27 May

How to Boost Your Startup Engagement in Expos, Fairs and Events

Apps World Berlin_22
Gabriel Dombri
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Gabriel Dombri

Entrepreneur and Digital Business Strategist with a marketing background. Currently CEO @Tapptitude, a Full-Stack Mobile Development Studio, and Founder @GROWTH MARKETING Academy, a private school of performance marketing. I am highly passionate about innovation and focused on helping smart entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

Digital Marketing Consultant with companies in the UK, US, Italy and Romania. 8+ years of hands-on experience in Digital Strategy and Online Performance Optimisation.
Gabriel Dombri
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Going to an expo, fair or specialised event with your startup can be a pretty big decision, both in terms of money and time investments. Therefore, once you decide that you need to be present at such an event, getting the best out of it is essential.

One of the greatest challenges is to go beyond the ‘getting exposure’ thing that is being sold by the majority of event organisers and get into a situation where your presence there can bring you some real, bottom line results for your startup. In order to get to such results, first of all you need to be aware and avoid some very common traps. Then, you need a coherent strategy coupled with a strong tactics plan, going from correct objective setting to implementing creative ways to be different and get engagement during the event.

In this essay, I list some of the things every startup should cover and talk about some tactics you can use, giving some cool examples that I saw a few weeks ago at Apps World in Berlin where I accompanied my colleagues from Tapptitude. Read More

25 May

7 Survival Rules for Startups – Brands Partnerships and Collaborations

Gabriel Dombri
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Gabriel Dombri

Entrepreneur and Digital Business Strategist with a marketing background. Currently CEO @Tapptitude, a Full-Stack Mobile Development Studio, and Founder @GROWTH MARKETING Academy, a private school of performance marketing. I am highly passionate about innovation and focused on helping smart entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

Digital Marketing Consultant with companies in the UK, US, Italy and Romania. 8+ years of hands-on experience in Digital Strategy and Online Performance Optimisation.
Gabriel Dombri
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Startups – Brands Partnerships and Collaborations = real opportunities for both

startups brands partnerships by Gabriel DOMBRI

Creating partnerships and collaborations between startups and brands or corporates seems to be a growing trend lately. Though these types of relationships are bit more complicated than the usual investments, the fact that they have entered the mainstream it’s a good thing for both sides. Many startups can have strong benefits in engaging with an established brand in many phases of their development, while many brands can use these opportunities to create strategic advantages for themselves. But all in all, the success of these partnerships and collaborations is as complicated as the success of any other significant relationship. A good preparation before entering such relationships is critical on both sides and a precise clarification on the whys and whats for each side is also highly important.

From my experience of  being very close to this area for the last year, while developing Startcelerate (where we connect high-growth startups with corporates to create innovation together), there are a few important ‘rules’ that a startup needs to consider for having better chances of creating a successful partnership with a brand. Some of them are must-haves and others are just nice-haves, but somehow important.

 

rule #1. Don’t get a partner you are going to hate

Rushing up to get a partner, because you believe you need one fast can be very dangerous. If you don’t really pay much attention to applying the right suitability criteria, cut corners with getting the right knowledge about your partner’s motivation and interests can result in very bad things for the partnership itself and eventually for your startup. Think of this whole partnership thing like a relationship where you have to spend a lot of time together and do stuff whose success will be highly dependent on you both having a good communication and a similar understanding of the things you build together.

To do a good preparation means at least to clarify and apply your suitability criteria for the type of partner you’re after and they understand the your possible partner’s raison d’être for entering such a partnership. For this last point, you’d need to know:

  • your partner’s motivation (is it strategic or rather purely financial?)
  • your partner’s expectations for the partnership
  • your partner’s added-value capabilities

 

rule #2 Agree what happens if things don’t go as planned (as they rarely do)

We all know it: things won’t go as planned. In a startup, this is so much the underlying reality that whatever we plan and agree on has to account for it. But the startup founders often bend the reality (by strongly believing in a different outcome) and project a surer future than it can actually exist. This optimism can end up in a contract and from there some stuff can be utterly screwed down the line, especially when dealing with an established brand, for which a plan means something else than for a startup.

One way to deal with this as a startup founder would be just to be dead honest and tell your partner that most likely the objectives you set up and agreed upon will not be hit. And that you both need to understand what will happen at that moment. In many situations, this plan B can actually help you overcome many difficulties in the development and management of the partnership and get you a more committed partner.

rule #3 Over-communicate with your partner

Once a startup got a partnership with a brand, in many instances the founders believe that the job is done and they just need to get back to their day to day stuff and forget about it. But unfortunately, closing a partnership or  a collaboration is just the beginning of a process of working together and keeping a constant flow of communication.

As a startup founder, you need to make sure that you get that communication with your new partner as a new process in your company and a new habit for you. Doing that will not only help you both but will also create the essential background for getting a successful partnership out of that relationship.

rule #4 Create a common timeline for deliveries

This is important especially for partnerships involving investments in services or development of products together. As timing is almost always essential for startups, an explicit agreement beforehand on the timeline for whatever you need to deliver to and receive from your corporate partner can save you from nasty headaches later.  The usual thing that happens if you don’t do it is that your partner’s delivery dates are a bit delayed from what you planned and the dependencies created between you two will create further delays and eventually some fuck-ups in shipping your stuff into the market.

rule #5 Make sure to have a direct contact and advocate at your partner’s

A partnership means a set up where two teams work together towards a common goal. Now, as a startup founder, once you got that going with a brand, it’s critical that you have a team you can work (& communicate) with on your partner’s side. Such team can be in fact one single person, as long as they are your supporter in the company and it’s their job to work at the success of the relationship. Because otherwise that partnership will give you much more than frustrations: delays, stuff blocked along the way, pressure and lots of stress.

rule #6 Plan for more time needed for decisions at your partner side (at least 30% more)

If you are a startup founder who hasn’t worked in a corporation, you may not know this: the time to take a decision in the majority of these companies is kind of slow and the process of taking a decision usually involves many meetings and too many people (all of these compared with what you’d expect). I know it’s difficult to understand it, but you just need to accept it. And work around it properly, by just putting in provisions of time in your own planning. This way, you’ll better chances of working in alignment with your corporate partner and (maybe) be both happy.

rule #7 Deliver. Deliver

What else is to be added here? – Ah, maybe one thing: if you committed to it, deliver it and everybody will be happy. Even yourself.

Which of these rule is the most important?

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Need a corporate partner? Learn how to pitch one

So, this is kind of it. But these rules don’t work without a context and the context is the process of finding, selecting, convincing and getting a corporate partner for your startup. The presentation below, delivered as a workshop at PODIM conference this year, will guide you through all that, from some strategic outlines till the survival rules for a startup – brand partnership. Take a look and I’d love you hear you thoughts on this.

 

Startup Pitching Workshop at Your Event
Do you organise a startup event where you have startups pitching to corporates or investors?

Get a workshop on pitching and getting corporate partners in your event. I do speaking engagements, workshops, trainings and mentorship sessions for startups and tech companies collaborating with startups anywhere in Europe.

GET ME TO SPEAK AT YOUR STARTUP EVENT

20 May

How to Prepare and Deliver a Deal-closing Pitch for Your Startup

Gabriel Dombri
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Gabriel Dombri

Entrepreneur and Digital Business Strategist with a marketing background. Currently CEO @Tapptitude, a Full-Stack Mobile Development Studio, and Founder @GROWTH MARKETING Academy, a private school of performance marketing. I am highly passionate about innovation and focused on helping smart entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

Digital Marketing Consultant with companies in the UK, US, Italy and Romania. 8+ years of hands-on experience in Digital Strategy and Online Performance Optimisation.
Gabriel Dombri
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Pitching as a bridge between the startup’s reality and the public’s realities

 

 

Go Pitch Youself by Gabriel DOMBRI

We often see startup pitching as a single, spot activity, prepared and delivered quickly. But often, a pitch is not at all like that, as instead of being a tactical intervention, it’s a strategic flow, a process having at its core the delivery of the pitch and surrounded by the essential activities of proper preparation – before – and well done follow up – after. It’s a line not a dot and if done right it creates a proper bridge between the startup reality and the public’s world.

Last week I was at this great conference focused on collaborations between startups and brands, PODIM in Maribor, Slovenia, where I delivered a workshop on how to pitch as a startup and convince brands to become your partners. You can see the slide below and use them as a guide any time you need to cover the entire flow of preparing and delivering your startup pitch, especially for getting corporate partners, but also to investors.

Pitching as a strategic activity

A fundamental lesson in this workshop is to look at the pitch as a strategic activity, where the focus in not only on doing a fantastic delivery of the pitch in front of your public, but preparing the things in such a way that you have the right public in front of you. I’ve seen this so many times: very smart startup founder delivering a great pitch to a bunch of investors or corporates who were not suitable to get involve with that startups (for various reasons). All that leads to wasted time, both for you as a startup founder (and time is of essence in a startup!) and for your public.
The smarter way to do this is to have a strong preparation of the pitch, that validates things like:
  • knowing exactly why you pitch and what you want out of it
  • having the right public in front of you, with the right motivations for getting involved with your startup
  • understanding beforehand the suitability between your startup and those specific investors or corporate partners
  • having a clear proposition that is relevant for your public (what you want, what you give in exchange, when it needs to happen, why it’s worth it)

These are just some of the points touched in the workshop. For the entire flow, just take a look at the slides above and should you have any questions, please comment here or email me.

Happy pitching!

 

Startup Pitching Workshop at Your Event
Do you organise a startup event where you have startups pitching to corporates or investors?

Get a workshop on pitching in your programme. I do speaking engagements, workshops, trainings, and mentorship sessions for startups and tech companies collaborating with startups anywhere in Europe.

GET ME TO SPEAK AT YOUR STARTUP EVENT

 

20 Apr

4 Wrong Reasons to Build Your Startup

Gabriel Dombri
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Gabriel Dombri

Entrepreneur and Digital Business Strategist with a marketing background. Currently CEO @Tapptitude, a Full-Stack Mobile Development Studio, and Founder @GROWTH MARKETING Academy, a private school of performance marketing. I am highly passionate about innovation and focused on helping smart entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

Digital Marketing Consultant with companies in the UK, US, Italy and Romania. 8+ years of hands-on experience in Digital Strategy and Online Performance Optimisation.
Gabriel Dombri
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Whenever I meet a new startup founder, I pop this question: So, why do you do this? What motivated you to build your startup?

I must admit I’ve been surprised about how many young people are motivated by what I consider to be ‘weird’ reasons to create a startup. And that is worrying, for at least two reasons:

  1. and

 

Startup founders are the hearts and brains of their startups and what motivates them initially to ‘do a startup’ instead of anything else makes a huge impact in the way they approach the countless challenges they will face while developing their ventures. A startup founder needs all the drive and motivation available in order to overcome the usual numerous near-death experiences she’ll face during that ride and find the will to go on. Paul Graham, again, spoke a deep truth when saying that the number one cause of startup failure is in fact the startup founders becoming demoralised and ‘dying’. Read More

15 Apr

When Not to Build a Startup – 7 Deadly Sins For Startups

Gabriel Dombri
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Gabriel Dombri

Entrepreneur and Digital Business Strategist with a marketing background. Currently CEO @Tapptitude, a Full-Stack Mobile Development Studio, and Founder @GROWTH MARKETING Academy, a private school of performance marketing. I am highly passionate about innovation and focused on helping smart entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

Digital Marketing Consultant with companies in the UK, US, Italy and Romania. 8+ years of hands-on experience in Digital Strategy and Online Performance Optimisation.
Gabriel Dombri
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To build a startup is not at all easy. Many times it seems a lot easier looking from outside than it actually is when you are doing it. The-overnight-success syndrome  is something that the media around us has created and it’s been enhanced by the fact that we tend to forget all those who failed to allow the success of the others appear.

I’ve seen hundreds of startups so far in different events and worked with quite many directly. The 7 situations I describe below are always in the top when it comes to understanding the causes of startup failures. That happens, I suppose, because startup founders don’t pay enough attention to them or they don’t consider them important enough to actually find solutions for them.

My advice here is not necessarily to stop building your startup if you stumble into one of them, but first of all to make you stop and think seriously about them. And I am sure that if you pay close attention to these 7 problems you will take the right decisions.

A few days ago I looked at these matters from a different perspective in this article on the fundamental things first time founders should know.

 

1. You cannot express clearly the problem you want to solve & who’s got it

The primary cause of startup failure is building something that has no market. Read More

09 Apr

Startup Development for First Time Founders

Startup Development Fundamentals by Gabriel DOMBRI
Gabriel Dombri
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Gabriel Dombri

Entrepreneur and Digital Business Strategist with a marketing background. Currently CEO @Tapptitude, a Full-Stack Mobile Development Studio, and Founder @GROWTH MARKETING Academy, a private school of performance marketing. I am highly passionate about innovation and focused on helping smart entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

Digital Marketing Consultant with companies in the UK, US, Italy and Romania. 8+ years of hands-on experience in Digital Strategy and Online Performance Optimisation.
Gabriel Dombri
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The Fundamental things to know as a first-time startup founder

Last weekend I was a mentor for 3 Day Startup in Cluj and saw over forty young and energetic students working on some very cool ideas and trying to push them into something that is more real than only some interesting sounding ideas.

What I saw there, besides the participants’ energy, passion and their drive to solve acute problems in different markets, was a certain lack of knowledge about the fundamental tools and methods on developing an entrepreneurial project. Doing a startup is not easy even if you have all these basic knowledge, but not having them makes it all more difficult.

So, I updated one of my presentations to focus on what I consider some of the most important things  young entrepreneurs should know, especially if they build a startup for the first time. I’ve only added here some details you can find in the presentation, as you can actually downloaded it. Take this as a guiding map into going forward and start applying some of the things learned here.

startup development fundamentals for first time startup founders

This presentation will take your from what some basics like what a startup is to listing the critical risks you’d have to know about when developing your startup to some of the most important tools and methodologies used today by other startup founders around the world. It will also dig into some methods to validate your problem and communicate your solution by creating a kick-ass UVP. The presentation starts from the premises laid out by a combination of Customer Development (Steve Blank’s views) and Lean methodology (Eric Ries and Ash Maurya).

 

Startup Development Fundamentals for first time startup founders

 

Get access to the full presentation

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03 Apr

Startup Tools – Business Model Canvas

Gabriel Dombri
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Gabriel Dombri

Entrepreneur and Digital Business Strategist with a marketing background. Currently CEO @Tapptitude, a Full-Stack Mobile Development Studio, and Founder @GROWTH MARKETING Academy, a private school of performance marketing. I am highly passionate about innovation and focused on helping smart entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

Digital Marketing Consultant with companies in the UK, US, Italy and Romania. 8+ years of hands-on experience in Digital Strategy and Online Performance Optimisation.
Gabriel Dombri
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The starting point: a new way to thinking business

business model generation by Alex Osterwalder

In the 2000’s, Alex Osterwalder was a researcher at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, focused on how businesses are structured from the perspective of their most important elements. The result of his activity became his PHD paper, Business Model Ontology [sic!] in 2004. From here to publishing a book and a series of tools it was just a series of steps and an innovative process of both self-publishing Business Model Generation and building a few online tools to help the entrepreneurs innovate in a completely different way than they’d been used to.

Business Model Generation, the book published in 2010, changed forever how entrepreneurs and business managers look at their businesses and work on creating innovation. The book has at its core the Business Model Canvas (you can see it below) and an entire process of making sense and creating business models for different kinds of ventures. And fortunately, it puts a strong nail in the coffin of the business plan, the central piece of business creation before this innovation.

Advantages of using a Business Model Canvas:  

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01 Apr

Books for startups – Running Lean by Ash Maurya

Gabriel Dombri
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Gabriel Dombri

Entrepreneur and Digital Business Strategist with a marketing background. Currently CEO @Tapptitude, a Full-Stack Mobile Development Studio, and Founder @GROWTH MARKETING Academy, a private school of performance marketing. I am highly passionate about innovation and focused on helping smart entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

Digital Marketing Consultant with companies in the UK, US, Italy and Romania. 8+ years of hands-on experience in Digital Strategy and Online Performance Optimisation.
Gabriel Dombri
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Running Lean – the practical guide to de-risk your startup

Get the book from here. 

Ash’s book was a revelation when I first read it and has been a fundamental reference point in everything I was involved in for the last couple of years. But the book is just one chunk of the value coming from Ash, being complemented by his blog, his hands-on workshops on business modelling and the tools in LeanStack.

Ash Maurya Running LeanIf you’ve read Eric Ries’ Lean Startup, Running Lean would be like a specialisation course in developing a startup in a lean environment, with a strong logic behind it and with crucial practical examples on how to do things, especially in the encounters with your customers.

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14 Jul

Startcelerate presentation for Business Days Cluj 2014

startcelerate bucharest 2014
Gabriel Dombri
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Gabriel Dombri

Entrepreneur and Digital Business Strategist with a marketing background. Currently CEO @Tapptitude, a Full-Stack Mobile Development Studio, and Founder @GROWTH MARKETING Academy, a private school of performance marketing. I am highly passionate about innovation and focused on helping smart entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

Digital Marketing Consultant with companies in the UK, US, Italy and Romania. 8+ years of hands-on experience in Digital Strategy and Online Performance Optimisation.
Gabriel Dombri
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Last week, Tudor Birlea, my co-founder from Startcelerate, and I were part of a workshop on startups within the Business Days event in Cluj.

Here are the slides we used to talk about 5 basic things regarding startups:

  • the difference between a startup and other types of new business, like family businesses or life-style businesses
  • what makes one engage into such a dangerous and uncertain thing as building a startup; from passion to problem spotting
  • the main risks when developing such a particular type of enterprise
  • some of the main tools a startup founder can use to de-risk their business, as customer development, lean methodology, business model canvas etc
  • some of the main opportunities founders have right now, from the traditional funding to what we are doing with Startcelerate (which is resourses-based investments from established companies in exchange for equity).

Apply for Startcelerate Bucharest: one day left!

Now, just to give you also an actionable point here: we are on the last days of registering startups for our event in Bucharest and if you need investment, now it’s time for you to come around and apply for Startcelerate Pitch & Match event in Bucharest.

The event will take place in the 19th, 20th and 26th July at Microsoft offices in Bucharest.

 

How to Build Your Startup - FREE Online Course
I am preparing an online course to help startup founders and young entrepreneurs with ambitious ideas know the most important things needed to go from an idea to building a growing startup.

Some of the themes it will cover:

  • How to create your first Business Model using Lean Canvas
  • How to do find your Customer Segments and do Customer Development
  • How to get to Problem / Solution Fit before building a product
  • How to build your first MVP even if you are not a programmer
  • How to create your first Pitch and deliver it to Partners and Investors

Sign up for THE  Course

21 May

Customer Development presentation for Startcelerate Cluj

startups books gabriel dombri
Gabriel Dombri
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Gabriel Dombri

Entrepreneur and Digital Business Strategist with a marketing background. Currently CEO @Tapptitude, a Full-Stack Mobile Development Studio, and Founder @GROWTH MARKETING Academy, a private school of performance marketing. I am highly passionate about innovation and focused on helping smart entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

Digital Marketing Consultant with companies in the UK, US, Italy and Romania. 8+ years of hands-on experience in Digital Strategy and Online Performance Optimisation.
Gabriel Dombri
Follow me

Last Saturday, my co-founder in Startcelerate, Tudor Birlea, and I delivered a presentation on how to develop a startup using the basic principles of customer development and lean development. You can see the presentation below. It is to be said that the presentation covers the absolute basics when it comes to those areas and is based on what Steve Blank, Ash Maurya and some other guys like Eric Ries have been preaching for that last years.

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