Chapter 18: What we'll do next


Demos Demetriou

Chapter 18: What we'll do next

In a recent interview with Adam Callow on Startup Stories, I was asked what I would be doing if I wasn’t busy building Marlin. It was an interesting question and one that got me thinking about something I have been discussing a lot with Nargis and Steph recently. As many of you who are following our journey know this is a new experience for us. We cannibalised our agency for good measure too along the way.

The things we have all learnt about what’s involved in building a tech startup from the ground upwards have been so rewarding and at times a little frustrating, demoralising and exciting (sometimes all in the same day, believe it or not!). It has been a proper rollercoaster ride, but I would still encourage anyone to board a rollercoaster if they do get the opportunity to build a startup. There is something rewarding about it that can’t really be explained properly until you experience it.

It’s pretty clear

Anyway, the thing that has been evident with all of our meetings and conversations with the network of people we’ve been speaking with since we started, is that good advice is hard to find unless you are prepared to pay a small fortune for it…even then it is not guaranteed. Now let’s be honest (because we are good at that here), who has the money to spend on consultants and advisors when you are just starting out, especially when it’s in the thousands?!

I know I have spoken about this before, but it’s becoming more and more evident that many advisors, consultants and even middlemen do not seem to be the best fit for startups. I recently had a conversation with a fundraising contact who came back to Nargis about our pitch and they wanted to find out more (it’s always nice when that happens).

£10,000 for what??

After a good telephone conversation, we got down to the nitty gritty and it was a flat £10,000 fee and a 5% fee on whatever we raise. I just don’t get it, maybe I am missing the point here but surely if you are so confident in raising money it would be better to find a way to help startups. Surely if those startups are successful the people that help them will stay part of that journey, right? It seems obvious to us and there is one person out there that we’ve met who shares this vision and I will mention them further down in this article.

There is a whole heap of things that start-ups should avoid, and things they should also consider. We have had some experiences in both. Recently a few startup apps have reached out to me for some advice which is making it clearer what we will do next, not right now but certainly something to think about for the future.

Once we have moved a bit further with our own venture, we want to help others. It’s clear that the endless amounts of business accelerators, consultants and advisors are just not appropriate for startups who don’t have the experience or money but do have a great idea that needs to be explored further.

Lots of thought would have to go into how it would work of course, but I’m sure we could come up with something that would work for startups who don’t have the cash to bring in expensive advisors. It would enable startups to get their products to market quicker and provide a sounding board without it costing them a fortune. It would also be a great opportunity to build a community of all these startup founders too, because I’m sure a lot of their experiences would inspire others to keep pushing on.

Some updates

So aside of thinking about what we will do next, here are a few updates on what has been going on recently.

We are edging a bit closer to the Hotel chain I mentioned previously signing up and we have also had a couple of restaurant chains trialling the App to see how it could help them. As always, these things do take time and if nothing else just the feedback we are getting about the platform as a whole is worth waiting for.

Despite what I have said above about advisors and consultants I have been lucky enough to be introduced to someone who may be able to help us in many ways. We seem to share the same vision about our App and his work ethics are nothing like what I have seen with other consultants. In the coming weeks I should have some more information about who this person is and why we are just a little bit excited as to why he will be joining us. Stay tuned for that.

Also, off the back of the recent interview with Adam Callow I am now getting all of these written blogs into a podcast. It will be even easier for followers to track our progress so feel free to subscribe to Our Startup Journey from wherever you get your podcasts. The cover picture of the podcast is a good indication of how it feels to run a startup sometimes.

One final update is that we have entered the Great British Entrepreneur Awards for the Disruptor of the Year award. I look forward to keeping you all updated with our progress, hopefully we get shortlisted. We have never entered any type of awards before, so it will be great to document it here if we do get to the next stage to let startup founders know what it’s all about and the effect it can have on your business.