F5 Expo: The Secret to Success: Avoiding Start-up Pitfalls

If you fail, fail in style – Michael Fergusson on starting your own company.

On April 7th, I was amongst thousands who attended the F5 Expo, which was full of familiar faces, gadgets and mascots and buzzing with talks on innovation.

Cybele, Founder of Webnames.ca and me.

I sat in on the The Secret to Success: Avoiding Start-up Pitfalls panel with Bootup Labs’ Danny Robinson, HootSuite’s Ryan Holmes and Ayogo Games’ Michael Fergusson, and moderated by SoMedios’ Carisa Miklusak.

These startup stars shared their stories and opinions on passion vs. experience to funding and finding that work/life balance we all strive for.

Passion VS. Experience – What’s more important?

When looking for a Co-Founder or expanding your team, Ryan said he prefers passion over experience. “Passion cannot be taught or bought. When you are passionate, you will hustle hard and work through the hard knocks.”

Danny believes that passion and experience deliver the same result: “the ability to rely on your intuition to make the right decision.” Danny explains his thoughts on passion vs experience in more detail here.

Michael, on the other hand, felt that many startup founders lacked experience, but few lacked passion. Passion is usually what motivates entrepreneurs to start a business in the first place. “You obviously need both to succeed. Having said that, experience is usually what’s missing.”

Funding – When should you start raising money and which VC should you go after?

Ryan, Danny & Michael

Danny explained that it’s not about the firm, it’s about the partner. The partner is the one sitting on your board and is the person you keep updated with company stats and information.  It’s really important to establish a good relationship with your partner as they become a vital part of your start-up. He also mentioned that when raising money, you need to know how much money you need to raise, and once you have this number, work backwards.

Ryan believes that raising money is highly dependent on the circumstances. He suggested looking into angel investment and convertible debt earlier on if you can’t generate revenue from day one.

Michael didn’t comment too much on funding but did say that the process of raising money and managing investors should distract you as little as possible from your vision and plan for the company.

Balance – Why it’s important for you and your company.

Michael expressed the importance of work / life balance when starting your own company. You need to be distracted by these things, though, if you’re going to stay healthy (for yourself) and productive (for your business).

Ending Notes

In summary, the panel was insightful, personable and honest. They did a great job in painting a picture on how to avoid certain pitfalls when starting a company. Listening to how passionate they were about starting a company has me itching to start one of my own.  Who’s with me?

If you are an entrepreneur, who has been or is currently on the startup roller coaster, what do you think is important? What lessons have you learned?

Missed the show, here are some great shots by Jeremy Lim.

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