News from SPARK


F*ckup Nights Mostar Vol. 6 Held

The sixth F*ckup Nights Mostar was held last night at SPARK, where our three guests shared their f*ckups and that other side of success in front of about 60 visitors.

To remind you, F*ckup Nights is a global movement where people share stories of professional failure – at each event, 3 or 4 speakers share their failure story using 10 images in 7 minutes. Currently, in 300+ cities and over 90 countries, it is the fastest-growing movement for entrepreneurs, innovators, and creatives on the planet.

Bruno Boksic (freelance content writer at The Predictive Index and Lifehack), Vedran Simunovic (director of INTERA Technology Park), and Alem Kurtovic (manager of Gastro Pub Gonzales) shared their stories of failure during the F*ckup Nights Mostar Vol. 6. We talked about freelancing pitfalls to avoid, the first website and online business in Mostar, and the hospitality and tourism differences between Boston and Mostar.

Event partners include NSoft, Sportradar, Red Bull, and INTERA technology park. Take a look at the photo gallery.

Introduction to Lean Startups

As soon as you get interested in and read about startups, you will come across the term “Lean Startup”. You are probably familiar with the meaning of both words, but what exactly do they mean when used together? What exactly does it mean to have a lean startup? Why do startups need a different approach than “ordinary” companies?

Definition of the Lean Startup methodology

Lean startup is a methodology used to start a new business or launch a new product. This method advocates the development of a product for which consumers have already shown interest, as opposed to the development of a product for which there is no known demand.

This methodology for developing new business processes, products, and services was developed by Eric Ries in 2011. He fully explains the method in his bestselling book, The Lean Startup, which has been translated into 30 languages (startups can borrow it in the SPARK library). The methodology is based on hands-on experience working with startups that Ries has accumulated in the US. It contains development cycles, which combine a business-scientific process whereby, in different iterations, startups test the market long before they enter the market. This approach reduces market risk and time waste in business because of various problems that startups did not anticipate when developing their business idea. It is important to note that Ries developed this method keeping in mind high-tech companies.

Lean startups help startups market their products and services faster and more efficiently while teaching them management, revision, and perseverance. Using this methodology, startups develop into companies that operate while constantly testing their vision. In this way, startups eliminate mistakes, work smarter, develop ways for solving the problems, with the greatest return on investment, and consistently gain new knowledge.

Basic principles of the Lean Startup methodology

This methodology has five basic principles:

  1. Entrepreneurs are everywhere – according to Ries, startups are destined to develop new products and services in conditions of extreme uncertainty. Therefore, startups are all around us, and lean startups can apply in any company, regardless of the size and industry in which that company operates.
  2. Entrepreneurship is management – startups require new ways of management because they operate under conditions of extreme uncertainty. For these conditions, new types of management must emerge, which will be developed following the business scenarios and needs of the specific startup.
  3. Validated learning – startups do not enter the market with the sole purpose of making a profit or showcasing a new product and service, but to develop a sustainable business concept. Therefore, continuous experiments are needed to test the vision of the business. This is how startups constantly learn by example.
  4. Innovative metric – for startups to improve their entrepreneurial performance and to become responsible, they must focus on measurable results. These results take an innovative approach to measuring: business progress, milestones in meeting goals, and setting priorities.
  5. Build-measure-learn – the basic activity of startups is to turn ideas into products and services, to measure how to target customers respond to them, and to learn how they will survive in the market. Therefore, all successful startups focus on the processes that accelerate this feedback loop: build-measure-learn.

Differences between lean startups and traditional companies

Lean startups are very different from “ordinary” companies, and apart from the way they market themselves, there are differences in hiring processes and measuring financial success. Lean startups hire employees who can learn, adapt and work quickly, while traditional companies hire workers based on experience and ability. Startups use different financial reporting metrics; instead of focusing on profit, balance sheet, and cash flow statements, they focus on customer acquisition cost, customer lifetime value, customer growth rate, and how viral their product can be.

What does it take to keep your startup lean?

With this method, experimentation is more important than long-term planning, so lean startups never make business plans with 50+ pages and for the next five years, but present their plan through the business model canvas. There, they enter (and regularly change) information such as the value proposition, their customers and how they reach them, key activities, resources, and partners, how much the product costs and how they charge for it. Startups are looking for a scalable business model. Lean startups first identify the problem that needs to be addressed and then develop a minimum viable product or MVP that allows entrepreneurs to present it to potential customers for feedback. This method is faster and less expensive than developing the final test product – it reduces the failure rate.

Finally, we must emphasize that the lean startup methodology is no longer used only by young startups, but also by big tech companies when they market new products.

Startup Pitching 101

Startup pitching, or presenting a business idea is something that all startups have to do often – whether they are looking for investors, customers or clients, or just trying to convince family members and friends that they have what it takes to succeed in business. But a pitch is not an ordinary presentation, and in today’s blog post we will give you basic tips on what pitch deck should contain, and how to present your business idea in the best light possible.

What is the pitch?

We start from the very definition. In the startup world, the term “pitching” has long been known, which most often means a three-minute presentation of startups to investors. Today, almost every startup event or conference consists of a part where young startups try to get investors interested and persuade them to invest in their product, in a short amount of time. The purpose of such presentations is not to elaborate on a financial analysis of the first year of operation or to clarify all components technically. The goal is that the jury and investors get a basic knowledge of the startup/idea, the ability of the presenter and the people on the team, and to evaluate how much potential for success in the market a particular idea has.

Types of pitch

Entrepreneurs usually present their business ideas and startups in these four forms:

  1. Elevator Pitch is a one-minute presentation of a business concept, and is most often created using this formula:

    [Startup name] solves [problem] by providing [advantage], to help [ target market] achieve [goal].

    After creating the best version of this short sentence about your startup, we suggest that every team member learns it by heart and knows it inside out. 🙂
  2. An executive summary is a 3-5 page description of your startup. This type of pitch is usually sent by email.
  3. Presentation, made in PowerPoint, Google Slides or another program for presentations, consists of 10 slides that describe your startup. Of course, there are rules about the content of slides here as well, but about that in the next paragraph of this blog post.
  4. The business plan is a fully developed strategy of using the desired market. You can see an example of what a good business plan should look like at this link.

The layout and concept of pitch deck (presentation)

In addition to the beautiful design that represents your startup, as well as more graphics and photos, and less text, we recommend that the pitch deck be no longer than 10 slides. This is a common practice recommended by worldwide accelerators. However, since you only have so few slides, you have to choose them carefully. We recommend the following:

  • Cover slide
  • Slide 1: The Problem
  • Slide 2: The Solution
  • Slide 3: Opportunity and Market
  • Slide 4: Service/Product
  • Slide 5: Service/Product Advantage
  • Slide 6: Competition
  • Slide 7: Team
  • Slide 8: Business plan
  • Slide 9: Roadmap
  • Slide 10: The Ask

Once you’ve made the first pitch deck, make sure it’s always up-to-date and ready so you don’t miss any opportunities.

Tips for a good pitch

A good pitch is one that gives investors a good general idea of your business. In the reality of presentation, professionalism must be projected – at the very least grammar, spelling, diction, illustration, and design should be accurate and engaging.

  • Prepare for a presentation, practice in front of other team members. Such presentations are most often in English.
  • Pitches should be brief, specific and informative. If you have a demo, go to it right away.
  • Tell the story through the problem you are solving.
  • Focus on your business plan and target market.
  • Customize your pitch deck to different audiences, depending on whether you present to accelerators/incubators, startup competitions, potential investors or clients.
  • Be prepared to answer questions.
  • Finally, make a brief conclusion as to why someone should invest their money in your startup.

With all of the above, the only thing you need is some luck and maybe investors will opt for your startup. 🙂