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Key Takeaways from Accelerate DSM

Des Moines Startups Takeaways From Accelerate DSM

June 5, 2017

The second annual Accelerate DSM was held on May 17. Accelerate DSM brought entrepreneurs together to connect with each other as well as those interested in the startup ecosystem. Speakers including Torey Maerz, Founder of Rocket Referrals; Cayla Weisberg, partner at InvestHer Ventures; Mollie Bodensteiner, Vice President of Marketing at FunnelWise; Casey Niemann, Founder of Agrisync and Ben Milne, Founder and CEO of Dwolla; shared advice on how to accelerate businesses. Roundtable sessions took place at lunch that gave attendees further advice on a wide variety of topics. Topics included forming a company, selling to a vertical market, talking to an angel investor or a VC, selling to big box retailers and more.

Five Takeaways from Accelerate DSM

Be Frugal With Your Money and Time

When starting a business, it is important to only spend money and time on things that will generate revenue. An example Torey Maerz gave was, “Spend money on growth. Not Lambos (Lamborghinis).” Maerz also talked about not worrying about throwing launch parties, creating a logo and buying t-shirts, stickers or buttons. Instead, spend your time talking to customers and figuring out what is wanted and needed, which will make money in return.

Be Aware of Biases

There is an unconscious bias that exists around certain individuals, specifically women entrepreneurs, in the startup ecosystem. Cayla Weisberg talked about the biases that women face and how they may not receive as much capital or resources as they could be because of it. The VC fund, InvestHer Ventures, was created because of the gender disparity and invests in women entrepreneurs. This is only one resource out there for women. Other resources available to female-owned startups are the U.S. Small Business Administration, Women’s Venture Fund and Women Who Startup. Being aware of biases, being aware of the resources available and trying to overcome them as an entrepreneur will open a floodgate of opportunity.

Recognize the Value of Investors

Your investors are paying your bills. Investors want to help you grow your company and because of this, they are extremely valuable. Ben Milne talked about how investors don’t like being just money to a business unless it is already a success. They are important people who want to be involved, so let them be. Remember, investors “pay you” to work for you. Milne also stressed that when talking to investors to be thinking about how they will have fun working with you and what could come out of it.

Focus on Customer Retention

Customers are a key part to any business. Without them, there is no business at all. Casey Niemann emphasized how important customer retention is by sharing an example about Amazon. Amazon is one of the fastest-growing companies of all time and it is focused on retaining customers rather than obtaining new ones. Its number one growth strategy is customer retention.

Know Who You Are

Build features that are true to you. You started the business with a service in mind, so improve that service. There is no need to overcomplicate your business and try to improve it by adding more features that don’t enhance the original goal just to make the “loud customers” happy. Maerz explained this by saying he liked “quiet customers.” A quiet customer is somebody who already likes what you offer, whereas loud customers want more. Maerz thinks the focus should be on the quiet customers and the feature(s) you started the business with.

Check out the videos for all of the speakers at the 2017 event for even more information:

Thank you attendees, speakers and sponsors for being a part of this day-long event!

Relive the excitement of the day by searching for #accelerateDSM on social media and taking a look at the Accelerate DSM page. Learn more about startups and entrepreneur resources.

Mike Colwell

As executive director of entrepreneurial initiatives of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, Mike Colwell leads works with startups to build their business model, financial model, marketing strategies and capitalization plan. He is also co-manager of Plains Angels, a group of Iowa-based Midwest angel investors. Mike spends his days coaching, mentoring, consulting and asking tough questions to help entrepreneurs reach their full potential. Mike assists with business strategy, business planning, business plan execution, business model development and capital acquisition strategies.