Kerry Wong, CEO of Greater China at REA Group Ltd, was at the forefront of developing Ebay and PayPal when they were just startups. With her wealth of experience, she has come to share her expertise in managing startups, explaining what is necessary for startups to survive in the current market.
Understand who you Serve
The way a company markets a product depends entirely on the target customers. As such, it is vital for any company to have a solid understanding of the people they aim to serve. Having people close to the user experience allows the company to learn from the customer's point of view. This is especially important during the design phase of the product.
Assemble the Right Team
Apart from people close to the user experience, various other talents are needed in the team for a startup to flourish. Resilient workers and creative problem solvers are valuable team members, and a founder that is committed to the mission and vision is absolutely indispensable. During the early days of a startup, the company typically is unable to afford having specialised workers. Instead, it is both more common and easier for the company to have a few workers, each working on a broad range of tasks. Hence, a team should have members with complementary strengths and weaknesses.
Team members must all share a drive and passion to see the goal of the company fulfilled. Startups cannot afford to waste resources on those unmotivated or incapable of helping the company to succeed.
Getting around with Limited Resources
With much fewer resources as compared to traditional industry players, startups will not be able to conduct market research or usability tests. As such, startups must seek out alternative methods to gain feedback and information about the market as quickly as possible.
One way to gain feedback and information about the market is through the use of minimum viable products. These products are actually the first iteration of a product launched, and has the goal of allowing users to try it out, and give feedback to the company, who will continue improving the product based on this feedback. The ability to create many iterations of their product quickly is one of the advantages that startups have, and should definitely be utilised to its fullest potential.
The Importance of Networks
Networks and connections are vital to any startup. By leveraging any existing relationships, a company is able to look for potential investors, gain advice, and sometimes even form partnerships. Networking can also be a way to generate more resources for the startup.
For startups with experienced founders, especially trying to reach out to past co-workers and companies can generate some professional advice and allow for feedback to be gained.
The Problem of Trust
As a new business, a startup may find trouble in getting customers to trust them, whether it be in the reliability of their services or quality products. To avoid this problem, startups can partner with other companies that have already built up trust with customers. Getting support from these reputable partners allows the startup to not only become more well-known and trustworthy, but also access the customer base of the partner company.
A Common Factor for the Death of Startups
One of the most common reasons a startup can fail is because they spend all their resources developing their product before knowing whether or not the market was interested in their product. As such,it is vital to test for the market’s receptivity to a product before spending tons of resources developing it. One way to test this would be through the use of minimum viable products, which allow creators to gain feedback from real users, as well as to see how popular the product can be with the market. Having a good understanding of the demand for a product will be able to help a startup avoid this mistake that so many others have commited.
Final Words of Advice
Fail fast, but learn fast
It is normal for the first versions of a product to fail
What is important is to learn from the failure quickly, and adapt strategies or the product itself based on given feedback.
Maintain passion for the startup
Passion is the most essential driving force for startups. This is especially true for the founders and the initial team
As such, it is best for a founder to surround himself with like-minded people who wish for the same goal as himself, to support him during the strenuous process.
Watch the full Arcadier Inspire Summit by Kerry Wong here