Alice Nell
February 3, 2016

Startup Basics 101 with Yatan Blumenthal | Validating & Establishing Sales

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 #2: Validating & Establishing Sales

In phase 1 we went over the basic to dos to set up your company. So what happens after you’ve chosen your name and set up your business plan? You’re entering a painful but exciting phase of validating your product and getting sales established

You’ve entered the initial stage of any business. Welcome to the start­up phase. Take a seat, you might be here for a while.


The problem-­solution fit

The first thing you want, is to find out more about your customers’ problem. You have an idea that you believe solves a problem, so now you need to find the people facing that problem, and make sure to co-­create your product with them.​ Everything will be an experiment; you will hypothesize your product as a solution to the customers’ problem, and through continuously asking and testing, you’ll build a product that actually matters. Get out there, conduct customer development interviews, pick up your notebook, and start building prototypes ­ even if it’s just on paper.


“Everything will be an experiment; you will hypothesise your product as a solution to the customers’ problem, and through continuously asking and testing, you’ll build a product that actually matters”


Ask yourself how much money you need

Rule of thumb is: the less money you take from investors in the beginning, the better your terms will be when you enter the growth phase. So The Notorious B.I.G. was not far off when he said “mo’ money mo’ problems” ­ although in the startup world you might say “mo’ investors’ money mo investor problems. Evaluate how much money you need; shortlist investors; approach, pitch and pander, but raise only what you need.


“Evaluate how much money you need; shortlist investors; approach, pitch and pander, but raise only what you need.”


Get your sales system up to speed

Sales are a science in itself, and the best way to think about your research into the problem­solution fit is as a precursor to sales. To be effective in sales you have to develop a clear pitch, such as Founder Institute’s famous “1 sentence pitch” or “the 15 word pitch”.

Next up; make a 10-­slide pitch deck where you explain the problem your target market has, how you’re planning to solve it, and in line with this; specify on your product(s).

Make sure you can explain to people in two minutes tops, what it is your product does and why it is solving a real painpoint. Look up the term “sales funnel” and check out which tools will work best for you.


“develop a clear pitch, such as Founder Institute’s famous “1 sentence pitch” or “the 15 word pitch”


Go only as fast as you can learn

Test, iterate, test, iterate: ​L​og results from all your interviews, analyse and do learning sessions daily or weekly. The same goes for After Action Reviews. This is paramount to you losing as little time as possible in getting a kick-­ass product out there. Implement appropriate accounting systems and make sure to keep it simple; you don’t want to spend more time on this than you have to.

This second phase ​o​f validating & establishing sales will prove to be a make-­or­-break for your startup. Without it, you won’t have the knowledge nor mindset necessary to pivot quickly and adapt to the market. With it, you’ll have the pre-­requisites to develop something important and the leeway to get to the next level of growth. Enjoy the ride.


“Test, iterate, test, iterate: ​Log results from all your interviews, analyse and do learning sessions daily or weekly.”


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!

Find more insightful information here

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 cafe which is here around the corner and I love the Matcha Lattes from Starbucks.

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