November 5th was such an important day for me. I finally took the leap and decided to attend Start! Peninsula. At this event I wasn’t just another entrepreneur desperate to make connections. Nope, I was actually chosen to be a mentor for 10 entrepreneurs as they work to craft the perfect pitch for a chance to win up to $10,000 cash and other important resources for growing their businesses. It was such an honor to to help these people with great ideas and passion. Since the program has ended and the winners have been selected, I wanted to share a few takeaways I think every entrepreneur should know.
IT’S OKAY TO PIVOT YOUR IDEA.
It’s great to have an amazing idea, but you have to consider a few other variables. Are there other products out that do the same thing your startup is doing? How will people react to the product. Does it make sense or is it just another cool idea? During the Start Peninsula Alumni panel, Nisha Wit, President & Co-Founder of Aesop Technology, told us a story about how she had to pivot her idea of solar powered changers. Her first idea was to provide solar energy powered phone cases. As Nisha went into development she noticed that the variables didn’t really have a driving force on receiving an ROI. That’s when she decided to reevaluate her idea, which lead to developing Hampton Roads’ first solar powered bench where people can charge their phones outside.
BE WILLING TO WAIT FOR YOUR FIRST SALE.
Past participants in Start Peninsula admit it taking about 18 months to 2 years until they received their first transaction. As I watch the fresh entrepreneurs eyes open wide, the alumni broke it down for them. Realistically, depending on your idea, there are just way too many variables for you to set deadline on when your first sale will happen. If your idea depends on a certain product to be made, you have to consider the time it takes for third party contractors to make it for you. Then, you have to consider the cost of everything else. If you’re a startup, most likely you don’t have a strong financial backing. So, it may be a little difficult to find people to help when you can only pay them close to nothing. Most often the entrepreneur is learning how to manage all these variables themselves to help keep the cost down.
NOT ALL INVESTORS ARE CREEPS.
That’s right. They aren’t all bad. We’ve all heard the awful stories of a rich guy in a suit promising to support your dream and all you have to do is give up more than half the ownership of your company. Guys like that are definitely bad news, but there are other investors who are willing to support you on terms that make you both comfortable. Don’t think you have to do everything by yourself. Finding an investor with business expertise, connections, and funds to expedite your startup is worth the search and negotiation. Every investor partnership is different. It’s up to you to clarify your ideal terms and choosing a partner you mesh well with.
Overall, I really enjoyed attending Start Peninsula. I always make my clients attend networking events and do things that are clear business building techniques, but I never take my own advice. Honestly, I hate networking. It gives me so much anxiety and I always think the worst scenarios will come true. It must be the introvert in me, but I knew it was time to practice what I teach and it actually wasn’t bad at all. I met so many people that appreciated the advice I gave and now I’m pumped to participate in more mentoring opportunities!
If you’re curious about who the winners were, check out the replay below.