My Talk at Berlin’s 27th Lean Startup Meetup

Last week I was invited to give a talk at the 27th Lean Startup Meetup in Berlin. Most of these talks usually orbit around the Lean Startup method, hacks on customer-development or metrics. I decided to put my focus on a topic that is rarely ever talked about – “A Founders Mindset

Here’s a link to the slides: www.slideshare.net/clemenskemper

About the meetup-group:

We want to build up a Berlin community in which everybody feels home and likes to talk about their experiences with lean methodologies (e.g. LeanStartup, Bootstrapping, Effectuation, Design Thinking and Customer Development). That’s why we organize a variety of events for you to get to know other entrepreneurs, to take part in workshops or to listen to interesting talks. Learn more about the Lean Startup Meetup here.

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What I learned raising our first round of capital

Very niiiiiice!

Very niiiiiice!

Today is a good day. Here’s why:

We received a final thumbs up from our last investor. That means that we will successfully close our round within a week. That’s a good thing.

If you read this you will probably know that we have been raising capital. Why am I sure your know about it? Basically, because we nagged everyone we knew with our investment – So you may have been somewhere in the loop.

Now – Being a trained cameraman; raising capital is not something that prospers from the teachings of my original profession. So for all the noobs-alike out there, here are my two cents about raising your first ever round of capital:

  • It’s a full-time job. Unless you already have a gazillion customers or some mogul throwing money at you, raising the first round of capital is a slow process. And it will eat up a big chunk of your time. Live with that. Also double the time you expect it to take.
  • Start yesterday! If you decide to raise capital, start as fast as possible. You will make a ton of mistakes, therefore learning so much about what is important to private investors (profit), banks (safety) and your own business (growth).
  • Find a mentor & learn fast. The mentor does not necessary need to be just one person, but can be ‘the collective’. Suck up as much feedback about your plans and ideas as possible – and never stop doing it. Some of it will be bollocks, but some of it will be gold. Filter that out. In our first ever financial plan, we were technically insolvent from day one. Whoops. Luckily, we had someone who showed us the cock-up and iterated from there.
  • It’s the first step, not the last. Getting an investment doesn’t get you closer to your business’ success. It’s really just the necessary evil you need to acquire in order to become a success. The work now lies ahead! Make sure you don’t confuse a successful investment with creating a successful business.
  • Be shameless. This may be the most important piece of advice I can give. Shame is useless when you want to get things done. In the beginning I was hesitant to ask people, mostly because it felt like we were asking people for money. That’s so wrong! You are making a business proposal from one professional to another. Don’t be reluctant to be obnoxious. In the end we created a list with institutions, private investors and everything in-between. It became a long list and everyone on it received some sort of message. As we blunted, the list got longer. It now holds a lot of good contacts and may also be a great thing to return to later. Some answers we received read: „We only invest 10 mil EUR or above“. That’s a contact you want to keep in mind ;)

Obviously, there are a million more things to consider, yet these are the main lessons I am taking away from the past few weeks.

When the very last signatures’ ink dried out, we’ll have a glass of Vodka Red-Bull. Or Two.

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Jungmut, Jasim and Judiciary Stuff

Jumping for Joy

Jumping for Joy

We’ve got some updates from the SternenGalerie that I am feeling compelled to rant about. Things are heading very good directions and it’s past midnight. So what the heck: Here is what’s happened in the past few weeks:

 

 

First of all there’s the boys and girls at Jungmut. Jung-who? Jungmut is a striving young marketing agency located in the heart of Cologne. As it happens, we actually met Stephan, one of the founders, a year ago because he shared his apprenticeship with Dennie’s wife. As Entrepreneurs go, Stephan has another company going for him, which is why he too is currently visiting Silicon Valley. Where he’ll team up with Simon. Yes, the world is a village! Back in June after some initial talks about our plans for the future, we quickly realized how working with Jungmut would just be an awesome fit on both ends. Stephan, his co-founder Tim and his team are nothing less than a bundle of creative geniuses who have worked on Justin Bieber’s and Dita von Teese’s Scents as well as done work for UNICEF.

Workshop

JM Workshop in September

Five weeks ago we held the first creativity-workshop in their offices in Cologne where Robert, Rüdi and me got to meet the whole team. It was amazing to see such a bunch of people brainstorming the shit about cool new marketing strategies for SternenGalerie. I am really looking forward to see the what they will come up with and I’m certain that we’ll see a number of pretty big changes soon.

J. Beg Sales Hero

J. Beg – Sales Hero

Next, there’s this guy! I am really proud to introduce Jasim Beg as our new Head of Sales. Jasim has an incredible background in Sales as well as the Gastro-industry which makes him a perfect match for the SternenGalerie. He made a name for himself back in the 90′s selling the first PC games in Germany for companies like Ubisoft (when they were still a small nerd-company). After a four-year-intermezzo in the mid 2000s, hosting his own Café and Bar and having seen most of the corporate world – he decided to join a young company that does business differently and thinks out of the box. Also, he is a certified badass in Fifa 2013.

From a founders perspective the hiring process was quite an interesting one. I think it’s fair to say that by now I have held more Job interviews than I was ever invited to. Once again a task that I felt a bit strange and unsure about. Here is how we did our assessments: Robert and I held all talks in person. Then, after each talk both of us took some time for reflection and – apart from notes and what they said during the interview – scored every candidate on our personal awesome-o-meter. Basically a number between 0 and 100 that each of us came up with to indicate our gut feeling towards the interviewee. We wanted to keep our ratio aligned with our personal feelings because we know chemistry is crucial when you’re hiring in a small startup company.

After our Interview with Jasim, the awesome-o-meter unanimously bursted “90″ for the first time in all interviews. We knew we were on to something and quickly shoved him on Skype with Simon the next day. From there on it was clear on all sides that we would indeed be a pretty awesome match. We grew the desk space in our office which now holds place for five people. Good thing Simon is still in the US – after that it will get cramped.

More space

More space

Then, on the judiciary side – we will register the SternenGalerie GmbH tomorrow. Yay! This may just be a technicality but it is another solid milestone on the way to building a stronger foundation for the future. Since we are raising money and will be working with a lot more business partners now, this is just the right way to go.

Stay tuned!

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Gamification.co – Importance of Emotional States

I hopped on to the gamification.co Live-Chat with Gabe Zicherman and Michael Wu, PhD today and asked a questions on the importance and measuring the emotional state of users on the web. The answer wasn’t what I expected, so decided to put it up here. Turns out that Experts agree: As Speakitt tries to change not just behavior, but people’s emotions and confidence, we are operating in uncharted waters – and that’s usually where the magic happens :)

(If you fancy listening to the whole talk, you can do that here)

About the speakers:

Gabe Zicherman has made himself a name for being one of the absolute leading forces in the gamification industry. He has build several companies trough the use of gamification and is pushing the topic all over the world with his GSummit events. Watch an awesome TED-talk from him here.

Michael Wu, PhD is currently the chief scientist at Lithium.com. He has applied data-driven methodologies to investigate and understand the complex dynamics of the social web and developed the Facebook Engagement Index (FEI), Community Health Index (CHI), and many predictive social analytics with actionable insights.

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Handelskammer Hamburg – Founder Of The Month

Nailed it!

Nailed it!

This just in – the Chamber of Commerce in Hamburg included a short interview with me as “Founder of the Month” in their current Newsletter. It’s shared among 2.000 subscribers in their local Xing-Group.

Pretty cool, indeed. 

Since they wanted to keep it local, they asked me to talk only about the SternenGalerie – so I did. For everyone interested; here is my two cents on my motivation and being a founder:

Clemens Kemper, Gründer des Feuerwerksunternehmens SternenGalerie aus Reinbek bei Hamburg, beantwortet unsere Fragen.

Was ist Ihre Motivation?
Mich motiviert der Gedanke, dass wir unseren Kunden mit unserem Produkt wirklich eine Erinnerung für die Ewigkeit mitgeben. Wenn wir nach unseren Feuerwerken (auf Hochzeiten oder Geburtstagen zum Beispiel) das Leuchten in den Augen der Gäste sehen, ist das eine außergewöhnliche Emotion.

Was war bisher Ihre größte Herausforderung und wie haben Sie diese bewältigt?
Damals war es der Abbruch meines Studiums und der Entschluss “Alles oder Nichts”. In Retrospektive war das ein Schritt, der meine Perspektive stark erweitert hat und den ich jederzeit wieder so gehen würde. Inzwischen stehen wir vor der Ausweitung unseres Geschäfts auf den bundesweiten Raum – Das wird sicher die nächste große Herausforderung!

Welchen Tipp haben Sie für zukünftige Existenzgründer?
Die besten Entscheidungen, die ich als Gründer je getroffen habe, war einerseits ein Produkt zu verkaufen, für das ich mich selbst jeden Tag aufs Neue begeistern kann und andererseits, dass ich das Unternehmen mit echten Freunden gegründet habe, denen ich mein Leben anvertrauen würde. Die enge Beziehung, die uns seit 15 Jahren verbindet, nimmt einen Großteil des Drucks, den so eine Firmengründung natürlicherweise mit sich bringt und schafft mehr Platz für die Freude an unserer Arbeit.

It may sound like a lot of prosa, but it does express pretty good on how I feel about starting your own company. What is your motivation on founding a company? What were the biggest fears and obstacles to come across. I would love to read you thoughts in the comments!!

For everybody who’d like to join the group, you can do so here.

Xing-Gruppe

Xing-Gruppe

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Why you should look at Gruenderszene.de right now

Gruenderszene.de

Gruenderszene.de

There are two good reasons why you should take a look at the startup-portal gruenderszene.de right now.

One is a really good article on the migration of tech companies from the Silicon Valley to ever growing San Francisco – a place where Simon is currently riding his new bike a lot.

And the way more important reason is that the SternenGalerie is featured with the new job-advertisement on the front page! We are really excited to be promoting one of the most awesome jobs on the planet (yeah, it’s nothing less).

If you are looking for a fresh job-opportunity in sales with a striving Hamburg Startup to grow with and to leave your own footprint whilst building an amazing company – look no further.

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Other Products…

Never happened before...

Never happened before…

I had a great chat with Trapper Markelz today. He’s the Head of Product at Daily-Challenge.com and it’s fair to say that he’s a bloody expert on behavioral-change and gamification. I’ve had my eyes on Daily Challenge pretty much from the beginning of my Startup career. They have been doing exciting ground work in getting people to take up new behaviors and today I got to chat with the brains behind it. Again, the internet is awesome!

Even though the initial research that went into the product was a fair bit of effort, I was surprised how the actual development of the platform was anything but lean – and yet pretty successful in the outcome. So coming up, I’ll rant a bit about that:

Daily Challenge

Daily Challenge as it is today.

They started with a very detailed research project that interviewed 40 people on video and in their homes about their “well being habits“. They then analyzed the shit out of that data and broke these people down into three core-segments. The Highly Adapted Well-be’ers, Seekers and Laggards. Next they hired a company to do a keyword analysis on their segments and got a big fact sheet with the different personas and the actual targeting. Then they built the MVP.

They hired a couple of writers from elance.com and had them write 80 “challenges”. A crappy website was built to sign up for the daily Email; presenting you one challenge for your everyday well-being. The email consisted of:

  • Why do it
  • How to do it
  • The Source of the excercise
  • A Fun Fact
  • A button that said “DONE”

Clicking the button it simply said “Thanks”. And that was it. Now that’s very minimal and I like the way they went until here. They ran some tests and the retention was amazingly high. But someone must have had rather large balls when they suddenly decided to abandon all Lean methodology and go with the next step:

Okay, we’ve got our proof of concept – Let’s build the whole system.

Wait, WHAT? And so they did!! For almost 9 months without really testing anything they stuck to their tiny bit of learning and build the whole thing!! Now this really struck me, because it seems so completely wrong and yet it worked so well. And oh yeah, they had an ad-buying budget of way over $150k ;) That might have helped.

Engagement!! You need Engagement!!

Engagement!! You need Engagement!!

Daily challenge today has a very solid user-base and sold versions of it to several B2B and governmental institutions (78% of their user base is female btw). Now while I may differ with their approach of ‘just building it‘ they had some very smart early-ideas that I never thought about:

  • Only allowing straight-up Facebook-signups. It’s common now, but it wasn’t then. the reason is, you just don’t have to deal with creating a system that lets people build a user-profile. Just import everything from Facebook and you’re good to go. Don’t bother!
  • DC only focused on buying ads on Facebook, because this gave them way better insight into their customers. What is their age, taste in music, number of friends, personal interests? – The data is already there – Google can’t support that.
  • Trapper is a firm believer of asking the user to interact with the app. There-forth, the daily email. The reason why so many calorie-counting apps fail is because you install them – simply to forget about them the next day. As long as an app reminds you that it’s there, you’ll feel more obligated to interact with it. Yes, it may be spammy, but that still gathers more attention than none.
  • They came up with a clever way of blogging. In order to herd new users they featured articles of other private blog-entries from random people, who just overcame a personal obstacle. Then they left a comment on the guys private blog, linking to the blog of Daily Challenge – What happens next is obvious: This dude activates his whole network of friends, telling them to look at the blog of daily challenge where he got featured. And boom, you get a bunch of potential users who will actually spend time reading your shit. Smart.

Once again I got a load of new infos, ideas and intros to new people from the scene. I hope we can get the best learnings out of this. It’s cool to see how we’re getting involved with all kinds of cool companies right now. I’d sure like to see more of that happening!

And yeah – instead of your meme up top, here’s your video-treat! It’s got something to do with phone calls, so it should do the trick. Enjoy.

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