Guest Writer
February 12, 2016

Startup Basics 101 with Yatan Blumenthal | Growth

The word is out! You might have heard it; in March starts a brand new accelerator at ours! Who, what, where? EY start-­up challenge,​ in collaboration with b​etahausX.​ Great reason to ask our Chief Accelerator Yatan Blumenthal to write a series of blogs, and share some basic startup insights.

Phase #3: Growth

You have now overcome rejection, and your business idea and product have changed significantly. You’ve gone through many iterations and you’ve logged your learnings. You have revenue and proudly read the black numbers on your P&L sheet.

 

Pick your (Un)management Systems

When you have a small team, communications aren’t very complex, but you never know how fast your team will expand. This is why it’s important to think about the way you organize yourself from the very start. There is a wealth of management systems which work well, you just have to find your flavor. A developer team’s favorites are Agile and Kanban boards. Another one up and coming is Holacracy, employed by Zappos. It’s focused on distributed authority and Objectives- Key Results (OKR) system. Each system has its’ pros and cons; pick one, execute it, and you and your team will naturally find what suits you best. You’ll thank yourselves for taking the time to do so.

 

"There is a wealth of management systems which work well, you just have to find your flavor"

 

Culture eats strategy for breakfast

Take a  deep look into your company’s culture. What habits do you have as a founder that you are implicitly or explicitly ‘transfering’ to your employees? It’s of paramount importance that your team has a set of collective habits that you stick to, and that you constantly improve. If you don’t have habits, you’ll lose the overview once your company grows bigger.

Also think about what defines your company. Spirit of innovation, focus on fun, ability to fail and learn quickly? Whatever it is, make sure it’s reflected in your daily, weekly and monthly habits as a team. Recently I came across something called a “stinky fish” session. Stinky fish in this case means; what do you have in your pants’ pocket, that will start to stink if you keep it for too long? Having these sorts of sessions make a big difference for your team.

 

"what do you have in your pants’ pocket, that will start to stink if you keep it for too long?"

 

Keep a blog & tell the world what you know, experience, and learn

You are growing, so people want to know more about you. If you haven’t already done so, consider opening a blog or ‘online magazine’. Writing about things you learn or things you have knowledge about can teach your customers, business partners, and professional network something new. If you do, it can make a big difference in how they perceive you. It can also serve as a great tool for content marketing. Take a look at the buffer blog, which people read just because it describes first hand experiences regarding remote working, culture, project management tools, and more. The onemonth blog goes deep into methods for productivity. Go all in! Keeping a blog will also train you in communicating more concise and clearly.

 

"You are growing, so people want to know more about you"

 

Take the revenue path that most fits your strategy

Last but not least, consider your growth needs. Do you have one core tech that you need to develop, or will you need to attack the market aggressively to make sure you stay ahead? What are your needs and costs in terms of Research & Development? Remember the principles of testing and iterating from phase 2. They’ll save you big amounts of cash and time. To all questions such as the aforementioned, you should have clear answers. Only then can you make an informed decision about whether it’s best for you to finance your own growth, go into debt, or get VC funding. If you pick a VC as your source of financing, make sure they have “smart money” and can add more value than just zeros to your bank account.

Rather than taking advice from consultants or people ‘outside’, try to answer questions yourself, together with your team and your customers. Your company is unique, and while you can learn from others, the answers to your questions will always be at least a little bit different, than they are or were for everybody else.

 

"try to answer questions yourself, together with your team and your customers"

 

Wanna learn more and get all right from the start? Applications for the ​EY start­-up challenge are open until February 14th. Worried about travel expenses because you’re not in Berlin? Travel expenses up to €7.5 K are covered!

Why stop here? Find some more interesting articles here!

Cost is a big one here. In regards to total transportation costs, the last mile comprises up to 53% of those - making it the least efficient part of the supply chain. Expectations of free shipping and next day deliveries add up to this.

Due to increasing digitalization and convenience services in every area of people's lives, the smooth and flawless process of getting the delivery to one's doorstep is exceedingly becoming what customers care most about. On top of that, for companies that package being delivered is an extension of their brand. The consumer is basically coming face-to-face with the brand, which makes it the biggest opportunity to heighten customer satisfaction.


If you live in a city and have even slightly observed your urban surroundings you’ve probably witnessed it first hand - urban congestion and crowded cities make it pretty tough to satisfy the growing demand and rising expectations of super quick deliveries. Add unpredictability in transit (like weather conditions), an incorrect address or remote locations, just to name a few, and you can see where this is going.

The worst part is, all those delivery trucks and vans that also produce a fair bit of emissions, are often only half full when they roll out for deliveries. This is mostly due to low drop sizes and stops along the route that are far and few between.

It’s not all hopeless though - Where there is a problem, there are solutions.


Same old, same old - isn’t always all that bad. Sometimes, all that’s needed are some new perspectives! The city of Utrecht, for‌ ‌example, implemented a zero-emissions electric barge nicknamed the “Beer Boat”. 

Since 2010 it’s carrying beer and food to the city’s downtown restaurants by using waterways. Other electric barges in Amsterdam not only deliver but even collect organic waste, which is then turned into biofuel in processing plants! Isn’t that cool?

It becomes clear that cities, logistics, as‌ ‌well‌ ‌as‌ ‌urban‌ ‌planners, are equally part of solving the inefficiency of the last-mile. Tackling this mountain of issues calls for teamwork!


A centralized platform, hub or network for similar companies, could do the trick to fill up the delivery vans & trucks that are barely loaded. Parcels could be distributed more efficiently between different companies and their delivery vehicles.

Like a big pool of parcels from different companies with every single parcel going into that one van with the same route!


Delivery Driver Experience and Smart Delivery Vehicles are also areas with huge potential for improvement and innovation.


Ellie: Two years ago we adopted a new legal structure for Jolocom GmbH according to the purpose model of ownership, manifesting our commitment and dedication to building a self-sovereign organization. That means we can’t take VC funding or sell public shares of the company. 

Volker: Jolocom is a community driven organisation – both in a tech sense but also much further beyond. We’re hugely involved in the DWeb community where we organize and attend events for the decentralized community. Every year we also help organize and attend the DWeb Camp in San Francisco, which brings together all kinds of creatives so this technology of tomorrow is built in a collaborative way.


Next to that on-demand experiences have become firmly embedded into people’s everyday lives - be it a mobile app to book a ride, send flowers to your loved ones or order lunch to your office. It’s all possible and has made premium features like real-time tracking a standard.  The online consumer expects nothing less and certainly doesn’t like to wait.


Making that quick and instant gratification happen is another story though. Groundbreaking ideas and innovations are needed to tackle all these factors. Does your startup have one? 

Then head over to our Future Logistics Challenge! Applications are still open until September 23rd.

Volker: There is this really nice place, called Green Rabbit with salads and baked potatoes where I like to go to. Sometimes I just keep it simple and go to Lidl.

Ellie: I eat a lot in west.berlin cafe which is here around the corner and I love the Matcha Lattes from Starbucks.

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