What is a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)?

What is a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)?

When first developing a product, it can take a lot of time, effort, research, testing, and funding before a product is finalized and ready for the market. After such a large investment, the last thing you want is to discover that consumers don’t want to buy your product or have found major flaws. To avoid finding yourself in this situation, we recommend developing a minimum viable product (MVP) a basic model of your product that will attract early-adopter customers and give you the opportunity to finesse the final version based on their feedback.


Why is a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) so important?


MVPs were introduced by Eric Ries as part of his Lean Startup Methodology — a process that builds businesses and products based on consumer needs rather than developing a product and then hoping it sells.

Having an MVP allows you to learn the maximum amount of information about your customers by using minimum resources and effort, and observing how they respond to the earliest version of your product.

Collecting valuable data about your customers and their feedback gives you the opportunity to make adjustments before launching your final version, eliminating the risk of pouring thousands of hours and dollars into a product that is not desired by consumers.


What are the key characteristics of a Minimum Viable Product?


1. Fast and Cheap

If your MVP takes two years to create and piles of cash to produce, it is not an MVP. 


2. Enough features to attract early customers

Your MVP only needs basic features, but at the same time, it needs to have enough features to attract early adopters.


3. The positives of releasing the MVP outweigh the negatives

Releasing an MVP means leads to first customer impressions and it also gives your competitors the chance to see what you’ve developed. The benefits you gain from your MVP such as retrieving valuable customer feedback should outweigh any risks.


4. Your method for submitting customer feedback must be easy and work 

The primary purpose of a minimum viable product is to know what customers think about it. You need to create a convenient and easy way for people to send in feedback.


An example is a software company offering a free upgrade of their next released software version to all customers in exchange for submitting their thoughts about your MVP.


When is it good to release a Minimum Viable Product?


Your startup may choose to develop an MVP because you want to:

  1. Launch a version of your product into the market as quickly as possible.
  2. Test an idea or feature with real customers before committing to full development. 
  3. Learn what your target market likes, dislikes, and would change about your product. 


What are the next steps after developing an MVP?


After releasing an MVP and collecting early adopters’ feedback, you should be able to answer one big question: “Is my product viable?” You will know if a wider audience will purchase your product and if continuing its development should be your next step. 

If you discover that customers would not purchase your product due to a lack of interest or having too many flaws, this is not a failure. In fact, your MVP has done its job by avoiding you from spending further time and resources developing your product. You can either go back to the drawing board to develop a different product altogether or keep with the same product but make significant changes.


What is a Minimum Marketable Product (MMP)?


If early adopters of your MVP demonstrate that a larger audience would purchase your product, you can continue product development to create a Minimum Marketable Product (MMP).

A Minimum Marketable Product (sometimes referred to as a Minimum Marketable Release MMR) is a progressed version of your MVP that is ready to be sold to a much larger audience. An MMR is still not the final version of your product and has minimal features, but it is more advanced than an MVP so more people are attracted to buy it.  


What is the difference between an MVP and MMP?

A textbook MMP is a solution to a customer problem they are willing to pay for, as opposed to an MVP which may not quite yet hit the mark. 

When releasing an MVP, it is early adopters who purchase the product who have a passion for testing out the latest products. When launching an MMP however, you are trying to appeal to a much wider customer base who will have much higher expectations than early adopters. 


How will having an MVP benefit my business?

Developing a minimum viable product is beneficial for the long-term success of your business. It sets you up to become a scalable startup, a quality that most startup investors look for when deciding to invest in a business.

As an entrepreneur, it can be exciting to keep developing your product until it reaches your full vision, but starting with an MVP will save you from making large business errors, wasting time on unwanted features, and spending large quantities of money that does not lead to any revenue.

How to Find Angel Investors

How to Find Angel Investors

A startup’s success is attributed to several factors including the company’s dedication, entrepreneurial skills, the consumer’s need for the products or services offered, effective marketing, business viability, and more. But as passionate, business savvy, and innovative as a startup may be, sometimes it all comes down to money. To launch, grow, and build a scalable startup, you need adequate funding, and a great option is to learn how to find angel investors and gain their support. 


What is an angel investor?

Angel investors are usually wealthy individuals who invest their money into early-stage companies in exchange for equity in the business. Typically angel investors are looking for long-term investments and are able to provide startup mentorship and business expertise in addition to their financial investment.


Is it difficult to find angel investors?

Generally, it’s not hard to find angel investors when you’re looking in the right places, but what can be tricky is learning how to get them to invest in your business which we will cover further down in this article.

Let’s first look at ways to find angel investors.


4 Ways to Find Angel Investors


1. Start with your local community

Angel groups and networks exist all over the world, but many angel investors take a greater interest in locally-based startups. Research groups that exist in your community. 


2. Use online databases

Many angel groups and networks are listed on online databases. Websites like Angel Investors Ontario list all Ontario-registered angel investor groups, making it easy for Ontario-based startups to find angel investors within the province. 

Other websites such as AngelList, Angel Capital Association, and Angel Investment Network give you access to thousands of investors. 


3. Search social media platforms

If your startup is active on social media, particularly on Twitter and LinkedIn, it can lead to connecting with angel investors. Your startup’s social media channels should follow and engage with relevant businesses and influential people.

In general, having an effective digital marketing plan can help you connect with influential people and angel investors.


4. Attend business networking events

Registering for local conferences, industry events, and business socials will bring you closer to connecting with angel investors.

Local networking events are often attended by angel investors, and it’s a great way to make introductions and plant seeds for building long-term relationships.


How to Secure an Angel Investment

Finding angel investors is one thing, securing investments is quite another. Landing funding from an angel investor is all about being prepared, polished, and passionate.


PREPARE a detailed yet concise business plan

Angel investors want to assess your startup’s viability and growth potential. Write a detailed and well-organized business plan that includes elements such as an estimate of how much funding you need, your business strategy, a competitor analysis, and financial objectives.


POLISH your elevator pitch

Whether you connect with angel investors online or in-person, having a well-executed elevator pitch is essential to capture their attention and interest. Aim to keep your pitch concise and simple, and include why your startup is a solid investment.


PASSIONATE entrepreneurs are an angel’s best friend

When angel investors invest their money, time, and expertise, they are not only investing in a business but in the person or people behind it. If you are not passionate and driven, angel investors may question if you have what it takes to go the distance.

How much money can you ask for from angel investors?


As a general rule, startups need to calculate two things before determining how much money they should ask for: Business valuation and funding requirements.

Determining your business valuation will help you come up with an asking amount that is proportionate to how much your startup is worth and also determine if this amount alone will cover your startup’s needs.

Most angel investors will not look at requests that exceed $1 million and will be looking to take a percentage of your company that equals the percentage of funding in relation to your business. For example, if your business is valued at $1 million, and your startup requires $250K in funding, the angel investor will most likely want approximately 25 percent of your company. 


How do I get help landing angel investors?

Startup incubators mentor entrepreneurs to launch, grow, and scale their businesses. Startup incubators place a large emphasis on acquiring funding as this is a large component of any new business.

Innovation Cluster Peterborough and the Kawarthas teaches clients how to secure investments, connects them with local angel investors through the Peterborough Region Angel Network, and prepares them by teaching them how to build a solid business plan, give an effective pitch, and ultimately get the funding they require.

IaaS, PaaS & SaaS:  Choosing the Right Cloud Solution for your Business

IaaS, PaaS & SaaS: Choosing the Right Cloud Solution for your Business

Nowadays, the term “cloud” is widely known as an online solution for managing files and storing data. Businesses big and small utilize cloud services, but many are unaware of the extensive capabilities the cloud can offer. As a startup, becoming familiar with your cloud options such as Iaas, PaaS, and SaaS, and knowing the differences, benefits, and drawbacks of each one will help you choose the solution(s) that will help your company be more efficient, cutting-edge, and cost-effective.


What is IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS?

Before diving into the various cloud solutions, it is important to have an understanding of what “the cloud” is. 


What is the cloud?

Rather than acquiring physical servers and equipment that store, manage, and operate data and software, “the cloud” is composed of several servers that are located in large data centres throughout the world, accessed by customers remotely over the internet. By using cloud computing, users don’t have to manage physical servers or run software on their own machines.


IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS

Cloud computing can be broken down into three main categories: IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS. All three types offer enormous benefits to businesses, but understanding their differences will help you determine which solution(s) is the best fit for your company’s needs. 


Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS)

Allows customers to manage their company’s resources — network, servers, data storage, etc. — on the cloud. IaaS is made of scalable and automated computer resources that businesses can access themselves via a virtual data centre in the cloud, and can purchase resources on an as-needed basis rather than having to buy the hardware outright.


IaaS uses virtualization technology and is usually provided to the customer through a dashboard or an API. When using IaaS, you are responsible for managing things such as applications, runtime, OSes, and the IaaS provider manages the servers, hard drives, networking, virtualization, and storage. 


IaaS Advantages:

  • Easy to automate deployment 
  • Allows complete control over infrastructure 
  • Purchase resources as-needed
  • High scalability 
  • Allows for multiple users


IaaS Concerns:

  • Security threats to the hosting provider
  • Staff training may be required so your team knows how to properly manage the infrastructure


Platform as a Service (PaaS) 

Used by developers allowing them to host, build, and deploy consumer-facing apps through a web-based platform. Using PaaS, developers are given the freedom to concentrate on building software without worrying about operating systems, software updates, storage, or infrastructure.


PaaS Advantages:

  • Easy to use
  • Cost-effective app development and deployment 
  • Scalable
  • Customize apps without having to maintain software


PaaS Concerns:

  • Ability to integrate with other existing apps
  • PaaS may not be a “plug-and-play” solution for existing apps limiting its effectiveness 


Software as a Service (SaaS) 

SaaS is the most common cloud service with applications designed for everyday use for both individual consumers and businesses. The majority of SaaS programs run directly through your web browser, and rarely require downloads or installation on individual devices — a massive benefit for teams working remotely or working across international borders. 


By using SaaS applications, your business does not need to manage technical issues, servers, or storage which can often be a huge burden on time and costs if you do not have a dedicated I.T. person or department in place. 


SaaS Advantages:

  • Creates better efficiencies
  • Reduces time and money spent on installing, managing, and upgrading software. 
  • Frees up physical space (no need for on-site servers)
  • Easy to find and use applications as needed 


SaaS Concerns:

  • Limitation of app integrations
  • Data security
  • Ability to customize app features to the needs of your business


CCaaS and CPaaS: What are They?

Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) is a form of SaaS that is specific to contact centres. These cloud-based contact centres are ideal for small and medium-sized businesses that want an easily deployable and easy-to-use solution. CCaaS products offer rapid deployment, however, they can have limited customizability and scalability. 

Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) is a cloud-based product that allows businesses to have real-time communications capabilities (i.e. voice, video, instant messaging) to business applications by deploying APIs. 

Rather than building your own communications infrastructure from scratch, you can use CPaaS products in existing applications by only adding a few lines of code.  


Examples of IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS

IaaS: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure

PaaS: Google App Engine, Heroku, Apprenda

SaaS: HubSpot, Dropbox, DocuSign


Which is Best: IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS?

Determining which cloud solution is best is completely dependent upon the needs of your business. Below are ideal scenarios in which IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS could be used to help decide which type of cloud service you need.



  • Startups with minimal cash flow that cannot afford their own hardware or software.
  • Only particular resources are needed.
  • Experiencing rapid growth with infrastructure needs quickly changing within short periods of time.


  • Multiple developers need to work on the same project.
  • Vendors are involved in the development process and need access to the application.
  • Creating a customized application.


  • Startups that need to launch their e-commerce quickly. 
  • Short-term projects. 
  • Applications that are only needed periodically and not regularly. 


Working with cloud solutions can add tremendous value to your business, but it can be difficult to decide which technologies to invest in when your startup’s needs are changing. 


Working with a startup mentor or joining a startup incubator guides you through your startup’s journey, helping you make decisions that are smart and strategic for your business. 

How to Build a Scalable Startup

How to Build a Scalable Startup

The word ‘scalable’ is used frequently and as an entrepreneur, it is a term you need to become familiar with. Scalability is what investors want to see and what will lead to quicker success. But what exactly does it mean to be a scalable startup? How do you become scalable?

We have broken down the basics.


What is a scalable startup?

A scalable startup is a business that has the potential to easily grow and significantly increase its revenue with minimal additional cost.

When a startup is deemed ready to scale, it means it has already proven the success of its product and business model and is prepared to expand to new markets, regions, or demographics.

Example of a Scalable Startup

Many scalable startups operate within the technology industry. This is mainly because once a tech product has been initially designed, created, tested, and finalized, the cost to replicate it is minimal in comparison to the development process.

An easy example is a software startup. The initial development of the software can cost a lot of time and money, but to clone or mass produce it for distribution costs a nominal amount.


How do you make your startup scalable?

Understanding scalable startups is pretty straightforward, however, what leaves the majority of entrepreneurs puzzled is how to become scalable.

We have compiled a list of tips that can help you secure investor funding and experience exponential business growth.


1. Retrieve research to back up your business 

Your product or business may be innovative, but you need market research and facts to support how your innovative idea will be the next big industry or money maker. This provides investors with context which will make them more likely to jump on the bandwagon.


2. Prove your product works

You’ve heard the saying “talk the talk”; becoming scalable tests if you can “walk the walk”. As awesome as your investor pitches may be, it does not hold a candle to showing your product work in real time. It gives you far more credibility. 

Develop a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and make adjustments to it based on customer feedback. Consider following the Lean Startup Methodology when developing your product to ensure it is a product consumers want. This can ultimately save you a considerable amount of time and money.


3. Have an attractive business plan

As cool and unique as your product may be, scalability to investors comes down to dollars and cents. Your business plan needs to show high profit margins, which can more easily be achieved by keeping your overhead costs as low as possible while still having enough momentum to grow. You should be able to show real sales of your product and that customers are willing to pay full price.


4. Recruit a solid team

To scale a business, you as a startup owner cannot be tied up with day-to-day business operations; your attention needs to be focused on big-picture strategy. To do this, you need to have a solid hiring process so you can acquire a team of driven and skilled people who you can depend on to keep the business running smoothly.


5. Implement an effective marketing strategy

Your startup needs to invest in marketing in order to scale. If people do not know your company or product, they will not buy it. Every company and product is different, and so is the audience they are targeting. Therefore, there isn’t one “tried and true” strategy to follow.

Develop an effective digital marketing plan or consider if following an account-based marketing strategy will be beneficial for your startup. We recommend recruiting a marketing person or working with a marketing agency that has the expertise you need.


6. Increase your startup’s efficiency 

Eliminate or adjust any manual and time-heavy processes that hinder your startup’s efficiency which may include staff processes, administrative tasks, manufacturing, or others.


7. Be able to pivot and adapt

The global pandemic taught us that businesses must be able to pivot. Remaining open to better ideas, new products, and constructive feedback will show investors that you have the leadership skills to recognize what is best for your business and its growth.


To learn more and receive mentorship throughout your journey, inquire about joining a startup incubator that can provide you with the knowledge and guidance you need to scale.

Lean Startup Methodology: What it is and why it has changed everything

Lean Startup Methodology: What it is and why it has changed everything

For many years, startups have been built by taking a business idea, discretely developing a product or service, launching it, then marketing it to consumers. This process can result in business success, but it can also leave many startups vulnerable to failure. When startups spend a lot of time and money on product development without including customer needs and perspectives in the process, the number of sales that will be achieved becomes a guessing game — a high-risk gamble when early revenue is imperative to keep the business alive. 


When approximately 50 percent of small businesses in Canada won’t survive longer than five years, more and more startups are following the Lean Startup Methodology to lessen risk and create a higher probability of success.

What is Lean Startup Methodology?


A great way to think of Lean Startup Methodology is that it aims to discover if a product should be developed, not if it can be. 


First introduced in 2011 by Eric Ries in his book, “The Lean Startup”, Lean Startup Methodology designs and builds businesses and products based on consumer needs and demonstrated desires rather than first developing a product and hoping there will be a demand.


Too many startups make assumptions about what consumers want and spend years perfecting a product only to discover that consumers have little interest or are unhappy with its features. If your product is super innovative but people don’t want to buy it, a business will not exist. 


5 Key Principles of Lean Startup Methodology


1. Entrepreneurs are Everywhere

There are many types of entrepreneurs and therefore startups don’t need to fit a particular mold to apply lean startup principles. 


2. Entrepreneurship is Management

Lean startups look a bit different than traditional startups. It is less about processes and protocols and more about being learning-driven, flexible, and making changes as you go. 


3. Validated Learning

Through experiments and retrieving results, lean startups make decisions by learning and adapting to the needs of consumers. 


4. Innovation Accounting

Keeping detailed records of experiments and analyses is important to determine how to proceed. Lean startups must monitor processes objectively and come up with next steps.


5. Build-Measure-Learn

Lean startups build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), then put it through extensive testing and evaluation with customer feedback. By building a product and then measuring its effectiveness, lean startups learn and improve their product before finalizing it.  


How has Lean Startup Methodology changed everything?


a) Detailed planning used to be one of the most crucial elements for a startup. Lean startups now consider experimentation more valuable, and consider five-year business plans an ineffective use of time.


b) Lean startups already have an established customer base by the time their product is ready for wide distribution because they have been involved since the beginning stages of the product.


c) The hiring process has pivoted giving preference to applicants who can learn and adapt easily and placing less emphasis on experience and technical ability. 


d) Financial reporting focuses on customer acquisition costs and lifetime customer value among other things rather than traditional income statements and balance sheets.


How to Apply Lean Startup Methodology


Learning why Lean Startup Methodology can benefit your startup is much different than knowing how to apply it. We recommend turning to an experienced startup mentor to help guide you through the process of becoming a lean startup. 

Having a startup mentor or joining a startup incubator provides you with invaluable knowledge, expertise, and support so you have more confidence and success in applying the Lean Startup Methodology.

What is account-based marketing?

What is account-based marketing?

In a short span of time, strategies to attract and engage customers have enormously changed. Consumers now have a multitude of technologies and digital platforms to research brands, products, and customer reviews before making big-ticket purchasing decisions. However, when dealing with high-priced and complex sales, only relying on digital marketing to engage with customers is ineffective, and it’s why account-based marketing has in recent years become one of the most popular strategies for business and revenue growth. 


What does account-based marketing mean?

Account-based marketing (ABM) is a marketing and growth strategy where marketing and sales work together to create personalized buying experiences for your most high-valued customers. 

Rather than trying to extend your reach to as many people as possible, account-based marketing focuses its efforts on a select group of people that represent significant growth opportunities and have a greater likelihood of converting into high-value paying customers. 


Account-based Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing

Often when ABM is discussed, it is compared and contrasted to inbound marketing with an inevitable debate on which strategy is most effective. The truth is, you do not need to choose one or the other. In fact, account-based marketing can largely complement the efforts of a well-executed inbound marketing strategy. 

Inbound marketing attracts customers by creating valuable content that is tailored to a semi-fictional buyer persona that represents your ideal customer including age, gender, income, beliefs, interests, family status, and more. The specialized content you create drives your persona to engage with your brand on your website, social media, or on other channels, and then hopefully, purchase your products. 

An ABM strategy can be implemented at this stage, taking this identified group of engaged people and beginning research and analysis to determine if these interested consumers are considered higher value customers or personas.

Account-based marketing also uses buyer personas but unlike inbound marketing, ABM personas are based on data rather than assumptions. Companies using ABM strategies do not engage with people because they feel they’re an ideal or more probable customer, they focus on a specific demographic that possesses a set of behaviours that have proven to be most profitable.


Why is account-based marketing important for startups?

Survey data collected by Gartner in 2020 showed that businesses that launched ABM strategies showed increases in marketing and sales. The marketing data shows improved conversion rates, increased web traffic, and better advertising and email performance, and sales data showed increased wins, faster sales cycles, and larger deals.

As a startup business, account-based marketing may seem time-consuming when you have a million things on your plate, but ultimately it makes your marketing efforts and dollars more targeted. It also makes your highest value customers feel important and more catered to, setting your business up for a reputation of exceptional customer experience – an invaluable thing when trying to achieve startup business growth

Most importantly, research shows that 97 percent of businesses using an ABM approach see higher ROIs than with other marketing strategies.

How to create an ABM strategy for your startup


1. Get everyone on the same page

If your startup has been following a particular marketing strategy, the best way to get your team and investors to support a switch to ABM is to present data to show how switching strategies will increase revenue and make better use of your resources.


2. Align sales and marketing 

Historically, sales and marketing teams have had an ongoing feud where both teams blame the other when revenue is not increasing. ABM bridges the gap between the two teams and has everyone working together. As a collective, have sales and marketing agree on a shared set of metrics and goals for your ABM campaign.


3. Identify your high-value accounts

Analyze your sales history by talking to your sales team. Which type of interested consumer is the easiest to convert into a paying customer? Check your CRM to identify traits that all of your hot leads have in common. This will provide insight into the type of person you should focus on.


4. Create content and select channels

Once your target accounts have been identified, you need to create tailored content and decide which channels will be most successful in reaching them. Your content should speak to specific pain points that they have.


5. Launch your ABM campaign

Publish your content to convert prospective buyers into leads. By your sales team engaging with these leads in a strategic way, there is a high chance of them closing deals.


6. Review, evaluate, and adjust

This last step is ongoing and is crucial for all marketing strategies. Once you have launched your account-based marketing campaign, review how it is performing, evaluate your sales, and make adjustments to your strategy as needed.



In conclusion, account-based marketing is about placing greater importance on quality over quantity; focusing on a much smaller group of people who will accelerate your startup’s growth.

Your ABM strategy can be woven into other marketing strategies such as inbound marketing as previously mentioned, or a digital marketing plan. If your startup is not yet ready to hire a designated marketing professional, consider finding a startup mentor who has marketing expertise and can help put you on the right track to implementing an ABM strategy that yields attractive results. 

How do you begin creating a digital marketing plan for startups?

How do you begin creating a digital marketing plan for startups?

It is no secret that marketing is essential for a company’s success. But what remains a mystery for many startup businesses is how to start. Creating a digital marketing plan is an important first step, and you do not need a fat budget to achieve optimal results. What it does require is dedication, time, and creative thinking. Learning how to create a digital marketing plan for a startup is one of the most valuable things you can do to ensure that your business will attract customers, generate revenue, and continue to grow in its earliest stages.

What is a digital marketing plan and why is it important for startups?  

A digital marketing plan outlines a company’s digital marketing goals with the associated strategies, timelines, tactics, channels, and budgets they will use to achieve them.

Taking the time to build a digital marketing plan will keep you on track and focused as you juggle an array of other important functions that are necessary for your business.

Having a digital marketing plan will make better use of your time and resources, and align your team to work toward the same objectives. 


What are the components of a digital marketing plan?

Every company’s marketing goals and strategies will look different, but there are some standard elements that every digital marketing plan should include:

  • Content marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Advertising
  • Social media marketing
  • Video marketing
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Web analytics 

What are the 5 steps to follow to have an effective digital marketing plan?


Creating a digital marketing plan is not just a matter of brainstorming ideas for social media or emails. There are steps that your startup business should take to ensure all of your plan’s components are strategic, align with your company’s goals, and ultimately yield the best results.


1. Conduct Research

Reliable and credible research can reveal a lot about the marketing direction your startup should take. Learning about historical market trends, current industry practices, competitor analyses, and what consumers want can be the most invaluable tool you have to create a phenomenal digital marketing plan. 

Research can include primary research (conducting surveys, interviews, polls, etc.) or secondary research such as published reports.


2. Develop a Deep Understanding of your Brand

Understanding your own brand will set the foundation for everything else that follows. Start by thinking about popular brands that you would to be comparable to. Is your brand like Apple or is it like Microsoft? Is your brand a Tesla or is it Ford? This is a great way to start shaping what your brand is, how consumers will perceive you, and discovering your brand archetype which are all crucial to know before defining your target audience or style of communication.


3. Define Your Target Audience

Knowing exactly the type of consumers you will be targeting will make it much easier to define your messaging, what digital channels you should use, and the type of content you need to develop to establish a connection with your audience. 

What is your target’s demographic, lifestyle, worries, wants, and needs? Your marketing efforts need to be tailored to your target audience because marketing to everyone is marketing to no one. Spending time developing buyer personas – semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers – will help you tremendously with all marketing efforts moving forward.


4. Create Clear Messaging 

Consumers want clear messaging on what your product is and how it will benefit them. If people are left questioning what you do, chances are they will not become a paying customer. You also need to define a messaging style or brand voice, which leads back to having a deep understanding of your brand. What does your brand sound like? Is it laid back and relaxed? Is it professional and sophisticated? Determining your style of communication will also help you reach your target audience much more effectively.


5. Define Your Digital Marketing Goals, Timelines, and Budget

If you do not set tangible goals, timelines, and budgets it is much harder to track and measure your progress. The goals you set should be realistic and obtainable, yet provide enough of a challenge so you feel a sense of accomplishment when you reach them. 

Setting a detailed, itemized budget for your digital marketing plan will keep you organized, and allow you to easily see if you are spending too much or too little on particular initiatives. It will also keep you on track with your overall startup budget for the company.


Following these five steps are critical before you can dive deeper into specifics such as what channels you will use (i.e. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram) or what type of strategy you will follow for paid advertising. You need to lay a foundation for your digital marketing plan to thrive.

Working with a startup incubator is a great way to receive high-quality mentorship on digital marketing plans, low-cost marketing strategies, and a long list of other entrepreneurial needs. 


Web 3.0 Business Opportunities: How You Can Stay Ahead of the Curve

Web 3.0 Business Opportunities: How You Can Stay Ahead of the Curve

These days, technology seems to evolve and become more advanced in the blink of an eye. It can be hard to stay on top of it. The one upcoming advancement that will make the most significant impact on the world is Web 3.0. Unlike the internet’s earliest version Web 1.0, and today’s Web 2.0, the next phase of the web will be decentralized, user-generated and governed, and integrate sophisticated forms of technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI).

As a business owner trying to grow a startup or small company, being educated on Web 3.0 and how you will be able to use it to your advantage is what will keep your business relevant and successful, and differentiate you from competitors. 


What are Web 1.0 and Web 2.0?


The best way to begin explaining Web 3.0 is to look at the web’s previous and current versions.

Web 1.0 was the earliest version that lasted from the early 1990s to the early 2000s. This was read-only where users consumed static content in text or graphic format that was created by web developers. In Web 1.0, there was little interaction from users on web pages.

Web 2.0 took off in the mid-2000s and although it has evolved tremendously since we are still using Web 2.0 today. Web 2.0 is an interactive social web where users are heavy content creators as well as consumers. The easiest examples we see are on popular platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, where content is created, shared and commented on by the platforms’ userbase.


What is the problem with Web 2.0?


At the beginning of Web 2.0, allowing users to consume as well as create content was a huge advancement from where the world wide web started. However, as time showed, huge problems surfaced surrounding the lack of legal protection of users when it came to ownership of personal data, privacy, and surveillance. The content created by users on Web 2.0 is centralized and controlled by large tech corporations’ websites where people share content, such as on Facebook and Instagram. For many years this allowed tech giants to use users’ personal content and data to generate massive profits.


What is Web 3.0?


Web 3.0 is a decentralized web that will allow users to participate in not only content development, but also own and govern their materials.

Rather than have content centralized and owned by large corporations, Web 3.0’s decentralized infrastructure will protect individuals’ content and privacy, putting more power in the hands of the user and less in the hands of the tech giants. 


Web 2.0 vs Web 3.0


The major differentiator between Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 is the latter will be powered by blockchain technology, using cryptocurrency, AI, IoT, augmented reality, virtual reality, and machine learning technologies.

Blockchain technology is a decentralized network of numerous peer-to-peer nodes (servers), that alleviates central servers from controlling an entire network.

Web 3.0 will enable websites and apps to process information in a human-like way, actually understanding content, therefore, making it more sophisticated and secure.  


How will Web 3.0 present new business opportunities?


Using Web 3.0, brands will be able to connect with their target audiences on a much deeper level and earn their trust much more easily, allowing highly-tailored content to reach the consumer directly from your business.

Web 3.0’s decentralized infrastructure will also make cryptocurrency and decentralized finance (DeFi) more accessible to the masses, adding a further level of consumer security and trust as it is based on peer-to-peer transactions using blockchain.

Proactively becoming educated on the latest developments in Web 3.0 by being a lifelong learner will give you an opportunity to participate in Web 3.0 once it is available and not fall behind your competitors. Continuing your knowledge base will allow you to connect with audiences better than ever, which is an invaluable asset as an entrepreneur in today’s ever-evolving technology era. 

What are the Best Startup Exit Strategies for Entrepreneurs?

What are the Best Startup Exit Strategies for Entrepreneurs?

As a startup business owner, there may come a time when you are ready to leave the company you have worked so hard to build. This decision could be reached for a variety of reasons, and it is not a sign of business failure but rather a calculated move that will benefit you and the future of your company. No matter what your motivation is for leaving, a startup exit strategy needs to be in place.  

An exit strategy is typically a requirement when looking for Angel Investments.  Angel Investors need to understand your potential exit strategy so that they understand when they could get paid back and the potential return on their investment.

This blog will help you determine which strategy is best for you and your company and what you should consider before implementing it


What is a Startup Exit Strategy?


A startup exit strategy is an entrepreneur’s thorough plan on how they will sell their ownership in a company as a way to reduce or liquidate their stake in the business and ideally, make a substantial profit.


6 Best Startup Exit Strategies 


There are many types of exit strategies that businesses can have and follow. We have outlined the 6 best exit strategies for startups to consider.


1. Sell to a Family Member

This strategy keeps your business within the family and brings peace of mind knowing someone close to you will do right by your vision. We often see startup owners selling their businesses to their children as a succession plan when their children have an interest in taking over.


Although selling to family or a close friend definitely has a strong appeal, be aware that sometimes things can get messy when you mix business with personal. 

You should have a solid plan on how to navigate conversations about price, timelines, and business management, as well as be prepared once the company is sold that you may disagree with business decisions your loved one has made which can inject stress into family dynamics. 


2. Merge or Become Acquired (M&A)

Merger and Acquisitions (M&A) exit strategies involve having your startup purchased by or merged with another company that has similar or aligned goals to your business. 

M&A strategies can offer a lot of flexibility in laying out terms for your continued level of involvement with the company, or lack thereof if you prefer to not have any further connection.

One of the pros of M&A is having the ability to negotiate the selling price, but one of the cons is the process can be lengthy, and sometimes, in the end, the selling company is not purchased or is not merged with. 


3. Management or Employee Buyout

Another startup exit strategy is to have employees of your company, typically managers, buy your startup. A huge plus of this option is you’ll have confidence knowing that the company’s new owners are people who already know how your startup operates therefore creating a smoother transition. 


Selling your startup to people who you know well can make the exit process more flexible and comfortable, and if you wish to remain in the loop or involved with the business they may wish to keep you on as a mentor or advisor.


4. Go Public with an Initial Public Offering (IPO)

An Initial Public Offering (IPO) is when a private company’s shares are offered to the public and serious investors on a stock exchange for the first time, opening up potential opportunities to make great profits. Typically the company hires an underwriter like an investment bank to consult on the IPO and prepare key documents for investors.


An IPO is not a route every startup business will be prepared to take or feel comfortable with, especially since going public opens up companies to a lot of scrutinies and meeting strict regulatory requirements.


5. Sell to a Third Party Buyer 

Selling your startup on the open market can be the ideal choice for many business owners. This can be a clean and clear process providing an instant successor who has a passion for your business and the qualifications to take it to the next level. 

Selling to a third party can be beneficial due to receiving a lucrative selling price and optimal sale terms, however, in many cases it can take years to find a buyer who is fully interested or that you feel confident in selling to.  


6. Liquidate 

This exit strategy is definitely the most concrete and final. When you liquidate, you shut down your business and sell your assets. This option does not mean you have given up or are defeated, but sometimes this can be the right strategy depending on your circumstances.  

Things to keep in mind are that debts need to be paid off, payouts to all shareholders need to be completed, and you need to consider how liquidation will affect your team and customers.


What should entrepreneurs consider when creating a startup exit strategy?


It is important to note that the best exit strategy for your small business may be an unwise strategy for another. However, no matter which strategy you choose to take, you must carefully consider a wide range of factors.


Questions to consider when creating a startup exit strategy:


  • Does your exit strategy reflect your goals and company values? 
  • How much does your startup’s legacy mean to you?
  • Will your strategy make you money and what sale amount are you comfortable with?
  • How will your exit strategy affect the short-term and long-term future of your business?
  • What does the timeline look like for your exit strategy to complete? 
  • Do you have the proper support and knowledge to successfully form an exit strategy that will benefit you and your startup?


One of the best mentors for helping with the creation of an exit strategy as well as support while going through the exit process is a startup incubator. Becoming a client of a startup incubator can benefit you and your business tremendously by receiving 1-on-1 mentorship, knowledge, advice, support, skills training, networking opportunities and more.


6 Benefits of a Hybrid Work Model for Startups

6 Benefits of a Hybrid Work Model for Startups

In March 2020, millions of people worldwide shifted from working full-time at the office to working full-time from home. And although many would agree that the first few months were challenging for a variety of reasons, now almost 2.5 years later this mindset has largely changed. 

With new workflows and routines in place, the majority of from-home workers do not want to return to the office, at least not full-time. The Harvard Business School surveyed 1,500 people who worked from home between 2020 and 2021 and found that 61 percent wanted to continue working from home 2-3 days per week.

Many professionals have embraced the benefits that working from home can offer such as greater flexibility, no time lost to commuting, and cost savings, but at the same time see value in returning to the office on a part-time basis so the advantages of a workplace environment are not lost. 

But when you’re an entrepreneur trying to take your company to the next level, how can this arrangement work? 



What makes a great work environment?

What are the benefits of a hybrid work model for startups? 

How do you adopt a hybrid setup as an entrepreneur?



Let’s first review what a hybrid work model is and the different forms it can take.


What is a hybrid work model?


A hybrid work model is all about flexibility, supporting workers’ productivity, happiness, and well-being rather than focusing on their working location. This is typically a combination of working from home, the office, or on the go.


How many workplaces have adopted a hybrid work model?


In an April 2022 survey of 800 workplace leaders from around the world, 77 percent adopted a hybrid working model with an “At-will Model” being the most popular.

What exactly is an At-will Model? It is one of four main hybrid work models that are commonly used in workplaces where a hybrid setup exists.


What are the different types of hybrid work models?


At-will Model

This model gives people autonomy to choose work environments that best support their productivity and lifestyle. The environment where they choose to work can vary from day to day depending on their schedule and the type of project they are working on. 

For example, some work weeks may require more meetings than others. During these weeks workers may choose to work from the office more often as in-person brainstorming and collaboration is often richer than on virtual platforms. 

In contrast, if a person needs to focus on a solitary project and feels being surrounded by people at the office is a distraction, there may be a week where they only work from home.

The core of an At-will Model is not confining people to work in a certain environment but rather embracing what works best for them.


Split-week Model

The Split-week Model offers flexibility but within particular parameters. Workers split their week between working from home 2-3 days a week and working onsite on the remaining days.

This model within a larger company is often done by assigning certain departments days of the week they will work from home and which days they will come into the office. 

Split-week models ensure that team members are connecting regularly and managers can check in with people face-to-face.


Shift Work Model

People work in shifts every day, alternating between working from home half of the day and working on site for the other half. Generally, this model is not ideal as it breaks up the working day forcing people to relocate to a new work environment. 


Week-by-week Model

The last model has teams alternating between working from home and working onsite on a weekly basis usually as a collective, meaning everyone follows the same schedule.

 This setup can be powerful as everyone works off-site at the same time to focus on individual projects, and then best utilizes in-person time as a team the following week with meetings, brainstorming, and project updates.


Why is a hybrid work model beneficial for startups?


Depending on what stage you are with your startup, you may have a tiny team of 1-2 people or you may be at a point where you have a team that has grown. 

Whether you are in the beginning stages or have been growing your company for a while, teamwork, brainstorming, innovative ideas, and collaborative efforts are crucial to a startup’s success so the idea of implementing a hybrid work model may not seem like a good idea at this point in time.

However, there are many benefits to a hybrid work model that will not only benefit your team, but will also benefit you as a startup owner, and ultimately it will benefit your business.


6 Benefits of a Hybrid Model for Startups:


1. Increased Productivity

Every person within a company is different with varied strengths, weaknesses, and the type of environment in which they thrive.

As a startup business owner, you can recognize which team members work best in quiet, focused atmospheres, and which ones excel in high-paced, high-energy environments.

The beauty of a hybrid model is it brings out the very best in every person — those who love collaboration and the social aspect of the workplace can produce their very best work by coming into the office while having the option to work remotely if needed. In contrast, team members who work best on projects in their own space can work from home with the ability to come onsite if needed. 

The main message is maximizing productivity is extremely important, and by coming up with a hybrid work model that best suits your company you can maximize your efforts. 


2. Increased Work Satisfaction 

Enabling both you and your team to be the best you can be through work environment flexibility will naturally lead to greater work satisfaction. 

In a survey of 1,000 UK-based employees, 65 percent of people that were able to follow an At-will Hybrid Model were satisfied with their jobs, while only 53 percent working onsite exclusively and 57 percent working from home exclusively were satisfied.  

Having your team feel accomplished, productive, and important to the company is something that is invaluable to a startup as it motivates and drives your team to achieve the next big goal or next phase of growth.


3. Improved Mental Health

Prioritizing the mental health of you and your team makes everyone feel appreciated and valued. When you or a team member is stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed it can lead to serious health concerns and is toxic for your startup.

Following a hybrid work model provides flexibility for both you and your staff to take mental breaks when needed, participate in physical activity, and work in a place that is conducive to feeling little stress.

As an example, many people find that taking a walk, doing yoga, or participating in another physical activity as part of their daily routine helps them feel relaxed and more focused when they return to work. With a hybrid work model, they can enjoy these activities and return to working as a better version of themselves.

Work environments can be a significant mental health trigger and some find that working from home is less stressful whereas for others it is the opposite.


4. Better Work-life balance

Let’s face it, life can get busy when we add in work, families, and other responsibilities. When business owners consider their employees’ challenges and personal interests outside of the company, it makes everyone feel happier and less stressed about juggling so much at once. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, many people have enjoyed working from home as it has allowed more time spent with families and enjoying hobbies due to eliminated commuting time. Adopting a hybrid work model is a great way for both you and your team to maintain a healthy work-life balance by being less focused on where someone must work. Working from home most days may remove a lot from some people’s plates, while working from the office may do the same for others. 

Another consideration is to loosen the structure around working hours if it is feasible for your company. Some people perform much better in the earlier half of the day while others perform better in the evening. Allowing flexible work hours would allow your team to be most productive in their chosen working hours and take care of personal matters in their not-as-productive hours.


5. Meaningful Company Culture

You may think that not having all team members in the office together full-time could hurt your startup’s culture – but the opposite can actually be true.

Supporting the needs and preferred work environments of you and your team becomes a major contributor to your company’s culture and what you value as an organization. It sends the message that you value people, your time, and overall the well-being and happiness of those around you.

Having this culture is a great way to attract great talent to your team as hybrid work models are something more and more professionals are looking for. This will help greatly in your recruitment processes throughout your startup’s growth.

6. Save Money

Depending on the size of your startup and your team, following a hybrid model may allow you to not have the expense of a designated office, at least during the beginning stages of your company’s growth.

You may ask how a hybrid work model is possible if you do not have a physical workspace, but there are alternative options that allow you and your team to work in-person. 

You can arrange to meet as a team once or twice a week for meetings, updates and brainstorming sessions by reserving a private table at a coffee shop or restaurant. Buying your team coffees or lunch once a week will be nothing compared to the overhead costs of running an office.


How do you adopt a hybrid work model as a startup?


Do you love the idea of following a hybrid work model but you’re not quite sure where to start or what you need to do to make it happen? Here is a list of things you should consider to make sure your hybrid setup is well thought out and successful for your business.


1. Requirements from your team

Does your team have what they need to work efficiently from home? Do they have the correct technology or software? Make sure that both you and your team can work as effectively from home as they could at the office.


2. Communication strategies 

Because you may have all team members working remotely some days, and other days a mix, having solid communication strategies in place will be instrumental in achieving an effective hybrid work model. 

When everyone is physically together, it is easy to quickly speak to each other about projects, but when you are remote these unplanned conversations need to translate to digital platforms.


3. Create effective workflows and processes

Whether a team member is working on the go, at the office, or working from home, the same workflow and processes for your team should apply. A person who typically prefers working onsite but one day needs to work remotely should not disrupt any projects or deadlines.

A hybrid model is dependent on having clear workflows established so the team is efficient and nothing falls between the cracks.


4. Joining a startup incubator

Joining a startup incubator is a great way to work within a collaborative workspace while having the option to have a hybrid work model. In addition to an inspiring workspace, startup incubators provide mentorship and support when working at home. 

Innovation Cluster Peterborough and the Kawarthas offers a startup incubator program located 1.5 hours from Toronto, Ontario that supports entrepreneurs to launch and grow their companies from their workspace, virtually, or by following a hybrid work model.

Contact the Innovation Cluster to learn more!

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