Monday, November 24, 2014

5 Top Hiring Tips for Tech Startups

Hiring Tips for Tech Startups
For tech startups, hiring the first complement of staff is exciting and important business. This is the exhilarating moment when you are no longer an entrepreneur and become an employer. The people you bring in at this time are the ones that will do the groundwork that will ultimately make or break your business. Follow these steps to make sure that this vital process is successful.


1. Identify what you need to accomplish next, not in the next decade


Most entrepreneurs have a 'big picture' in mind - the ultimate destination of where you want your business to be in five or ten years. When they start the hiring process, they are picture a fantastic team of software engineers backed by some database specialists with an admin team to support them. Not to mention a marketing team to generate more business and a finance team to count all the money they will be raking in. The best thing to do is to breathe deeply and take a close look at what you need to accomplish in the near future, and then identify what kind of people you need to get it done. After all, taking the next step, no matter how small, is the only way to get to the projected future.


2. Define your requirements 


Once you have established the roles you need to fill, the next step is to take out a pen and paper and draw up a list of requirements for each role. Bear in mind that requirements are not only education and experience but also include personal traits like having a sense of humour or patience.


3. Advertise and network


Don't only advertise, network. Word of mouth is a powerful tool and even more powerful with social networking. It is also a more reliable way of finding reliable prospects. One of your friends (or one of their friends) may have the perfect candidate who may not ever get to see your advertisement and send in their CV.

4. Good enough is not good enough


Once the CVs start flooding in, you may find many candidates meeting your criteria. Picking the right person for the role becomes tricky when you are faced with an abundance of candidates with the right qualifications, experience and traits. The best approach is to look for people with a great track record, those who have repeatedly exceeded expectations. To launch your dream into reality you are not looking for worker bees, you need a team of superstars.


5. Be realistic


While it is important to build a team of achievers, it is also important to remember that software engineers and other staff members needed at tech startups are often spoilt for choice. Their expectations may not mesh with what you can realistically offer. If possible, get in candidates with experience at other startups. They will not only have experience with the unique environment of an up and coming business, but are also more likely to understand the potential for growth and future reward instead of demanding immediate compensation.

Once you have assembled your team of creative and intrepid employees, the best tip for success is to keep communication lines open. Keeping everybody in the loop creates excited and positive employees, determined to take your business to the top.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Stretching & Cycling vs. Pizza & Booze for Start-ups

Sharing bikes to work, Milano
The core strength of every business and every tech start-up is the team on the ground doing the work. But who looks after the core strength of these very important people? Employers inevitably start rewarding a job well done by offering incentives like 'Pizza Friday' or after work 'winding-down' drinks. Although it is meant well, this makes it difficult for employees trying their best to stay healthy.

Long working hours and processed food takes its toll on every worker bee and the risk of ending up with an office filled with lethargic staff members becomes a worrying reality to every employer. The pizza and booze option may sound more attractive initially but the truth is that the productivity of an employee is more likely to increase with healthy lifestyle choices. Fast food and alcohol generally have the opposite effect.


The good news


Luckily, some employers, and indeed some governments, have seen the light and are getting the picture that happy, healthy employees are good for business, and for the economy. Online tech site VentureBeat has introduced HealthBeat, an annual healthcare conference with a focus on how technology can improve healthcare. At HealthBeat the latest trends are explored by the movers and shakers of the industry. This creates general awareness of the need for healthcare and increases the reach that pro-health programs achieve.


What are governments doing about it?


The English and Irish governments started an incentivised cycling scheme with two aims: to get workers more active and to reduce their carbon footprint. Cyclescheme makes bicycles available to workers at greatly discounted prices and offers the added incentive of subscribers paying less income tax. In other words, they get fit, save money, and do their bit to save the world.


Feel better at the office


Along with government fitness incentives like Cyclescheme, pioneering health solutions like the in-office wellness activities offered by the innovative company, Wellshift, may just be the future. Wellshift offers yoga classes, running groups, health seminars, stress management workshops and many more interesting and uplifting activities to office workers at health conscious companies. I guess Google had the right idea with providing gyms, swimming pools, ping pong and pool tables, and luckily other companies are starting to catch on the their progressive mind-frame.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Google Docs vs. Microsoft Office for Start-ups

So which one is better google docs or micrsoft office
So which one is better?

When choosing an office suite, should start-ups use Google Docs or Microsoft Office?

Google Docs vs. Microsoft Office for Start-ups

If you are part of the technorati, chances are that you have had a debate about Google Docs vs. Microsoft Office. Both are serious pieces of technology and although Google Docs is in its infancy in comparison to Microsoft Office, it has a few fantastic features. When selecting an office suite for a start-up, it all depends on what the business needs, and what the budget is like. These points of comparison are well worth considering.

What is so good about Google Docs?

How does Microsoft Office compete?

Google Docs is convenient. It is online, available to anybody with access to the Internet.
MS Office is not available online. It is a standalone application, available where it has been installed.
The excellent collaboration features in Google Docs makes it simple for multiple people to edit the same documents - even simultaneously.
Editing the same document is slightly more elaborate with MS Office. The document has to be saved from MS Office to the Microsoft online storage service called OneDrive and then invite other users to edit.
Google Docs has relatively basic features.
MS Office is a very advanced suite of software programs with many highly developed features.
Not that many companies and individuals are using Google Docs. That means that collaborating with parties outside the business have to convert Google Docs documents to MS Office documents and back again.
Microsoft is the world's biggest software maker and MS Office is one of the most popular products and therefore very widely used.
The Google Docs spreadsheet application is not as robust as Excel. For standard users it is generally sufficient but advanced Excel users may find it inadequate.
Microsoft Excel is robust and feature rich.
Google Docs has Google Forms. Users can create forms that are accessible by link or email. The answers are automatically saved and collated for users to see. Users can even automatically see the results in graph form.
The only way to create a form in MS Office is by creating a template in MS Office and locking it. Answers have to be manually collated.
Google Docs is free  
MS Office is not only not free, it is quite an expensive bit of kit.

So which one is better then?

Not all start-ups have the same needs.  If the business is going to be driven by pivot tables and fancy spreadsheets it would be best to fork out the license fees for MS Office. The same applies to businesses where documentation is to be regularly shared with companies and individuals that use MS Office only. Besides that, it has been going since 1988 so they've had a lot of time to smooth out the bugs. On the other hand, the fact that Google Docs is free should be enough for most start-ups to give it a trial. It might just be perfectly adequate and after all, it is free.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Share, Stream, Pin, Post, Tweet - Repeat

We recently pondered zero rating and how it almost forces start-ups to use social media as a means of marketing here. Sure, freedom of choice is vital, but would it not be in the best interest of B2B start-ups to get on the bandwagon and do their thing through social media? Probably, here is why.

It is booming

brand awareness - Frederick Achom Blog
more budgets target social media
In the past few years, social media has become colossal. Most of the largest industry players in the world have started implementing special teams and budgets targeted at social media marketing. Although LinkedIn is generally considered as the more professional social media stream, other platforms are not lagging far behind in usefulness when it comes to social media marketing. Campaigns these days include Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube and more.

Brand awareness

Before the Internet became the megalithic machine it is today, brand awareness was usually achieved through saturating the market with advertising material showing off your brand. Nowadays the market is a lot bigger but luckily it is also faster, easier and often cheaper to get your name out there. Re-tweets and re-shares travel globally every day; why not make your name one of its passengers? An easy place to start is with friends and employees - excellent brand ambassadors, free of charge. There is no trick to it, just get your message out there and ask for it to be shared.

The personal touch

Besides the personal aspect of friends helping your business along, the Internet's social media platforms can add a surprisingly personal element to marketing campaigns. In the days of direct mail companies and marketers relied solely on what can fit into an envelope and through a mail slot. By being active on social media platforms, potential clients can become intimately acquainted with company culture, ideals and objectives. For an even more personal touch there is one of the most powerful marketing tools around: video.

Investors love social media

Angel investors and mentors carefully select the brands they choose to back before opening their pockets. Wouldn't it be ideal if you could try before you buy anything? This is exactly what these intrepid investors do with online research. A large portion of the vetting process happens through investors signing up to follow potential investments' social media streams. If a business uses its social presence to show progress and positive client interaction, it immediately increases interest. The Internet is also often where initial interest is sparked.

It is big, very big

Incredibly, this is just the tip of the immense iceberg known as social media marketing. Without even looking at how useful groups, forums, SEO and other aspects of social media can be it is clear that this is a powerful tool for start-ups, not to be missed out on.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Going Green Takes a lot of Green, Unless you Lighten up

Going green is a great idea - Frederick Achom Blog
Going green is a great idea
Going green is a great idea but many companies are finding it impossible to start implementing green policies because of cash constraints or budget allocation issues. Despite the long-term savings to be made with putting sustainable practices into place, the initial outlay comes at a high cost. For the average cash-strapped start-up that has all it takes but has not quite made enough of a mark to afford the luxury-essentials, going green has to wait. The same applies to companies that are capital constrained or have firm policies about how money can be spent. This is not the case when it comes to the innovative tech start-up Enlighted.

Are you enlighted?

Enlighted is on a mission to make buildings as energy efficient and comfortable as possible. The company provides people-smart technology that automatically responds to environmental factors and makes the required adjustments. This means installing sensors and state-of-the-art gadgets on fixtures that figure out exactly how much or how little heating, cooling or light is needed and turning it on, off, up or down based on findings. Think: intelligent lighting and temperature control, lower bills and you have it. What's more, it gathers and analyzes all the data collected to give occupants detailed feedback - ideal for future planning. Surely such a clever gizmo is also very expensive? The most impressive part of it is that it really is not - no catch.

Light up my life

It is possible that Enlighted was once one of those cash-strapped tech start-ups because these guys really get how hard it can be for companies to go green. By collaborating with a global finance firm this company came up with an incredibly sensible market offer. Selected companies are offered a comprehensive solution with zero initial capital outlay. How it works is that Enlighted takes out a loan on behalf of the customer for the equipment and installation cost. Monthly repayments are calculated as a percentage of the actual savings made by installing the tech so customers immediately start seeing a reduction in bills. This means that savings are being made, even while the system is being paid off. What a bright idea.