Being present for two days at The Next Web in Amsterdam, probably one of the best tech/digital solutions conferences in Europe, was really inspiring. It’s even hard to say what has struck me the most and therefore I will share some of the insights through several posts, starting with stressing the need to deliver real value as a company, playtime is over. Let’s talk serious business.

Business back to normal

It sounds so obvious: a healthy business makes money, solves real problems people face and makes clients happy. But the reality has been a bit different. Among others for startups it was too easy to raise investments over the past years. According to Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee), Vaynermedia, investments in startups have dropped significantly in Q1 2016, because too many young entrepreneurs with good ideas didn’t deliver. He mentioned something like: “Paying a young guy with an idea $1 Million for 20% of the shares, in that way valuing his company for 5 Million, is insane”.

Startups will have to learn quickly how to earn. Today it’s all about bringing value. Gary predicts many youngsters will fail, just because they are not patient enough.

His secret to success is rather straightforward: “I’m not predicting shit, I’m not fucking Nostradamus. I respond quickly”. Thanks to Bas Westland (@basw) for the quote.

Becoming successful is all about human relations

Firstly, we might have to define what success means. Or like Gary said “We need to recalibrate success”. Success is not about growing multi-billion dollar companies alone. A healthy $100.000 company is a great success.

To become successful is a matter of give and take. Giving and doing without expecting is building leverage. Gary uses the 51/49 rule, meaning in every relationship you should always give more, without any expectations. And it needs patience. Revolutions in business hardly exist.

“Death to the mass, it’s all about valuable relationships”

Ryan Leslie (@ryanleslie), SuperPhone, continued alike. He claims that when you build real relationships with people magic happens. A social connection doesn’t mean anything without a conversation and for him the conversation starts with an SMS. Since a vast majority of the audience heavily rely on social media, this was a shocking message, but he seems to profit from this approach.

Jeff Jarvis (@jeffjarvis), the author of the book “What Would Google Do?”, put it very clearly “Death to the mass, it’s all about valuable relationships”.

Apart from building good relationships you will have to keep innovating, be agile and be able to change. “Base your decisions on data and not on opinions”, advised Gillian Tans, CEO of Booking.com. And that advice was shared more often. We too often think we know what a client needs, but it’s better to prove it with data.

And solving real problems

Too many startups and companies are just trying to reinvent the wheel and do not solve real problems people are willing to pay for. Instead of building the next restaurant finder you should focus on either solving a real problem or present things from a different perspective.

To get there we should invest our time and effort in understanding real human needs, said David Shing (@shingy), Digital Prophet AOL.

And do not forget to act

Having a good idea and good relations alone will not do without action. You will have to go out of the building and experience whether or not your idea is a really good one. Sometimes a real life situation will inspire you to act and eventually it might change your life as Casey Neistat (@CaseyNeistatclearly showed. Very often an obstacle can be turned into an opportunity, but without action nothing will happen, said Ryan Holiday (@RyanHoliday).

Many of the above sounds so obvious, but in the meantime we seem to struggle with it. Focusing on real clients’ needs seems harder than realising what we believe is useful. The down to earth way of thinking by the majority of the presenters was a welcome change to the buzz that has been around the startup scene over the past years. To be successful you will have to deliver a solution people really want to use and it takes patience and a lot of data to get there. In addition, a solution might serve a good purpose. Doing good and profit is another, rather new way of thinking. I will share more about that soon.

 

VP Software Development Europe for Aspire Systems. Sociologist and electrotechnical engineer, a great combination that stimulates him to look for the best working software solutions for clients. Passionate about converting great ideas into new solutions. Married and a proud father of 3 great sons. Training for and participating in triathlons/runs to stay fit.