10 Tips for Entrepreneurs from Turing Fest 2017

August 7, 2017

Written by Cilla Richards

Last week saw hundreds of tech individuals, entrepreneurs and investors alike flock to Edinburgh for the Turing Fest, which was held at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) on the 2rd and 3rd of August 2017. The atmosphere was so up-beat throughout the whole event, there was unlimited coffee (or tea, if that’s your thing), a delicious lunch each day, exhibitor stands and more importantly, a schedule packed full of inspirational speakers from around the globe on the topics of strategy, product, engineering and marketing.

Whilst at the event, I managed to diligently take notes (and tweet, of course) on some of the inspirational advice and highlights that came out throughout the two days of excitement. Here are some key takeaways I wanted to pass on to our wonderful community at Bright Red Triangle.

1. Don’t believe everything you hear, because a lot of it just isn’t true.

John Peebles, CEO at Administrate, gave an inspiring talk on all the lies the devil tells you about becoming an entrepreneur. In other words, all the things we think are true but simply aren’t or may not be true for our personal situations. Check out the slides below for a few of the lies and truths that really stood out to me in particular. (Hint: The lie is on the PowerPoint slide)

“It will take at least a decade to build a great business” - John Peebles, Administrate
Everyone isn't well ahead of you
“Be prepared to be disappointed if you start a business expecting to make lots of money.” - John Peebles, Administrate
“If your business doesn’t succeed, it doesn’t mean you won’t succeed” - John Peebles, Administrate

2. Grow your business with what you already have.

What do you think ‘Hockey Stick Growth’ really looks like? Andy Young was kind enough to give us all a reality check.

".@andyy breaking down celebrated growth examples into realistic, buzzword-free tactics at #turingfest" - @hilcsr

The best advice I picked up from this session was, “think about how you can grow your business organically through your existing product or service”. Dropbox’s referral scheme was the example Andy used. Such a great idea, and the best part is it actually works!

3. “The better your UX, the better your KPIs will be.”

"The better the UX, the better your KPIs will be" @sitar #turingfest - @GearedApp

Sitar Teli, Managing Partner at Connect Ventures, spoke about the importance of user experience when designing your product. The companies that do consider their end user will go further. Just look at Typeform for example.

Just remember, if you don’t consider user experience, things like this will happen…

4. “Embrace diversity.”

Very few Start-ups survive let alone scale-up and live to tell the tale. It’s better to identify what your goals are with your start-up, and then plan how to move forward. If it is scaling up you want to do, Sherry Coutu CBE gave us loads of tips. Two key takeaways from her session for me were: “focus on the gaps” and “embrace diversity”. There is no point in working with people that think exactly like you.

5. “Take any advice with caution.”

Gareth Williams, CEO & Co-Founder of Skyscanner, really hit the nail on the head with this one – “take any advice with caution”. Loads of people will be willing to give you advice on your path as an entrepreneur. It can get extremely confusing with various people telling you their own versions of tips, advice and what they perceive as being the truth. Be careful who you decide to believe and what advice you decide to take. Some of it might be true, but it just might not be true for you. You never know, so proceed with caution when taking someone’s advice as gospel.

Gareth Williams (Skyscanner) and Mike Butcher (TechCrunch)

6. “If you want to connect with people and you want people to like you, just shut up and let them talk.”

Yes, you read correctly. As Laura Crimmons (Communications Director at Branded3) explained, people genuinely enjoy talking about themselves. So if we let them do that, they’re going to like us more.

7. “Often the hardest, most complicated business decision is the exact one you need to make.”

After speaking to various women after hearing Joanna Lord speak at Turing Fest, I discovered that the consensus was that we all now have a massive crush on this woman. Joanna was amazing and her talk was absolutely packed full of noteworthy advice throughout. It was extremely hard to pick just one tip, but let it sink it for a while. It’s true that often that decision we’ve been avoiding to make, often that thing we don’t want to do is the one thing that we need to do more than anything else. Mind blown.

8. “Perfectionism is the thing that’s really preventing us from taking flight.”

Purna Virji, Senior Training Manager at Microsoft, persuaded me that Chat Bots were something we should really be considering when we think about marketing our business. It scared me a little bit to be honest because I personally avoid speaking to my electronic devices at all costs, but I can definitely see that in reality we’re not actually too far off from this at all. We are already doing it! Think about how this option will transform SEO and digital marketing in the future. Although Purna did focus on Chat Bots throughout her presentation, I picked up this quote, because I absolutely loved it. Sometimes we just need to face the facts and realise that sometimes getting something done is better than it being done perfectly. So what are you waiting for? Just go do.

9. “Don’t be afraid of failing because that’s where the creativity lies.”

Lisa Myers said this gem of a quote during her Turing Fest talk on content marketing. She spoke about how many rubbish ideas her and her team come up with before they discover the one that’s really going to work, and by the examples Lisa gave, this approach really pays off. If you’re gutsy enough to fail, you will eventually find your winner – just embrace the failure, learn from it, and know that success is waiting just around the corner.

10. Create your website so people don’t even need to Google the answer anymore.

Rand Fishkin, Founder of Moz, spoke about how to survive Google’s Trojan Horsing of the Web. As he said, “if you get people thinking this, then you have won”… (Check out slide two below)

Final talk & freebies

Since it was way too hard to choose one piece of advice from the last speaker of day two, Oli Gardner (Co-Founder of Unbounce), I thought I’d let you in on a little secret. Oli has his slides, worksheets and even a benchmark report available for download online here for free. Also, a major claim to fame, but Oli happens to be an Edinburgh Napier University graduate. Such an inspiration!

Well, that’s it from me. I hope you enjoyed some of these awesome tips taken from my two days at Turing Fest. It was a fantastic experience and hope to be back again next year! Let me know if you picked up any other tips that you’d like to share from your experience at Turing Fest. You can get hold of me via c.richards@napier.ac.uk

Bright Red Triangle