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Insights June 15, 2021

3 must-dos to master the sales meeting

Sales is one of our biggest focus areas at Sting. During our startup programs you’ll be trained by industry experts who will help you improve your sales technique. Here, Sting Sales Coach Olof Berglund shares his top tips for closing more deals.

Olof Berglund, Sales Coach at Sting, has worked in marketing and sales for over 20 years in both startups and multinational pharma and medtech companies.

At Sting, you’ll learn to identify and respond to the behaviour and emotions of your customers so that you can move the conversation in the direction you desire.

“Sales and marketing are about influencing people, and it’s an enormously positive experience to influence people into buying a product. By using the right mix of marketing and sales tools in combination with training, most people can achieve success. I want to share my experiences so that you can succeed right from the start”, says Olof.

Here are his top three tips for mastering your startup sales meetings.

Applications to Sting are now open! Join Sting Accelerate in the fall. Learn more and apply today!

Olof’s top three tips:

1. Listen.
Many are prejudiced about how salespeople are and should be. There is, however, one important thing that the best sellers are extremely good at. Using their ears! You should listen to the customer. During the sales meeting, let the customer do the talking while you ask the appropriate questions that will create insight, a strong need and motivation to buy.

2. Identify the REAL problem.
Ask questions that help make your potential customer aware of a problem that needs to be solved and that creates a real pain in the customer’s daily life. Identifying not only the true pain points but also the cost of them will help accelerate a deal.

3. Do not defend yourself.
Know how to handle objections. Do not practice answers, but questions, to meet the most common objections your customer will have. By asking the right questions, let them solve their own doubts. Once all objections are handled, you will be ready to close the deal.

Sting’s sales training

The sales training is carried out several times a year and includes realistic role-plays that allow you to practice and make mistakes in the “classroom” rather than at an important, live sales meeting. These are some of the many critical things you will learn:

The practical exercise of a sales meetings and cold calls were excellent! Theory is good, but exercises and real experiences are much better.

Victor Gonzalez, Porkchop
  • How to create strong need within the customer. We will teach you what questions you should ask to make the customer truly understand their problem and how serious it is. The questions are open, powerful and motivating and create a will to remove that problem and a need to buy your solution.
  • How to handle objections. Another common reason why a deal does not happen is that the customer objects at the end of the pitch and the seller doesn’t really know what to say. We will teach you how to turn the objection into something positive that leads to a close.
  • How to close the deal! Without a strong closing technique, it can be extremely hard to finalize a sale. We teach you different ways to ask the right questions and close the deal, instead of asking for another follow-up meeting.
  • Cold calls. Yikes! This is one of the most difficult tasks in sales. How do you cold call a person you have never met before and make them not only stay on the line, but actually accept a meeting? We will teach you how to get those sales meetings into your calendar.
  • The sales cycle. What does the sales process look like for your particular customer? What are the different steps to get ahead at each stage so you can finally come to a close? You will learn how to set goals and what steps you should keep track of to speed up the sales process.

The best part was the practical takeaways – how to handle customer objections, for example. And the detailed overview of the question technique was great.

Karoly Szipka, iPercept

Got questions?

Get in touch!

Want to discuss your startup, test your pitch, or get input on a challenge you’re facing? Reach out to one of our startup coaches.

Olof Berglund

Olof coaches healthtech companies.

olof.berglund@sting.co
070-635 98 15

Insights May 13, 2021

How to find tech talent for your startup? Here’s a 7-step guide to help you succeed

When building your startup, there are A LOT of things to focus on. One of the most challenging – and most important – is to get the right team in place. Recruiting is not simple, especially if you’re looking for a co-founder or people with tech skills. Therefore, we have put together a comprehensive step-by-step guide to help you succeed with your tech hiring.

Step 1: Why are you looking for a new team member? 

Start by asking yourself why you need another person. What should this individual help you achieve, let’s say, in the first six months? Is it a co-founding role or an employee you are looking for? It’s crucial to discuss and agree on this in your co-founding team before you start a hiring process.  

Step 2: Define the profile (and ask for help if you lack the tech skills)

When you have defined what your new team member will work on, ask yourself what kind of experience and knowledge you think you should be looking for. If you don’t have the tech skills yourself, try to find someone in your network that does and ask them to help you with this step.

To verify that everyone on the founding team is on the same page, a great tip is to put together a list of five profiles from LinkedIn and go through them one at a time and discuss if you consider them relevant or not. 

Step 3: Decide on a budget

Don’t forget to agree on your budget. What kind of salary (if any) are you able to offer? Maybe you can only offer equity to begin with until you have raised some money? The budget will have a big impact on which profiles will be relevant to you. (For more info on salary levels for tech profiles check Stack Overflow)

Step 4: Remote or not?

Remember, be careful not to define the profile and skills you are looking for too narrowly, then there is a big chance your talent pool gets very small and your chances for finding the right person get ridiculously small. Also, discuss if you need the person to work on-site or if you are open to broadening the search for people working remotely? This will expand your talent pool and give you more opportunities to find a great team member. There are a number of solutions today to make it easier to work with people located abroad, such as Deel and Omnipresent.

Book a free open coaching session

Want to discuss your startup, test your pitch, or get input on a challenge you’re facing? Book a confidential meeting with one of our experienced startup coaches now.

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Step 5: Stand out from the crowd

When you have defined what the person will be working on, the budget, and if you’re going to hire a remote candidate or not, it’s time to put together a great pitch for the role. What are the interesting challenges that this person will help you solve? And what makes your business idea something really special? Write a job ad that gets people inspired (make sure to check the language for bias to be able to capture more great candidates) and ask your network to help spread the word!

Step 6: Boost your own headhunting efforts

Unfortunately, the reality today is that many great developers are not actively looking for a job. They get approached by recruiters on a weekly basis who are trying to convince them to change jobs. However, don’t let this demotivate you, rather see it as an opportunity to stand out by doing the same.

Not many founders reach out to candidates and pitch their company and job opportunities themselves. If you spend some time reaching out to relevant candidates, you will be more likely to get some replies than if you hired a recruiter to do it for you. Yes, it means you need to spend some time on this, but in the long run, it will be more efficient than just putting out a job ad and hoping for the best.

In the early phases of your startup, finding the right person to join your team will have a huge impact on your chances to succeed in the long run!

Step 7: Once you’ve found the right personact quickly!

Think about how you would like the hiring process to look before you get started. For example, if you don’t have the tech skills in your current team, find someone who you could ask for a favor and help you with the tech skill evaluation.

Also, make sure that you don’t lose momentum when you have found an interesting candidate. Chances are high that they are talking with other companies simultaneously. Ask them what their time frame looks like! When it comes to putting together a hiring agreement, warrant agreement etc., a good source for templates is for example StartupTools


Hiring for your startup will be a skill that you can develop over time. At Sting, we support our startups with team development and talent acquisition support for free when participating in our programs. Last year alone, we helped our startups to find more than 50 new employees, among them being CTOs, full-stack devs and frontend devs.

Andreas Wennberg

Andreas is our head of talent management.

andreas.wennberg@sting.co
073-811 81 71

Sara Bjelkstam

Sara coaches our companies in team development.

sara.bjelkstam@sting.co

Financing March 19, 2021

Due diligence turned around: 67 questions to ask a potential investor

Google around and you’ll find an amazing amount of information on what questions a VC will ask to evaluate you. But let’s turn it around! Here are questions your investor should be ready to answer well if they’re a good fit for you.

Some business angels and most venture capital firms take an active role in running the startups they invest in. So, it’s important to make sure you’re a great fit for each other and agree on a strategic way forward.

Sometimes, the best option is just to take the money while it’s on the table, but if you have the luxury of choosing what investor/s to align yourself with, here are some great questions to ask them to learn who is the best fit for you and your company.

1. What experiences from your previous investments are most relevant to our company?

This question should give you information about the investor’s track record and if they have made investments in areas that are relevant to you.

2. How do you help the companies you invest in?

It’s important to look beyond the money and learn about what added value the investor will contribute with. Ask for specific examples that involves startups the investor has previously backed.

3. How much do you set aside for follow-on investments? For how many financing rounds do you typically follow-on?

This question should give you insights on the depth of the investor’s pockets and how they can support you in terms of funding over time.

4. When this company is worth $XB and we look back, what path do you think the company will have taken to get there?

This question will give you a sense of whether the investor fits in and shares the same vision for the company as you do. The same way a team shares the dreams of the founder/s, investors should, too. 

5. What’s your view of the industry sector we’re in?

The answer to this question will help you to better understand how the investor sees the competition in your field, how to navigate the sector, and how to think about its future. If the investor shows remarkable knowledge of your market, he or she could potentially be a great resource for your startup.

6. Who are some of the founders you have backed that I could talk to?

You don’t need to connect with the references, but it could be a good idea to ask and see what the answer is. Great investors will have great reviews, and not so great investors will be reluctant to supply you with names.

7. Are you interested in potentially investing in my company, and if so, what are the next steps?

Before the end of the meeting, make sure you ask this question. It will help you understand where you stand with the investor. There are so called “soft no’s” when the investor is vague. For example, if you get “keep me posted”, then you can assume he or she is not interested at this time. But, if the investor wants to set up a follow-up meeting or a call, this means there is interest.

Do you want more questions?

Download an additional “60 questions to ask VCs during the first meeting to assess fit”.

While they are aimed at VCs, many can easily be adjusted for business angels as well.



Financing March 11, 2021

6 ways to fund your startup – and when to pick which option

Financing is one of the most important – and most time-consuming – elements of building a company. Most startups begin with early seed funding from friends and family, but then what? Below, Sting’s coaches explain some of the good and the bad with six different types of funding.

Before you start your financing journey, it is important to critically think about what your goals are with your company. What kind of pace is needed for your company to succeed? What are the value-increasing milestones over the coming years? How important is it for you to keep control of your company? Answering these questions will help you find the right financing option below.

1. Grants

Grants are funds provided by organizations, such as Vinnova, the Swedish Energy Agency and the EU, for a one-off project. They are primarily for early-stage, high-risk companies with an academic origin, based on science or research and often with a strong IPR.

Benefits

  • You don’t have to give away shares of your company, so it doesn’t dilute your shares.
  • It is essentially “free money”, as you don’t have to repay a grant.
  • It can fund important early milestones.
  • It can help you better structure your product development.

Potential drawbacks

  • The application process can be extremely time-consuming.
  • Grants often require some level of compliance and reporting, which can be quite tedious.
  • The hit rate varies between 5%-20% – most applications fail.

2. Loans

Loans to startups are often provided by for example Almi Företagspartner, especially their “Innovation loan” in early stages. Sometimes, there’s also a possibility to receive loans from banks.

Benefits

  • Helps to finance product development in early stages.
  • No dilution of shares.

Potential drawbacks

  • You must pay interest and have a possibility to pay back the loan.
  • Will affect the balance sheet as a debt and create a risk for control balance sheet.
  • Sometimes you need provide personal bail.

3. Customer financing

Another way to finance your company is through customer financing. This is a great way to let a potential customer pay for early test/pilot to develop the product further until final product is ready for launch.

Benefits

  • Creates a strong relationship with customers in an early phase.
  • Cost efficient
  • Non-dilutive
  • Can finance the product development.
  • Market credibility, as the startup gets to “borrow” some of the goodwill that the customer potentially has built up.

Potential drawbacks

  • Customers see potential disadvantages early before the product is ready
  • It can come with a “lock-in” during the pilot, preventing discussions with other interested customers
  • There is also a risk of lock-in on foreground IP in joint development projects if you lack experience in negotiating IPR clauses in the development contract.

– These three types of funding; grants, innovation loans and customer financing, are what’s often called “soft financing”. This means money with low or non-existent risk for the entrepreneur and without major requirements for return or ownership. You should use soft financing in the early stage to build value in the company before attracting private investors, says Olof Berglund, business coach at Sting.

Want to know how to raise funds for your startup?

Register for a free 121 session with our startup coaches. Tell us about your business and we will point you in the right direction.

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4. Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding allows many small investors to pitch in and support your startup, either just for the good cause or rewards and perks.

Benefits

  • All communications on one platform – no need to update potential investors through emails, meetings and phone calls.
  • Non-dilutive. Your investors are being rewarded with perks not equity.
  • Great way to test the market and validate your offer.
  • Your investors finance your product.
  • Can create momentum and build your market.

Possible drawbacks

  • Scammers have reduced the trust between entrepreneurs and early adopters.
  • A lot of work – to be successful you likely need a full-on launch campaign.
  • Negative feedback can be damaging.
  • The transparency and visibility of failure. Crowdfunding puts your company’s performance in full public view.

– The startups best suited for crowdfunding are in general those with tech gadgets or products with wide appeal that already have a large following of fans. It’s more difficult to explain and understand a complex medical device, for example. You also need to be a really good storyteller to break through, says Karin Ruiz, business coach at Sting.

5. Business angel financing

Business angels are private individuals who invest their own money. They are often established entrepreneurs who understand the degree of risk involved with establishing a small business. Usually, the first ticket is in the range of 250 000 SEK – 1 MSEK.

Benefits

  • Business angels invest in the early stages of company development.
  • In addition to capital, business angels can provide sector experience, knowledge and network.
  • They can also be hands-on engaged in the companies they invest in.
  • Business angels can both make investment decisions and act quickly.
  • They usually have an investor network and can get multiple people to invest.
  • Well-connected business angels can open doors to later stage financiers, e.g., VCs

Potential drawbacks

  • You give up a share of your business.
  • If you give up too large a stake in your company to business angels early on, you may run into troubles securing later-stage financing
  • Business angels invest with the expectation of a return on investment. This may create extra pressure to deliver results quickly.
  • Business angels are individuals who invest their own money, pay attention to personal chemistry and reputation.

– Startups often bring on business angels early, when institutional investors feel that the risk is too high or the tickets too small, says Krim Talia, active angel investor and business coach at Sting.

6. Venture capital

Venture capitalists (VCs) are investment companies that takes a percentage of your company in exchange for capital. VCs invest other investors money with an objective to deliver a significant return on investment. VCs therefore have a limited time horizon for their investments. There are different categories of VCs, investing in different industries and stages of company development, ranging from very early stage (alongside angels) to growth stage.

Benefits

  • VCs can give you “muscles” and help your company grow fast, as speed and timing are often very important.
  • VCs can also provide international networks, knowledge and professional guidance.
  • This will allow you to take on multiple markets faster than the competition.
  • Well-connected VCs will support you in the next funding round, potentially opening doors to new investors.

Potential drawbacks

  • You lose a (big) stake in your company and thereby control.
  • VCs may want to be involved in your company’s operations and decision-making. You may have to compromise on your goals.
  • VCs often have a long and drawn-out investment process. It is not unusual that it takes at least 6 months from the first contact to closing.
  • The legal agreement is typically quite complex with tougher terms than business angels.

– Venture capital is a good alternative for companies with a great growth potential in need of financial muscles to speed up the development. However, the entrepreneurs who bring on VCs on their journey need to be open to dilution and loss of control. Many well-established VCs have extensive networks and can be of great help for a startup that is embarking on its internationalisation journey, says Maria Ljungberg, Director of Investor Relations at Sting and CEO of Propel Capital.

Want to know how to raise funds for your startup?

Join our coaches for a free coaching session on March 18th. Tell us about your business and we will point you in the right direction.

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Healthtech March 1, 2021

What’s next in healthtech?

In 2020, all eyes were on health. The pandemic has accelerated the shift to digital health services and has increased ambitions for a better patient experience. Here is who we think you should keep an eye on in 2021.

The healthcare sector has faced unprecedented challenges during the last year. But where there are challenges, entrepreneurs find solutions. Fueled by new technologies or new business models, startups have been paving the way for the future of healthcare – now more than ever.

Investor interest in healthtech has also been booming. Early last year, KRY secured one of the largest deals of the year and raised €140m to expand its footprint. Sifted also noted a $750m increase from 2019 to 2020 in European healthtech investments. In total, Swedish healthtech startups raised a combined €396m during 2020 according to Dealroom, a record number.

Promoting health instead of cure

The future of health is not only patient-centered, the idea is to keep you from becoming a patient in the first place. Instead of curing, it’s about staying healthy as much as possible. Preventive, predictive, and personalized care are the new norm, all while you take an active role in your own health.

After the first wave of healthtech, where early adopters discovered the first health apps and lifestyle activity trackers, we are in the middle of the second wave that is aiming to digitize the outdated processes and experiences in the health care system through telemedicine, machine learning and AI. But we are also seeing signs of the third wave on the horizon, that has the potential to revolutionize the ways we interact with our bodies (as recently demonstrated by Elon Musk’s Neuralink) or develop new cures with computer-aided drug-design.

We believe that 2021 is going to be a great year for healthtech and to demonstrate that, we want to highlight 21 teams that you should keep an eye on.

Mental health

Mindler

Mindler enables you to talk with a certified psychologist through video call or chat. Early last year Mindler raised an €8 million Series A round, co-led by Ventech and Shibsted Growth, and has since expanded its services to France and The Netherlands.

Mindmore

Sting Alumni Mindmore digitizes cognitive tests and offers their SaaS platform to clinics to make cognitive status available for all patient groups that need it while streamlining testing procedures for healthcare staff.

Diagnostics

Capitainer

The blood collection device for microsampling from Capitainer enables easy and accurate sampling by non-healthcare professionals. The company announced in January that it has raised another SEK31 million to ramp up production capacity for Covid-19 antibody testing.

Profundus Imaging

At least 1 billion individuals globally have a vision impairment that could have been prevented. Profundus Imaging is a producer of an innovative camera used for earlier diagnosis of retina-related diseases. The company raised SEK 8.4 million in January 2021 from Almi Invest among others.

Amferia

Located in Gothenburg, Amferia develops anti-infective medical devices that can prevent bacterial infections including those caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria. In January 2020 the company was able to secure SEK 6.2 million and aims to bring the product to the market within the next 3 years.

AlgoDx

Swedish startup AlgoDx focuses on supporting disease detection and prediction with machine learning algorithms. The first application is able to predict sepsis in hospitalized patients. AlgoDx has closed a €600K seed round early last year.

Symbiome

Symbiome develops a medical toolkit that customers can use for testing their intestinal flora and find out how their gut bacteria can affect their well-being. Users can take the test at home and get their results in about 6 weeks.

Jaisy Health

Jaisy, a Sting Incubate alumni, has developed a low cost solution for non-invasive jaundice detection and measurement in infants. The company has developed an optical mobile device that connects to any smartphone which measures the bilirubin level and predicts the risk of jaundice.

Chronic disease

Paindrainer

PainDrainer is a digital pain coach who, with the help of artificial intelligence, learns how your activities affect your pain. The app guides you and gives individual advice to help you plan your day and control your pain level.

Migränhjälpen

1.4 million Swedes suffer from migraines. Migränhjälpen, founded in 2019, is working for launching a digital service available for users looking to get treated for migraines. The company announced a capital raise of SEK 6.2 million in March 2020.

Alex Health

Alex is preventing people from getting chronically ill in the first place. 40% of all premature deaths could be prevented by changing behavior.
Combining technology with psychology and a consumer-first user experience, Alex treats unhealthy habits

Digital Diabetes Analytics

People living with diabetes currently spend billions on continuous glucose measurement, but are currently drowning in their data. Digital Diabetes Analytics provides an automated solution which analyses the data and generates systematic interpretations to transform diabetes care.

Itchy

Making digital treatment plans for Psoriasis patients, Itchy’s ambition is to make the daily life easier for people with Psoriasis and Atopic eczema. It combines an app with a journal and personalised treatment plans with skin care products.

Health Integrator

Sting Alumni Health Integrator strengthens the individual’s ability to achieve long-term changes in living habits, in order to prevent common diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The health platform provides access to a number of activities and health services.

Female Health

Tilly

Tilly, a sting company, is creating a one-stop-shop for personalised fertility support enabling proactive testning, easier ways to find relevant information and mental support.

Momentus

Momentus is an app that gives a new mother all the knowledge she needs about her own body and health after giving birth. The team was accepted into the Sting Incubate program in early 2021.

Grace Health

Grace is solving the current problem of accessibility and discretion by delivering a solution to the 1.9 billion women in emerging markets who lack access to women’s health services and information. It lets women track and understand their reproductive health.

Digital Health

Care To Translate

Sting Alumni Care to Translate offers medically correct communication with translations verified by native speakers to overcome language barriers in healthcare. They are active in over 200 countries and their app has more than 241.000 users.

Sensivo

Sensivo helps clinical researchers to store and manage research data in a flexible, collaborative and secure way. It provides a GDPR compliant, cloud-based spreadsheet for modern clinical research and sensitive personal data management.

Skinfo

Skinfo translates ingredients in cosmetic and skincare products with scientific facts to help more people choose, avoid or discover products based on their ingredients. The Sting Alumni simplifies complex data to increase consumers’ knowledge and understanding.

Kind

Malmö-based Kind is a secure communication platform tailored for healthcare providers and patients. It allows healthcare providers to communicate with patients, share care plans and documents. Since its Seed round in 2019, Kind has now started expanding beyond Sweden.


Need help to grow or scale your healthtech startup?

Through our new initiative, Sting Health Action, we support startups that, like us, believe that the future of health must be characterized by Personalization, Prediction, Prevention and Participation.

This will be a leading star when we now look for innovative and disruptive companies to join us. We’re especially interested in startups with ground-breaking technologies and scalable solutions within the following areas:

  • Chronic Disease
  • Diagnostics
  • Female Health
  • Mental Health
  • Pandemic Health Action

Thanks to extensive experience from scaling 300+ startups, we can give you access to unparalleled skills and knowledge and help increase your chances of success many times over.

Learn more about our support for Healthtech startups


Insights April 24, 2018

The Growth Hacking Gap

We recently surveyed 20 growing tech startups within our ecosystem on the growing business needs and we found the following skills along with their demand and availability:

This image shows the frequency of companies looking for the various skills (blue) and how many candidates who say they have the various skills (red). In short, this is the supply and demand for skill in the startup job market (for non-technical positions).

For every 2.5 jobs looking for Growth Hackers, there’s only 1 person in the market with that skill.

Does this mean there’s a gap?

Now when we analyze these skill gaps, most of the time we rely on the tags. How many people tag themselves with “marketing” and how many with “Growth Hacking”?

And we see that only,

50 635 persons have the keywords “Growth Hacking” in their profile and a whooping

43 830 036 persons have Marketing.

However, while marketing is hugely more common as a term than growth hacking, we’d like to highlight the growing trend for the term.

Look at the Google search trend for instance:

Note: Important to mention here is the scale in the two graphs. The total search volume is still way higher for marketing than growth hacking. But the searches are growing for growth hacking but not for marketing.

May be it’s just the term Growth Hacking

Candidates and companies do not necessarily use the same language. The jargons can vary widely and may be most modern digital marketing professionals are analytical, metric-driven, experimentative and sprint-oriented. But not all of them, call themselves “Growth Hackers”.

One reason that marketers might not use this term often is because of a certain bad reputation for “quick hacks to gain big unsustainably big user base”. Especially combined with a low retention. Another reason is that the growth hacking term is kind of ambiguous and debated.

OR if you’re not actively seeking a job, there’s not much motivation to update LinkedIn profiles with new keywords. Instead, there might be a period where the person learns new things but don’t communicate it. Job ads from companies are different. They are always fresh and updated, so they show the demands quicker.

But then what is this growth hacking anyways? Wikipedia reads,

“growth hacking is a process of rapid experimentation across marketing funnel, product development, sales segments, and other areas of the business to identify the most efficient ways to grow a business”.

In an ideal world, isn’t every marketing person trying out new ideas? Pushing the marketing funnel? And constantly trying effective way to grow a business?

We’d like to think that and that’s why we’re inviting all growth hackers and marketers to come and meet our Startups who’re looking for you.

2 hours — 17 startups — 35+ Marketing & Growth positions

In 2 hours, you’ll have the opportunity to meet and mingle with 17 startup founders who’re expanding their teams in marketing/growth/sales areas. We call this event Join a Startup and it’s a selection-only event. So please apply asap. Deadline for registration is today.

Apply by clicking here.

Insights March 6, 2013

Find your entrepreneurial sea legs faster

Building a successful startup rarely is plain sailing. In fact, almost all startups have to weather not one but quite a few storms on their path to whatever they define as success. Out of them, only a very small percentage actually make it. Is this low number somehow determined by an invisible law or can we actually do something about it? I do believe in the latter!

First, I think that the world needs innovation more than ever and that we need many more successful startups to drive this change. The incumbents will never drive change fast enough. This means that the odds for startups are in fact improving all by themselves.

Second, we can also actively increase the odds for success. There are so many unnecessary mistakes and unforced errors made by startup entrepreneurs that could be avoided.  Why do you think the VCs prefer a serial entrepreneur anytime to a first timer?

As an entrepreneur I’m coaching said, “There are a thousand pit falls before you even get to buy a ticket in the lottery.” Cynical? Yes, maybe a little, but unfortunately there is quite some truth to it.

When you are first-time entrepreneur, venturing a startup is like crossing the Stockholm archipelago (22 thousand islands and countless shallows) without any navigational tools whatsoever, or, if you are getting tired of my marine analogies, it is like playing BRIO Labyrinth – the wooden maze game – blindfolded. It doesn’t need to be like that, however.

So how can you find your sea legs faster? Where can you get hold of the navigation equipment? How can you, as a first timer, act as a serial entrepreneur from day one?

  1. Bring in an experienced navigating officer. Find someone who has done it before. Make him or her join the team. It is worth the skin in the game you have to give them. This person does not necessarily need to be full time, be involved in operations, or do the legwork. The important contribution is startup experience. It could be a business angel. It could mean joining a business incubator or accelerator.
  2. Get a sonar, a radar, and a GPS. Understand everything about your customers’ desires. Build measure, learn. Buy the book The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Read it carefully. Many buy the book, some read it, but very few understand the beauty of it.
  3. Use a pilot whenever necessary. This person could e.g. be someone who knows your target customer by heart and knows how to navigate through the intricacies of the industry logic of your target market. This will save you tons of mistakes. But be careful though, make sure that the person understands the difference between the startup approach and a launch made by an established player and brand.
  4. Sail, sail, sail. Most important, though, get out of the building as Steven Blank puts it. And get into the boat! Get out there and sail the rough waters and find you sea legs. You will never become a seasoned entrepreneur unless you leave the drawing board and your ppt-plans behind.