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How Not To F**K Up Your Startup?

Ever since you were little, you’ve had a fiery entrepreneurial spirit burning deep within, propelling you to do the unconventional. Even at college, while your friends would fret about landing well-paying jobs right after graduation with some of the biggest companies, you would find solace in the success stories of individuals like Steve Jobs and the Wright Brothers. And, while it’s great that you don’t want to follow the traditional career path that’s often deemed risk-free, building your startup company from the ground up isn’t exactly a breeze.

Instead, having a wonderful idea and converting it into something tangible, workable, and sellable comes with its own set of problems. For instance, finding individuals who are the right fit for the values you stand for or hand-picking some of the best developers despite being a non-technical person can be quite a nerve-wracking and tedious process. All of this can make the startup landscape a little tricky, though rewarding to navigate.

In light of this, on November 27th, 2019, Mikaels Labs organized the event “ How Not to F**K Up Your Startup?” in collaboration with Tehnopol, to encourage aspiring entrepreneurs and startup owners to bring their most complex and most basic questions to the startup industry experts. Featuring Harry Kanistik — the CEO of Mikaels Labs, and Owais Afaq — the CTO of Mikaels Labs as the speakers, this event aimed to understand how startup screwups can be avoided.

The Product-Market What?

The event kicked off with Harry Kanistik initiating conversation on some of the biggest ways that you can f**k up the brilliant idea for a startup that you have. His years of experience as an individual who has been the co-founder of various startups over the course of his professional journey made Harry the perfect person to explain how to navigate the turbulent waters of the startup ocean.

Harry Kanistik

He began the session by sharing his life story with the audience about how his first startup business of lottery tickets at the age of 12 made him bankrupt, once his grandma hit the jackpot. This story then coalesced into a bigger discussion on what these little f**kups along the way taught him about what to do and what not to do when running a startup. And today, he’s running a successful tech startup company “ Mikaels Labs” that is growing exponentially.

In a nutshell, the crux of his session was:

  • Perhaps, one of the biggest way that you can f**k up is by refusing to take the plunge when you have a brilliant idea for a startup. So, leave the safety net to go chase after your big idea. Because if not now then when?
  • The second way that you can f**k up is when despite having a team and investment cushion, you just aren’t motivated enough to get your idea off the ground. So you are either too busy attending one conference after the other or simply just putting off what needs to be done. Therefore, if you are at this phase you have to toil away endlessly to actually achieve your dreams. As there’s no shortcut or magical spell to get you there.
  • Once you successfully traverse this phase to reach the problem-solution fit, you need to be honest with yourself to avoid any f**kups. This means keeping your ears open to any customer or client feedback regarding your product.
  • Every startup, dreams of reaching the product-market fit. So how do you know that you have reached this stage? You just know it once you take a look at your sales and the way your product is received by the customers.

Harry ended the session by advising individuals that if an idea doesn’t work don’t hesitate to scrap it and look for something else, instead of being too hung up on it.

What The Tech!

Owais Afaq began the last part of the evening with his session on how to avoid f**kups if you are an early-stage tech startup. He explained that his session was specifically designed for individuals from the non-technical background. As most of the non-technical startup owners end up thinking that just because they have an idea, it’s enough. They believe that someone will wave a magic wand in the air to conjure up a product from thin air. However, it doesn’t work that way!

Owais Afaq

Before diving into the discussion, Owais explained that his mission and purpose is to “Help people understand technology and other humans so that we can build better businesses together.” And so, he gave a list of Do’s and Don’ts for startup owners who don’t have CTOs or tech founders in their startups.

His list looked somewhat like this:

  • When building your MVP, do inform your team about the best-case scenario. This will ensure that your product and its architecture is actually scalable.
  • When hiring your product development team, do make sure that you bring on a technical person on board to help assess the skills and expertise of the developer that you are hiring.
  • When putting together your product development team, do make sure that all the individuals on the team share the same values and vision as yours.
  • When hiring initially, do look for developers who are full-stack both skills and mindset wise.
  • Do go for individuals who are obsessed with the user-experience as this is where growth and money lie.
  • Don’t go for developers who aren’t assertive. This will make it difficult for them to say no when you suggest features that aren’t actually viable.

In short, Owais’s session was designed to push non-technical startup owners to start treating their developers with empathy and to encourage them to connect with them on a human level.

Ask Way!

Towards the end, the Q/A session kicked off to let startup founders ask pressing and not so pressing questions regarding running a startup from Owais and Harry.

Curious what those questions were? Take a look!



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