Five Lessons I’ve Learned In Five Years Of Building Pioneers Festival

Drum rolls — this is my first ever blog post and I chose to kick-off with a milestone check of my journey in the startup & innovation scene so far.

A little ‘behind the scenes’
You’ve got to remember, back in Europe of 2012 the term ‘startup’ was such a foreign concept and futuristic that everything we did was shooting for the stars, there was nothing like it we could remotely benchmark with. Everything that existed back then felt so self-concious and unrelatable that the field was wide open for our purpose-driven “What if…?” standard of thinking. Year after year the startup ecosystem got more momentum and is now even considered mainstream. I’m very glad to see how our planted seeds from the past lead to the now evermore flourishing scene all across Europe.

The outcome
100-hour work weeks for five years straight and a never ending emotional roller coaster ride brought me to where I am right now — I’m very grateful for the experiences I was able to make and the relationship I was able to build.

Here my top 5 lessons that are key for any brand:

#1 Quality = Doing it right when nobody is watching

It’s easy claim your ‘seemingly effortless awesomeness’ when you make a planned public appearance, but that’s not what counts. The real deal begins when you are so driven by your project that you actually don’t care if people appreciate every single of your beloved ‘little darlings’. They will recognize your overall dedication and commitment you put into it. That’s what will make you stand out in the long run.

“There are bricks in the wall you don’t see, but they are equally important for a strong building.”

#2 Identify your principles and stick with them

What’s your definition of success? What is the passion or problem that got you going in the first place? Every brand needs to know exactly what it’s about before it can deliver its service or product. Sure, it sounds kinda obvious, but I’ve seen so much unnecessary struggle along the way when there was no clear top-level direction based on agreed common principals. No matter what happens — this is the one thing that must stay in place in order to stay on course.

“Values first.”

#3 Don’t get caught up in the ‘Superlatives War’

Is your brand ‘the best’, ‘the biggest’, ‘the most…’? Quite honestly, there’s no point in going down that road in your marketing. When you make that kind of claim, it never rings true in our cynical world. It catches up with you in the end anyway so just be honest, humble, and authentic. It’s not easy, but quality that speaks for itself is the only way to go. Don’t forget how powerful word-of-mouth is. Anybody who has a positive experience with your brand is likely to share that message for free.

“Just be honest, humble, and authentic. That’s the base they can not shake.”

#4 Take time out to re-focus

When you get caught up by day-to-day challenges you can completely lose sight of the road and where you’re heading to. Compromises and quick-fixes inevitably add up during the year, and these need revisiting once in while.

“Find a time in the year when it’s appropriate to reflect on your customer’s needs and challenge every part of your service until it’s re-calibrated to the bigger picture once again.”

At the end of the day taking a step back every so often is going to save you time in the long run. And after people, time is your most precious resource.

#5 Decide where you’re going. Then go there.

We went through the startup growth pain quite heavily within the past years, like really heavy. The best and at the same time worst thing about having endless possibilities within an evolving business field is to pin down a goal and set full speed ahead. We made a lot of detours and variations about what we actually want to contribute to the world. Our biggest learning was that visionizing is only 50% of planning, there is the other half where you need to set concrete action steps and milestones along the way.

“50% vision + 50% execution. One is not more important then the other.”

There is no decision without sacrifice. Some things will be left out, some people will be disappointed, some paths will not be walked. You’ve got to trust in your best intentions and keep on moving. No action without action.

Thanks kaboompics for these awesome free stock images!

P.S. I look forward to your thoughts, comments, and likes!