Last week saw another evening of SR Live, this time taking place at our HQ in Cambridge city centre. For those of your unfamiliar with the format, each SR Live event centres on a handful of companies pitching in person to a small group of SyndicateRoom members, all while being broadcast live to an audience of hundreds online.
In order to wring every last bit of value from these entrepreneurs while we have them here in person, we also film a short post-pitch interview with each company, finding out how they got on and what wisdom they have to share. This time we asked what one piece of advice these startups had for aspiring entrepreneurs.
At the time of writing, two out of the following five companies were raising rounds with SyndicateRoom. To find out more about each business, log in and head over to available investments. First up was London Film Business School’s Mike Klein. Having mentored many entrepreneurs in the past – Mike is the chairman of several companies where he started out mentoring the CEO – he has a pretty firm view of what it takes to make a good entrepreneur.
‘Tenaciousness. You have to be persistent… and give yourself permission to fail. Culturally it’s interesting in the United States – with failures, people just dust themselves off and keep moving, and over the last 20 years here in the UK that’s become part of how people are perceiving entrepreneurship,’ Mike says.
‘Be prepared to fail, be prepared to learn, and don’t take it personally. Keep going.’
And it isn’t just the mentor that’s important, Jon Clarke of predictive marketing tech business Cyance is quick to point out.
‘Building your startup business is really tough so you need to have good people around you,’ says Jon. ‘I think that’s absolutely critical. People that have been there before, that have done it, that have really good experience in different parts of a business is really important.’
Suresh Kumar is the CEO and Co-founder of Sce.ne, a unique content marketing software that enables companies to create, manage and measure stand-out campaigns at scale on owned digital properties.
‘No matter how eager you are to start building your product, you have to spend the time researching and developing and identifying the real problem you’re resolving,’ says Suresh. ‘Have it validated, so that when you actually start building, you’re building against a goal rather than just building speculatively, because that will cost you in the future.’
And to do that, you need to know your audience.
‘I think the key thing is knowing who your customer is, what their goals are, what their challenges are and their needs,’ says Robin Wong, CEO of CUSTOM, a platform that allows people to instantly see and buy products trending on social media. ‘That’s going to be the most important thing in any business, but especially so in digital.’
‘I think you just really need to know your market and your business model, and it needs to be inside out and ready for questions that come from any direction,’ agrees Sumi Thaker, CEO Momentum Bioscience, a business developing a range of innovative diagnostic products to help combat antibiotic resistance and sepsis.
For entrepreneurs, problem solving and ‘firefighting’ are an everyday staple – and that’s a good thing; it’s what distinguishes those businesses that truly have what it takes to succeed. And a big part of that is learning from experience, whether or not it’s your own.