"Disruption" And "Innovation" Are Overrated
Having just concluded INSEAD Fintech Club's first company trek (we visited Aviva Digital Garage, Curve, iwoca, Techstars, TransferWise, and VentureFounders) I thought it would be interesting to get a sense of what participants thought about the visits. After plugging in the feedback to form a word cloud, this is the (surprising) result we got:
NEED. PROBLEM. CULTURE. CHANGE.
1. Before starting on a project, have the discipline to build analytics to track and measure success:
Anyone serious about CHANGE will need to consider how to track and measure the difference that a new initiative will have on the existing way of things. Painful and bothersome at the start, you will later thank yourself for taking the time to think through the question "What does success look like for my project?". Co-founders at Curve were quick to remind us that no matter how exciting a new programme seemed, they learnt that it was way more important to think about how to measure whether it could prove a concept than to simply embark on it without a clear metric of success.
2) Word of mouth is often the most effect marketing tool:
Think of how you can build and message your solutions to resonate with the user's core need / pain point such that they become your best salesperson. Transferwise has successfully done that by focusing on your personal difficulties experienced when transferring money overseas.
3) Startups need clients more than they need capital:
Do not be anxious to look for the next dollar, instead look for customers - they are your best validation that you are meeting a real need / addressing a tangible problem. And after that, look for ways to keep them/make them come back. Because when they do, that is when investors start to sit up and take notice. Coming from Techstars, a top accelerator which has funded more than 700 companies, you know that this advice has to count for something.