Each month educators, edtech enthusiasts, and entrepreneurs get together to learn, share, and network at EdTech Orlando at Code School/Envy Labs. This month we had two local edtech entrepreneurs who recently completed the accelerator program at Stater Studio. Chris Harden @herecomestrobo from Trobo and Bess Auer @bess_auer from GottaGetBlogging share some lessons learned along their way. I’ll talk more about both of these companies at the end.
Lessons learned from other entrepreneurs are very important in the land of startups. These help you get ahead and not have similar setbacks others have endured during their journey. Here are 7 lessons learned by EdTech Startups from these two entrepreneurs. They definitely had more than seven lessons to share with us but these seems to resonant with me the most.
1. Start Early Building a Tribe
Both of these entrepreneurs talked how important it is to start building a tribe before you officially launch. This is especially important for those wanting to run a Kickstarter or another type of crowd funding campaign to reach their targeted goal. Building your tribe goes beyond your friends and community. This should include bloggers, media, and others who you want to build a relationship with prior to launching your product or service. Chris mention how important it is to develop real relationships with bloggers and media from a variety of areas , because bloggers and media receive tons of press release and product launches on a daily basis. Bess was lucky since she has been working with bloggers through her FLBlogCon conference prior to the launch of GottaGetBlogging to bring on as influencers and ambassadors.
2. Apply For an Accelerator or Incubator
Both of these startups recent went through the three month accelerator for tech companies in Orlando called Starter Studio. This environment helped both of these startups grow fast with a deadline set for a demo day at the end of the program. Each walked away with lots of advise from mentors and entirely new set of contacts to help them with everything from public relations to legal advice. Going into a programs like this helps fill in gaps or weakness in various areas with group of individuals looking to succeed.
3. Reduce Your Team to Your Core Needs
Both of the starters had larger teams at the start of their ideas from the development of an idea at Startup Weekend or previous planning teams. It’s core to get the specific strengths on the team you need and the people who you trust. Look at the key parts, pieces, and skills you will need to make it a reality. Make sure the team has bought into the idea. Everyone might not be able to quite their job and help full time, but look at their involved with you in the past on projects. Looking for good partners and building your team can make or break a startup pretty fast.
4. Don’t Just Sit At Home, Get Out There
It’s key to get out there and meet people. Co-working spaces can be a great environment to get you out of the house and get you involved with other starters. Co-working spaces can help reduce cost but continue to give you a real office environment, such as kitchen, high speed internet, meeting rooms, and people as resources. One of Orlando’s newest co-working space is Canvs inside the Church Street Exchange Building in Downtown Orlando. Plan opportunities to share your story, expertise, and journey with others. This will be critical during the launch phase.
5. Continue to Validate Your Product or Service
Don’t stop validating your products or services being offered with mentors, customers, or potential customers. You don’t want to create a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist. It’s better to fail fast and move on with creating something awesome or the piece of your products or service that is awesome. This is a great lesson many get at Startup Weekend from the very first night of pitches through the weekend as they are trying to make sure to validate what people want, not what you think they want. Survey your target market, talk with people in the space, and show your idea to people who will tell you the truth when it sucks. Bess mention that survey her target market help to relieve what people really found important from her FLBlogCon and that help developed what would take GottaGetBlogging to the next level.
6. Differentiate From Your Competitors
How do you create a great product or service when similar people are already doing this? You need to differentiate yourself from those products with quality and unique features that you see you customers will desire. Don’t worry about seeing what people are doing well, those are great ideas to implement. Ask yourself how you can it even better.
7. Find Resources to Learn From Others
Always continue learning from others. Look for podcast, blogs, and leaders in the community to learn more startup lessons along your journey. You don’t always have to step into the abyss. Chris mentioned learning from podcast such as Richard Bliss’s “Funding the Dream” as he prepared for their Kickstarter launch. Joining various Facebook Group, who are willing to share, discuss, and give advice. Find mentors that are willing to give you some of their time without taking too much of your time. Remember you time is precises too.
Trobo is a storytelling plush robot who works with app to engage children in STEM activities. Trobo is currently running a Kickstarer (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/trobo/trobo-the-storytelling-robot). Help by backing them and spreading the word to get them to their goal of $60,000 by October 6th.
GottaGetBlogging is a site dedicated to bloggers or future bloggers who want to learn how to grow and monetize their blog. A membership to the site includes videos, webinars, community discussions, and opportunity to connect with blogging professionals. http://gottagetblogging.com
*Note: I’m a partner with GottaGetBlogging and FLBlogCon