Last week, I took a break from Scotland’s miserable weather and attended the Startup Grind Europe conference in London. One of Europe’s biggest gatherings of startups, investors and innovators offered a busy agenda with keynotes, panels, fire side chats and Q&As on securing investment, leadership, AI, FinTech, regulation, diversity, etc. I would like to share with you some of my key takeaways and highlights from the conference.
During several panels and fire side chats investors and founders that have successfully raised venture capital funding shared their advice and tips for startups. They stressed how important it is to get your mission, vision and pitch right before talking to investors. This seems obvious but especially those seeking their first round of funding don’t always pay enough attention to this. Tom Hulme from GV (venture capital investment arm of Google’s parent company Alphabet) shared that most pitches still reach him via email and that face to face pitches are not necessarily more successful. If pitching though email, he advised to avoid generic emails (or even worse: mail merges) and instead to tailor your pitch to the specific investor as much as possible. A panel of startups that recently secured their series A round recommended to choose investors wisely, to get to know them and make sure they understand your specific market and customer base. This is crucial for a positive long-term relationship with them but also for benefitting from your investor’s contacts and expertise.
Building & managing remote teams
Building and managing remote teams was another hot topic at Startup Grind Europe with keynotes and panels featuring companies like Asana, Intercom and Atlassian that successfully operate on several continents. To ensure that everybody understands and buys into the company values and processes, every new employee at Asana and Intercom starts by working several weeks in the company headquarters. Dom Price, Work Futurist at Atlassian, recommended to “build relationships in person and maintain them remotely”. Atlassian is facilitating this by bringing all remote workers together once a year to get to know colleagues and create the social connections that are the key to make remote working a success. Atlassian has also documented all their working practices to make the onboarding of new remote team members easier. The Atlassian Team Playbook is available for everyone to use and take inspiration from for their own company at: atlassianteamplaybook.com.
Company culture & values
The importance of company culture and values was brought up in nearly every talk or discussion I listened to during the event. Several speakers recommended to define the culture of your startup from the outset and to make sure that new hires fit that company culture. Robbie O’Connor from Asana stressed that culture also needs to evolve as the company grows. Therefore, Asana treat their company culture like a product that needs be developed continuously. However, a strong focus on employing only people that fit a certain culture poses the risk of hiring people that think and work in a similar way and therefore missing out on the benefits of diverse teams. Dom Price from Atlassian explained that they hire and recognise based on values which helps to attract more diverse candidates.
If you are interested in exploring any of these topics further, please let our Events Co-ordinator Kelly McErlane know (firstname.lastname@example.org). Kelly is keen to know which topics you are interested in for our ScotSoft conference in autumn or other events throughout the year.
With thanks to Scottish Business Network for providing a complimentary ticket to attend Startup Grind Europe