accelerator

What I Learnt About How To Sell From Being Sold To

With a background in (advertising) sales and having backed over 40 startups now through Collider, I think I have a pretty good idea on how startups sell their products... especially on what not to do. So it was a real eye opener when I recently went on the search for some software for Collider operations. I needed something specific, which meant many of the companies offering a solution were likely in the early stages of developing it, and would therefore also mean they'd be on the early side of developing their sales pitches too.

I knew it would be fun.

The good stuff

Well, there were plenty of passionate and enthusiastic founders that you can't help but get excited about their products.

There was also an impressive can-do attitude, especially when the product needed tweaking for us.

The not so good stuff

But of course, I also saw things that with a better approach to the sales pitch, the outcome could have been entirely different.

These are things we teach Collider startups to do from day one, and whilst they seem pretty obvious in most cases, every company I spoke made the same mistakes.

1. Don't pitch – ask questions.

Many startups came into the meeting and just talked. Talked about their company, talked about what it could do, talked about why it was great. But what they forgot to do was ask me questions on what I was looking for, why did I want a product like this, what did I want it to do and why?

Learn their language and what success really looks like for them, so when it comes to pitching your product, you can relay back exactly what they're looking for.

2. Never do a standard demo.

It completely misses the point and undermines step one of any sales process – to firmly understand your customers needs. Then you can amplify it for them and replay back how your product could be their dream solution.

A standard demo won't do it.

3. Learn when to say no.

I asked for a lot, and in almost every case they said yes, they could do that, clearly without thinking about it.

It was only when I asked to know how many people were in their dev teams or how much cash they had that I understood how likely my needs were going to get onto their roadmap. Usually not at least until they'd raised their next round.

Focus on the customers that your product can help now, but use your meetings to understand what else you could do further down the line. Be honest.

4. Know how to close a deal.

Always ask my timeline for implementation, as that'll tell you how urgent it is. Is my mission critical (3 months), important but not urgent (6 months), or is it actually just a nice-to-have?

Ask if there is a budget, no matter what it is you're building, and then ask where would that money come from and who would sign it. Are you talking to the decision maker?

Whilst these simple changes will not guarantee success, they'll certainly help you better understand your customers' needs. That means getting your product to exactly where it can seriously help today, and help in the future, too.

How to become an angel investor

Becoming a successful angel investor should not just be reserved for a few. You'd be awesome at it.

And to prove just that, we gathered together a group of the seasoned and the new to hear from Collider’s multiple-time angel Richard Fearn, and Super Mentor who led Unruly’s exit, Marion Bernard.

And now we’re sharing it with you.

Enter a community, don't go it alone.

As an investor, you need to pick the right companies – obviously, so why risk everything to begin with when there's a whole ecosystem out there looking to help you.

As Richard said, accelerators can solve problems before said problems kill a business. That's for sure a comfort to investors.

Your time is more valuable than your money.

If you're looking to invest, you'll likely have some pretty useful skills – so why not share them? Work out how you can add value to your companies, which actually might not be what you think.

Get good at being patient.

Once you invest, don't expect it to pay for itself within a year or two (or even five). You're playing the long game, so make sure you follow the company through from the start.

It's not just about investing for returns.

Really, there’s so much more than that. Make sure you allow yourself to enjoy the journey as you'll be surrounded by some of the most innovate startups and investors. It's quite infectious, really.

Check your record.

Learn the lessons from your track record; and if you haven’t got one, learn from those that do.

Amplify you.Position yourself in the market as you would with anything else.

Position yourself in the market as you would with anything else. Amplify what you can bring to get on the cap tables you want to be on. Amplify your value.

It really isn't just about your money, and the best startups will know that. They'll be looking at your connections, too.

It’s about your exit too.

Do your best to work out where you might like to follow on, and what would have to happen for you to not. Remember, you’ll likely get most of your money from just one or two exits.

5 Ways To Increase Your Chances Of Getting Into The Collider Accelerator

In fact, this works for VC’s, angels and new clients too. So, if you’ve got an incredible business, we want to hear about it, and we want to remember you above the rest. You can apply right here.

1. Get a warm introduction.

Have a read about the people who work at Collider – stalk us, it’s okay. Have a nosey on Linkedin and see if you have any connections in common, and get yourself an introduction. If nothing turns up here, have a look through Crunchbase or Angel List and see if you know anyone we’re associated with – perhaps an investor or an alumni startup? If you’re in the industry, it’s likely you’ll be connected to someone, just do your homework.

2. Come meet us.

We’re always at industry events, whether that’s at a booth, on a panel or offering mentoring sessions, and we also offer office hours. We’ll be impressed if you really go out of your way to get in contact with us.

3. Have a top notch application.

There are quite a few websites around to help you structure your ideas, presentation, one pagers, business canvas and to find and calculate the size of the market, among other things. Here’s a good one, and another, and another.

4. READ the application form.

Your time is precious, so make sure your idea fits what we’re looking for – a B2B solution to help corporates find, understand, engage with, retain and sell more to consumers. You’d be surprised how many applications we have that are in a completely different space. Spray and pray does not work here.

5. Be clear and concise.

Ask someone to read your application and explain the following to you:

• Problem you are solving and to whom • Size of the market and its opportunity • Traction and progress so far • Team (current investors, board members, advisors, etc) • Your unfair, competitive advantage • Go to market strategy

If they can explain the above, you are in the right path. If not, you will need to work more in your proposal.

Collider is evolving

Collider exists to drive the future of marketing and sales technology for startups, corporates and investors.

This will not change: we’ll continue to find the very best startups to invest in and scale, bring the right startup solutions at the right time to corporates, and ultimately deliver investor returns.

We’re still about winning customers, it’ll always be about building revenue, and it’ll never be about just finding the next round of funding, which explains why we’re working with more corporates now than ever before (and in Amsterdam too!)

We’re also still focused: focused on marketing and sales tech, and focused on scaling, and the impact of that is phenomenal. We’ve invested in over 40 startups now, which means we’ve built the expertise to make even better investment decisions and add incredible value to our portfolio.

So with over five years of in depth, first-hand experience, one exit and over £13m going into the next generation of marketing and sales startups, we’ve seen a lot.

That’s why now is the perfect time to change and invest more.

https://vimeo.com/232318078

1. Keep the applications rolling

You’ll now be able to apply to Collider UK ANY time of year.

One cohort a year was proving nowhere near enough, especially given the incredible startups we kept having to turn down.

We then dabbled with the classic accelerator model of two a year, but even that didn’t cut it, particularly when taking into consideration the needs of our corporate partners – the key way we give meaning to our accelerator name.

So we settled on four cohorts a year – a minimum of three investments per cohort and a maximum of six. That’s more application opportunities, more cohorts and most importantly, more startups as part of the Collider family, shaping the future of marketing and sales tech.

2. Put meaning back into ‘early stage’

You can now apply even if you’ve raised cash before.

We’ve always been clear on our entry requirements – you must have built an MVP, have a team, be focused in B2B marketing and/or sales tech and have your full SEIS available. But now, could you just rub out point four? That’s Collider Take Two.

Once again, we kept noticing just how many startups would come to us, perfect in every way, other than just how early stage they were – and that in itself is one big, fat contradiction.

So rather than missing opportunities time and time again, we’ll be investing in startups with both SEIS and EIS available. That’s early stage, and early stage. Or in other words, startups with proof of value.

3. Flex the investment model

There’s now options, not just one offer.

If we’re going to recruit startups at different stages, we needed to shake up our investment model too.

Each startup will now have two possible investment options: £50,000 of investment (£15,000 as programme fees) or £100,000 of investment (£30,000 programme fees), rather than one standard offer.

That’ll give us a wider range of companies and different stages in their journey, which is absolutely perfect for our community – the community of potential customers.

Remember – Collider exists to shape the future of marketing and sales technology for startups, corporates and investors. If that’s you, we will officially launch on the 4th September, and we want to hear from you.

Are you a startup?

We’re looking for ground breaking, world changing, mind blowing B2B marketing and advertising technology startups. If you want to supercharge your growth and collide with the most incredible corporate innovators, apply here.

Are you an investor?

Our investor community is a little bit different, but no one wants the same old, do they? Made up of marketing and advertising experts, our angels also hold superpowers in finance, fundraising and tech – all an incredible benefit to our startups. If you want to help accelerate our startups alongside our other investors, get in touch.

Get Legal Wise: The Startup Basics In Setting Up Your Business

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legal-advice-keyboard

There's this expectation in the world of startups that you're just supposed to know what you're doing. Running the business, finding the talent, getting investment, sourcing loyal customers, and of course, tackling the legal mind field like a boss. But in reality – and the very reason we have co-founders to pick up on those skills we just don't have – we're not going to be pros at everything.

That's exactly why we've teamed up with our good friends at Lewis Silkin to answer some of those tricky business, investment and legal questions we all want to know the answer to, but might be afraid to ask.

Check out our first instalment below, where we delve into setting up your business as a corporation, equity battles, options and employment contracts.

If you've got further questions you'd like us to find the answers to, drop us an email at info@collider.io and we'll see what we can do!