Business strategy

5 lessons for every founder needs to know, from the Techstars Sydney accelerator program

- October 13, 2023 3 MIN READ
The Techstarts Tech Central 2023 cohort
The Techstarts Tech Central 2023 cohort

The inaugural Techstars Tech Central Sydney cohort has just completed the accelerator program and in the wake of their success, were keen to share 5 valuable lessons they learnt, in the hope that other startup founders don’t make the same mistakes.

Navigating the startup realm is a thrilling yet unpredictable adventure, often taking first-time founders on a rollercoaster from dream to reality. 

We were part of the program and tapped into the collective wisdom of Techstars Tech Central Sydney founders to shed light on the incredible journey of going from zero to one in the startup world.

These insights will hopefully make the path more accessible to other budding entrepreneurs, who are looking to pave the way for their own startup’s success.

1. Make something people want 

“Understand the problem you are solving, what you are selling, for who and why,” said Simon Cookes, CEO of LARKI.

LARKI CEO Simon Cookes

A Y Combinator quote (ironically) stands true: customer-obsessed businesses are the most successful.

Kirstin, the program team, and our mentors would beat the importance of fulfilling a need that people have into us. 

It is crucial that as our startups are still in their infancy we build a product that 100 people love instead of a product that 100,000 people like.

2. Mentor whiplash is real 

“For every 100 mentors you meet (and we met 120), you should only listen to 5. The ones that get you, the problem you’re solving, and the customers you serve,” says Nikki Tugano, founder of SeenCulture

Every mentor is trying to prove their value with advice, and it’s so tempting to make them feel validated. But listening to their advice doesn’t mean you always have to apply it.

No one knows your business better than you. Turn on your filters.

3. Focus or you die 

Startups don’t have the same luxuries as big companies, you have limited resources and not enough hours in the day.

Mantaray founder Rujuta Natu

Mantaray founder Rujuta Natu

It’s crucial to ruthlessly prioritise and rapidly iterate towards 1-2 metrics and judge your progress over that rather than trying to do everything at once. 

One of the key lessons we’ve learnt through the program is ruthless prioritisation and focusing on high-priority action items at any given time,” said Rujuta Natu, founder of Mantaray.

Spreading oneself too thin by trying to pursue multiple strategies or areas of growth can be detrimental to an early-stage startup.

It can lead to a lack of clarity, wasted time, and a decreased ability to find what truly works.

4. Know if you have a high-intent vs low-intent customers 

Your marketing channels should mould around the product you’re building, not the other way around.

Gecko founder Ben Kennedy

Gecko founder Ben Kennedy

Knowing whether your customer is high-intent (looking to make a purchase immediately) or low intent (customer discovers your product) is an important step to knowing which channels are worth pursuing. 

If you work out that your customer base is high intent you may find more success in SEO or SEM as a channel to use to acquire new customers, however, if your customer is lower intent you will likely find that social media and PR is a more suitable channel. 

“We worked out we had a high intent customer, began focussing on SEO, which grew 15% week on week from the beginning of the program to the end,” said Ben Kennedy, founder of Gecko.

5. Give First 

Startups are hard, they’re even harder when you’re a solo-founder, your website goes down and your growth is plateauing. The community we created at Techstars was so giving with ideas, time and motivation, which fostered a positive-sum mindset. 

By giving first, we all grew together and became better founders and people. That’s why we’re going to keep supporting each other once the program finishes and you can support us too by contributing to our Cut Through Ventures Angel syndicate.

The Techstars Founders in collaboration with Cut Through Ventures are launching an Angel Syndicate for sophisticated investors to take part in investing in one, some or all of the Techstars companies currently raising.


NOW READ: Meet the Techstars Tech Central Sydney class of 2023