Review: How #Croydon #TechCity validated my idea
New #Croydon #TechCity recruit Stella Fasusi-Olomu reports on the latest community class
According to StartUps.co.uk, a “record breaking 581,173 businesses were registered with Companies House [in 2014] showing an accelerated increase on previous years”. This represents a jaw-dropping increase of 10% on 2013 and 20% on 2012. It’s clear that increasingly more people are open to the idea of being self-employed and starting their own businesses. However, the reality of setting up shop is not really captured in those stats and half of UK startups fail within five years.
It can be difficult getting started and maintaining anything really. Your to-do list at work, your household duties, planning that holiday, not to mention your startup idea! Knowing where to begin can often be a bit daunting when it comes to a new business. This becomes even harder when it’s your first idea, the one idea out of many floating about in your mind that you’ve decided, “Yes, this is the one that I’ll do”.
One of the key drivers to ensuring a business’ success (and at times it really is a coin toss) is consulting your target audience. This is a sure-fire way of validating your startup idea before you’ve fully launched the product or service. It enables you to play, tweak and speak about it multiple times to refine it and get it right.
As I was signed up to the Croydon Tech City newsletter, I saw the invitation email for this event a few hours after it was sent out. I signed up only to find that I’d been waitlisted – unsurprisingly, the workshop was very popular. It was the opportunity to attend a workshop that often costs hundreds of pounds – for free! Luckily for me, someone cancelled and I managed to secure a spot. The session started with a friendly icebreaker – building a tower out of the spaghetti and marshmallows, a great exercise to get people talking and working together and just generally a good laugh. My team was disqualified (as we continued building after being told to stop – so rebellious).
Using the ‘Lean Startup Machine’ business model canvas, the main facilitator, Luke Szyrmer (the author of Launch Tomorrow), graciously took us through an example of a startup idea and the major components needed to see that business idea through from origination to launch.
Luke began the workshop by telling us about Web Van, an example of an excellent business idea that was rolled out in the United States in the ’90s which involved customers doing their grocery shopping online (something that doesn’t require a second thought in 2016). Unfortunately, despite billions of pounds in investment, this business went bust because it was rolled out at a time when people weren’t quite ready for it – knowledge which they would have possessed had they consulted their target audience. This was a consistent theme throughout the evening – consulting target customers and using this information to improve and pilot your product/service to ensure that it’s meeting customer needs.
We all have a tendency to create ideas, ask family and friends what they think, and if we’re fortunate enough to have investors, we run with it! However, this workshop not only provided us with good models that we can use but also reminded us of one key area that may make all the difference in making or breaking your startup down the line – speaking with your target audience, using that information to test your (very grand) idea.
Thanks CTC – I am looking forward to the next one! To find out about more sessions like this, sign up to their newsletter on croydontechcity.com.
The next Croydon Tech City community class is ‘How to write a kick-ass startup business plan’ and takes place on Monday 7th March. To register, please go here.