Want to tap in to the best startup advice from entrepreneurs who are out there doing it? Welcome to ‘500 Founders’ where we ask innovators from around New Zealand for their top insights for first time startup founders.

500 Founders

Rick Kiessig – Cofounder

Kimer Med

“Talk to your potential customers as soon as you can.”

Before you have a product, a company or product name, a domain name, business cards, a logo – even before you have a company. There’s a good chance everyone else won’t be as excited about your idea as you are. Use mock-ups or digital or physical models if you need them to fully communicate your concept. Don’t be afraid to ask pointed questions that include things like, “Would you buy this from me,” and be sure to discuss details such as price, timeframe, licensing and so on. Use the information you learn to refine your product, approach, and pitch.

Fabulous ideas are a dime a dozen. Really. What makes a company successful is not the idea or naming or imaging; those are important, but much later. Early on, the key to success is customer acceptance, and figuring that out takes time and effort, sometimes significant. Benefits include maximising the impact of your limited initial funding and avoiding building a product you think is awesome, that no one will buy. Knowing your potential customers well is also a prerequisite to effective sales, marketing and especially raising funding of any kind.”

500 Founders

Hannah Hunt – Cofounder 

Roar Collective

“The best advice I can give is to dive in with the mindset that done is better than perfect.”

“It is important to have a focus and a strategy but it is easy to spend too much time trying to get this right rather than doing the doing.

Often businesses evolve so differently to what we initially envision. Through taking imperfect action, you’ll be in a position to continuously pivot as your place in the market takes shape, gaining valuable experience along the way.”

500 Founders

Matthew Jackson – EHF Fellow & Cofounder

Alimentary Systems

“No matter how passionate you are, how good your team is, or what new innovative idea you have, it will take you twice as long and cost you twice as much as you planned.

“We need people like you,” I’m told, often. Unfortunately, this encouragement is fleeting; People don’t realise how hard being an entrepreneur is. 

Changing mindsets is tiring, and every entrepreneur has a story to tell about backstabbing, being down on their luck, burnt out, ‘oh-shit’ moments they didn’t expect to occur.

To be an entrepreneur, you must balance naïveté, heart and courage. Prioritise your mental health. Measure your resilience by the speed at which you ask for help from your whanau. Grow reciprocal relationships in your support network before you need them. You can’t do this work on your own!”

500 Founders

Jenni Matheson – Cofounder

Kinda Ice cream

“Find and grow your support network with people and associations that have the experience and knowledge that you will benefit from.

You can do this by networking, finding business mentors, participating in incubator programmes, government agencies, immersing yourself with in your industry and within the startup community, attending events online and in person nationally and globally.

There are a lot of lovely people and organisations out there that want to see you succeed, they are happy to support and share their knowledge with you.

As your support network grows what happens is it leads you onto the next thing and the next thing, people get to know you and start contacting you, it has a snowball effect, you end up with a community of support around you, lifting you up and moving you forward, it is really amazing to be apart of.

I have always been independent, and asking for support has been a challenge for me.  I have had to change my mindset. I now look at it like this – I enjoy helping others in any way I can. It gives me pleasure and makes me feel useful, by me not asking for help, it takes away the opportunity for others to feel that same pleasure.

By creating a supportive network, you will progress quicker, while feeling more confident in the decisions that you have to make.” 

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