In his second diary post from Wayra, Telefonica's tech
incubator, Josh Davidson from Night Zookeeper, considers what it
takes to make a start-up successful.
For those of you who missed my last post, I'm documenting Night
Zookeeper's experience at the Wayra Academy. Through these
posts I am hoping to chart the learning experiences offered as part
of Telefónica's startup accelerator Wayra.
Last week I met with Marcelo
Ballona, an investor and Wayra UK judge. He explained to me
that Telefónica, the company behind the Wayra Academy, is like a
giant rocket ship, capable of monumental momentum. If a company
doesn't get to the end of this programme with a successful
business, it's likely that the problem doesn't lay with the rocket
ship, but the business itself. That is a scary thing
to think as I write this post, now well into our second month
in the academy.
So what have we achieved so far? And what does it mean to be
attached to a rocket ship? Night Zookeeper have been busy:
- We have presented at FutureBook and were a finalist at the Meet
the Innovators 2 IPG and TSB event.
- We were named among the UK's top start-ups in the Startups 100
- We have swapped emails with a number of potential mentors and
met with two who have agreed to help us throughout the
- We have been offered an education book publishing deal.
- We have met with zoos and discussed the potential to run our
magical school project there.
- We have arranged meetings with several trade book
- We have rewritten large parts of our alpha iPad application to
help us scale when we launch our next site in three months
You may notice that I have written 'We' a lot. This is because
each of these achievements was a result of our own efforts. An
accelerator programme is, at its core, an opportunity for a
business to take the initiative and drive itself forward. Yes, a
programme will provide fantastic expert speakers: this month we
heard from Luke Hakes of Octopus Ventures among others, but if
anyone thinks that an accelerator is an easy path to setting up a
business, they can forget it. If your business is to be successful,
you require just as much hard work and hustle as you would outside
of an accelerator programme, because ultimately, only rain falls
out of the sky.
So where is the rocket ship in all of this? Well, it's part of
the essential momentum that drives you forward. Paul Hutson, Night
Zookeeper's education director, and I have talked a lot about
momentum since we set up the company and it is something that we
have tried to maintain through the decisions the business has made.
Momentum brings the excitement and confidence that can result in
unexpected opportunities and a great accelerator programme like
Wayra is a fantastic way of building momentum.
But you don't need to be on an accelerator programme to move
forward. Networking events, product iterations, angel investment,
new team members, press coverage, competitions: all of these have
contributed towards our general sense of speed and purpose. It
keeps the team engaged and forces action rather than indecision or
worse, procrastination. Many more decisions lay ahead of us
and I will be sure to keep the benefits of momentum in mind.
I promised I would try and share other lessons from the academy,
so I will end with something that a member of another team told me
in the kitchen this week.
"Keep it simple; work out your core proposition and focus on
delivering that. It will help you focus your efforts and build a
product that answers your core goals." On reflection refining your
product development ambitions is another great method of
If you have any questions please leave me comments below.
To find out more about Night Zookeper click here.
To read more about Wayra UK click here.