To say the world’s startup ecosystem has been evolving at a rapid pace, would be an understatement. According to GEM’s Global Report, a staggering 100 million businesses are launched globally, every year. While, a Gallup poll estimated 400,000 new businesses were launched in the US in 2015, alone.
This phenomenon highlights the amount of support in terms of investments, administrative mentoring and human resources that is available to entrepreneurs embarking down the startup route.
From 2013 to 2014, the total global venture capital investments rose by 95%. In the US alone, a whopping $58.5 billion in venture capital was invested in 2015. Industry analysis shows the Software industry remains the pet favorite among VC’s when it comes to investing. While, non-tech startups focusing on consumer products and services received the least amount of investments.
This disparity makes it that much harder for non-tech startups to establish themselves as contenders for angel investments and VCs.
But, What Does It Mean to be a Non-Tech Startup?
Just because a startup is bringing a consumer product or service to the market, it doesn’t mean it can’t leverage technology as its delivery mechanism.
Cases in point: Uber, Airbnb, Groupon and TaskRabbit. These are products that deliver a particular service. The technology was used as a delivery mechanism and to help them scale their business.
Niche food companies can be grouped in the same non-tech, service startup bundle. SweetGreen (who’s now developed an iOS app), Blue Bottle Coffee and Shake Shack are perfect examples. While, Scrub Daddy and LollaLand are product based startups.
These companies have one thing in common – at their core they don’t need technology, they have minimal technology risks.
The most they needed were websites, an online ordering system, and of course the actual product – all successful because of one non-tech factor: a community of users/consumers they connected to. The high-end tech comes when they’re ready to scale.
So, how do these companies carve their success without technology? Let’s find out.
The Secrets behind Successful Non-Tech Startups
Successful non-tech startups don’t rely on technology, they rely on YOU! Your ability to convince people, to rile them up about a new concept/product, to maintain strong relationships (even before you begin your startup journey!)
These are difficult to acquire skills and are infinitely more effective in the long run, for the success of your non-tech startup.
These are the skills you’ll need for one critical non-tech success factor: a community of users. This is called traction. Traction shows the investors and the world that your startup is viable.
So, What Exactly Can You do to Build Traction?
1. Have Clearly Defined Goals – This is Vital.
Without knowing your goals, you’d be blind. You won’t know what you’re working towards. You could have a simple goal like: make enough revenue to support my family.
If, so. Start crunching numbers. Get the exact amount of money you’d need to support your family. Say, $X. Then start asking yourself:
How many sales do I need to make to earn $X?
How many customers do I need to reach, to make $X a reality?
If I partner with ABC Company, will it get me exposure? Etc.
Breaking down your goals to micro goals, helps you put things into executable activities.
2. Build a Pre Launch List – Start Approaching People.
Tell them about your product and how it can benefit them. Start pre-selling. Offer those who pre-order a special offer, half-off discount deals, special rewards for referrals – the options are endless.
3. Do Things That Don’t Scale Immediately – This Requires a Great Investment.
Of your time! Invest the time to network, to market yourself before you market your product. Write guest posts; speak at conferences, seminars, social events. Create YOUR social proof. Make yourself search engine friendly. Here are a few things that won’t help you scale your business, but are equally important for establishing yourself:
Reach out the press, newspapers, blogs – anyone willing to let you inform their readers about you and your product.
Offer people with a following in you niche free access to the product, if they would promote it to their followers.
Converse often with people who’re using competing products. Find ways to make your product better. Etc.
4. Find Great Partners
Find businesses or companies, willing to build integrations with your product or businesses whose products can complement yours. For example, suppose you create gaming seats, you can forge a partnership with gaming companies to promote your product and vice versa.
Now, that you’ve got the momentum i.e. traction and visibility among potential customers – start thinking about a technical partner.
This technical partner can help you set up a much needed website, create a mobile application or even help you with hiring the right employees for your startup.
Nowadays, more and more app development companies are focusing on helping startups. These companies can be the perfect technical support system you’ll need when scaling your non-tech startup through technology.
All the startups mentioned above are, at their core, non-tech startups. They started off by building a following – traction – for their service or product. Once they knew their startup was a viable concept, they moved onto leveraging technology as their delivery mechanism.
When your startup is mature enough to start leveraging tech, make sure you’re supported by the right technical partner.