These are the words from Angel Investor, Paul Singh, that still ring in my ears after the Enterprise Rising conference in Minneapolis.
I went to Enterprise Rising with one question in mind — what does it take to make it as an IoT entrepreneur in this hearty land of agriculture, manufacturing and retail? Subsequently, do they have the talent, capital and the support system to create things that improve the way we work with each other? Is the region positioned to become a leader in emerging tech like IoT, Machine Learning, Blockchain and VR?
The answer? Here are 5 traction strategies from startup founders and serial entrepreneurs who are shaping the future of the midwest with emerging tech.
1) Capital is a commodity – be interesting and start small
Paul Singh, Serial Entrepreneur and Angel Investor @ Results Junkies
In the Midwest there’s a perception that access to capital can only be found on the coast, and that a lack of angel investment causes many startups to fail. Paul travels the country in an RV finding the most interesting entrepreneurs across America — and he calls these kinds of excuses “fake work”. When founders complain about how they can’t create new things because it’s too hard to raise capital, Paul points out how easy it is to earn just $1,000 from your idea in 30 days.
It’s cheaper than ever to start a business which means capital is commoditized now and more people can become investors. To Paul, success is a function of the things you’ve tried – not how long you’ve been doing something. “You can collect money in just a few minutes – what you need to do is get off your ass.”
His advice: find 10 or 20 people who are willing to give you a few thousand dollars each instead of telling yourself there are not enough investors nearby.
2) Focus on your proof of concept, not your proof of technology
Justin has become “Mr. IoT” of the Midwest — from large enterprise rollouts to college classrooms, he’s working to position Minnesota as a leader in IoT, or as he would say, “Things on the Internet”. He recently held his annual conference for IoT Fuse, a community that hosts local Meetups and trainings.
“I teach at the university of Saint Thomas on the IoT and the students have to do a capstone project. At the end of 15 weeks they have to have built something but we leave the end product very open ended. Students have projects ranging from ‘let me get alerted when the mail comes to my house’ to ‘let me monitor the soil so I know when my plants need to be watered.’ It’s very fun. Are those commercially viable projects? Probably not – at least not on a mass scale.