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ESEC Mobile talk
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ESEC Mobile talk - attendees
An unusual mix of people produced a great event, which started as a presentation by successful European entrepreneurs, with plenty of insight and examples of triumphs and pitfalls of new businesses, but gave way to a funny and lively discussion between Angel Investors about the funding culture and the mobile-internet platform.
Laurent Lathieyre, the main speaker, has created six European start-ups and gave very clear advice. New businesses are wise to focus on the model of lean start-up and customer development, he said; it is vital to have a vision, and strive to maintain it. Encouragingly, Lathieyre is of the opinion that it is cheaper than ever to start a business, but he also believes that getting customers to use the product was the most important aspect, not raising large amounts of money. Getting online visitors to the product is, however, the most difficult thing; there is unfortunately no free way of doing it, except perhaps by gaining attention through controversy.
The trick of success with internet traffic is to analyse the people who engage with the product—not only their profile, but where and when they stopped, and try to gauge how they react to the product. The entrepreneur must also know well their ‘minimum viable product’, the important elements in their product.
As the room opened up to discussion, a few common points were agreed upon. There was universal agreement that finding the right business partner was analogous with finding a life partner, where compatibility and understanding are as important. It was also agreed how important it is not to try and go it alone; it’s important to have a range of personalities and people to discuss issues with and rely on during the pitfalls and triumphs. The Angel Investor’s opinion of ‘Freemium’ (providing a free basic service, and charging for upgrades or a premium service), is that usage is value – if people use something regularly enough, for long enough, they will pay for a superior version.
The final interesting points related to the difficulty of identifying a real problem— business developers often invest in non-existent problems. If you do discover one, then find the person who has the problem and get them to pay you for the solution. The best reason for starting a business is an attraction to the culture, atmosphere and challenges. If, however, your desire is to make money, it is best to use somebody else’s idea in a new location. There were numerous examples of ideas developed in America being copied, immediately, in Europe and China. If the idea already works, it’s easier to get it off the ground elsewhere.
The Toulouse Business School event was worth going to as there were a lot of talented designers, entrepreneurs and potential investors all sharing ideas and experiences.