Words of support, advice, encouragement for entrepreneurs and start-ups everywhere from the Accelerate Cambridge team.
From the vision behind Accelerate Cambridge
Hanadi Jabado, Director of Accelerate Cambridge
Hanadi emphasises four golden rules:
- The team
Hanadi believes it is all about execution and not so much about the idea: “Who are you? Do you have the stamina, the passion and the hunger? More importantly, are you coachable?”
- Don’t give it away
Hanadi’s logic is compelling and potentially lucrative for start-up founders tempted to give shares away too early and too cheaply in the search for cash backing: “The longer you can hold out without funding, the higher the valuation of your company when you raise money. You give away less and get more.”
- The market is your target
“Do not build a start-up in the light of what a potential investor may require, but aim it towards the market. Who is your market? What does the market need? How can you meet the market need?”
- Understand your offer
“What is your value proposition? What makes you unique? People who come to me and say there is no competition and no-one has ever done this before have just not spent enough time doing research. What they should be saying is, ‘here are our competitors, but we do it better or cheaper or whatever’.”
Simon Stockley, Deputy Director of Accelerate Cambridge
Beg or borrow
“Bootstrap for as long as you can. Do not buy anything. What you want to buy – borrow. What you cannot borrow – Freecycle.”
Dr Neil Stott, Senior Teaching Faculty in Social Innovation and CEO at Keystone Development Trust
Passion is paramount!
“Without the passion for solving a problem – societal or for your potential customers – finding the resilience to survive the inevitable hurly burly and emotional highs and lows of setting up a new venture is a real challenge. Passion shines through; it can inspire and captivate others. Frankly, if you don’t have passion for what you are doing, why should anyone else?”
Sachin Shende, Founder of KisanHub.com
KisanHub provides farmers worldwide with essential data aggregated for easy access and interactivity.
Stay positive but realistic
“Be ready to battle with your own ideas and be able to translate them into actual functionality for the user, or a service.”
You have to sweat the small stuff
“There are no short cuts – be prepared to put in long hours, work hard and at the same time work smart to take ideas into reality. Things do take time – any initial time estimates as what can be achieved in a certain time frame will soon be out of the window!”
John Harper, Founder and CEO of Rize
Rize, one thought at a time. A gamified app that integrates therapeutic concepts into simple exercises to help users to track and improve their mental well-being.
Just keep swimming
“Whatever you have, whatever situation you’re in, do what you can with what you’ve got. Always aim for progression over perfection.”
Cesar and Alexandro Rizzo, Founders of Article No. 25
Their business model aims to integrate farms in cities, to tackle global food issues at local scale.
Wear your passion on your sleeve
“We believe in building a better world for everyone; that’s our passion. So our first piece of advice is for you to find yours and wear it. Find what makes you itch, and do something about it. You’ll find you can infect others with your passion. Try, fail, adapt, and learn to dance in the rain instead of waiting for the sun: ‘Life is a playground, or nothing.”
Shiri Zilberman, Technical Marketing and Business Development at Broadcom
Always think about commercialisation
“Commercialisation: that’s the difference between an idea and a company.”
You need a team
“Build a strong group of people with the same goal, who will keep you going when things are hard, and build parallel markets if things are good.”
Charles Payne, Director of Business Aspirations
“Some years ago, whilst listening to a radio programme about books and writing them, one of the studio guests said, “There is a book in each of us. Often that is the best place for it to stay!” Nothing can be further from the truth when you are looking at starting your own business. You have an idea – go for it!”
“Seek help from mentors. Each one of them has a skill set that you don’t have.”
Kaye Coleman-Rooney, Founder and Creative Director of Doing Words
Kay’s career spans broadcast media and corporate affairs, and includes international experience in the Middle East and South East Asia. Based here in Cambridge, she runs business communications consultancy Doing Words.
“Confront yourself with the questions you hope no-one will think to ask you about the value and viability of your venture. Fill those chinks in your armour, and you’re ready to go into battle.”
Awesome blog collating little nuggets of wisdom by one of my favourite mentors Kaye Coleman-Rooney
Many thanks to Kaye Coleman-Rooney, Pip Coney, Peter Graham, Ange Fitzpatrick and Andy Priestner for all your help. Looks even better now with Pip’s finishing touches 😉
As a recently inscribed mentor on Accelerate Cambridge, I have been impressed by the quality of the ideas. However, I would endorse Shiri Zilberman’s comments – you must always be thinking about sales, it is the only way to understand the markets and the customers even if you have nothing tangible to show.