In my podcast, I explore the many different facets of the world of high tech from development to marketing, to sales, to entrepreneurship, all with the goal of collecting key insights on startups for listeners to gain value from this knowledge-sharing. So, what did I discover this week?
Startups are popping up all the time, but it is not like there is a guide for how to build a startup, much less validate one. As I have mentioned many times in past articles, building a startup is not nearly as important as validating one. With investors consistently pushing the ‘market traction’ mantra when evaluating potential funding, building a startup becomes secondary to validating the solution or idea, as, without that critical proof, the idea is as good as dead.
So yes, there are supposed templates for crafting a marketing pitch, instructions on how to make a business plan, or even coaches and mentors who can escort you through your journey, for a fee, of course. But one place that concentrates all the information for building and validating a startup?
“We hope to become the household name for if you have an idea, want to validate it, and build a startup, you’ll think ThinkUp,” adds Ron Navon, Chief of Design and Director of Marketing at ThinkUp. If Facebook became synonymous with the standard for social media connection, so too Ron envisions ThinkUp taking over the startup development sector. It is indeed an ambitious goal and one that has no shortage of competing elements. Yet, Ron and the team at ThinkUp are confident that their platform will have the ability to change people’s entrepreneurial journeys for the better.
Building a Startup from the Beach
When most people think of building a startup, they think of tech wizards or serial entrepreneurs, but often that is far from the case. Yet, to have a great idea, you do not necessarily need to be anything mentioned above. Still, many people out there find barriers to actually growing their startup as it can take knowledge, connections, resources, and more that many early-stage founders lack. And that’s where ThinkUp originated.
The idea for the platform came from a discussion Ron had with CEO and Founder, Ohad Shaked. Ohad, who had worked with Ron previously at his award-winning design firm, Nafca, approached Ron with the idea “I want to have a way to build a startup when I am sitting on a beach, with Wi-Fi, a laptop and that’s it.” A few discussions and iterations later, the ThinkUp platform was born with its mission to remove the obstacles for building a startup and simplify the entrepreneurial journey to make a more efficient path.
Today, the ThinkUp team is in the midst of building more than just a platform but rather a special ecosystem. It will include a community of entrepreneurs, experts, mentors, and investors for the purpose of connecting people to test and grow startups. Moreover, the ThinkUp team wants to accomplish the feat of creating a global startup development space, one that will rival traditional startup growth mechanisms.
More Than an Online Accelerator
As many readers may be aware, an accelerator is a program that generally helps promote and support startups at different stages of growth usually through targeted mentorship, resources, and even funding. While it can be beneficial for some ventures to apply to these programs, which are generally selective and can have rigorous entry criteria, Ron makes it very clear that ThinkUp is not intending to work like some sort of ‘digital accelerator’. “ThinkUp is much more than an online accelerator, and we do not promote ourselves as one, it is a place for you to test your idea before wasting valuable time on it,” Ron mentions, “so many entrepreneurs spend precious time on ideas that do not work and this way they can test and see before doing that.”
The overarching ThinkUp goal is to provide guidance to anyone who has a good idea while breaking the barriers of entry that currently exist for accelerating a startup. With specially curated modules and host of experts, mentors, and investors on the platform, the team hopes to create an ecosystem whereby entrepreneurs can ideate, validate, and then build their startup. But why is validation such a key part of the process?
“Entrepreneurs don’t know what they don’t know,” says Ron, “ThinkUp helps them get there faster, by giving them a way to test their solution hypothesis and answer the question: will this really work and will this become a successful business.” In a sense, Ron wants entrepreneurs to come on the platform and have their idea tested, so that they will know quickly whether it is worth the effort or not.
With a platform built and being optimized, the team growing, and new offices in construction, the ThinkUp mission is coming to fruition. Yet, as Ron mentions “we are still a startup, but for startups” which can be a tricky space to navigate. Still, what is certain is that when ThinkUp grows, the potential for future startup growth will be limitless.