Skip to main content

Generating investment, creating community, products & pitching: an hour with Trent Bigelow

I like someone that can be both inspiring and humble all in one, and Trent Bigelow is definitely one of those people. In the country for Lightning Lab Auckland, the GridAKL team were lucky enough to snaffle him away from inspiring the LLAKL crew, to inspiring some of our crew here at the GridAKL Hub. We talked about everything from how horrible it feels to know your investment is not going to actually go anywhere, to how B2B is actually a lot ‘sexier’ than you may think. With so much discussed around the GridAKL Hub kitchen table, we chose three topics to share some specific insights on. For more?  Follow the guy on twitter.

Forming a strong community around your startup is a positive for obvious reasons – people to talk to when times are tough, perspectives to share and advice from people in the same place as you (or a break from the startup world from those who are outside of it).

What the table took away from Trent:
Co-working spaces are great ways to connect your team and socialise them amongst others who can either help your business grow (freelancers, specialists, one man bands, connectors, complementary businesses) or provide feedback on either your business from a space that is at the same rate of growth or just beyond your rate of growth. Co-working and flexible working spaces also give you access to a bunch of folks who can give you some honest feedback on your product or service before beta stage, allowing you to go into that process a bit more informed. That big beta list you have? Great for QA, but not awesome for testing. For testing, look for people that are either involved in the industry you want your product to be influential in, or someone you trust from the startup ecosystem.

Trent also talked about forming models that allow the ecosystem to invest in each others smaller ventures, or allow investors to spread risk by investing across a group of startups. Remembering that investment is not always dollars and cents, this may be a model that implores people within it to use 80 % of their time on their own venture, whilst donating 20% of their time to someone else.

Trent spoke a lot about products, how to get the right feel (or how to assess what that even could be) and where you should and should not be spending your time in development. He asked everyone at the table to focus on elegant solutions to real pain points executed simply with a ‘stickyness’ to them.

What the table took away from Trent:
B2B digital startups have a thing or two to learn from many consumer level offerings which aim to get people addicted from first interaction. This may be through fun and friendly communications, language and customer interactions (Xero, Vend, Mailchimp) or through product features that are enjoyable and intriguing (Snapchat). Stickyness can also be in elegant and simple UX or simply choosing to do one thing and do it well. In his own words “every action by one user should almost always lead to another action by another user.”

We stole a bit of Trent’s time when he was here for something else. That something else being Lightning Lab Auckland, so you can imagine he knew a thing or two about the Kiwi Pitch, and matched this with his perspective from the Valley. If you are wondering how his Keynote at Lightning Lab Auckland’s Demo Day went, check out our Storify from the night here.

What the table took away from Trent:
Echoing themes from the Bill & Adiba session last month, Trent hammered home the importance of keeping your pitch simple and to the point. He also pointed out that New Zealanders are little on the self deprecating side, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Investors are often looking for people that can take advice and learn over time, so showing humility in your pitch is a positive, and something that kiwis may be more inclined to do naturally. At the same time, he implored NZ’ers to not put U.S startups on a pedestal, we are just as good.

Here at GridAKl we hear that investors in NZ vary in their approaches, some want a really meaty and resilient business plan, others want more of a Lean approach. If you are pitching in San Francisco, Trent says – know your stuff, make sure you know enough to answer the hard financial questions but go into those pitches knowing Lean is innate in San Francisco. This may mean you are approaching your kiwi investment community in a really different way to meeting investors from overseas; a traditional approach for investment back home and a more agile approach to business abroad. 

Anya is the Brand & Communications Co-ordinator here at GridAKL who is passionate about sharing skills and lessons. If you have a skill you want to share with our GridAKL audience or wish to write about for GridAKL then get in contact with her through our contact page.