does not lose focus or momentum.

Strengths: Challenging, dynamic, thrives on pressure. Has the drive and courage to overcome obstacles.

Allowable weaknesses: Can be prone to provocation, and may sometimes offend people’s feelings.

Don’t be surprised to find that: They could risk becoming aggressive and bad-humoured in their attempts to get things done.

Needed to plan a workable strategy and carry it out as efficiently as possible.

Strengths: Practical, reliable, efficient. Turns ideas into actions and organises work that needs to be done.

Allowable weaknesses: Can be a bit inflexible and slow to respond to new possibilities.

Don’t be surprised to find that: They might be slow to relinquish their plans in favour of positive changes.

Most effectively used at the end of tasks to polish and scrutinise the work for errors, subjecting it to the highest standards of quality control.

Strengths: Painstaking, conscientious, anxious. Searches out errors. Polishes and perfects.

Allowable weaknesses: Can be inclined to worry unduly, and reluctant to delegate.

Don’t be surprised to find that: They could be accused of taking their perfectionism to extremes.

First devised by Raymond Meredith Belbin through a study at Henley Management College, the Belbin Team Role Inventory test is a behavioural test to assess how an individual operates in a team environment and their preference for any of the nine team roles identified. Take the Belbin 9 Roles test for free, here

Great! Now you know yourself a little better than before. You know what’s missing from your skillset, what you can work on and improve and what to look for in a co-founder to be complementary in your future company. Let’s put some definitions and map the stakeholders of the startup ecosystem now:
  • Startup: company or project undertaken by an entrepreneur to seek, develop, and validate a scalable business model.
  • Small Business: company or project undertaken by an entrepreneur to use an already validated business model to generate revenue.
  • Entrepreneur: an individual who creates and/or invests in one or more businesses, bearing most of the risks and enjoying most of the rewards.
  • Industry: a branch of an economy that produces a closely related set of raw materials, goods, or services for a specific market.
  • Niche: subset of a larger existing industry that serves an even more specific market.
  • Ecosystem: The total stakeholders (investors, startups, programs etc.) that operate in a specific region. E.g: CEE ecosystem, US ecosystem, DACH ecoystem etc.
  • Incubator: Startup incubators help startups gain momentum right from the start. They provide valuable resources like physical space and mentorship at the foundational stages, even if you don’t have a fully-fledged business plan. Often, all that’s needed to apply is a good idea. Since many incubator programs have open-ended timelines, there is less pressure on going straight to market and more focus on refining ideas and developing investment-ready pitches.
  • Accelerator: Accelerators help early-stage startups scale and quickly get their product to market. They offer mentorship and investor access to accelerate growth over a short period. Since it is a rigorous program, the application process is strict, and acceptance rates are low. However, if you have a winning product that is already validated with some degree of product market fit, accelerators offer a proven method for scaling up in the shortest amount of time.
  • Pre-Accelerator: Accelerator but for teams that are at a foundational/inception stage. Overlaps a bit with incubation, but has a strict timeline and offers less resources than an incubator.
  • Venture Studio: An organisation that creates a series of startups from the ground up, often in quick succession or by working on multiple projects simultaneously. They are companies that have their own funds, in-house experts, and resources to dedicate to building startups. They are also sometimes referred to as a ‘startup foundry’ or ‘parallel entrepreneurship.’
  • Universities: The place where we usually fall in love, drink too much and try to finish with as much dignity as possible. This is also the most common place where people meet and start businesses together.
  • Research Institutes/Centers: The place for really smart people to research new technologies, materials and reactions. Also, the most common place where ideas die because of too much governance/control.
  • MVP (Minimum Viable Product): a version of a product with just enough features to be usable by early customers who can then provide feedback for future product development.
  • Founder-Market Fit: A scenario in which the experience of a founder in a specific field that makes him uniquely fit to build a startup in a specific market.
  • Product-Market Fit: A scenario in which a company’s target customers are buying, using, and telling others about the company’s product in numbers large enough to sustain that product’s growth and profitability. (notoriously hard-to-reach)
  • Fundraising: The activity of collecting money from investors. Sounds easier in theory, one of the hardest things to do in practice.
  • Data Room: a space used for storing sensitive information such as contracts, financial projections, IP documents typically with the intent to share that information in a secure and/or confidential fashion with others.
  • Investment Rounds: The number of times a startup opts to raise capital from the market. In most cases, there may be three or more rounds. The funding duration can range from as little as three to nine months. More on this later in the journey.
  • Private Equity: Investment partnerships that buy and manage companies before selling them. Private equity firms operate these investment funds on behalf of institutional and accredited investors. Private equity funds may acquire private companies or public ones in their entirety, or invest in such buyouts as part of a consortium. They typically do not hold stakes in companies that remain listed on a stock exchange.
  • Venture Capital (VC’s): a form of private equity and a type of financing that investors provide to startup companies and small businesses that are believed to have long-term growth potential. Venture capital generally comes from well-off investors, investment banks, and any other financial institutions (also called LP’s – Limited Partners).

Now that we know the definitions, let’s take a look at who the players are. The easiest way to view who’s who is platforms: F6S, Dealroom, Angel List and others.

For European startups, we recommend:

European startups map
Check a couple of things first: how many venture capital funds are in your country/region (that roughly outlines your ability to raise funds in the future), then what accelerator/incubators/programs are happening in your region (these are the best opportunities to get connected to potential collaborators, clients and investors) and lastly what other startups there are in the industry you want to operate. (meet with them, ask questions, understand where they are at the moment. Who knows, maybe you’ll join a moving train before you start something yourself).

One common starting question is: Should I start solo, with a co-founder or more? We’ll visit the co-founder question later in our journey, for now focus on understanding yourself better and finding the idea you want to work on.

Lastly, let’s set expectations: You want to become the next Steve Jobs? Good fu*king luck. Statistically, you have a 90% chance to fail. No, you’re not the exception. But in failing, you’ll do something very few people still do: You’ll learn. And you will become a better version of yourself through that learning. And that is a much better reward than any of the millions of dollars you’re dreaming to make. 

However, a couple million dollars doesn’t sound that bad either, right? Let’s then come up with an idea. One that’s better than what you’re already thinking about (since you’re here and reading this).