Five Takeaways from Startup Summit 2018

2nd November 2018 by Shauna Rafferty, Account Executive

We had our first experience of the FutureX Startup Summit in Edinburgh this year, and it was thoroughly enjoyable! It’s inspiring to see such a thriving startup and entrepreneurial community in Scotland and there’s a great deal of support and investment available. Here are our five key takeaways from the day:

1. Socially responsible startups are trendy

I think we’re all becoming more socially and environmentally aware, we kind of don’t have a choice, because the way we’re doing things just now isn’t sustainable, and has to change!

I sat in on an excellent panel discussion chaired by Rachael Brown, with investors Steven Hamill, Rob Haillday and Manish Miglani where they discussed whether or not it’s just an easy way to get funding. Their responses were excellent, and echo my own sentiments: at the end of the day a good idea is a good idea, by being able to use that platform to also provide a solution or support an ethical, moral, environmental or social problem is a powerful statement. Not just for the business but for the beneficiaries too.

But a word of caution, are we setting ourselves up for customer apathy, where the benefits of the positive are replaced with cynicism? I hope not!

Authenticity will always shine through, and I must mention the guys at Power a Life who are providing solar light to children in Africa for every sustainably sourced phone case and accessory they sell. Not only a great cause but as good a quality product as I’ve seen in that market

Ed Vickers, Managing Partner

Power a Life Phone Cover

2. Creative solutions to social problems

Much like the work of Power a Life, we also attended an inspirational (and hilarious) talk by Celia Hodson, Founder of Hey Girls – a product that’s fighting period poverty by donating 1 box of sanitary products to schools, women’s refuges, food banks etc. with every purchase.

Hodson founded the business after finding boredom in retirement, showing how there really is no limit in how and when you can start-up a business and I don’t doubt has inspired many in the audience, with the major take being: together we can make a huge difference. We always expect that someone else will solve the problems of the World, rarely stopping to consider that with every little contribution we are making major steps towards a solution. Again, a prime example of a business putting purpose over profit – and what a World we’d live in if more done the same!

We feel really empowered by the message of Hey Girls and the likeminded startups we met who are tackling social issues through compassionate business.

Celia Hodson, Founder of Hey Girls

Shauna Rafferty – Account Executive

3. & 4. Know your users: where your next million customers might come from

I listened to an impactful interview called ‘know your users: where your next million customers might come from’ with Monique Woodard who is an early stage investor based in Silicon Valley. While the discussion was tailored towards founders of startup companies, many of the sentiments are applicable to bigger, more established businesses too. Being reminded of the basics in relation to your customer base is always a good thing and two of my key take aways were just that; what groups of people are the biggest spenders? and ‘talk to your customers’.

Monique identified the three groups that make up the next big spenders’ globally to be; people of colour, baby boomers and women. Millennials have had their day! If you want to create a successful global business, you need think about solving problems for individuals within the biggest spending groups. Often founders seek to solve a problem they have experienced first-hand, which is a good place to start, but if you want global success, you need to think about what problems people within these trend groups face on a daily basis and how your product/service can help them. Putting yourself in your customers shoes (or your client’s customer’s shoes) will give you the perspective you need.

There were several important messages I took away from Monique’s interview, but one that stands out is one that’s as old as time; speak to your customers and listen! This doesn’t mean sending out a quarterly newsletter and survey to gain some fairly generic feedback on your product/offering, but instead speaking directly to your customers – picking up the phone (however scary it might be) and listening to their feedback. Not trying to defend your product or do a hard sell, simply just listening is so valuable. You might not hear what you like but it will be what you need to progress and grow your business.

Sara McNaull – Senior Account Manager

Spend more time talking to your customers and less time speaking to your investors.

Monique Woodard
Monique Woodard, Silicon Valley Investor

5. The new buzzword – Company Culture

One of the most interesting takeaways was the emphasis that’s now being placed on company culture. I attended a panel discussion by John Peebles, Joy Lewis and Steffen Stäuber about ‘The Power of Company Culture’.

In small businesses and start-ups people are key, as the right people can drive you and your businesses forward in a very powerful way. Those who champion your business values will recognise and bring in like-minded individuals during expansion periods, making your business stronger and increase your chances of success. As a result, caring for the wellbeing of your people couldn’t be more important. A happy working team is not just a‘nice to have’ – looking after, rewarding and encouraging your people should be top priority and is absolutely fundamental to the smooth running of your business.

Culture is simply a shared way of doing something with a passion

Brian Chesky, Co-Founder & CEO of Airbnb

Interestingly, Joy Lewis – founder of Adopt an Intern – stressed how the flexibility she offers her employees is reflected back in their loyalty and hard work. It’s clear to see times are changing, with flexi-time and remote working becoming more and more popular, workplaces are evolving into more engaging environments.

Ultimately, a well considered culture will blossom and grow organically within your teams. Creating a passionate and productive team, who know that their efforts contribute to something bigger than themselves which will keep them engaged and more likely to stick around.

Lorna Davidson – Account Executive and Joey Prentice – Account Manager

Shaping your culture is more than half done when you hire your team.

 John Mackey

Team Teviot have come away feeling overwhelmingly inspired bythe compassionate start-ups of Scotland. An event that truly encompassed purpose over profit – having a positive impact on the community will deliver returns more than you can imagine. We were thrilled to exhibit and get the chance to meet such empowering business brains – can’t wait to see you all at the next one!

We’re always interested in building brands through creative partnership, so if you want to hear a little bit more about how we can work with you, don’t hesitate to get in touch!