In the initial phase of composing this blog, the first person who came into mind was the founder of LoCoMoGo, Kibet Kipkemoi. His start-up idea was born in Enschede, and now it is successfully growing in the heart of Amsterdam. LoCoMoGo’s idea revolves around a toy train that teaches children aged 4-12 coding through play. The toy is all about fun while it secretly educates children how to code. LoCoMoGo has proved itself through features in magazines, such as Forbes, Business Insider and Wired. Currently, Kibet with his team is on the mission, as Kibet said:
“We want to create a world where every child has the opportunity to learn a skill that enables them to unlock their full potential. Today we see that programming is the biggest skill gap in the world. Therefore, we focus on that first.”
The need to have everything on point and provide the perfect version of your product to the market, in fact, might hinder the success of a start-up. Perfectionism can interfere with your ability to separate necessary from unnecessary features of your product. In simple terms, perfectionism can be the main reason for a start-up failure. To avoid this, start with the minimum viable product (MVP), which is simply, a version of your product that has just enough features that can be used by early adopters. By creating the MVP, you can test your product in order to get enough feedback for its upgrade and validation of a market need. Companies such as Amazon, Airbnb, Dropbox and many other ones have applied this method and greatly benefited from it.
This applies not only to software companies but also to physical product companies, such as LoCoMoGo. One of the greatest lessons in Kibet’s career was to stop chasing perfection. Kibet at first thought that he could skip some steps of prototyping since he knew how to build the product. It turned out that by doing this, he would lose all the flexibility to actually change the product and make it more suitable to the desires of kids and parents. One of the influences for this change was a book The Lean Start-up by Eric Ries, where he got a better understanding of the MVP.
Becoming a founder of a successful start-up is not easy. You need to have a solid determination and never distract yourself from the purpose of a start-up. A purpose will serve as motivation that will remind you and your team why you have started in the first place. That is something intangible that brings soul to the start-up and fosters a sense of deep connection. You, as a future entrepreneur, will notice that it will stimulate internal team engagement and external customer connection with your brand. Purpose can also benefit you while setting a value proposition, that is the centre of investors’ attention. The value proposition is the problem you are solving, the solution you are offering, and your competitive edge. Thus, ask yourself, why you want to create a start-up?
Kibet knew his start-up purpose from the very beginning. The purpose to minimise the digital literacy gap by offering an eccentric solution of a toy train that secretly teaches kids to code while paving their way to success. This is LoCoMoGo’s energy and soul that inspires their team to work tirelessly in order to make the world a better place.
You, as other potential start-up founders, might want to reflect inner-motivation and inspire your audience, but can hardly think of how to do it. Here is a noteworthy pitch formula of Simon Sinek’s The Golden Circle. The idea of it is straightforward, you need to start by answering the question “Why?”. Tell the audience your start-up purpose, cause or belief, tell them the very essence of its existence. Then continue by answering the question “How?”, by explaining your unique selling point that differentiates your product from others. Lastly, finish by addressing the question “What?” where you explain what you actually do. This theory is not a one-person opinion, it is grounded in the biology of our brain functionality. The idea of the Golden Circle has been here for a while, in fact, one of the most inspirational individuals in history, such as Steve Jobs and Martin Luther King Jr., have used this approach to inspire their public. The reason for that is simple:
“People do not buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” – Simon Sinek
For the founder of LoCoMoGo, it was an eye-opening strategy. Kibet knew it for some years but have never used it since he assumed that it was just another marketing promise. After trying out, it appeared to be an extremely effective strategy that helped him to inspire numerous people. Surprisingly sometimes something as simple as the Golden Circle strategy can significantly change the way people look at you and your idea.
It is a fact that a capable and complementary team is essential for the success of a start-up. For you, as a potential founder, it is of crucial importance to find a team you could trust enough to be on the same boat. The one that would not experience the worst-case scenario. For an investor’s eye, the crew is one of the most crucial aspects of your business since, after provided capital, investors will accompany you in the journey. Investors value teams that have some prior experience, knowledge and are committed to the business idea. Also, while looking for a team do not cross out diversity from an equation. Science has proven that diverse teams, in terms of gender, race, and ethnicity, have better financial outcomes, are more innovative and result in greater performance over the long-term. So, take your time to set up a team. You can have the best idea in your field, but if you do not have a motivated team, then you will hardly achieve any goals.
Having troubles finding potential team members? Try hackathons, there you can meet great developers, designers and other talented people.
Kibet told us that all the problems he personally has to go through, he cannot share them with everyone. You might have a likewise experience, that is why you have to select people who would be willing to walk a difficult path with you, who will be resistant together with you, and who will be one strong team that will flip problems into opportunities. If you are a solo entrepreneur, then you have to find people, regardless of the industry, that had similar experiences and can mentor you throughout yours.
Start-up ecosystem has prepared many challenges for you. Challenges that will keep you awake at nights but will teach you numerous priceless lessons. You might face fierce competition, lack of money, planning and time. For Kibet, a lesson was learned when he underestimated the amount of needed capital. Luckily, everything ended in the right way, but the moral of this story is to think thoroughly about your plans. From an investor’s standpoint, the incubator is recommended for you as a future founder. An incubator is a place where you get a comprehensive business training. It helps you to develop a business model and plan. Also, it prepares you by providing professional mentorship before going to investors. In other words, the incubator can prepare you to deal with the first challenges.
To end on a positive note, the founder of LoCoMoGo has told us 3 exciting things that awaits you in the start-up ecosystem. Firstly, every day will be a new learning day about your product and world in general. Secondly, when you create a start-up, you are the creator of the future that contributes to a change in the world and peoples lives. The feeling of it is just remarkable. Lastly, the start-up ecosystem is a lot of fun. People radiate extraordinary energy, enthusiasm and creativity that cannot be found anywhere else!