5 ways to avoid failure (based on lessons from Y Combinator)

The Gold Coast Innovation Hub have a vision to bring the national and international entrepreneurial community together in order to add the most value to our members. Every second Tuesday of each month we host a Lunch and Learn session with special guests sharing their insights, top tips and the ups and downs of their business journeys. 

This months we had the privilege of hearing from Max Shepherd-Cross, the CEO and a Co-Founder of HotelFlex. HotelFlex matches empty hotel rooms with guests who wish to extend their stay to accommodate awkward travel schedules. In doing so, they increase revenue for hotels and ensure that guests never again have to wait for their room to be ready after arriving on the early morning flight.

After setting up the business in the UK just 3 years ago, Max went through the world renowned Y Combinator accelerator in Silicon Valley before raising over $1.1m in funding and relocating to the Gold Coast under the Queensland Government’s HotDesQ program. The software is now used in hotels all around the world.

Max shared 5 tips to avoiding failure that he has learnt from his experience in Y Combinator. 

  1. Find good co-founders. A massive amount of startups fail due to relationship break downs between the founding members. It is unquestionable that issues will happen, that when the presure is on problems will arise. So how well do you get along with the rest of the team? What if one of the founders decides to leave after a few months of the business and the shareholders agreements have been signed for a 50/50 profit share? Setting up your shares with a 4 year vesting schedule is a great way to avoid this disaster.  The shareholder agreement is set up in a way that founders get a percentage of their shares released to them each year and after 4 years they can be entitled to their full share allocation. 
  2. Launch fast. Startups pivot often. The best way to find out what needs to be adjusted in your business model or product is to launch fast and get user feedback.  Perfectionism prevents so many people from launching when they should – in many ways it is better to start out assuming your idea is terrible and needs to evolve. How do you get your idea to evolve? Get your MVP (Minimal Viable Product) out there on the market and listen to your customers! 
  3. Let your idea evolve based on customer feedback. Usually the very first idea you get out there is on the right line, but no where near its final destination.  Allow your customers to help you change it into what they truly need.
  4. Get to know and understand your users/clients. Connect with them, call them, spend time with them. Find out what they loved, what they hated about the product and really understand their pain points.  
  5. Understand that it is better to have a few people love you, than a lot of people that kind of like you. Do not chase the numbers of users, focus on few that will be true raving fans of your product or a service. 

To become a member of the Gold Coast Innovation Hub contact us on team@gchub.com.au 

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