Digital Skills Academy
What strategy should your start-up pursue in 2016?

What strategy should your start-up pursue in 2016?

Irish, UK, African and US success stories.

We are in exciting times. Geography is no longer the barrier it used to be. If you have a great idea, and the ability to accept payments (which is now possible everywhere using some type of e-payment), then you can do business with the world.

There is no right and wrong way to grow your business. Many in Africa have achieved great success by correctly identifying the needs of local customers and delivering solutions which fit with their mobile only based point of entry to online commerce. Pesapal is a great example and one of many African success stories emerging from a focus on locally appropriate mobile e-commerce solutions.

In Ireland, in contrast, many FinTech (financial technology) success stories are based on aiming for global markets rather than local markets for their products. TrustEv founded by Pat Phelan, and Realex cofounder Colm Lyon both focussed on providing a globally available solution rather than one just aimed at the Irish markets.

It’s not all FinTech nor all based in Dublin either, as the exciting SOSventures in Cork demonstrate with accelerators for BioTech startups, Food-X, Hardware and Chinese focussed initiatives illustrate. These accelerators demonstrate the importance of a globally-oriented strategy for developing your products and your business ideas.

In the UK to achieve success the challenge is important to identify which strategy you are going to pursue. Locally-facing or aimed at export? As London has a population of 8.5 million there are plenty of opportunities, even in the capital alone. There are great Start-up Bootcamp accelerators for FinTech and InsurTech in London, each offering start-ups support and growth mentoring to help them find their path to success.

Similarly, in the US, there are so many great business opportunities and more exposure to potential backers. It is important to consider where to first locate. While the Californian west coast attracts a lot of hype for software start-ups with a large number of venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, if you chose to locate there you will face significant competition for good staff, office space and funding resources. Many financial services, publishers, and medical services have founded far more supportive environments on the US East coast in New York, Boston or elsewhere depending on the most relevant niche for their business. MIT, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a really strong example of providing an ongoing hub for innovation and entrepreneurial inspiration for the growth of future successful companies. Boston Dynamics is a great example of a spin-off company that successfully grew its development of robots that could run like animals from an MIT initiative to something ultimately acquired by Google.

What are the common elements for startup success?

On one hand, the variety of paths to success illustrates that there is no one right way to follow. However, for those companies that did grow and find markets for their products, they did so by finding a niche and demonstrating their ability in this area. From the African mobile e-commerce solutions to the Irish FinTech security innovations and the US robotic animals, they all found a market where they demonstrated their expertise and their domain knowledge. Once you achieve proof of concept, you are on the road to attracting the financing needed to develop and grow your business. While current leaders of global business such as Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon all seem fantastically large now. They all began as start-ups not so long ago, showing there is hope for all new businesses starting life in 2016 too.  

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