Archives for posts with tag: incubation

There are lots of good reasons to create a great tech startup right now. It is has never been easier from a financial perspective. The cost of technology has gone down and social media has slashed the marketing budget. The economic climate has cut out many of the other attractive options. Plus it is both exciting and fulfilling.

However, a lot of people just don’t know where to start. So I thought I would write down 12 simple rules to help those looking to become tech founders;

1) Learn from the experts

The theory of creating successful startups is well documented and although it is far from a science there are many obvious things that you can learn to increase your success chances. Attend networking events and workshops and meet entrepreneurs as often as possible. Read books about startups and learn from people who have done it before. Attend Dreamstake Academy if you happen to be in London.

2) Evaluate the risk before you start

Don’t kid yourself that it won’t be risky. It is much more a question of whether you are prepared to take that risk and how to minimise the effect. Taking on board that you will have lose the material things in life for a few years is a good idea. You may have to sell the car, re-mortgage the house and live in poverty for a while. Make sure you are prepared for this.

3) Focus on the vision not the idea

Visions stay, ideas change! Find something you want to change in the world. Make it easier for people to travel, find a home, deal with their finances. Solve real problems or open up real opportunities. Think big. Tell people about your vision at networking events and online. If people buy-in it is a sign you are on the right track. Don’t obsess about the solution at this stage. It’s going to change anyway. Share your vision with other Dreamstake members

4) Start building your team from the outset

Your team is going to be your secret to success. It is never too early to start looking. If you don’t have funding your team will be the people who most buy into your vision and will help you to achieve it. Network like crazy and tell people what you are planning. Don’t expect anyone to buy-in immediately. Would you work for someone that you have just met for little or no money? Get to know your potential team members over a few months. Let them help you shape your ideas. Use the team finding functions on Dreamstake to find your Dream team. It works!

5) Use professional advisors

There is plenty of free advice available for startup entrepreneurs. Talk to both an accountant and a lawyer about your startup plans. They will give you the basics on setting up your company in the right way and ensure that your don’t fall into any major pitfalls. The professional advisors on the dreamstake platform have been selected because they are prepared to give a lot back to the entrepreneurial community.

6) Be prepared to work like never before

Being an entrepreneur isn’t glamourous. It is hard work. Success is directly relational to the amount of effort you put. It is both mentally and physically exhausting. At times, the only thing that will keep you going is the pursuit of your vision and the desire to make a difference.

7) Build the best possible team

The quality of the team is the key to success. It is good to realise this from day one.  A strong team will enable you to develop ideas quicker, build prototypes and attract investment more readily. Identify your gaps from day one. Even if you are multi-talented don’t contemplate going it alone. Investors don’t like single founder firms. If you are a business person, find a great technical co-founder. If you are technical look for business or marketing support. Find them on Dreamstake.

8) Bootstrap

Don’t get a fancy office. Work from a co-working space. It’s cheap and you will get lots of free advice from other occupants. Cut costs wherever you can. Don’t recruit staff until you really need to. Make sure that your co-founders are happy to work for little or no reward until you receive funding or generate revenues. Don’t pay large amounts to attend events. Many are free or low cost.

9) Watch out for charlatans

The startup world is full of people selling snake oil. Beware of easy solutions to getting funding. It is a difficult process. Do not pay to pitch. Do not pay large upfront fees to financial advisors, angel networks or anyone offering help with funding. Check people out. Most people offering investment dont not have money. They will simply charge to help you find it. Use linkedin to check credentials and then double check with others in your network

10) Enter contests, join accelerators

Entering contests raises your profile and gets you PR. If you are fortunate to win you can often get enough cash to seed your business. Accelerators and other online platforms can also be extremely useful. Some give quick effective access to mentors and investors and speed up your time to get your product launched. Join the dreamstake online accelerator, its totally free.

11) Start marketing from day one

A common mistake is to think of your idea as unique and hide it from the world. It is not unique and you will only find this out when too late unless you share it as widely as possible. You need market feedback from day one. You need to know you are on the right track and get buy-in from potential team members and future clients. You need to test whether there is demand for what you are creating and that people will pay for it.

12) Network like crazy

Your network is probably the single most important thing in the early stages of entrepreneurialism. Before you jump into creating your startup, test ideas with others, get feedback and judge whether people are prepared to join you in your quest. If they are not it maybe that you are on the wrong track and need to change your proposition or that you are not pitching it right. Either way the feedback is invaluable. Join dreamstake, its a network for tech entrepreneurs

I hope that these tips are useful. They are aimed at first time early stage entrepreneurs. The key message is to make sure you are at a stage in your life where you can manage the risk and give it a go. It will be an exciting roller coaster ride like  no other but the rewards can be extremely high both financially and in terms of fulfilment.

Dreamstake is an online accelerator for startups.  We combine data from Linkedin and Crunchbase with other startup related details to provide a startup launch platform. A key feature is advanced profile search which allows entrepreneurs to find resources from across the 6000 members. We also connect entrepreneurs at our regular events and in the workspaces we partner with The Workspace Group. We are also organising #startupprevolution across Europe on 14 July 2012


What is a Digital Accelerator?

On 22 March you can find out for certain.  We launch DreamStake//:Digital Accelerator. To pre-register sign up on

So what is all the buzz about?

This will be the first platform to combine the connectivity of a social network with the functionality of a startup ratings engine. Our vision is to disrupt the traditional investment market by giving a platform to quality startups.

Why is this significant?

The internet is already having an impact on startup investment.  The scene is becoming less parochial as the likes of AngelList and Kickstarter open up the market.  The DreamStake//:Digital Accelerator takes this a step further.

Detail from the new platformWhat’s new then?

There are 6000 entrepreneurs, mentors and investors on the current DreamStake platform.  These will now be linked by sophisticated talent matching.  A founder will be able to launch a startup, find team members, build the team, find a mentor, choose a workspace and gain investment.  The dreamrate will reflect the startups progress again critical success factors.

Why will this change the investment scene?

Startup investment is currently a local activity, mainly centred on clusters like Silicon Valley. The new platform will give visibility to startup performance and open up the market to the global investment market. For example, US investors will be able to review the best European startups.

How does the platform rate the startups?

The platform monitors activity by the founder and team. As the startup develops the rating increases. The rating algorithms are based on team size and quality, learning, governance, quality of advisors, investment stage, network and social media activity.

Is this about Crowdfunding?

The new platform is agnostic to funding type.  It will make crowd funding more likely but only because startups will be able to showcase their capability online and therefore attract investment from a broader base.  The platform is more likely to disrupt the traditional investment sources by skewing the market in favour of the startups in much the same way as off-line accelerators such as Y-combinator.

What next?

signup on  You will also automatically get an invite to our Pivot Party on 22nd March

The week started with plenty of disruption!  Monika G was snowbound in Edinburgh and the tube strike was not helping matters in London.  This made it fun trying to get to Brunel University to stand-in for Monika for the evening’s speed dating event.  However, it was well worthwhile.  I was inspired by the enthusiasm of the young entrepreneurs and it gave me faith that the London entrepreneurial scene is flourishing at the grass-roots level.

We are very eager to build links with the university community across the UK and would welcome new members to Dreamstake from this group.

On Tuesday I met up with Pragma and Ved from ThinkPlank.  These guys are inspirational and have

The venue for our great 8th December event

long been associated with the Convergence Conversations series of debates run by Intellect.  We are in discussion about running a series of debates on the London startup scene.  More about that later.

A large part of the week has been about designing the future Dreamstake service offer.  We are seeking to add value to the entrepreneurial community by offering practical services that enable the entrepreneur to get on with building the business without taking their eye off the ball.  At this stage we are interested in getting views on what these services might look like.  Please let us know!

On Friday morning I went to #tuttle run by @lloyddavis.  This weekly event, run out of a collaboration centre in Acton Street is always a brilliant place to meet creative entrepreneurs.  We had a lively debate about the true meaning of collaboration and how effective current initiatives are.  I think we all came away with the view that there is an amazing talent pool in London, so we only need to find ways to harness it effectively.

On Friday afternoon I was down at Westbourne Studios with Monika preparing for our event next Wednesday.  The venue is amazing.  It is a huge space with a funky vibe, situated below the Westway.  Doesn’t sound much but has to be experienced to be believed!!  I am looking forward to displaying some art as part of the event.

Next week will be about more event organisation, leading up to Wednesday night’s event. We are looking forward to seeing at least 100 creative entrepreneurs enter into a lively panel discussion about how technology will impact the UK’s position as a global player in the creative industries.  This is all part of our drive to help London get the recognition it deserves as a powerhouse of creativity and entrepreneurial flair.