How to build and advertise a successful startup | Maze X — Week 11

Cristina Almeida
Jul 29 · 4 min read

On week 11, the founders renewed their hope on impact entrepreneurship with a breakfast with the fearless impact entrepreneur Domingos Guimarães and sat down for a second round of meetings with investors. Adding on to that, the founders benefited from 1-to-1 meetings with Google Adwords expert Sebastian Bartling.

Breakfast with Domingos Guimarães

Domingos Guimarães, co-founder of <Academia de Código_>, sharing valuable tips on how to how to build a successful company at Maze X.

Domingos Guimarães founded <Academia de Código_> when Portugal was going through a huge financial crisis and unemployment rates were alarmingly high. Since then, they retrained +500 unemployed people by transforming them into full-stack developers in only 14 weeks. Today, <Academia de Código_> is present in Lisboa, Porto, Fundão and Açores. On week 11, Domingos joined us to speak about the two things you need to build a successful business: money and people.

As an impact entrepreneur himself, Domingos believes that in the impact ecosystem there are more fundraising options than in regular entrepreneurship. That is why impact entrepreneurship is the biggest opportunity of our time. His advice to start? Create a good story around the problem you are trying to solve. Most people call it a vision. It needs to be ambitious. Ensure that all of your allies live and breath that story.

If the story is good, you will get attention from the media, investors and talented people. So what’s next?

On raising money

Domingos believes an entrepreneur needs to be focused on monetizing the business from day one. Another valuable recommendation is not to give equity away unless:

  • It is smart money, which means, money coming from people that have valuable knowledge about your business/market or that holds valuable leads;
  • Find good investors that understand the need for retaining ~25% equity to redistribute among employees since, typically, startups are not immediately able to pay competitive salaries.

On talent

You cannot build extraordinary things with people that are not extraordinary. When you are trying to climb the Everest, you need people that can take you to the moon.

  • Invest 20% of your time having lunches with new and interesting people. That is how you build a network and access valuable talent;
  • You are using equity to retain top talent. Use equity as a carrot to keep the team motivated.

On remaining relevant

  • Learn something new every day for the rest of your life
  • You are what your environment is. Surround yourself with talented people. That’s how you will keep on growing.

Meeting investors (part 2)

Starting a relationship with an investor is a long process. On a former post, we used the metaphor on how it almost feels like going on a date. On your first meeting, you sit down, bring your best self, share some data points and answer some questions, some deep, some superficial, all relevant for what lies ahead. That’s what happened two weeks ago when the Maze X team invited investors from our network for one-hour meetings with the founders. The goal was to collect valuable feedback and open new leads, commercial or investment. On week 11, some founders sat down for a second-round meeting with investors. A second date is always a good indicator for something long-lasting.

Google Adwords with Sebastian Bartling

Google Adwords is not straightforward. Sebastian Bartling worked for Google in Dublin for almost three years advising companies on the best campaigns to use on Google Adwords. Today, Sebastian is a Managing Director of Philoneos, a Partner in Innovation & Marketing for family businesses. On week 11 of Maze X, the founders benefited from 1-to-1 clinics with Sebastian to get valuable tips on how to use Google Adwords to help world-wide-surfers like us to find them.

When you are running a small business, marketing efforts can feel overwhelming. And often, we see founders investing their money on AdWords with insignificant results. “ Most startups begin by trial and error and become frustrated very soon when the budget is limited and results take time. AdWords requires patience as well as a strategic approach and isn’t optimized for beginners. Invest time to understand the system and outline a plan. As with any strategy, it will pay off eventually.” said Sebastian.

His advice to startups? Start by simply asking yourself questions:

  • Who is my customer?
  • What problem am I solving for them?
  • What other solutions are available? How are they currently looking for and finding solutions?
  • Are they even searching for what I am offering?
  • What do I want them to do?

Only one week away before acceleration ends. Throughout the summer break, we will be preparing the international roadshow. Can you guess where we are taking the Maze X founders? Stay tuned.

Maze X was conceived and initiated by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations and MAZE, with the law firm PLMJ joining as a founding corporate member and BNP Paribas, Hospital da Luz Learning Health, Casa do Impacto as partners.


Originally published at https://maze-impact.com on July 29, 2019.

MAZE Impact

MAZE invests in entrepreneurs that are developing effective solutions to solve social and environmental challenges with a focus on the European market. MAZE also works with the public sector to improve the impact of social service delivery.

Cristina Almeida

Written by

Head of Communications at MAZE. On a quest for authenticity.

MAZE Impact

MAZE invests in entrepreneurs that are developing effective solutions to solve social and environmental challenges with a focus on the European market. MAZE also works with the public sector to improve the impact of social service delivery.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade