How to take your startup to the next level: 3 top tips from Samsung's hand-picked business experts
Samsung's expert business mentors share their top tips for startup success
Getting a startup off the ground is no easy task. Once you've managed to raise the initial capital and stay reasonably steady, moving onto the next stage is tough. Without the business knowledge needed to hone your product and brand in preparation for growth, taking the next step can be a daunting task.
There are plenty of resources out there to draw upon. Lists of business advice litter Google search results and only a handful come from people with real business experience. That's why, during Samsung's six-month mentorship programme with insurance tech startup SPIXII, it became apparent that Samsung needed to share its mentors' expert knowledge with other startups in the same situation.
SPIXII won the chance to have one-on-one business mentorship with a hand-picked panel of experts after it came first in the Alphr and IT Pro 01/10/100 tech pitch competition earlier this year. While the topics discussed in its first mentorship session are entirely confidential, the skills they learnt to help propel their business forward aren't.
To help other startups benefit from the same knowledge that SPIXII has been receiving, we spoke to Samsung's mentorship panel. We asked them for their top tips on how a startup can make itself attractive to investors and move into the next stage of its business lifecycle.
The mentors, hand-picked by Samsung, have a diverse background of essential skills that any startup can learn from. Comprised of Rooster Punk MD James Trezona, Samsung B2B's head of customer marketing Anna Perkins and Hive co-founder Leon Gauhman, the mentorship team is focused on imparting advice around brand storytelling, understanding market verticals and the logistics of product growth.
1. Build a consistent yet compelling story - James Trezona
Technology companies tend to focus on what they sell, not why someone might want to buy it. But, in selling to businesses, people tend to be lazy about understanding the real reason why decisions are taken.
The multifaceted nature of the sale means brands lose sight of the human truths. In a complex market like financial services, this mistake is even easier to make - it's not just the obvious, such as cutting costs, helping agility or growth. Every investment a business makes should do that; it has to be something more.
You need to communicate why you're different. You need to find your own purpose - one centred on how you're making the world better while finding the stories that link to the real human needs of your audience. Focus on their career hopes, their daily worries, their sense of humour, their principles and beliefs in doing better.
Digitising customer services might be what your customers are doing, but for what reason? Cutting costs might be the end goal, but it's not what they'll be proudly telling their loved ones about. Find an original story, because loyalty isn't about selling - it's not even about simply letting customers buy what you make - it's about them buying into you.
Find your story and weave it into everything, not just your marketing. Make it part of your job ads, your appraisal documents, your RFI submissions. A brand isn't a logo - it's a story with a purpose that makes your company meaningful.
2. Define your roadmap and hold yourself accountable - Leon Gauhman
Building a B2B2C product is tricky. Due to the complex nature of straddling both B2B and B2C markets, there's no clear roadmap for your business. Because you're selling to both enterprise customers and end users, you have to understand that both demographics are very different customers. The process of balancing these out is difficult, but it can be done.
You need to make sure you have a clear process for prioritising your product's features along with its direction. You really don't want to end up serving too many masters by bloating features so they can please everyone. Most importantly of all, however, is to make sure you and your team are on the same page.
3. Think about your customer journey - Anna Perkins
When starting any marketing planning or reviewing of existing activities, don't try to do too much. Get to know and understand your target customer and don't try to be all things to all people. Be clear about what you offer and why this is important and relevant to your target audience.
Think about the key organisations you want to work with and the stakeholders within, and devise messages that resonate with each, while being consistent with the overall statement. For example: what is the key benefit to their business and what is driving them to change or adopt your solution? Is it to keep up with, or ideally beat, the competition? For example, is it to ensure regulatory compliance, or offer a better service to their customers?
Whatever it is, this key benefit needs to underpin all of your marketing messages. Then you need to think about the stakeholders within these businesses and make your message relevant to them. A marketing director, for example, is likely to have a different driver or motivator to change or adapt than a finance director. Remember personal motivators, too, as these are often just as important as business ones.
In short: know your audience; make your marketing message relevant and appropriate; and be consistent.
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