SETsquared Blog

From Idea to Company in 56 Hours

This weekend I was a judge at Startup Weekend in Bath. As always I am blown away by the creativity, tenacity and team working of the people who attend these events. The most amazing part is the speed at which they can bring a company together with a thought through business strategy and customer validation backed up with the technology. The company that won was Greenage, an on line shopping portal for upcycled design focused products. In 56 hours they had signed up two designers, build a working web store with over 10 products on view, defined their business model and USP and got their first customer order!

This in itself is impressive but what I was struck by is how technology had moved on so dramatically that a company can set-up an on line business and be trading in just a weekend. We seem to have moved from popup shops in the high street to popup shops on line. With Christmas coming I am reminded of the “Christmas Stores” that temporarily appear on the high street to flog us all things naff for Christmas including giant flashing reindeer and inflatable Santas. It would now be conceivable for an individual with a pay pal account to be a popup trader for such products. I know we have this in the form of Ebay and Amazon accounts but with the software being so much easier to produce it is viable for people to do this under their own brand.  The speed at which you can become an on line trader allows people to test the market quickly and cheaply for their product range.

Recently we have seen new stores in Greenage’s market such as Fab who grow very rapidly in the last year. Their business model of having limited stock creates a buzz and encourages the consumer to buy quick. It is really like an on line version of the shopping channels though, in Greenage and Fab’s case, I have to say considerably more stylish and desirable products.

But what of marketing I hear you say. The investors always talk of time to gain market share and the big budgets needed to do this. Is this true today though? With Facebook likes and Twitter followers building an on line interest can be very successful. It takes energy and time, using all your personal favours but it is possible. Richard Reed in BBC3 Be Your Own Boss urged companies to be wary of thinking the number of Facebook likes equates to customers and he is right to be cautious but with relative low cost products which are about design, fashion or seasons it is very achievable to turn likes into customer orders. That’s what drew me to Fab in the first place. A picture of 2ft high pink sparkly reindeer that a friend had liked on Facebook caught my eye and I clicked the link to Fab. I am hooked and £40 later I am the proud owner. And I said Christmas shops were tacky!!!