RISE Austin: Inspirational lessons on entrepreneurship

10 Mar

This week, RISE (Relationship and Information Series for Entrepreneurs) is taking place across Austin, TX as we speak.   Austin is a refuge, sanctuary, and hub of entrepreneurs and we strive whole-heartedly to keep Austin as weird as possible.  Meaning, Austinites love to support small and local businesses.  I managed to meet some start-up entrepreneurs, many of whom started their companies right out of college and are now securing upwards of a million dollars in funding (i.e SpareFoot.com, JobSpice,com)

I feel honored and privileged to learn from the past experiences of entrepreneurial and start-up experts.  The importance of learning from other’s successes and failures is tantamount for the success of the entrepreneur. Fortunately, RISE is streaming the videos on their web page for many of the seminars you and I were unable to attend.

Some of these lessons I learned are worth sharing to the community of entrepreneurs out there:

On branding (Dr. Neil Burns):

  • Brands=Experience!
  • Brands: more enduring than patents, viral, and measurable
  • Brands have and maintain a following
  • Branding IS a business strategy
  • Brands must be personally relevant

On seed generation/incubation of start-ups (Serial entrepreneur Joshua Baer of Capital Factory):

  • Start ups must have an excellent team in place (ideally 2-3 people)
  • Tech expertise is essential for a company in tech
  • Have a strong mentoring team in place of people with past experiences (they could end up being angel investors)
  • Keep in touch with the mentors you develop relationships with
  • Understand your market better than your competitors!
  • Be confident about your idea but be open to others opinions because after-all, you have things to learn!
  • Be capital efficient and stay as lean as possible while not sacrificing product quality and integrity

On exploring market potential/market research (Dr. Rob Adams):

  • “Success is achieved through a series of fast failures.” (Emphasis on fast.  If the idea isn’t taking shape, be willing to ditch it immediately for a better one)
  • 20% of start-ups succeed. So be willing to start at least 5 companies for the best chance of success
  • In product development, start with at least 100 exploratory calls to figure out what your target market wants.  Then design the product based on the needs of 20-30% because you simply cannot afford to please everyone (approx. 2 months)
  • Conduct interviews, conduct surveys, and compile lists of potential clients.  Ask them specific questions, figure out what they want, and design the product to meet their needs
  • Get your product to market ASAP! Correct the problems later (aka Microsoft products, first gen iPod etc.)
  • American buyers are forgiving to entrepreneurs and almost always will give a second chance if the first model requires improvements
  • Sales and marketing budget MUST EQUAL budget for product development (at minimum)

Anyone have any lessons worth sharing from RISE or otherwise on start-ups and entrepreneurship? Thoughts on the above advice? Please do share!

Quote for thought: “We’d pay a lot if someone would just build…” If you can answer this question and you may be able to leave your job and create a winning business 🙂

Always going for glory!

C.E. Steinfeld

(Healthbent Entrepreneur)



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