For the past several months I’ve been quietly working and developing a website with my business partner. Our skills compliment one another’s to a tee. He builds the product. I build the business. And together, we build the company. (That sounds like a life insurance commercial...)
Despite being on other sides of the planet, the many resources available to us today make it like we’re just next-door. I am so proud of the UI/UX design the team has come up with and implemented. In addition to an unparalleled resource, BizBoards was designed with user experience in mind.
Our website is BizBoards.com. It’s a B2B website geared towards all forms of business advertising. The platform essentially breaks down into three main categories: Businesses for sale, partnership opportunities, and job listings. Investors can buy entire businesses or part of them. Job seekers can scan job listings or freelance tasks. We are finally giving businesses an outlet to the audience who makes up their business internally, instead of just the customer. We want to promote entrepreneurship and calculated risk taking. In providing the resources to minimize barriers to entry, we can help millions live out their version of a Global (not just American) Dream!
While we haven’t even launched the product as we are still making small tweaks, I’ve learned invaluable experiences.
1. Hold your product an unmatched degree of scrutiny
You might think your product is great. But when someone rips it to shreds, you bet they’re going to point out every flaw. Build a product you have the upmost confidence in so when someone does (it’s bound to happen) rip apart your product, you have resilience. If you know what you built is incredible, you won’t let naysayers destroy what you built.
2. Free money isn’t free
When we were first offered a significant amount of money for a share in our company, it was a unique experience. Knowing someone is willing to sink in a heap of cash into what was once your vision can really make you take a step back and seriously contemplate the situation. Especially when the product is pre-launch and pre-revenue. You just have to ask yourself one question: Do you NEED this sum of money at this moment? While someone offering you a boatload of cash for a small part of your company seems like a no-brainer, understand the contingencies attached too.
3. Have a legal dream team
While many start up entrepreneurs disagree, paying a premium for the best attorneys that specialize in tech start-ups is invaluable. In addition to making sure you and your partner(s) are legally sound, they can also be an amazing resource. They know they clients and by connecting whom they need to connect, they can facilitate a win-win-win situation. In addition to preventing legal issues that will be more expensive down the road, pay the premium up front. Even if you don’t have room in your budget right now, find a firm that works with a lot of start-ups. They may have some sort of deferred payment plan that can accommodate you.
4. So you think you know business jargon?
As a business minded individual, I felt fairly confident with the lawyers’ diction: Delaware C-Corp, option pool, vesting, dilution, capitalization, etc. All this is commonplace and understood by many. But here’s some of my favorite tech/start up jargon I’ve picked up explained in plain English.
· Incubator: a place where start ups receive mentorship, resources, and sometimes funding in order to scale their business
· Burn rate: how fast you’re spending money
· Cliff: period of time before stock options start vesting (vesting is when your stocks are paid out in tiny bits over time. While you may own 20% of the company, you only reach that when, and if, your stocks fully vest).
· Pitch deck: 10 slide PowerPoint that covers your business
· Deacorn: Start up valued at $10B+
· NFC(near field communication): Not entirely relevant to my business, but in most basic terms it’s Apple Pay.
· Dogfooding: Using your own product to test for glitches
· Engineer Unicorn: In my opinion, this is some of the most valuable talent in tech. Engineer with social aptitude and competency.
5. Learn from everyone
If you have the fortune of being surrounded by some of the modern world’s smartest people, take advantage of it. If you’re the CEO, don’t tune out when a designer or engineer geeks out on you. It may sound like you’re listening to a Spanish soap, picking up certain words or phrases, but by learning every aspect of your product is vital. If you’re the CTO or Lead Engineer, you better make sure you listen during those calls with the accountants explaining how you will be taxed.