Recorded in front of a live audience of Scottish business owners, Vicky Brock is interviewed by journalist David Ferguson about how and why - after the lowest point of her business career - she is now back with startup number five.
Vicky shares her process on how to start and grow a business, what she has learned across her very different companies and the 9 reasons she has discovered for why your startup may not be growing like you planned.
She explains why the first idea you have almost certainly is not the one that will become your business, why she prefers pain to delight and how her latest startup will achieve more in four months than her previous company achieved in 18 months. Because while it is relatively easy to create a product, and even fairly easy to build a product people will by once, it is actually very, very difficult to create something people will buy again and again. But that is what you need to achieve if you are going to build a business.
"I'm pleased I'm back here doing it all over again - I tried to start a bit too fast last time and we skipped over some important early steps in really finding product and solution fit. I'm not going to make that same mistake again. My whole team are focused on doing the on-paper work that means we test and validate our assumptions up front. And because we're starting in response to very specific challenges laid down by our initial paying customers, I'm starting my this new business with my customer as a full-time lodger, which is great!"
Multi award-winning fintech startup co-founders, Loral and Eishel Quinn of Sustainably, join the Vicky Brock to discuss fundraising and investment challenges with the Entrepreneur Agony Aunt. We talk frankly from the founder's perspective on finding a lead investor, angels, VCs, corporate venturing, the importance in doing your due diligence on potential investors and the challenges of getting investment over the line in a time frame that that doesn't harm your business, when you're the only ones feeling the urgency.
Entrepreneur Jamie Shankland has taken products to market in 40 countries and has found problems worth solving in sectors including oil & gas, fashion and online events planning. He shares the lessons he has learned about ensuring customer meetings have meaningful outcomes, better business development, finding out what customers really, really want as he advises a founder with only 7 months cash left who is trapped having lots of conversations that have yet to convert into paying customers. "You need to reach out to people as you design and certainly before you finish the product. We're ultimately solving problems, your product is only that thing that solves the problem - it is that underlying customer problem that drives everything. Whenever you speak to a customer, it has to be linked to an outcome."
Incredibly inspirational "mad scientist", theoretical neuroscientist, AI inventor and entrepreneur Dr Vivienne Ming advises a listener overwhelmed by ideas and possibilities that finding your purpose is more important than forcing yourself to focus and be someone you're not. She talks about the importance of recognising your weaknesses and having a compensatory strategy for overcoming them and why hiring complementary collaborators is essential to entrepreneurial success and to delivering solutions that bring real value to people. As a leader and creative collaborator, she sees her number one job as explaining the why - then to simply be a resource to enable her team to be even more successful.
My three-time co-founder and product lead, Stephen Budd, shares some hard-learned lessons on what non-technical founders need to know in order to successfully lead a technology or software based startup. We talk co-founders, CTOs, product build and outsourcing software development before diving into all things co-founders. When you need a co-founder, where to find them, choosing friends vs strangers, how to set up agreements, who should be CEO and what to do if it is all going horribly wrong with your co-founder.
How do you iterate your way to product market fit without scaring your investors? And what are the best practices as your company grows to multiple locations, or your team is spread across several sites? Tom Adeyoola, CEO and Founder of fashion technology company Metail, has grown his startup to over 100 people, raised $20million in strategic investment and had offices in both London and Cambridge from day one. He joins Vicky Brock to share the very deliberate people management processes he has evolved to develop his teams and combat any feeling of us and them. He also talks about how Metail looked beyond domestic markets and use the concept of 10x improvements to ensure that the products they bring to market are positioned in a way that will deliver sufficiently disruptive change.
Retail technologist Cathy McCabe talks about finding good technical hires for your startup. She believes you need high-performance individuals who can wear different hats. Hungry, ambitious generalists who want to learn and do different roles - but with that comes the challenge of high maintenance.
As a former retail CIO turned tech startup CEO, she also advises how technology entrepreneurs can better sell to large retailers and brands. “Constantly be looking at the pipeline and how you’re growing the business - you have to focus relentlessly on your product. You can’t just hand the solution over and move on. You have to really help them adapt to make sure that what your solution is promising is actually delivered and continues to deliver.”