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Ask a Startup Founder

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Got a question for a startup founder? Ask anything and we'll try our best to answer. Founders please introduce yourselves as you respond.

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Abhishek Dhote 8 months ago
GUEST QUESTION
I have a govt schemes, jobs and scholarships blog it's called as http://govinfo.me (Govt Information Made Easy)

It gets 2K+ visits everyday but nor really sure about how to grow that and get funded since it doesn't have any revenue model apart from Google adsense. Can anyone out here help??
Aabhaas Gupta 8 months ago
GUEST POST
Hey, this is Aabhaas... I am a startup owner. Our business deals with IoT based devices. I just had the website for my company designed. I do not know how do I move forward with the marketing and sales of my products. If only some of you could visit my website ( www.sumona.in ) and provide me with your Invaluable feedback and maybe some suggestions. Thanks in advanced.
Abhishek Dhote 8 months ago
Aabhas tried your website but it doesn't open
Aabhaas Gupta 8 months ago
Thx Abhishek for the effort. What exactly is the issue? The URL is www.sumona.in. And it may take a little time to load for the first time.
Ahmed Accoush 9 months ago
GUEST QUESTION
One of my personal training customers has been working with Julie for a few months and is very happy with the results. Julie is one of my contractors and also has her own clients. When Julie works with a customer, I take 25 percent of the fee and pay 75 percent to Julie. Recently the customer approached me and said, ‘Amy, I’m very happy working with Julie, and want to continue doing so, but I realize that I’m paying an extra cost because she is affiliated with your firm. Can I train with Julie independently and pay less?’

What should I do? I don’t want to lose my customer.
Hi Ahmed -- as your contractor, it would be unprofessional and highly unethical for your contractor to establish a direct relationship with the client and cut you out of the relationship.

Perhaps what you need to establish is a standard package for your customers to buy larger packages at reduced rates where you accept a lower margin in exchange for the upfront payment. For example, let's say your client pays $10 for each session with July and you keep $2.50. You could have a program where the client pays $90 for 10 sessions and you rather keep 15% of the total, but only if it is all pre-paid. That incentivises Julie to get customers to pre-pay for the packages which gets your more cash flow to invest.
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Christoph Richter 8 months ago
The question is also what is your work in continuing the relationship. If you really do nothing and keep 25% I would also start wondering as a client.
As a networker proof your value to Julie & the client. If Julie has nothing to do with time management, having easily fixed clients she should give you a lower rate that you can pass to your client with your fee.
If you provide risk free booking, incident or holiday replacements for your client than he should pay a 20% fee.
If you just once established the relationship, lower it to 10%
Manish Gor 9 months ago
GUEST QUESTION
Hello Founders!

hope you guys are doing great!

I am planning to start a new SaaS based product and a bit confused if I should go ahead with it, considering my continuous failures in past. I am good at product development but I lack sales and marketing skills. I would like your expert advice in this matter so that I don't fall in the failure this time.

please can you guide me on the same?

Best,
Manish
Hi Manish! Definitely for a SaaS product make sure to team up with a sales/marketing co-founder. SaaS is very much a sales and marketing driven biz.

What is your app?
Manish Gor 9 months ago
From where do I find good sales/marketing co-founder? People that I know around are all coders or PMs. I know there's no specific place/strategy to find a sales guy. But, how do I find the one? Or I should just put a requirement on Job portal and try to find the best one? On the other note, product is an internal company portal which could be utilised by to arrange information flowing around it at a single place.
Sandip Mahajan 9 months ago
GUEST QUESTION
Hello, I am the Co-founder & CEO of Aviot Smart Automation Pvt. Ltd. Mumbai. We are working in IoT based products. We are manufacturer of LED products and supports the mobile apps to control the same.

We have own devices to manage ATM machines (reduce energy consumption by 40%).

We are happy to work with you people, if you find we are eligible.
Sounds like a cool project!
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Ashish Mehta 9 months ago
GUEST POST
Hi everyone, very new to this app. hoping to get some good social and may be opportunity to work on helping to develop their business and brand.
As an art director, work on website and design stuff. ready to help you guys.
Awesome, welcome!
Paul Renshaw 10 months ago
GUEST QUESTION
How valuable do you think some sort of business coach would be when first starting a new business, and how exactly would you expect someone to support you as a coach if you had one?
Hi Paul Renshaw ! Good mentors are always helpful provided that they have the time and relevant experience. I would be cautious about a business "coach" at an early stage if they are more of a professional paid consultant. A good mentor will help you for free or for some equity.
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Ricardo Teigas Jacob 10 months ago
GUEST POST
Hi, I'm new at Pepo and I wanted to start by sharing a bit of my vision on the state of the art for what I find almost everyday.

I founded my first company in 2009. After 3 years of some success I had to give up due to budget restrictions - at that time and with that business stock was a major issue, and that lead me throw the towel as I wasn't able to support the business anymore.
Nowadays I work for a big IT company but still keep some projects on the side, just to get the blood pumping.
I don't know if this is common with other entrepreneurs and in other countries (I'm in Portugal by the way) but I'm finding awfully difficult to find people wanting to come aboard and take some chance, willing to work some extra time to try and go further.
Everyone presents themselves like they want to "live the dream" and "change the world" but almost no one is willing to invest - neither time or money.
I often find that this is becoming more and more difficult and is killing a lot of businesses even before they pass the drawing board.
Everyone wants to get in the action but with money, and a lot, upfront in they're pockets. I even see this with unemployed people who have nothing to loose. It just seems somewhat weird and wrong at the same time.
Money is scarce but so the commitment must be bigger then ever.
Start anyway you want. But just start.
And most importantly - know why you're starting!

Thanks. Be good.
RTJ
Thanks for sharing!
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Ché-Marc Edwards 10 months ago
GUEST QUESTION
The appeal for ecommerce websites and apps have lost the appeal with Investors and VC's in the last years. Why is this so?
The primary reason is: Amazon. The operational challenges of e-commerce are so immense and margin-challenging and Amazon has built a dominant global infrastructure to optimize it. Hard to compete against them.
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Ché-Marc Edwards 10 months ago
Thanks for the reply. I understand what you are saying and it makes much sense
Ché-Marc Edwards 10 months ago
GUEST QUESTION
I'm building a mobile application for wholesalers to help them generate some more sales by exposing them to new customers. My question is who do I target first? Do I get the wholsalers onboard first or the customers? Or do I get them both to sign up simultaeneously
Ahhh two sided marketplaces - always a question about which comes first supply vs demand. Maybe you could focus on the supply only to start and tap into other marketplaces for demand?
Ché-Marc Edwards 10 months ago
Okay sounds good. So I'll test it out and get back to you just to let you know how it went. Also if you have some time checkout my app. Is not the best but I'm working on it. Would love some feedback. Do you have android or iOS?
Yasa T 10 months ago
GUEST QUESTION
So i just moved to a new city.i graduated last year and since then i did few projects in which i won at startup weekend and other ones.
The project that i want to do is technical and i don't have technical experience but i have a passion to do whatever it takes to make this project alive and well. I am thinking of joining a co-working space since i don't know lots of people and to use the space to build the product. My question is should i be patient and study the life in the city by working in a regular job and gain more Experience or just go crazy and just do it?!
My plan if i went with the co-working is to work there for few months and then apply for an accelerator. My concern is that, i am afraid that i don't have enough skills to convince them that i can do it! Specially that i am not from the city. What should i do in that case?
Hi Yasa T ! Congrats on your winning the startup weekend!

My advice would always be that if you can afford financially to work on your startup idea, do that rather than just settling into a "normal" job. Spend a few months at the co-working space refining you idea, and trying to find a technical co-founder to partner with you. You'll be in a much stronger position to apply to the accelerator if you have a technical co founder.
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Yasa T 10 months ago
I can support myself for at least 6 months. But for registration, legal stuff and paying salaries will be hard to do and at this stage it's just for prototyping should i raise more?
GUEST QUESTION
What do you recommend starting small while you are doing your job or go all out (I find it scary) and jump in start up
Hi! A lot of this depends on whether you have the personal resources to jump right in. If you can afford to financially I would always recommend jumping right in. It's otherwise hard to figure out of your business can work of you are only partly committed to it.
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Vashitwa Mishra 11 months ago
GUEST POST
Hi,
Following is a brief about my small weekend initiative to structure sports and outdoor activities on weekends.
To begin with i started a small football club in Airoli, Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.

It's up and running since November 2016. As of now the good news is it's self sustainable.
The initial investment was provided be me alone. Eventually I reinvested the money over few months that was generated from the club trainings.

The primary business model is training to school kids provided by some senior players based in AIROLI.

Challenge : So far i have not needed any additional support or finances but to expand the club, i have to generate more business by either of following ways ;
1. Attracting more school kids who can join the club
2. Starting another training ground in different part of Airoli or different node in Navi Mumbai like Kharghar.
3. Starting more activities so kids interested in other activities can be attracted.
4. A good website which can establish the brand and help in attracting more kids.
5. Good social networking with regular updates.
6. Regular tournaments or intra matches.
7. Taking the kids to play outside Mumbai / sports tours.

Conclusion:
What i basically need is support with marketing of my club to attract more kids.
This will help me generate more money.
With this money i can take them to play regular tournaments and tours outside Mumbai.

Suggests and comments welcome from you.

Best regards,
Vash
whatsapp : 9820510399
vashmishra@gmail.com
Good luck with this! Sounds like a fun and rewarding project.

How are you currently communicating with the kids? WhatsApp? Maybe creating a Pepo channel would help your group communication. And make it easy for the word to spread further in the community?
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Do you train too or you find right trainers?
Deepak Singh 11 months ago
GUEST QUESTION
hi, i am associated with a start up based in india for online pharmacy, we are running it from past one year and have been collaborated with doctors for direct patients, however we are unable to see proper growth the sales counts, please suggest us with the best marketing techniques as this is been bootstrapped and would be only considering the best way marketing to spend money. The options which are open to me are print media, google adwords or banners on local auto rikshaw.

any suggestion would be appreciated.

Thanks
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How about Facebook page? Approaching societies with discount to society members? Find places where medical shop or pharmacy is not near. Or ares were medical shops are really small and don't keep all required medicines. Tie up with remotely placed hospitals
Sreeni Vas 11 months ago
GUEST QUESTION
how do u handle social enterprise .. ??
By social enterprise you mean a business that does well for the community and environment while also generating corporate value / profits? Or do you have something else in mind?
Aaron Taylor 11 months ago
GUEST QUESTION
Jason,
Thanks for answering my question, but my biggest issue I have is how does one raise capital to build out your product while protecting your intellectual property? My product no one has for healthcare and I want to protect it, so I just don't know how to go about funding it besides funding it myself which would be difficult at this time....

Thank you for your time.
Hi Aaron. TBH I'm not much of an expert in health care financing - but any reputable VC with a specialty in your industry will be familiar with such situations. VC's have to be trustworthy as their entire business model is based on referrals from other investors and entrepreneurs and no one is going to refer future business to them if they break trust.

Do you have someone who can make a warm introduction for you to a health care focused VC?
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Tinashe Mukogo 11 months ago
GUEST QUESTION
Thanks Jason for the response. It really is a skillset I need to pick up. I tend to back away when things have not worked out and in a sense I even get a sense of shame.
Ale Shader 11 months ago
GUEST QUESTION
We're barely on step one. We have an idea, a market, not funding, a site, or money. It a t shirt business. Any thoughts?
Hmmm can you share some more details? Is it am online T-shirt business? Offline? What will be your special differentiation from other T-shirt companies that already exist?
Tinashe Mukogo 11 months ago
GUEST QUESTION
How have you managed relationships when thing haven't gone well in a startup so as to ensure that people are still willing to back you in future?
00:38
Great question Tinashe Mukogo ! The key to enduring support through low points is maintaining trust and integrity throughout. More on the video...
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Swaminathan Jayaraman 10 months ago
Jason Goldberg always inspiring!
GUEST QUESTION
Hello Jason Goldberg

What is the best/fastest/cost-efficient way today to grow a local business ?
I've never started a local business myself, but maybe we can find you some advice. Is your business an online business or offline business?
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Jason Goldberg 11 months ago
Hmmm - it sounds like the sort of business that could leverage Google local ads very well. Sorry I don't have much expertise in the area beyond that simple advice. Maybe some others on here can help.
Vashitwa Mishra 11 months ago
I started a football coaching / training over the weekends.
Hired local players as coaches.
Got the kids in good numbers because of word of mouth + local network of coaches + etc.
Challenges : maintenance of data
Attendence of coaches
Attendence of students
Timely collection of fees
Wondering how to make this more efficient so i can receive updates on a regular basis.
Aaron Taylor 11 months ago
GUEST QUESTION
I am looking to raise funding for a app that is geared towards the healthcare industry. The app has been design and a prototype and user testing has been already done and revisions made to the final product.

How does one go about raising funding for such a project, but I'm worried about pitching the idea because I don't want someone to take it. How do you protect yourself?

What would your suggestions be for starting this process? I am pitching this to the healthcare company I currently work for since this was produced before my employee meant with them. My goal is to have the app blank marketed and then the company can then purchase it and brand it to themselves add functionality to it or remove it when purchasing.

Thank you for any advise you may be able to help out with....

Cheers,
A-A-Ron
Sr. lead UX/UI/ID
Thanks for tbe question.

What country are you focused on and what specifically within health care? As you know, health care is a huge industry with all sorts of regulatory complexities that differ greatly by country and sector.

The one advice based on your question that I would provide already is to NOT shy away from talking to people about your idea. Ideas are the easy part - execution and know-how to get it done is the hard part. I've always found that by talking about an idea with smart people, the idea gets better and more formulated in your head. Seek out mentors and experts and pitch them tbe concept. If they find it interesting they'll likely help you refine it, and make it stronger by challenging your assumptions-- and hopefully also steer you towards more people who can help.
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Andrew Christodoulides 11 months ago
GUEST QUESTION
I'm about to start working on very first capital raise ($3m) for a digitally led home goods retail co. I know you've had a ton of experience. Any tips you can share?
Great question Andrew and best of luck to you! A few recommendations:

1. Target investors who get physical to digital, evolution of retail to etail. Folks who invested in Casper, Warby, Everlane, etc.
2. Have a compelling story as to why your product will sell well online, is made for online.
3. Operations. Operations. Operations. Most ecomm companies get killed by not planning well for ops.
4. Don't underestimate the costs and efforts involved with building an online e-commerce brand.
5. Amazon. You need to have a compelling narrative around why and how your business can thrive on its own regardless of what Amazon does.

Happy to discuss more!
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Andrew Christodoulides 11 months ago
Will you be at Salone?
Jason Goldberg 11 months ago
I'm not going to make Salone this year unfortunately!
Arthur Maas 11 months ago
GUEST QUESTION
How much do you consider a potential future sale of the company in the early stages in terms of processes, infrastructure, documentation, analytics, etc? The MVP mindset can leave lots of operational holes that can be exposed in due diligence processes. What's the best way to think about this?
Tbh I wouldn't spend too much time thinking about exits before you have designed a valuable product that you are certain is meeting some real customer needs / pain points.

I would however carefully considet fundraising strategy early on and be smart about what size company / valuation your can realistically achieve with the business. Otherwise you run the risks of over capitalizing your company, bringing in the wrong types of investors, and limiting potential exits down the road.
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Arthur Maas 11 months ago
I was curious having just been through an acquisition and an extensive due diligence process. At what point should a founder invest heavily in process professionalization?
Jason Goldberg 11 months ago
🤔 I would say after Series A, definitely before Series B.
Chandrika Annavarapu 11 months ago
GUEST QUESTION
Hello ,I'm Chandrika,I'm 16 years old.I have a strong desire to setup my own business.Actually I'm surrounded by people who don't really appreciate the thought that a girl of 16 is having such plans and aims,but I have confidence that I can do it no matter what everyone say.The only problem is ,there's no one to give me any idea or like how to go further.I had no choice and had to listen to my parents and opted for courses that don't really give me any idea about my aim.So I'm totally dependent on internet for ideas,I want to know more about how to actually start something while I'm studying.I want to do something from now not after few years.Can you please help me with any ideas?Thank you in advance.
Awesome question!

First, don't get discouraged. Anyone with smarts and ambition is capable of doing great things and even starting their own company.

The part of where to get ideas is harder. It's very hard to take someone else's idea and turn that into a business. It is better advised to think about a problem you want to solve or a product you want to sell, get passionate about it, and then focus on how to turn your passion into a business.

I'm happy to help you evaluate ideas too.
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Venkat Jay 11 months ago
It's inspiring though
Chandrika Annavarapu 11 months ago
Thank you!
Emad Soliman 11 months ago
GUEST QUESTION
We had a product developed at early stages, we made all the technology associated, backend more than frontend. We tested it on our test case and were generating £1200 an hour through it.
We then lacked on the marketing side to scale it properly and get it in people's hands (none of us have a marketing background) then life got in the way of the 3 partners and 2 had to break off - leaving the product completely unused since and me staring at it every few days...

I'm at the cross roads of asking myself if it's worth continuing or not, but need a much stronger team rather than 3 friends with an idea.

What you said about why "we" are the guys to make it happen was really what was lacking,
What would be the best way to connect to suitable people to bring this product off the ground properly?
Ahhh... This is the trickiest part of scaling a startup: Team.

I have a mentor who likes to say: "you always need to factor in humans - and unfortunately humans tend to fuck things up with their emotions and opinions."

The point is that the human factor is very hard and as emotional and often irrational beings, humans are very unpredictable.

How do you get partnered up with suitable people for your startup? Also tough. I know that there are companies trying to solve that problem and who are creating matchmaking for founders, but that's also very hard to get right. I'll answer more as more ideas and thoughts come to me.
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Emad Soliman 11 months ago
Imagine working 1.5 years none stop on something only to have 2 partners walk out because of personal circumstances. People and their emotions, absolutely correct
Swaminathan Jayaraman 12 months ago
GUEST QUESTION
How do you come up with new startup ideas? Are there ways to practice idea generation other than being instinctive/intuitive?
From my experience ideas are the (relatively) easy part ... It's figuring out how to turn your ideas into reality where the challenges come in.

My general rule for ideas tho is the following "A, B, C, XYZ, and oh WE"

A. Yes there's this big market.
B. But, we have ubqiye insight into a gap in the market - unmet needs to pain points.
C. So, we are going to do X,Y,Z to build an interesting business in that area.

Oh, and here's why you should believe that WE are the team best able to get this done.
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Paul Renshaw 12 months ago
Richard Branson said simply in one of his many panel discussions: "Scratch your own itches." Think about the things that bother you personally and find ways to make it so they don't, or that you really wish worked a certain way or existed at all and work out how to fix/make it. Just like Jason did with Pepo. I think this is also the best way to stay passionate about your ideas and be motivated to see them to fruition. Many people will tell you your ideas are silly and nobody else will care, but there are billions of people on the planet and many of them will feel the same as you and eventually they will find you when your idea become something that can help them scratch their itches too.
Swaminathan Jayaraman 11 months ago
Paul Renshaw Thanks!
Junisha Malkani 12 months ago
GUEST QUESTION
What's the current product you are working on?
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Entrepreneurial spirit...
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Ryan Husk 1 year ago
Has anyone started a public benefit corp or a b corp?
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Rachael Newport 1 year ago
Hi Ryan. I'm starting a nonprofit that will seek B-corp certification. Why do you ask?
Joey Cumley 1 year ago
Anyone know of good affordable tax agencies for small businesses in germany? Wekel Straßer & Kollegen was recommended, was wondering if anyone had feedback or knows of someone else we should compare with
Jason Goldberg 12 months ago
Did you find one?
Shameek Bose 1 year ago
Hey founders! Need help with your business strategy and planning? I help founders think through the curves and plan for sustainability. Please reach out...
Shameek Bose 1 year ago
Please email me shameekbose14@gmail.com we can setup a s time
Juan Le'on 1 year ago
Hi there Shameek! I will shoot you an email!
Rachael Newport 1 year ago
If I'm a content creator (virtual reality experiences, managing a creative multi-disciplinary collective with social impact, non-profit structure) should I keep my app for those experiences separate? Should I structure it so that the app / platform is a separated for-profit arm of the company? The team working on it is different, the business development is different and the opportunity for investment is stronger if its pro-profit. Thoughts?
Aisha y 1 year ago
I need that advice too😅
Currently, I'm working in two startups and I'm facing probles in focusing and being productive.

How do you manage your time? How do you stay productive?
How will you schedule your work between the two? Any advices?
Abdulwahab Abutaleb 1 year ago
I will check it out. Thanks Rachael Newport 😊
Shir Ahmad Razaqi 1 year ago
I wonder why the grass is green. and why the wind is never seen.
Good morning
Jason Goldberg 1 year ago
Sure! You can post details here or setup a secret chat with me Josh Tanke
Josh Tanke 1 year ago
where do I go to send a private message?
Jason Goldberg 1 year ago
Hi Josh. From your My Chats page you can click on the white chat icon at bottom right to start a new chat. You can make that chat secret. We are working to improve the private message experience!
Josh Tanke 1 year ago
Hey Jason, a friend and I recently started a project and would appreciate any advice you may have about initial traction/ funding. Thanks in advance!
Jason Goldberg 1 year ago
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