Category: Podium

How I accidentally built a tech startup — without any technological knowledge


In 2012, I was working in some of the most remote areas of Pakistan, aiming to empower local farmers’ waste energy projects and advance sustainability in the region. I was traveling hundreds of kilometers to carry out face-to-face negotiations, racking my brain thinking about ways to guarantee transparency in an environment where cash payments weren’t just the norm, but often the only option. Just a few years later, I found myself leading a software development process – something I knew little about at that time. With a mostly policy-focused background, I was now making decisions in spheres brimming with new…

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Scaling API-driven development can be difficult — here’s how to nail it


Developers today think in Application Programming Interfaces, or APIs. Looking at APIs first helps you concentrate on the problem that you are looking to solve in an application, or as part of a wider service. With communication between components in an application all taking place via APIs, this approach makes it easier to adopt microservices designs and make use of multi-cloud. However, API-driven development (ADD) is not as easy as it sounds over time. Concentrating on APIs first can make it easier to build and maintain an application, but it’s not possible to ignore the infrastructure side completely. If you…

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The first 4 things to do when creating a viable piece of hardware


Here’s a sad statistic in tech — 97% of hardware startups fail within the first 20 months after attracting their first investments. Hardware is… hard, but it’s also what makes these projects interesting. In this article, I’ll give you an insight into how my team and I developed a smart speaker and other gadgets as an example of how to create a hardware product. I’ll go into how we developed these products to describe what stages of development a device goes through before it reaches store shelves. Hopefully it can help you on your own hardware journey! Let’s start with…

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A sharper axe is safer: a counterintuitive business lesson


Boris is the wise ol’ CEO of TNW who writes a weekly column on everything about being an entrepreneur in tech — from managing stress to embracing awkwardness. You can get his musings straight to your inbox by signing up for his newsletter! Yesterday I was sharpening my axe. It’s a simple chore, not too complicated and pretty darn satisfying. And as with all simple things, you can easily do it wrong, so it pays off to watch a few YouTube videos on how to do it properly.  One of the lessons I learned is why it’s so important to…

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How to build a diverse team while working remotely


In the best of times, building a diverse team is tough. When you’re stuck inside, starved for human interaction, you might wonder whether it’s possible at all. It’s a fair question, frankly.  How are you going to find candidates outside your bubble? You can’t leave your house to attend conferences, college job fairs, or even coffee shops. And even if you meet the perfect person, there’s another higher-than-ever hurdle ahead: virtually integrating them into your culture. There are ways to do it all digitally. But know this: you’re going to have to work for it.  Attracting fresh faces In a…

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5 ‘product market fit’ tips to make your startup successful


“We don’t have product market fit.”  The board room fell silent. How could a rapidly growing company with a $50 million revenue in a hot category not have product market fit? Yet having invested over $100 million, we as the board had just realized that lack of product market fit imperiled the business.  Product market fit (PMF) has evolved as a concept over time. Moreover, PMF requirements increase as a business matures. Here is a schematic that my team uses to assess PMF prior to investment and among our portfolio companies:  We think of PMF in three stages: Product Validation,…

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Why entrepreneurs need annoying sideline critics


Boris is the wise ol’ CEO of TNW who writes a weekly column on everything about being an entrepreneur in tech — from managing stress to embracing awkwardness. You can get his musings straight to your inbox by signing up for his newsletter! It must be wonderful to be a sideline critic. You can easily find the defects in other people’s work or products, point them out in an annoying way, and instantly feel unique and smart. As long as you don’t have to go through the messy process of delivering on your feedback and actually fixing things, you can…

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How startups can take advantage of the currency market to fight financial uncertainty


Coronavirus has spread alarmingly quickly across the world in just a matter of months, dramatically changing the way we all live and work. Currency markets have been particularly affected by the outbreak, with significant volatility seen in all major currencies. The pound, for example, dropped to thirty-five year lows against the US dollar in March, while the Aussie dollar and other commodity currencies have had a tough time due to close economic ties with China. As some markets begin to ease lockdown measures, certain currencies are starting to lurch back upwards. Things are changing rapidly, and just the slightest change…

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Lost your drive? Here’s how entrepreneurs can recapture their spark


An entrepreneur I’m working with recently told me that he feels “trapped” in his thriving business and that he can’t tell anyone about it. He’s making good money, yet deep down, at times he’s feeling unhappier than when he started and had nothing.  With most of the people that I see and maybe for you too, this is familiar. You worked hard, built a great product or career, tried to market it or yourself, and show the world that this is life-giving and worth experiencing. And magically, some of the people out in the world took you up on your…

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