Happy birthday cake

Today we are celebrating an important milestone – 3 months since the incorporation of AlleoTech Ltd. This is our first mini birthday. It may sound insignificant, but for a startup, it’s a lifetime. We’ve been through a lot, we’ve done a lot, and we’ve learned a lot. Let’s look into what we’ve done and some lessons learned so far.

Tail of the tape

First, here are some numbers, metrics, and achievements.

  • Incorporation complete. Company created and registered with all the relevant authorities and tax offices.
  • Bank account and credit card opened. Thank you Revolut!
  • Website and social media accounts setup and constantly updated.
    • Website: 500 visits monthly
    • Blog: 30 blog posts published
    • Twitter: 80 tweets and 16 followers
    • Facebook: 98 likes and 97 followers
    • LinkedIn: 6 followers
  • A whole bunch of tools setup, configured, and used.
  • Positive cash flow achieved. Yey! Let’s keep this growing now.
  • 27 deals (opportunities):
    • 7 closed won and delivered
    • 3 are being delivered
    • 4 are being finalized and signed
    • 3 are in negotiation / price quoting
    • 4 are in analysis / scoping
    • 6 are in initial qualification
  • Client countries: 4 (Cyprus, USA, UAE, Russia)
  • 15 open leads
  • 6 events attended
  • 600 business cards printed, approximately 250 given away

Lessons learned

Now let’s try and summarize some of the lessons we’ve learned so far. Some of them, we’ve heard about and implemented successfully, and some of them came with hefty price tag, pain, sweat, blood, hair loss, and swearing.

You don’t need a startup to start up

AlleoTech is now our first rodeo, so we knew this from before and this time we started early. You don’t need to have a company to start up the business. The company is not a starting point. The business is.

AlleoTech was incorporated in July. However we started working on it a few months earlier. This time allowed us to shape up the ideas, setup some relationships, and even find our first few clients. All this prep work helped us generate some initial cash that went into company setup, infrastructure, business cards, etc.

We have even started working on our website and social media way before the company was officially registered. That gave us a head start and freed up some of that valuable time to focus the immediate business needs and operations, once the company was formed.

Seed funding is important, but not required

Seed funding is godsent. It helps alleviate a lot of frustration and get things moving. However, you can get started without it. We’ve tried starting companies both with and without the seed funding, and we definitely prefer it when seed funding is there.

However, with AlleoTech we wanted to move fast, whether the funding was there or not. And we moved without it. We are happy to confirm our previous experiences – you can start without seed funding. However, it’s a lot tougher. Having no initial cash limits your options for tools and vendors, as well as forces you to focus on the cash flow (which in itself is not such a bad thing for a business).

Friends are there for a reason

It is always surprising how far one can get when asking help from friends. Often, even asking is not necessary. Many people are just eager to help. We are constantly humbled by the incredible people around us. So far we have received consultations, professional help, recommendations, introductions, advice and support from dozens of people, and we haven’t paid a cent for any of that.

Furthermore, it is also quite surprising how many friends are around us. These are not just close connections. Often these are people we barely know or just met a few times.

The lessons here are:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help or assistance. You’d be surprised how often you’ll receive it.
  • Talk about your problems, issues, and ideas. You’d be surprised how many people will listen and will try to help. They can’t guess what goes on in your head, so just tell them.
  • Meet new people. With the above two points, it becomes obvious that knowing and talking to more people is useful. Make it a job, or at least a hobby, to meet new people. Attend local events, meetups, trade shows, expos. Talk to people in the offices, pubs, and on the street. Every new connection brings a variety of opportunities for you personally and for your business.

Some of these friends will even escalate to become partners. And everything is easier with partners.

Time is invaluable

Of all the things you have, time is the only thing you can’t get back. This is the most valuable resource that you have. So treat is as such.

  • Delegate and outsource, where possible. Spend other people’s time rather than your own.
  • Automate and standardize. Setup processes to avoid wasting time on the case-by-case issues. Automate everything you can. Delegate to the technology. There are numerous tools and services that can take a lot of load off your shoulders. Use them.
  • Track and analyze. Keep tabs on where your and your team’s time goes. Analyze and optimize this periodically.

Be flexible

Every business starts with an idea. And that’s good. Every business needs a strategy, direction and a plan. But don’t get too fixated on it either. Ideas are ephemeral. Businesses are real. There’s always at least some kind of transformation from to another. Be open and ready for it.

Have a look at these 11 startups that found success by changing direction. Follow the wise words of Bruce Lee:

Don’t get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.

Bruce Lee

There’re probably a million other things we’ve learned over the last three month. But some of those we aren’t ready to share yet, some we can’t verbalize yet, and some are still being tested out. We’ll try to keep you posted. What are the lessons that you’ve learned from your endeavours? Let us know.