5 Lessons From the 2013 Venture Roadshow

The 2013 Venture Roadshow has run its course and it was a success – due in large part to the cabbage-sized cinnamon buns and Greek-inspired lunch spread, but also the gurus, mavens and experts who came out on a Saturday to help build the startup community. Amidst the dynamic discussions and thought provoking presenters, we’ve pulled together our top 5 takeaways:

1. There’s nothing airy-fairy about social media. It’s all strategy.

Ernest Barbaric, social media maven, ran a bootcamp-style session for startups. According to Ernest, social media should never be done on a whim or “because you feel like it.” It needs to be structured and directed so it can help achieve your business goals – that’s what makes a successful campaign. Channel choice, content and language all flow from your broader business goals.

“Ernest had me brainstorming in front of my whiteboard for two days. His succinct and intelligently designed concepts for Social media Goals resonated so well for me.”

2. Use emotional branding to make your products human and likeable.

Emotional branding is an extra special sauce used at Design4Change to build lasting, realistic and relatable brands. Principal & Master Splinter, Patti Derbyshire, took startups through 12 universal archetypes that all brands are based on. From the Outlaw to the Ruler, the Hero to the Caregiver and everything else in between, entrepreneurs learned how to turn the servers, circuit boards and processor chips into something a little more human.

3. Your business in 6 months, 3 months, 1 month and today.

Accountability expert and efficiency expediter, Bernie May, took startups through an intensive (and critical) look at their business processes. Having an overarching business strategy is great, but actually executing and following through with it is critical. Bernie had entrepreneurs thinking about their 6-month, 3-month and 1-month goals so they could identify the actions they needed to take today in order to be successful.

“Takes all the clutter and makes it make sense.”

4. Dust off and polish up your business card – it’s a hard copy of your first impression.

Lowell Scott, resident expert graphic designer and photoshop guru, sat down with participants to walk them through the art of the business card. Sometimes overlooked in this digital age, he equated the business card to a hard copy first impression – it’s how people remember you, so it also needs to reflect your business. Step back and take a minute (or two) to think about what kind of impression you want to make. Glossy vs. matte, rounded corners vs. square corners and other similar decisions will flow from there.

5. Cut away the excess fat. On your business, that is.

Lean startups are the way to go. That means starting small, iterating, improving, and doing it all again. Evan Hu, CEO of Ideaca and serial entrepreneur, walked us through the process. The main takeaway? It doesn’t need to be perfect before you release it to the world – it just needs to work. Some of the best products are always in beta mode (think about the iPhone and all its iterations and updates). The point is, the sooner you get the product to market, the sooner you know if it will be successful. And in startup world, the faster the better.

And that’s it folks! The summary of 1 day, 5 experts and 45 gargantuan cinnamon buns. A big thanks to all the startups, entrepreneurs and interested community members who came out and made the Roadshow happen. We hope you’ll stay tuned for our next D4C adventure!

ThoughtsKylie TohComment