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Who and how a startup should make friends with?

Monday, August 12, 2019

This text is about those who a startup will meet during its way to the Neverland; about those sharks that will be swimming around, and about the ways how to deal with them and not to lose your faith.

Startup Jedi

We talk to startups and investors, you get the value.

Deciding to launch an ambitious company in the IT-sphere, which has to “make a turnout, to become a next Google or whatever”, you will discover a whole new world, where behind the bright neon signs and stories of successful American businessmen, you will end up in the dreadful, ostentatious and egoistic industry, which has only one goal — to make money out of you. Welcome to hell!

I will try to scroll and show you the new “friends” who are awaiting you in the nearest future, so you could prepare yourself to the meeting and keep self-control when your crystal hopes and expectations would breake one-by-one. (okay, let’s be honest, it’s not that bad and terrifying; just be ready to a different kind of shit).

Disclaimer. Any of the ideas and comments here have only an advisable character and are pretty subjective. Thus, you should not create a startup-world-picture basing it solely on these suggestions. Just keep them in mind.



Expectations: A temple of delight and new opportunities, where saint-mentors will thanklessly give money and will teach you how to live; they will tell how to create your IT-company and earn millions of dollars (so you will have a possibility to have some rest in the Mediterranean Sea on the yacht… and continue whatever you imagine your perfect rest).

Reality: Accelerators will feed you a bright picture of your future standing near to Zuckerberg and Musk, a friendly atmosphere with mentors and trackers, where “we are happy to every young and ambitious startupper”; they will promise you investments and meetings with investors on the demo-bottom. Consequently, there will be only the chosen ones, who learned somehow to earn at least some money; will give you some minor investments in the one hand and will take half of your budget with the other one for their services. In the ideal case, you will be left with 10k$, which, you will think will be enough to move mountains and launch a company. In fact, you will spend them to eat at least something (your delicatessen will be a pizza from SevenEleven) and a salary to the programmer; and before you could say knife, a delighted mentor from the accelerator will knock your doors, as he is a co-owner of your startup.

Piece of advice: If you don’t find money asking your friends or relatives(shortly speaking — FFF), then you should go there. However, don’t waste your time until you won’t earn at least 2000$ a month. Then you will have higher chances to get into a top-ranked accelerator, saving your nerves and self-esteem.



Expectations: A jar with money, where you can easily take any sum of money to every startupper, which needs investments. All you need to do is just ask.

Reality: In the ideal case, you will have an anodyne letter with “Good luck with your project” wishes, but most likely you will not get any answer. Fonds will give money to those who are not startuppers anymore and have become a fully functional business with multi-million money cycle. They take care of someone’s money, when your brave ideas are toxic and risky for them, as you should not forget that they are reporting to their investors.

Piece of advice: If you are not earning 15k$ a month after tax and you are not doubling your income, then don’t waste your time writing tons of letters. What is more, you should not be upset about not getting an answer-back. However, what is better to do that’s to make new friends and personal acquaintances, and sometimes tell them that you are doing fine, even when things go totally wrong.


Fund representatives and public angels

Expectations: a rich oldmen ith experience and precious bits of knowledge, startup philanthropists, who look at you from the high castles of their experience, sitting on the mountain of gold. They will see your startup-unicorn, will give you contacts of the investors; also, they will provide you with some money and will be truly happy for your success.

Reality: Without a single look on your presentation, product or team, they will possibly try to ensure you that you are doing everything wrong; and until you are not earning money, you don’t deserve even a most insignificant piece of advice. They will ask you questions which you would not be able to answer at once, showing it off as your drawback.

Piece of advice: If you truly want to get investments from them, any kind of appreciation or a piece of advice, then kill any sign of pride in yourself. Make compliments, smile happily, delightedly and successfully, even if your startup doesn’t have money and you don’t have money for baby diapers. Sell your startups’ success, even if it doesn’t exist. After every meet-up or comments about what shit is your startup — say “thank you” (as sincere as possible) and promise to make it better.


Free mentors

Expectations: Serial Business Owners, who organise desirable business-tours for startups, who have a vast network with leading market experts and founders. They will help to organise the business and will love you as their child.

Reality: They will ask money for some vague set of services from scratch; they will tell you about great opportunities and network in all of the industries in the whole world. In their social media posts, they will write copy-book maxims, meaning them to be a God’s revelation. They will give irrelevant pieces of advice. Moreover, they can laugh out from the startuppers-losers (like you, for example) in their social media posts. It is hard not to undergo dark temptation and not to write some bad words in the comment section, but it is better to wash their dirty linen in public (especially when you need money).

Piece of advice: If you don’t have extra money (well, who does, tho), and a clear vision how this particular person can be useful for you and your startup right know — do not pay a single penny. Use barter or successful fee. Also, I recommend to have some detox-days and not read those snobbish social media posts, stop giving likes to them! Think more with your head, do some reflections, try out something new, communicate more with real businessmen and founders.



Startup conferences

Expectations: A pilgrim’s journey to Promised Land, where you will reveal all your secret knowledge and useful acquaintances. Seeing your project, investors will fight for it and go into the state of catharsis in the shadow of your future unicorn. After all, you will sit together in one big circle and in a friendly atmosphere you will sign investment contracts one after another.

Reality: you will pay through the nose for the participation, for the stand, for the pitch, for the attendance of different no-name speakers, advisers and founders, who are not that happy to deliver their speeches, as they have been forced to do so and to praise their investors. You will hear incredible, snobbish and usually distorted stories about successful founders, fonds and conference organisers; you will listen to how this conference helped numerous startuppers to attract millions (“here they are, look!”), but usually it is a lie and a dirty PR stunt, as startup conferences are a simple business. They just making money out of you; they don’t need your success; they only trim their money from naive startuppers, whom they assure that they will reach here a smooth success.

Piece of advice: do NOT cherish hopes to find money there(on the conferences), also it is not the best idea to encounter on this, so you will not get disappointed. The most useful and valuable things you can find there are new people, a possibility to gain new experiences and various feedback about your ideas, projects. What is more, you will get a chance to spectate this vanity fair from the inside, where each tries to sell their success, which even doesn’t exist. If a trip and participation are not that expensive, try to make it out as a short vacation, some kind of mind reboot to get fresh ideas or a small staff party. Perhaps, you will find some interesting thoughts and designs which can push you to the right decisions or admonish from making mistakes.

12 Aug 2019


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