Why should a startup founder or entrepreneur spend time and energy to apply to a competition or an award? One simple word Traction. Competition allows you to think about traction. I think it is important for Startup Founders to take part in these competition, because it gives you a platform to be heard amongst all the noise. I have been thinking about how we scale startups from Iceland and that is why the theme for this year’s Startup Iceland is Scaling. We launched a competition in collaboration with Vodafone called Stökkpallurinn to encourage Startups that have a Minimum Value Product (MVP) and are looking to scale. If you have not yet applied to this competition, I would highly encourage you to do so.
The application process enables you to hone your message and also to ask some questions that usually don’t come up while you are building your product. Some of the founders think that their product is not yet ready, I think that is not correct thinking. Your product is never ready or perfect, you are always improving it. As long as it shows value, I think it is ready to show. The best way to showcase your product is to put it to the ultimate test, i.e launch. Awards and competitions give a perfect venue.
We have a bunch of organizations that have launched awards and this year we are fortunate to have the Nordic Startup Awards Finale to be hosted in the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference center on May 31st, right after Startup Iceland 2016. The registration for the Award show is free.
Coming back to Scaling, I have written a bunch of blog posts related to how to build traction and market your product. Product centric founders tend to ignore the importance of marketing and selling. One book that clearly identifies 19 different channels to scale is the book Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth. I was able to connect with the author of the book and cofounder of the search engine Duck Duck Go, Gabriel Weinberg. He has agreed to mentor the winning teams over skype as part of the workshop that we will be hosting after Startup Iceland. Did I mention that there is $25,000 worth prize money for the winning teams? I don’t know of any downside to applying for this competition. There are no strings attached, no equity, no nothing. So what are you waiting for? Building a company is hard, scaling a business is harder but it can be learnt. We are trying to encourage everyone to start thinking about scaling. Because as the cliche goes, Startups don’t fail because they don’t have great products, startups fail because they don’t have enough customers or run out of money. The easiest and the most sustainable way to build a company is to rely on your customers. Stökkpallurinn, the business scaling competition forces you to think about how you are going to grow your customer base. It is never too late or too early to start thinking about this problem.