Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Rapt Wisdom: 10 Tips for New StartUps

10 Tips for Start Ups from Erika Trautman CEO of Rapt Media

Rapt Media is an exciting (and fun) company based in Boulder, CO. Full disclosure - I invested in Rapt Media (then Flixmaster) at the end of summer 2012 and then added to that through a Series A round led by Golden Seeds in 2013. 

CEO and Co-founder Erika Trautman and her team are pioneering the use of interactive online video for brands and media companies to dramatically increase user engagement and provide powerful analytics. 

Erika has taken advantage of multiple great opportunities and learning like crazy along the wayIn addition to working closely with Golden Seeds Erika previously benefited from taking the company through the Boulder Techstars program and also the Fall 2012 Astia Silicon valley bootcamp. In April 2013 year Erika participated in the Springboard Enterprises SPROCKIT program at the NAB Show in Las VegasAs a result, learning still of course, she has definitely completed a real life Start Up MBA - making good calls and some bad ones, recalibrating and always moving forwards. Most recently Rapt Media closed a $3.1mn Series B round led by Boulder Ventures.

So Erika is well placed to pay it forward for other entrepreneurs. She did so through a start up veteran's (you soak up a lot in just a couple of years!) Top Ten Tips list. I like the focus, from multiple angles, on the team (including your external network) and the lean startup mindset around getting product out asap, validated and measured.

Erika's Top Ten Tips 

  1. Honest Feedback – Get your product in front of beta testers as soon as possible. Move beyond sharing with friends and family so you can get honest feedback from people who don’t care about hurting your feelings.
  2. Diverse Perspective – Build your founding team with people who have different backgrounds and perspectives.
  3. Speak Their Language – Spend time talking to other founders, investors, and entrepreneurs to learn the lingo of the community. You need to be able to communicate your idea in a language that everyone understands.
  4. Find Key Metrics – Everyone knows this is important, but it’s critical to identify what your key metrics are and measure, measure, measure.
  5. All About the Team – Every startup needs to build a team that is full of great, multi-talented people. As hard as it is, if someone isn’t working out, you need to fire them quickly.
  6. Build your Network – As the founder of a startup, you need a network so get out there and meet people. Build your network. Your connections are invaluable as you navigate the first couple of years of founding a company.
  7. Quit Your Day Job – I’m sorry to say, but you have to quit your job to found a company. You need to make the startup the priority in your professional life.
  8. Don’t Get Too Big Too Soon – Startups need to validate each business goal and review metrics along the way to ensure that growth is sustainable. You don’t want to start spending money that you have from investors without the validation that you’re meeting milestones.
  9. Play to Strengths – Within your team of employees, identify the right person for the right job and make sure that everyone is playing to their strengths.
  10. Support Network – It’s not easy to start a new company. There are a lot of ups and downs and, as the founder, you’re going to need a strong support system. Your friends and family can help you get through the tough times and celebrate the milestones.
You can watch Erika deliver her Top Ten message HERE.

Be sure to follow her on twitter @trautmanerika and via @raptmedia