Can you explain what your startup does in just one easy sentence? That’s just one of the things Nicole Yershon — director of innovative solutions at Ogilvy & Mather London and midemlab 2013 jury member — asks of young tech companies. Having established the ad agency’s first Digital Innovation Lab in London in 2008, Yershon has gone on to set up several more across the world, with the common aim of nurturing digital creativity and innovation. As one of the UK’s most influential people in tech, she’s more than well-placed to judge this year’s midemlab finalists. So take note!
midemblog: What qualities do you look for in a startup ?
Nicole Yershon: I look at two different stages to a start up. The first stage is at early concept/incubator stage, beta level. I ask myself:
– Do I like the team? Could I mentor them? Would I connect them to others? Are they good people?
– Are they able to explain their company in one easy sentence?
– Is it a unique idea or have I seen a few variations around? Have they done their homework within that space? Who would be their competitors?
– Is it relevant and user friendly for people? Or is it too tech-heavy?
– What’s the business model?
The second stage of a startup, once they have come through all of the above is:
– Are they able to deliver? Do they have any case studies to share? Could they deliver at a global scale?
> Which startup has most impressed you of late and why?
There have been too many to mention, but one in particular I could really see working years ago was Whipcar.com. Back then it was just such an early stage peer to peer idea. Within a few years of initially seeing them, they have continued to go from strength to strength. The reason, quite simply, was that they did their homework; laid the correct foundations; got their approvals; got their funding; ironed out their site; beta tested it in a small area first; got their learnings; tweaked it… The rest was down to whether it fixed a problem in people’s lives. It obviously did.
> What are the most common reasons why startups fail?
It could be the wrong mix of people – you really need someone with an understanding of people and behaviour and what they would need, business acumen, good technological understanding – know their entry to that market inside out, great connections, never give up attitude, know when they need to collaborate and treat people with respect, always hold your head high – but, mainly. Have a good idea….
Has your startup made the next big thing in music?
Submit it for midemlab 2013 here!
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