Written by Nathan Sykes
Successful tech startups tend to have particular traits in common. Although their ideas and niches vary, you can identify the signs of a promising or successful startup with the characteristics below
Addresses a Technological Need
A successful startup manages to, firstly, recognize an unfulfilled need. Several of last year’s most successful startups did just that. Media site Cheddar earned millions in funding after recognizing an absence of news networks catering to millennials. Uber competitor Juno, seeing the dismay of Uber and Lyft drivers over how much profit they take, launched a more driver-friendly service that keeps a smaller share of the profit. Nanit recognized the need for a smart baby camera that provides data about how your baby sleeps, like how long it takes them to fall asleep.
All of these startups did well in recognizing a relative need and delivering a product or service that fulfills the desire for that need.
Direct Consumer Targeting on a Scalable Level
Although indirect third-party sales can help a startup get on its feet, the most successful startups tend to establish a sales methodology that embraces direct consumer contact, leading to more control and a higher likelihood of customers for life (or a very long time).
As a business scales up, it may make more sense to prioritize third-party sales, but as a startup is just getting going, there’s no better person to convey the product or service than its founders and starting employees. Startups that fulfill a market need tend to value direct consumer targeting on a scalable level.
Leadership With Experience
There is certainly an abundance of startups whose founders are relatively inexperienced with business, but possess fantastic ideas and have the drive to put them into reality. Still, many successful startups are prudent enough to bring experienced leadership on board to help the motivated and brilliant younger entrepreneurs with potential business obstacles they do not have the experience to predict. Many local and national business organizations also offer resources that can help startup founders move their business forward.
A startup’s lifecycle will ideally develop from modest beginnings to public trading and beyond, at which point experienced leadership is pivotal to continue steady growth.
The founders of a startup do not double as full-time lawyers. Even if they are lawyers, they likely have enough on their plate that it’s prudent to leave the legal side up to experts who can devote their attention fully to such matters. Ultimately, startups are prone to legal ordeals that sometimes involve other companies who may falsely claim you are infringing on an idea or trademark.
In scenarios like these, it’s best to leave the legal expertise to lawyers with time on their hands. The costliness of lawyers will pale in comparison to the cost of a startup going bankrupt due to a legal drain — something in which many successful tech startups are aware.
Early Placement in Reputable Publications
If startups have no direct access to writers at a reputable tech magazine or website, it’s a good idea to hire respectable PR or media outreach professionals. Startups benefit considerably from the early press from reputable publications, helping to get the word out and bringing in leads as a result. Startups with innovative technology tend to emphasize buzz words like “predictive modeling” or “crowd-sharing” to be at the forefront of such a movement, making their brand look ahead of the curve upon future reflection.
Play the Long Game, Not the Overnight Success
Startups that achieve overnight success are often idealized in film, but this is a little rarer in practice. In reality, even if there is a good degree of hype, a startup needs a good deal of resilience and flexibility as it generates leads and quality press. Even if a startup is quick to churn out a groundbreaking form of technology, consumers will be understandably skeptical until credentials arise from a combination of media, word-of-mouth buzz and competitors.
These elements are common among successful tech startups who recognize the importance of patience, resource allocation and leadership experience in addition to brilliant ideas and work ethic.
Nathan Sykes writes about trends in the IT/Tech industry. To read more from Nathan, you can check out his blog, Finding an Outlet.