I joined the SeedInvest team in New York just over a year ago. SeedInvest is an equity crowdfunding platform focused on angel investing and venture capital for technology companies.
When I first moved to the USA I looked at the West Coast online investing platforms like Fundersclub, Wefunder and AngelList. In the end, I chose to join SeedInvest because (like Seedrs whet I worked in the UK) they had focused on building a business that takes early-stage investing seriously and treats equity crowdfunding like a smaller version of high-end investment banking rather than a form of charity or gambling.
I’ve worked in venture capital, management consulting and design thinking. But nothing prepared me for the intensity of working inside a startup. I’ve been lucky to have gradually absorbed the startup mindset over several years of working in startup incubators and accelerators. This mindset has allowed me to cope with the intensity of startup life. But the mindset needs to be learned.
Some of the things that you need to succeed in a startup are techniques and information, but the bedrock is the “startup mindset”. This mindset takes time to acquire. I enjoy a good TED talk or conference video. But spending a several hours listening to an audiobook written and read by someone who lives the mindset is one of the best ways you can start to think like a startup person.
To aryrow a business you need a steady stream of customers and investors because cash-flow is the lifeblood of an enterprise. Yet lots of people around the world still feel uncomfortable with business development, marketing and pitching to investors.
In Silicon Valley there is a saying that the perfect combination of skills for a startup is a developer, a designer and a hustler. Often under appreciated, the hustler is responsible for ensuring that the business has a steady and increasing cashflow. The role of the hustler could be taken by someone with training in marketing, sales or finance. The art of the hustle is really just a combination of clear communication and hard work.
Social media is often the least respected part of the marketing mix. With an internet full of cat pictures and funny home videos it’s easy to see why social media isn’t taken seriously by business leaders. This is a dangerous mistake because digital communication is disrupting almost every industry. Part of the problem is that most books on social media aren’t rigorous enough to have serious business credibility in unsexy technology and B2B industries.
So, where is the best thinking on social media today? It turns out that it’s hidden in plain sight in the business literature on word-of-mouth, competitive strategy and innovation. I’m a bit of a business book geek and I’ve read literature about business and strategy since I was a teenager. I started on Tom Peters and soon discovered Peter Drucker and Michael Porter. Seth Godin was a revelation for me. These days I devour everything from Mitch Joel and Hugh Macleod.
Video is the most powerful form of storytelling medium in all social media. This month I’ve been experimenting with Social Cam as a publishing medium for short, punchy videos about design, business and social media. Video is powerful because you can tell a narrative and convey emotion. Even as a professional communicator it is still one of the hardest mediums to master but also one of the most authentic.
Social Cam, Viddy and Supr8 are part of a new trend towards more active video sharing using mobile devices. These apps allow you to shoot short videos in a stylised manner and share them quickly and easily. My camera has become like a mobile toast-masters exercise programme. I can now challenge my communications skills anywhere, any time.
I specialise in social media for brands and business, but Gary Vaynerchuk is the master of social media for individual entrepreneurs. He started as a baseball card collector and grew a multi million dollar wine business.
Gary’s presentation in 2008 at Web Expo 2.0 was a turning point in the discussion of social media in business. There are lots of other people who can give you advice about ‘how’ to use social media, but no one but Gary can tell you so forcefully ‘why’ to use social media.