Many of the usual faces from Beijing’s startup scene came out to 10×10 at Orange Labs, an open event targeted at Chinaccelerator‘s fresh round of startups. Almost three straight hours of keynotes came mostly from investors, who preached their experience and advice to the new recruits. That might not sound like the most exciting way to spend your Saturday, so I’ve condensed the entire afternoon’s sermons into 10 quick lessons.
- Pick a market you want to serve, and plan for 20 years. SoHelpful.me‘s Kevin Dewalt explains what separates happy from unhappy entrepreneurs. A “deep intrinsic empathy” for your customers and long-term thinking are the most common factors in the happy segment.
- Know your priorities. Angel investor Steven Price advises startups to prioritize features that are simple and differentiate them from competitors, and leave complex, standard features for later.
- Investors’ default answer is “no.” Angel investor Benjamin Joffe explained how to deal with rejection and the “show high interest then stall” (SHITS) tactic used by investors.
- Ask for advice, get money. Joffe also says, rather than asking investors for money outright, seek their advice, first. Once they have spent time advising you, they feel more psychologically invested, which could lead to actual investment.
- Data, not software or media, is king. Red Pagoda Resources‘ Andy Mok posits that the “content is king” mantra is no longer true.
- No school and no incubation program can guarantee you success. Filmmaker-turned-entrepreneur Tan Siok Siok, the least conventional of all the speakers, dispels the myth that a good startup incubator is a sure-fire path to prosperity–in a room full of incubator mentors and participants.
- Hire people who are smarter than you. This one from angel investor Philip Beck is pretty self-explanatory, but the humility required can be difficult for some entrepreneurs.
- Ask your mentors if they have mentors. The often echoed motto, “advice is free, and you get what you pay for,” means entrepreneurs should be wary of who they solicit for wisdom. One of the best ways to vet a mentor or coach, according to Beck, is to ask them who their mentors are or were.
- Be afraid when you get funding. Angel investor Richard Robinson says this is no time to relax. On the contrary, that’s when you should be most eager to impress.
- Take care of yourself. It’s easy to overwork, and it’s likely not worth it. Robinson says anything beyond 50 hours per week moves into the negative side of costs versus benefits. Use that time to get ample sleep, exercise, and eat a proper diet.
And there you have it. Now that you’ve heard all their advice, here’s mine. If you’re an entrepreneur, take all advice with a grain of salt, especially investors. They want something from you, too, and they will tell you what is in their best interests. What do you think? Can all the advice here be taken at face value? I’m asking that both hypothetically and literally, so leave us a comment if you want to pitch in.