By Emily Merz
San Diego County is a central location for startup businesses, with 477 new startups opening shop in 2016 alone, according to the San Diego Innovation report.
This year’s San Diego Startup Week hosted a variety of speakers and hundreds of information sessions aimed at guiding local entrepreneurs, startup founders, and students with the skills they need to manage successful startups. If you weren’t able to make it, here are a few highlights, including from this year’s first ever event in North County, hosted at CommonGrounds in Carlsbad.
Greg Trueblood, Insigniam management consultant, led an interactive workshop on building high performance teams. Trueblood said there were two crucial elements to ensure that a team will achieve its goals . First, the team must answer what it looks like for their goal to be present. Second, the team must determine what actions must be present to achieve the goal. Answering these two crucial questions can lead to real actionable items that enable teams to accomplish their objective.
Trueblood’s insights were repeated at a panel on minority-owned startups, where panelists highlighted the right team, family support, passion for your company or idea and timing as necessary ingredients for startups to succeed. If you’re okay eating ramen for a few years, you better make sure the rest of your family is too.
Business Institute for Growth Management Consultant Chris Stock hosted a seminar on improving sales techniques. He said the main error startup salespeople commit is trying to sell their product before asking about the potential buyer’s needs. Stock said that salespeople need to reverse that dynamic, and ask the customer as many questions as possible to determine what kind of product or service best fits their needs. Finally, he said once the salesperson has determined the specific need of the customer, they can introduce their product and explain how it meets their demands.
“The relationship you have with your customer is the one thing your competitor cannot buy,” Stock said.
Stock followed up with more advice in a follow-up question and answer session. “The narrower your services can be, the better you are,” he said when explaining how in his past businesses he was able to triple his revenue by focusing his product.
Startup Week also hosted sessions focused on customer satisfaction after sales. Thiago Nascimento, director of customer success at Raken, led a presentation about how startups could improve customer satisfaction on Wednesday.
“Customer success is the heartbeat of a company,” he said. “It is a force multiplier.”
Nascimento described Raken’s accomplishments in building customer success and detailed their methods. He recommended that as startups grow their customer base, they should train customer service managers to quickly deal with any issues their consumers encounter. He said that this would ensure customers continually see the value of the startup’s product.
Raken’s founder, Kyle Slager, was a panelist at the first North County Startup Week event held in Carlsbad. His view of customer service goes as far back as your idea development. “Ask everyone you know whether they like your idea. If they don’t, ask them why.” He said that kind of inquiry would help build a better product or service. Slager was joined by Kimberly Caccavo, Co-Founder of Graced by Grit and Erik Groset, Co-Founder of Fantasy Sports Co. All the panelists talked about their idea stemming from a real need they saw in the market and something they were personally passionate about. It wasn’t about creating a startup just to be the next unicorn. From choosing to manufacture in America, to finding the right technology leadership to build out your idea, to raising capital, the three north county panelists had different experiences to share with the group. And if you weren’t convinced North County San Diego could draw a crowd, the morning event was standing room only.
Even if you didn’t make it to this year’s event with the thousands of us who were downtown and beyond, be sure to check out Startup Week next year to get the advice, support and connections you need to help your startup, wherever you are in the process. Here’s to hoping there might be a North County Day in next year’s lineup.