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On-line networking tested on start-up wannabees

B2B software start-up TURIS speaking at

Meeting start-up peers during a lockdown is a challenge. The Brew Your Own-events have been an increasingly popular series of networking opportunities wrapped in valuable insights and inspiration. But how do you build your network at a virtual event? The Brew Your Own-team brought their concept on-line with a programme of talks about Brewing Your Own Go-To-Market strategy peppered with virtual breakout rooms, where attendees could meet to discuss their start-up needs.

Different perspectives on going to market

Founders at various stages of their start-up journey have very different perspectives, so this event presented a relatively recent start-up, a “ready-to-scale” start-up and a serial entrepreneur. This last, was Nicolaj Højer Nielsen. He has founded four companies, and invested in several more. He got the ball rolling with something of a helicopter perspective.

In market research, deep beats wide

Start-ups are always told, that they need to research their potential market. Mr. Nielsen, however, is deeply sceptical about quantitative research drawing general conclusions about market need based on statistical methods. Instead, he advocates a qualitative approach for initial market research.

Customers do not know they need a new product until you are able to put it in their hands. You are better off interviewing a few potential customers in depth, in order to understand the psychology behind their needs. That way you can aim to satisfy a very limited segment completely, rather than partly satisfying a broader segment, and that’s what start-ups ought to do”: Nicolaj Højer Nielsen. Serial entrepreneur and lecturer at CBS.

Find partners for intermediate steps

Going to market is not all about fitting your product to the customers’ needs however. Even a perfect product-to-market fit will fail, if you cannot get the product in front of customers. In Nielsens’ view a go-to-market strategy also involves finding the right partners for the intermediate steps from your production facility into the customers hand.

“Figure out your entire value chain. You might need outside help for marketing, distribution, wholesale and retail. This holds whether your product is physical, virtual or both”: Nicolaj Højer Nielsen. Serial entrepreneur and lecturer at CBS.

The crowd funded corona tester

Funding can be essential in bringing a new product to market. Especially for deep tech products, where product development can be a long and tortured process. Emil Højlund-Nielsen is the CEO of Copenhagen Nanosystems. The company has developed a nano-technology solution that makes it possible to carry out highly advanced analysis and diagnostics of biological samples with the kind of scientific instruments found in high schools and wastewater processing plants. Their system combines hardware and software, and developing the software turned out more costly than anticipated.

We had built a simple software reader for analyzing results, but we realized that we needed to re-build it as a cloud-service. In order to fund that, we turned to crowdfunding and raised 2 million DKK within weeks. We were so pleased with the result that we chose to re-visit crowdfunding for a current special project. We want to re-purpose our system to diagnose COVID-19 and we actually managed to raise the capital needed to get started within less than two weeks”: Emil Højlund-Nielsen , CEO, Copenhagen Nanosystems.

Paying for the privilege of beta testing

Getting customers to commit to your product before you have built it sounds impossible, but is actually a crucial tool in the go-to-market toolbox of every start-up. Start-up TURIS is building an affordable alternative to the types of digital business to business enterprise software that billion dollar companies use. They discovered that the route to paying customers went through offering their service for free.

We wanted beta-testers for our solutions and spent hours every day calling complete strangers to ask them to test our product. Many of them agreed, but by the time we were ready to roll out our product for them, they often were not ready. Instead we started offering a free version of our programme with limited functionality, and we discovered, that now customers are signing up when they need the solution, and almost all are converting to the paid premium solution within hours of signing up for the free version”: Dan Christoffersen, Co-founder, TURIS.

86  attendees signed up. This is a record-breaking turnout for a Brew Your Own-event. At strategic points during the event, attendees were invited to join breakout rooms for discussions and networking. A subsequent questionnaire revealed a high level of satisfaction with this approach to networking.

The event was co-created by Biopeople – Denmark’s Life Science Cluster, Copenhagen Science City and Københavns Universitet – University of Copenhagen SCIENCE Innovation Hub.