Were running our News API startup for over a year. We share our biggest takeaways.
We are young, inexperienced, prone to fail: we’re 2 first time founders. I always prefer to learn from people who are just a few steps ahead of me.
If you’re a multi-time entrepreneur then you might not find this article interesting. If you’ve been thinking about starting your own startup then I’d recommend reading as many similar articles as possible.
Artem (author of this article):
We provide instant access to news article data for hedge funds, market researchers, and PR software.
In simple words:
Our main product is News API which allows our clients to find structured news articles by any topic, country, language, website, or keyword.
We’re B2B Data-as-a-Service.
All things mentioned are purely personal.
1. Talk to your potential clients
Talk to them even if you do not have a product.
Imagine you have the very best version of what you’re building. Go ahead and see what people say.
One more thing: CLIENTS. Not your friends, or some random people. Yeah, your friends will say “Great idea”. All of them.
What you really want to hear is “I like it. What’s the price? How can I buy it?”
People only vote with their pockets.
2. Do not think you/your product/your team/your approach are any different or unique
We all want to be special. We all want to work for a company that will soon cost millions of dollars. We all want to be the first of our kind.
But, most likely, you, your team, your product is (below) average.
So, if you hear experienced people repeating the same thing to you then you should act.
Do not try to be “Yeah, but we’re…”
3. It’s almost impossible to raise money when you don’t have anything to show
Do not expect investors to come and give you money. It’s a big gamble for you to start raising. Also, raising money is a full-time job!
4. Start pitching investors as soon as possible
Yes, do not expect them to give you money. However, there is a lot of things to do to raise money. You have to be prepared for when you’re ready.
Pitch deck. Pitching. Answering the questions.
Do not spend much time on it. However, I would recommend to do it consistently. It will take months to come up with something consistent. So, you’d better start early.
Also, some investors will tell you why they will not give you money. Iterate, and work on these problems.
5. Start small. Do things that do not scale. Be a consulting company
Believe me or not but the only way to sell your scalable solution to millions of clients is to start by selling it one-by-one. In a non-scalable way.
6. Do not be afraid to charge
Charge for your service/product at a fair price. Yeah, you might lose some clients. But, how will you survive if you cannot get fair pay for your service?
7. It’s a grind. Consistent one
You have to repeat a lot of boring things over and over again.
8. Only those who pay you money have to decide which features to add
Do you think adding this feature is cool? Go ahead, and ask those who pay you.
Listen to what they say, and make a better product.
9. Carefully choose co-founders
We know each other for over 14 years. We knew well what to expect from each other.
10. Help others & Ask others for help
11. Things that no one actually cares about at the beginning
12. Things that everyone cares about
13. What is the definition of a “startup” for you?
Can you give it? Maybe what you want to start is a small business. There’s nothing wrong with it.
14. Do not afraid to take a step back
15. This list misses the other 100 points which we did not figure out yet! So, do not overlay on it
All I’ve written here might be wrong/not applicable to you. But like I said, most likely you’re not different at all.