More conferences should be hosted in bars. That’s the main outtake I had from the Launchpad 2013 conference, which was held last week at The Light Bar in London.
When I arrived on Thursday morning there were warm croissants and fruit lining the tables of the bar and a bunch of sharply dressed kids milling around somewhat awkwardly. @GoodChillHuntin and I were perhaps the only people to read the memo that morning about dressing comfortably, and he tweeted:
Still funny when students at startup events are more formally dressed than the CEO’s, that they want to be hired by. #Launchpad2013
The premise of the conference was to teach students and recent graduates how to either create their own start-up or get a job in one. The two days contained a mix of product demos, interviews, panels and workshops. Nacue, who organised the conference, need to be highly commended for the calibre and diversity of the speakers.
So what did Launchpad attendees learn about how to launch a career in a start-up?
Know your product before you start selling.
This may sound obvious, but you need to be able to clearly articulate what you are selling. If you don’t understand software make sure you hire someone that does. Although the Maker’s Academy will tell you that you can learn HTML in less than five minutes, so there’s really no excuse.
Fail fast, but learn from your mistakes even faster.
Rather than building something you’re “passionate about” build something that people actually want. How do you know what your audience wants? You release something quickly, look at the data and then improve. Heather Russell of Rinkya gave one of the most inspiring talks of the conference and said to grow as a person you have to do the things you hate.
So you like dating men or women who are on the same intellectual level as you? Try something different!
This of course applies to your business as well, we all learn by doing things we’re not good at. MindCandy founder Michael Acton-Smith reminded everyone that it’s ok to fail, as long as you’re succeeding more often than not.
Surround yourself with the best people.
Finding a co-founder, great staff, mentors, investors and eventually customers all comes down to the networks you build. Time and time again speakers brought up the importance of having a co-founder who balances you out. A successful business has someone who can build and someone who can sell.
Made by Many ran a very engaging session where the audience was split into groups to create a profitable business that could help people find co-founders, mentors or investors. I tried (and failed) to create a female only group to tackle mentorship, however ended up in a mixed group and our idea was “speed-dating for co-founders”. Most groups came up with very similar ideas, which goes to show the best way to build your network is still to go out to events and physically meet people.
Personally I think that’s why it was so great having this conference in a bar. Remember all the kids in suits awkwardly standing around when I arrived? When I left on Friday evening those same attendees were exchanging ideas and email addresses over drinks in the beer garden. The perfect way to find someone to help grow your start-up. I look forward to seeing what these young entrepreneurs are inspired to create.
About our Ambassador // This article was contributed by Community Ambassador Anna Rose Kerr. She’s a creative who’s just moved to London to be amoungst the best in advertising and technology. You can find Anna Rose on Twitter, Tumblr and the rest with the username annarosekerr.