Mark Bridge writes:
What’s the secret to starting a successful mobile-related business?
It turns out there’s no magic answer… but there’s plenty of useful advice worth listening to. There are also plenty of opportunities to get funding, whether in the form of a loan, a grant or an investment.
At the Mobile Monday London meeting this month, John Spindler of Capital Enterprise talked about the finance options available and later chaired a panel discussion that took a closer look at some of the challenges.
Afterwards, I asked John why starting a business involved in mobile technology was different from other start-ups.
“I think there are three things that mobile’s doing. One is - it’s a cliché but it’s true - it’s a disruptive technology. When you’re starting a business you need fissures to occur in the ground so new businesses can compete with those megalithic businesses that dominate. Disruptive technology puts them at a bigger disadvantage than a start-up. A start-up can innovate quicker, can do things which break business models that a big business can’t do. Big businesses are just focussed on paying the overheads, making money, looking after shareholders and not focussed on ‘how do I innovate, make a service better, help customers to achieve more’. I think investors like it because you can start small and scale quickly, you don’t need millions of pounds. And thirdly it’s important because it’s a talent-based industry. Lots of industries are asset-based; to be an oil prospector I need millions! To be a mobile business I just need good brains, a good team, some contacts and some time.”
What are the attributes of a successful mobile start-up business?
“To be that disruptive game-changing business, the most important thing is you need to be solving a big problem for a big set of customers. People need to really care about what you’re doing because then they will search for it and they will try it. Secondly, you need to have a really good team. You need that hipster, hacker, hustler in the team. Someone has to be incredibly passionate to get their business off the ground. Thirdly, in the UK, you need at least prove some of the business model: how you’re going to make money. At least on a small scale - that if you made money here, if you had more funds, you could make it even bigger. And the fourth thing is to understand what you’re going to offer investors, why they should come down this journey with you.”
John’s presentation included a broad and detailed list of resources for mobile start-up businesses. I asked him to summarise the best place to begin and he gave me three recommendations:
John’s presentation was followed by a panel discussion with contributions from Alistair Hill, Nic Brisbourne, Sitar Teli, Michel Sabatier and Inmaculada Martinez. You can listen to their conversation via iTunes, from our RSS feed, by downloading the mp3 file or via our website audio player.
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