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What we learnt from Kicktable about getting startups from idea to launch

A massive thank you to George from Kicktable for an honest, amusing, inspiring and informative talk and Q&A at this week’s Esc Wednesday.

Great buzz in the room and lots of exciting new connections made as well.

Here is what we learnt:

  • Be useful – If you’re searching for that idea to start a business around, make sure what you’re proposing solves a problem and ideally solve a problem that you’re very familiar with.
  • Don’t be afraid of bad ideas – George and Mattieu had loads of hopeless ideas before they found the one that they were prepared to leave their jobs for. They met on a weekly basis to discuss them.
  • Acknowledge what you can’t do – The Kicktable guys probably weren’t the best people to build Flipboard meets Foursquare for authentic urban experiences. They’re not geeks. They were self-aware enough to know they should chase a different business model.
  • Start with what you’ve got – What they did have was friends, a passion for doing more than sitting in the pub, and the initiative to begin using existing platforms (eventbrite) to just start their business in micro and see what people thought.
  • On fear – George uses fear as a radar. If he’s scared of something does that mean it’s worth doing? Good reasons for fear should be heeded (i.e. I am scared of this idea because I’m not capable of building the next Facebook) and bad reasons for fear should be rationalised (like standing up in front of 80 people to talk about your new business).
  • SAVE – We hear this question time and again: ‘what about the money question’. Everyone who ever started a business had to leave the sanctuary of their salary to make it happen. This is the biggest reason people stay in jobs they don’t like / love. It’s a real reason – but often it is used as an excuse.
  • You have options – beyond saving… don’t underestimate how much you can get done from within your job. Cut down your expenses brutally. Can you avoid paying rent for 6 months (sublet your room, AirBnB it, sleep on your sister’s sofa)? Once you’ve escaped can you do part-time work whilst starting your business (tutoring, contract work, etc)?
  • No one said it was easy – Starting a business is incredibly hard. There is no silver bullet. There is no easy way around the money question. George said it himself – ‘it’s a massive adventure, it’s really fun, but look… if it doesn’t work out (which it will)… the experience and learning alone will have been worth it’.
  • Raising money takes a long time – Be prepared that once you have your beta / pilot business out in public and if you need to raise capital to do what you want to do, that you will be temporarily consumed by the VC / Angel pitching process.
  • We still don’t know if George is funnier than Mattieu – hopefully they’ll both come back to talk to us in a year’s time and we can find out!

The Esc team were massively impressed by George’s passion for his business, his honesty in telling the story so far, his vision for the idea, and generally by how game he was to stand up in front of 80 Londoners (before he has even properly moved to the city) to talk us through how Kicktable got from idea to launch.

We have no doubt that we are going to be seeing a lot more of these guys and their marketplace for passionate people.

‘Do what you like. Share what you love.’

What else?

The next Esc Wednesday (we do one a month) will be announced in the Esc newsletter and on our site in the Events section.

If you’d like to track down anyone from the evening or make new connections with like-minded people in London please do join our Esc Meetup – London group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/esclondon/

Quick overview

Here is what Kicktable is all about: http://www.kicktable.com/

Here is what the evening was all about: February’s Esc Wednesday

Here is what we are all about: http://escapethecity.org/pages/about