Startup Kids

Here’s a reflection of The Startup Kids screening event that I submitted to my lecturer. Awesome course that gives quiz exemptions when you attend startup events.

What happened?

Arrived slightly late for the screening. There was food available. Yay free food! I noticed that there wasn’t many people around. They should have advertised that there was food to attract hungry students. On the other hand, having less people attending meant that there was more opportunities to talk to the guests after the screening.

The documentary itself was inspiring, though I felt the lights were slightly too bright during the screening. After the screening, they invited some guests on stage and had a question and answer session.

The question and answer with the panel was good as we got to hear some insights from Daniel Zafir CEO of Zenogen, Rebecca Paget Founder of Giftling, Dr Allya UNSW Lecturer and Steve from NSI.

After the quick question and answer session, we proceeded out of the theatre to grab some food and at the same time network with the other participants. There were about 30+ (guesstimating) people that watched the screening but only about 5 or 6 people hanged around after. I like to stick around after these events to get to know people and network with people interested in startups. As there were so little people left, I managed to talk to almost everyone including the guests that came out slightly after.

How it relates to the course?

The documentary was mainly about young startup founders on how they started, but there were points where they focused on the VCs. They didn’t really go into the details that were used to start the business. Most of it was meant to be inspiring, showing the audience that it can be done, hoping that more people will be encouraged to start. There was quite a bit of emphasis on failing too. The young founders talked about how they failed before starting their current startup. The investors that were interviewed speak highly of these young entrepreneurs, stating how difficult and competitive it is starting business in Silicon Valley.

There were some examples of marketing techniques that I found to be very creative. For example the founder of SoundCloud spray painted his leather jacket with the logo and it made their brand memorable. Leah the founder of Grove, couldn’t afford a new Macbook and she emailed various tech companies, selling advertising space on the lid. Hackers like to decorate their laptop lids with stickers and she made money of that space and got the logos laser engraved. Both were great marketing techniques which looked really good and got plenty of attention.

The question and answer session after the screening was quite interesting too. The audience asked a couple of good questions on how to decide which idea is good, how to find the right co-founder and what to do if your co-founder runs out on you. Very similar to some of the questions that were asked to the guests in the workshop. Their answers were also very similar.

How did this change your business idea or how did this change your thinking about entrepreneurship?

When chatting with Dr Allya, she mentioned a friend working with neuroscientists in Zurich and discovered that entrepreneurs are faster at switching from using the exploring part of the brain to using the focusing part when solving problems. Faster. Not how big the exploring or focusing area is. Managers may be better (read: use more brain area) at exploring ideas or focusing on the solution but they typically don’t switch as fast. I found it quite fascinating. On top of that, Dr Allya said that they are also researching on brain exercises that may improve such behaviour. I volunteered to be a test subject but she refused to give me a contact. I wonder why. She also made a passing remark on finishing up my undergraduate degree before starting a business. I wonder why she said that. I don’t think it’s common that people drop out of uni to start businesses.

During the chat with Daniel (he speaks highly of you), I pitched him our group’s idea and he was mainly concerned about our competitive advantage. He was pretty satisfied with Jens and Luca having a corporate finance background and the other details. Looks like we have to figure out what’s a better advantage than being first to market and a web platform. I thought about it when I got back and I proposed to my group a forecast for clients as to when is the best time to lease a product based on past analytics.

We started talking about being an entrepreneur and he recommends starting young because of less commitments. He commented that it’s even better if I still live with my parents.

I also met a couple of students that are just getting interested in startups. It’s always interesting hearing the stories of how they got interested. After attending such events and talking to entrepreneurs, I feel myself slowly being nudged to a position where the idea of starting a business isn’t all that crazy.

Stanley Tan