Startup 101: 5 Crucial Mistakes to Avoid

Sharing your strengths and accomplishments is easy, rewarding and fun. However, sharing your weaknesses and mistakes, so others can avoid them,  can be painful but provides valuable insights for future Tech Founders.

Together, with the other Hango Co-Founders, Ryne Heath and Phong Le, we are sharing our key errors. They are as follows:

Team Pedigree

  • Find a relevant technical Co-Founder
  • If you outsource your development, do your homework
  • Find co-founders with startup experience
  • Always distribute equity with a 1 year cliff

User Problem

  • Fully understand the problem
  • User testing, market trends, competitive analysis is not trivial, it's crucial
  • Listen to seasoned investors, mentors and entrepreneurs, but don't forget your vision

Financial Commitment

  • Stay at your current jobs until all of the above has been vetted out
  • Seek advice at first not funding
  • Find an investor that has past success in your market
  • Make sure all founding team members are financially prepared for the rough times

Great Product

  • Build a product that has one of these 3 qualities: technical Advantage, first to market and/or unique solution
  • Build a prototype and test, iterate this process a few times before developing an app
  • Start with a niche customer base, kill it, then expand with the proof of concept
  • Don't be afraid to pivot

Revenue Model

  • Have a revenue model to sustain business after 12-18 months

On there own, a single mistake can't be blamed for failure, but collectively they can lead to disaster. Please be aware of these red flags. Attack and fix problems early and often. I hope sharing these mistakes provides new tech founders with a strategic advantage and a path to great success.

Designing a Business, Not Just an App

"Brandon, I have this idea, and I want to design an app."

I have heard this at least 100 times since I launched my own startup.  Ideas that have covered every inch of the map, and a lot of them are pretty amazing on the surface. I applaud the enthusiasm, and I am not one to hold back somebody from their dreams, but what I will do is ask one question back.

"Are you trying to design an app or design a business?"

Designing a business does not always mean that you need a pairing mobile technology to be successful. There are plenty of companies that have made it with websites, Facebook pages and social media accounts. I listened to an amazing Podcast about a company called Dating Ring. This company went through one of the most profound incubators in the US and started developing an app only to realize this was not necessary for their core customer base and company goals. I encourage you to listen to their podcasts via the link below.

If you have questions about whether you should design an app for your business, then great; let me help guide you. I have compiled a short list of questions that you should answer before deciding that a mobile app is necessary. These questions may seem obvious but, like most novice exercises, when overlooked you will regret them down the road. In a sense, you want to design your business plan first.

  • What is the problem that your business is solving?
  • What is your proposed solution?
  • What is the simplest and cheapest way to test your solution?
  • What are the competitors doing?

After you have designed your business plan, now it is time to correlate problems to mobile solutions. Remember that not all your problems may be solved with a mobile app. For example,

  • Can the business start and scale without an app?
  • What limitations does the app put on the business solution?
  • What benefits does an app create for the user?

Still have questions? Send me a line, and I would be glad to help in any part of the business design process.