After the first session of pitches and a fantastic first keynote from Dan Benjamin, we knew we were in for something great after lunch at Startup Riot 2015. Juliette Powell, founder of WeTheData.org, Turing AI, and the Author of “33 million people in the room“, did not disappoint.
Juliette started us off by shouting “GSM!” What does that mean? “Get some money!” but not just any money. Get smart money from people who believe in you and your long term vision.
Juliette turned down a big pile of money from Wall Street. After being invited into a room full of VCs and analysts, she noticed that none of them would look her in the eye. Why? She asked her friend who introduced her why? Simple: these boys wanted to give her a bunch of money to shut her idea down. They feared the vision she had painted for the future. “That will disrupt every other company I’ve invested in, and that’s dangerous.” When people offer you money, make sure its smart money.
“I was in a honeymoon phase with my product.” Remember the intimate connection between you and your spouse. They’re perfect. Nothing they do irritates you. Same when you’re in startup mode with a new concept. You forget to eat sleep go home and bathe. You’re so caught up in the moment that you don’t / can’t think about anything negative.
Many of these pitches (at Startup Riot) are in their cocoon, and now they’re meeting the VC, journos, angels, etc. These new people have very different criteria for evaluation of startups. They look at how your idea affects the market and their investor portfolio. It has to go beyond cool to something that can add value to peoples’ lives, and that your customers are willing to pay you for. You need real life feedback.
What is Juliette’s favorite way to raise capital? Embed yourself. Get feedback from actual customers/clients who are willing to test the product, which means they must be able to actually use it, which means you need real relationships with potential clients for your MVP. These MVP users are strategic partners who are willing to pay you to do research.
Here are a few more highlights from Juliette’s post-lunch keynote.
- When you have traction, the investors will come because you’ve shipped a real product to real customers for real money.
- Your marketing is as important as your money.
- Tweeting what you had for breakfast is not going to sell your product.
- Build relationships with marketing agencies who are really good at telling stories. No matter what we do as humans, we connect by telling stories, even about technology.
- We friend brands and brands friend us, but we treat our customers like “customers”.
- When you ship product, you’re not trying anymore. You’re doing.
Juliette’s keynote took a very different approach from Dan Banjamin’s, and that really helped Startup Riot 2015 to be an all around must-attend for everyone. Dan covered life from the starving bootstrapper’s perspective, and Juliette made us see how important the who is behind all the money you’re raising.