Alice Nell
February 18, 2016

Startup Basics 101 with Yatan Blumenthal | Stay, Scale, or Exit

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 #4: Stay, Scale, or Exit

You have survived a few years and you’re now in the lucky 20% of companies that are actually going somewhere. Congratulations! That is however, if you stay on the path of excellence.

 

Systematize your company

When you’re growing your company, a good question to ask yourself is: “What would I need to document if I’d want to franchise this company?”. Looking at your company in this way enables you to systematize most simple actions in your company and start optimizing. When your team expands, you’ll have all materials ready to get new hires up to speed fast and easy, Even though many might not like it, McDonalds is the best example of a completely systematized company. A good resource is e-myth. Combine the skill of logging, documenting, and creating manuals, with an experimental startup spirit, and you’llhave a winning combination.

 

Small is beautiful

So now push comes to shove. What do you want and what is best for your company? The cliché way for a startup is to start small and then dominate the world. ome companies however, have reached their sweet spot at a certain size. They’re doing well in one particular market or geography, and best way to go for them, is to  stay that way. For example competitors of Uber are best advised to stay strong to their local markets. There is nothing wrong with staying small; “small is beautiful”! You can run a tight ship, keep providing more value to your customers by improving on what you have, and keepyour employees, your customers, and yourself happy. A lot of hidden champions in Germany follow this approach: Steady client base, constant incremental innovation.

 

Go Big or Go Home

Equally you can try to go global and take over, become the next Uber, Facebook or Google. This approach will require a big portion of “no guts, no glory” mentality because you’ll have to take big risks and scale quickly. Be sure to get advice from seasoned business people. Running a company that goes from 10 to 500 people in a matter of months is something youdefinitely should get assistance on.

 

Sell your startup or Exit

Many startups dream of being picked up by a Microsoft, Google or Facebook. It can also be a General Electric, a Siemens or a Samsung. Tough choice to make; either you grow a bit longer and cash out for a bigger price, or you take the offer now. Consider the terms under which you’re willing to exit and sell, and also consider for how long you’ll want to stick around to make your company grow. It’s a personal choice, and it’s yours to make.

 

Is that all you got?

I know I know. There are a lot of steps missing here, and an experience of years is simplified and narrowed down into 4 basic blog articles. This is just a teaser to get you and your startup on theway of becoming successfulr with a scientific mindset. Get reading and experimenting, take Lean startup and customer development as inspirations, check out what Zappos is doing in terms of organisations  and have a look at the way in which SpaceX revolutionised space travel. Be daring in a rational way, and enjoy the Startup ride!

 

Want to know more about the EY start-up-challenge? You can read all about it on their website. 

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Working for Lufthansa back in 2002, Joachim (CEO & founder @ Jolocom) had the idea to develop a better system for companies to swap data internally and for people to share their data with companies. Back in 2002, the resistance to open networks and communication was strong. However, just a few years later, social media and blockchain changed the rules of the game, which led to the founding of Jolocom in 2014. (Read the whole story here


Photo by Lea GK

Ellie joined the Jolocom team in the fall last year. She’s part of the content team and is responsible for communications and online platforms maintenance. 

Volker is currently studying IT-Systems Engineering at HPI, working on his master thesis with Jolocom. He joined the software development team in March this year and has previously worked from betahaus for another startup company.

With two locations in the heart of the city, betahaus l Sofia is a home of some of the most successful Bulgarian startups and is one of the leading innovation hubs in Sofia. Their main space is located just two minutes on foot from Sofia University and the second one stands right at the central Slaveykov Sqaure and has a beautiful view over the city.

As all of our locations, its pet and bicycle friendly and offers the same comfy and relaxed atmosphere you've come to expect from betahaus. Identical to our space, betahaus | Sofia uses glass doors for its team rooms, to build transparency and inclusion.

betahaus | Sofia @ Shipka 6

betahaus | Sofia @ Shipka 6

betahaus | Sofia is spread across 1800 q.m. divided into 2 separate spaces. Shipka 6 is 1300qm and takes over the entire 3rd floor of the UBA – Union of the Bulgarian Artists. Slaveykov Square is placed on the roof top of another historical building in Sofia. There they have two balconies with 360 degrees view, a cafe/bar and a shared kitchen.

Membership plans start from 350,– BGN for Workspace and go up to 435,– BGN for Private Offices. Currently, the space has around 190 members and will soon implement also Club Memberships plan. Every member of the Club will have access to events, conference room and betahaus community.

betahaus | Sofia @ Slaveykov Square
betahaus | Sofia @ Slaveykov Square

Ellie: Currently we have around 5 active pilots and we effectively work B2B2C. So we build our application for businesses which have their own user bases.

Volker: One of our ongoing projects is a pilot with Telekom. With their team, and partners from Riddle & Code and Simple Mobility, we have created the Magenta Scooter — an innovation in e-mobility that allows users to ride share while using their decentralized digital IDs. That means users can rent the scooter with our app and our identity. The main advantage there is that you can store your drivers licence in your Jolocom SmartWallet and then share this license with the app of Telekom. This eliminates the long onboarding process of verifying your license. 

Ellie: Another example is our e-government collaboration with The City of Antwerp called Blockchain on the Move. Using the SmartWallet, municipal employees can issue and validate their own credentials and create eIDs for citizens – it’s a digital ID with which you can register at the university or go to a swimming pool, as two examples.

Photo by Lea GK


Want more? Check out betahaus | Hamburg and betahaus | Barcelona.

If you want to know more about how to travel and work from different coworking spaces with one membership, click here.

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.


Ellie: I know that before joining betahaus Jolocom was in the Ethereum office – a collaborative blockchain space for companies also building on the same platform and the idea was always to stay within a coworking space. When they closed and we had to move, the next closest choice in terms of company culture was betahaus. 

Ellie: The people in the building and the spaces are just really cool. I personally don’t go to community events as much as i would like to but I still end up meeting a lot of people here. Mostly in the kitchen. One of my good friends is actually someone I met in betahaus. 

Volker: I once saw a friend of mine presenting at betabreakfast and I didn’t know that he would be here. It was so funny seeing him on the stage.

Photo by Lea GK

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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