Sampo Parkkinen2x Technology entrepreneur. 1x exit.

Serial Entrepreneur & Angel investor. CEO and founder @ Revieve. General Partner @ LandInChicago. Founder and COO @ RapidBlue Solutions (acquired by ShopperTrak in 2013). Mentor @ Techstars, Impact Engine & Healthbox. I've built, scaled and operated multiple technology businesses through which I've executed both direct and partnership-driven go-to-market models with successes and failures. I've secured multiple rounds of VC-funding ($1m+) both for my own businesses as well as participated in helping companies I've invested in. Realized high multiple investor returns (9x+). Product-focused. I've filed and retained significant IPR both in the US and Europe.

Recent Answers

Why do you need like you need an expert to advise you on financial modeling and your business plan. Those are yours and you need to own them. If you need help with fundraising, that’s then an entirely separate topic and validly so, if you’ve never raised capital you might not know where to start. Your valuation on the other hand is again a totally separate matter. That depends on a) your market b) growth rate c) team d) current revenue e) geography. An a-list team with relevant experience in the Valley van raise pre-revenue or even product at a 10-15m pre-money whereas the same team in Berlin or Stockholm can only raise at a 2m pre-money.

First of all, there is no such thing as a 100% hit rate in sales. So you can forget about your presentation convincing 100% of buyers. That’s called being naive. Secondly, as I see many people here offering their own services, I’ll ask, why do you think someone else is better at communicating YOUR value proposition to YOUR customer-base than you are? If you need help with the visuals, I get it, but it’s your prospect, your product, your value proposition. You can’t outsource that.

Ok so you’re an aspiring angel investor. I would suggest that as opposed to you “trying to find businesses that want to raise capital” you would actually first get a deeper understanding of angel investing. Most companies looking to raise capital are not worth giving capital to. Even the ones that manage to raise capital have a very high failure rate. The best deals are ones you have the hardest time getting into, because they will tend to be oversubscribed. However having a deal that’s oversubscribed doesn’t mean that it’s a winner. What I would do is a) read Jason Calacanis’ book Angel b) look at some syndicates in Angellist and join them c) figure out if there are any angel networks in your area and connect with them.

I’ll provide a different perspective. As a startup, your single focus in the early stage is to achieve P/M fit. If a SWOT analysis helps to conceptualize to you, who your customer is, what the problem you’re solving for that customer is etc, then yes, go ahead. But don’t do it just for the sake of having a SWOT analysis. Most startups don’t actually even understand the problem they are solving or have a clear value proposition (simply a number of hypothesis that they’re trying to prove or disprove). From that context a SWOT isn’t the most useful tool. After all, if you don’t know what your offering actually means to the customer (or don’t really understand who the customer is), how can you build a SWOT for it?

The first question is do you wish to stick to only Xmas Sweaters? If you do, there are several ways you can develop your business to a more year-round business without using a channel-approach (like partnering with year-round Christmas stores) but still sticking with your direct-to-consumer e-commerce site. Assuming you also don't want to start tempering too much with the production of the sweaters, you can simply create an additional line of shirts targeted for fall-sales, like "its never too early for Christmas" or "Wish Christmas was here already" -sweaters. You can use similar techniques to extend your season post-Christmas. Im more than happy to setup a phone call to discuss in more detail.

If you're an entrepreneur starting out, you CANNOT outsource sales and marketing. If you are not able to sell your own product, the business that YOU created, no one else will. Furthermore, if you haven't even tried selling yourself, how do you even begin to understand what the characteristics of the right sales people for the job are to make sure you hire the right people? You mentioned you had a full-time job and can't jump in yet because of financial reasons. That doesn't mean that you can't start selling your product, understanding why your customers are interested or not interested between the hours of 5PM to 9PM. Or 9PM to 2AM. Having a full-time job is not an excuse to outsource sales and marketing.

On top of what Jason explained, which are the basics for starting any business, based on understanding who your audience is, you need to figure out where they are? How do they get information on the topics you are hoping to consult them on right now? Who is providing that information? Why are they listening to those individuals right now? Only by answering those questions are you able to target your audience and reach through the noise that is being presented to them today.

First you need to develop a business model for your application. How are you going to make money, who is your customer, how much you believe you can charge per customer and what is the value they get from your application. Then you need to figure out how to acquire those customers. No one can give you a definite answer here, figuring out a business model, value proposition and customer acquisition strategy and executing on them are all crucial components every startup needs to figure out by themselves.

In addition to what Ryan mentioned, you have to remember that Amazon started from a very narrow niche. They did not start as the global e-commerce destination they are today, but rather from enabling people to buy books online. And only books. This gave book publishers and even bookstores with an additional channel through which to sell their products and consumers a new way to buy books. So there was both a great new, revenue-stream for sellers (and still is today) as well as a new, convenient way to buy for buyers (and still is today).

I think you're looking at this the wrong way. Your suggesting building a competitor for and focusing the features that Teespring doesn't have (or limits) with the assumption that those features are what is stopping Teespring's growth. What you should rather focus on is figuring out what is the most frustrating part of using a service like Teespring as seen by existing users and see if solving that problem has value. Building a pure copy with some added features is probably not a good idea.

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