What an honour to be featured in Women 2.0! Thie entrepreneurial journey has been a massive rollercoaster over the past 18 months and when I look back, it is truly incredible how far things have come. From frustration, to idea, to conception to now leading a dedicated team, I never could’ve imagined how challenging, invigorating and fun this experience would be! I got the inspiration for AskaTechie when I recognized that most people don’t know what they really need when it comes to technology, much like dating. AskaTechie is trying to address that in three steps: consulting on business technology needs, presenting technical talent for projects, and preparing the project plan – a one-stop Techie shop. We’re a new online matchmaking marketplace of vetted tech experts, which helps people and companies find qualified IT professional contractors. AskaTechie is positioning themselves to be the “eHarmony for finding tech experts”… Click HERE to read the full article. Women 2.0 is building a future where gender is no longer a factor. Founded in April 2006, it’s now the leading media brand for women in tech. The for-profit, for-good company takes an action-oriented approach that directly addresses the pipeline from all sides: hiring, founding, investing and leading.
This article originally appeared in Youngry.
Written by Aliya Amershi, Founder & CEO at AskaTechie.
As a new entrepreneur starting out, one of the best pieces of advice I received was to look for mentors who were already killing it, learn from their failures and model their successes.
Over the years I’ve collected numerous videos and interviews from virtual mentors to add to my own “inspire list” and today I’ve decided to share a few that influenced me the most as a beginner Entrepreneur. The amazing thing is that everyone can access these online thought leaders through video or audio, which allows you to always be learning no matter where you are or what you may be doing. Plus you get an alternative sensory engagement, that goes beyond just reading a book or article.
Gaining success in the Entrepreneurial world requires you to step up and learn how to be a great Leader. Each online influencer has their own style and shares their advice and stories of their mistakes. So if you’re just starting out, or even have been in business for a while, this is a great introduction to the vast array of free online content.
Simon Sinek Ted Talk Presentation – Know Your Why & Become A Great Leader https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action#t-61764 Leading with passion and enthusiasm, Simon is a thought leader and modern day philosopher who believes that every company will excel if they can communicate WHY they do what they do. He believes that when you can crack this code, you can easily inspire your team, customers, and investors to follow you. Simon is someone that everyone seems to love and this was the Ted Talk that helped catapult him into the spotlight.
Patrick Bet-David Valutainment YouTube Channel – How to Become an Entrepreneur (Episode Aired Jan 2017) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YV-tWENu9k Bringing a high energy and practical approach to entrepreneurship, Patrick explains with clarity the dedication it takes to get there. He offers a simplified 5 step process to becoming an entrepreneur, an alternative viewpoint on “traditional” ways of working, and ways in which we can think more creatively and strategically to get ahead. If you want to be given straightforward, raw entrepreneurship advice that is succinctly broken down, then Patrick is your guy!
Alex Blumberg Startup Podcast – How Not to Pitch a Billionaire (Season 1, Episode 1) https://gimletmedia.com/show/startup/all/season-1/page/2/ Alex’s story profiles a raw, very green, real-time account of what it’s like to start a business from zero – sharing all the mistakes, internal thoughts, and behind the scene conversations uncensored and fully exposed. This episode profiles how he pitched a major Silicon Valley angel investor, how badly he messed up, and then captures the lessons learned. I think everyone has had or experienced this nightmare, but the good thing is that your business can still go on, as this series documents the highs and lows of startup life, which has definitely captivated their audience.
Marie Forleo YouTube StarInterview – Building a Business from the Inside Out, Soulful Approach to Entrepreneurship https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvu_UGzz2Bs Coming from the corporate world, Marie always felt she wanted more. Once she slowed down and learned to stop ignoring her inner voice, she was able to create businesses and success by continued self development and staying true to her own heart. Her approach and deep-rooted belief is that we all have unique gifts that the world needs, and when we can uncover this, good things happen. Entrepreneurship is a spiritual journey, and the faster you can embrace that, the better things will be. Marie has been featured on Oprah and is considered one of the new age thought leaders to follow.
Robin Sharma YouTube Star How to Video – 6 Big Lessons to Win at Life https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gpiFVl1Pq1I&index=51&list=PLmqIZxMeCGZovrksUaGYyjntM_svtLXnx One of the world’s top Leadership Advisors, Robin has worked with CEOs from some of the top companies in the world. His first best-selling book titled The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari helped him on a path to critical acclaim. In this informative video, Robin teaches us the habits that set successful people apart from the rest and what we can do to achieve great heights, if we so choose. His leadership style is one of shifting paradigms and he believes that anyone within an organization can show leadership within their work and have influence and impact if they dare to be authentic and speak up.
Gary Vaynerchuk (aka Gary Vee) YouTube Star Interview – Audit Who You Are and STOP Hoping https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nv4HSYEp1bI Love him or hate him, Gary Vee’s advice is always valuable and this list could not be complete without his thoughts. In this interview with Tai Lopez, another Entrepreneur and YouTube Star, Gary states that one of the biggest mistakes people make is that we hope who we are, instead of really auditing who we are. Gary reminds people to be self-aware of what they’re good at, to figure out what their strengths are and focus on that. One of the most poignant and important things he notes is that ideas are nothing, it’s only execution that matters. Quoting Elon Musk, Tai points out that you get paid in proportion to the difficulty you solve. Gary’s approach to entrepreneurship is a no bullshit mentality, resulting in a mass following and unquestionable success in multiple businesses.
I love the idea of passing on valuable knowledge to other Entrepreneurs. At the end of the day, it just makes us all better, smarter and more successful. In the world of entrepreneurship, there really isn’t competition, everyone will create differing products – some will succeed and some will need to pivot, but there is room in the market for everyone who has something of value to offer. More importantly, there is always room for growth. As an Entrepreneur you should always be learning and online there is an abundance of access to knowledge and experts. So stop making excuses and start making something of yourself.
These days, everyone wants to be an entrepreneur, pitching their latest and greatest new idea, and looking for someone to give them money. Angel investors, like me, have long figured out that asking to see the prototype is a quick way to separate the ‘wannabes’ from serious players. Talk is cheap, but entrepreneurs who show you a working model of their idea know how to execute.
In reality, it doesn’t take a huge investment of money and time to build a prototype today. If it is hardware, look for one of the ‘makerspaces’ such as TechShop, with all the tools you need to make almost anything yourself. Software products and apps can be quickly wireframed with free tools like MockFlow, or even Microsoft Powerpoint to lay out the key screens.
Here are the key objectives that you can achieve by building a prototype, which are really the reasons that investors and partners will give you a whole new level of credibility as they evaluate your startup for potential funding:
Something you can touch and feel helps validate opportunity. When you wave your arms and describe your future product, everyone sees what they want to see, and it looks great. With a realistic prototype, you can get more accurate feedback from customers on their real need and what they might pay, before you invest millions on the final product.
Quantify the implementation challenges. Many ideas I hear sound great, but I have no idea if they can be implemented. Building a prototype at least allows both of us to ask the right questions. Visions and theory are notoriously hard to implement. A prototype has to be real enough to be convincing, without looking like science fiction.
Give yourself time to pivot without dire consequences. It doesn’t matter how certain you are of your solution, it’s probably not quite right. Every entrepreneur has to deal with the realities of constant change in today’s market, and it’s much easier to pivot the pre-production prototype than to dispose of unsellable inventory.
Show investors that you are committed, and past the idea stage. Without a prototype, most professional investors won’t take you seriously. In reality, the process of designing, building, and validating a prototype does dramatically reduce the risk, and allows everyone to hone in on the real costs of going into production.
Reduce the time to production and rollout. For both software and hardware technology, multiple iterations are usually required to achieve production quality and performance. Time is money, and may be your primary competitive advantage. Don’t spend your whole development budget, before finding that you need another iteration.
Support early negotiation with vendors and distribution channels. A three-dimensional prototype is always better than just a documented specification when negotiating contracts for manufacturing, support, and marketing. As a startup, you need all the leverage you can get.
If you are not comfortable or skilled enough to build a prototype yourself, it’s time to find and engage a co-Founder who has the interest and background to at least manage the work. You should never outsource the management of your core technology. At worst, maybe you can find a trusted friend to guide you, or a nearby university with expert professors and the proper tools. There is no magic formula for success while inventing. Proceed with your wits about you.
Overall, building a prototype is still a great way to bring your idea to life, for yourself, your team, investors, and future customers. Your target cost expectation should be one-tenth of the total commercialization cost, with the assumption that it will be throw-away. Even still, I can’t think of a better way to validate your solution early, and get credibility with the people who count.
Need help with building your prototype? Just AskaTechie!