Last night 20 eager escapees, none of whom had a tech background, gathered at Bathtub 2 Boardroom at Bank to learn from Escape the City’s tech team consisting of Co-Founder and Head of Product – Dom Jackman, CTO and Lead Developer – Chris Bushell, and Front-End Developer – Stefan Ritter. The team shared their hard won learnings about building successful web products and what they would do differently if they were starting a web-based startup again tomorrow.
Firstly, when considering launching online it is key to define what type of business you’re building – is it tech or is it simply tech enabled? This will have a significant impact on how your startup approach.
Building an online business is tough, and at times it can feel like you’re wading through jungle, so the team covered the basics to help navigate this challenging path. Our team gave an overview of 4 simple tools that are invaluable in successfully launching an idea, project or business on the web. The 4 tools that helped us grow Escape the City to the size that it is today are:
The importance of testing your idea:
There are 3 steps every online business should take to launch a business idea without spending all your savings or quitting your job – test, launch, get serious. Most people are so convinced their idea is good they will skip the test phase then launch and get serious without testing. It’s crucial to hold back and test your assumptions before taking things further. To test your idea you could do a survey or host a discussion evening with a group of people and ask them to discuss your concept, approach etc.
Don’t get hung up on perfecting your product / offering before starting testing – if people are excited about your product it doesn’t matter at first if it doesn’t look perfect. Just get the idea out there and start testing!
When testing your idea the team suggested starting small (but do start!) and emphasised that each entrepreneur will need to decide what ‘small’ means for them. For some it might mean trying to get your first 1000 fans. Create a mailing list, try to create a buzz around your idea / product. It’s important to fail fast and learn early on if your idea isn’t viable.
For the Esc guys starting small meant launching a simple blog aimed at their friends and family where they could explore ideas around changing career away from the corporate arena. They later started the weekly Escape Newsletter and started to build that all important online following – their ‘tribe’.
By the end of the workshop attendees appreciated the value of testing their idea and starting small. They also understood the 4 tools that take a dormant idea in your head to a live online space to which you can direct prospective customers.
Tips and resources:
- Top tip: find people to produce things by the hourHackpad – online revenue models (don’t try and make a new business model, focus on innovating your brand – just take the plug and play models and go with them)
- Check out 1000 true fans by Kevin Kelly
- A great book is The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick
- Celery – great site for taking payments
- Top tip: for early promotion of your idea use Facebook, Twitter and Google ads – you can create targeted notifications for people who love what you’re selling
Good luck guys!
POST WRITTEN BY CELIA
(check out Celia’s blog “Dared, Determined, Done!” about making big career and life changes here)