Over the past years Silicon Castles has developed a set of very specific, mission critical services that support and enable startups to accelerate their knowledge and processes rapidly in 6 areas
Understanding your brand and how you relate to stakeholders both internal and external, is critical to building consistent, relevant and powerful marketing messaging that will continuously build your profile and ultimately your success.
Startups often grow organically and all too often, basics like brand values, architecture and positioning lose alignment and the strong focus of the early startup can become scattered and weakened. A brand is far more than a logo and strapline, it is a lodestar that can keep a growing company on course.
Developing a clear marketing and brand strategy is as essential as the financial forecasts and product roadmaps and cannot be developed in a vacuum. Understanding not only the core drivers of the company, but also the market and competitive landscapes in which you operate are essential to pinpointing opportunity and best positioning for success. Having the basic building blocks of a company mission, vision and positioning is a great start. But to underpin these a strong company story or narrative is essential to provide clarity and context.
Developing the story using a clear and simple structure which: Outlines the problem or opportunity and the need for a new solution; how you can solve the problems this is essentially your mission, and finally how the world/industry/market will change and your company will grow, that is your vision and an essential message for employees, customers and potential investors.
Silicon Castles have created a Strategic Marketing Program that helps teams to develop brand strategy and corporate narratives. Under the leadership of Catherine Ogilvie, whose extensive experience in working with companies at all levels from Boards and CEOs to field operations and startups, this Program brings alignment, focus and clear direction, not just to marketing strategy, but also to business development, product, and recruitment functions. Outcomes are clear, pragmatic and structured frameworks that will support growth and drive brand awareness.
Understanding your customers’ needs is just the initial step of the global rollout strategy. Knowing your customers is easy, having access to customers is more difficult but closing a big deal is really tough and requires a different set of people – the Sales Team.
In early stages of startups the CEO, founder or another executive functions may act as head of sales and attempts to win prime target customers. Very often startups spend too much time with their first customer and if they are not big or strategic enough, the startup has lost time and might fold or need another investment round to survive.
Sales is a key function from the very beginning of a startup and need special focus. Technology does not sell itself, it needs people who can explain the customer benefits in the right language and not just talk about the great features of this amazing software product. The sales force needs to show how the product will create an opportunity or solve a problem for the customer in a way that is compelling and bringing real benefits.
Sales needs dedicated people who understand how to sell. Many startups have the wrong understanding of the sales process; they believe selling is just flying to customers, wining and dining them, and that sales will come from personal rapport. Sales is a much more complex process that is far more structured. Over the past decades, technology sales have changed dramatically. Today, successful sales require a professional set-up, training and great sales managers who can make deals happen.
After the initial technology and/or product readiness a startup must focus on landing the first big deal as this first success determines the future of the company. Just small local deals or pilots are not enough, investors want to see real customers with growing revenue numbers and are willing to invest in a professional sales organization.
To kick-start and further accelerate global sales for technology startups Silicon Castles can provide a dedicated Global Sales Team (GST) in Europe, US, China, Korea and Japan. This GST knows the right people within potential customers and have over 100 years’ experience in technology sales with experts including Mahesh Sundaram, Jay Kim, Fred Zhang and others.
Everybody knows: Having a personal network in business is very important.
For startups a network that can reach major technology players can be vital and key to success. However, building a global network is very time consuming and therefore founders and startup executives spend a lot of time on trade shows, startup events and industry meetings to get to know the right people that can help to accelerate the business including investors.
Silicon Castles has developed a global network connecting many major players in the technology business and is supporting startups with tailor made introductions to relevant target partners, customers or individuals. We have strategic relationships with global investment organizations including Silicon Valley venture capital firms, global family offices based in Silicon Valley, and corporate venture organizations worldwide.
In addition to the Startup Executive Academy, Silicon Castles has created „The Circle“, an Alumni network of all participants of the academy the past years who can continue learning as well as share own experiences about success and failure to further improve. “The Circle” also meets every year in person at the Startup Executive Academy for one day for on-site training in the Castle of Urstein.
Startups usually quickly and nimbly, from the famous garage in the backyard with friends, to the point where they can hire people in order to drive growth and achieve an impact. But, who to hire, who will fit into the team, into the company culture, who will be as engaged as the founders?
Periods of growth will be stressful and challenging, particularly when startups grow fast. Research shows that managing people as well as organizational structure in startups can both be an accelerator or inhibitor of your growth. In order to harvest a high potential of creativity, innovation and motivation of employees, and to prevent flourishing startups from losing key people and know-how, it is essential to rethink the organizational and cultural structure.
To secure continuous growth, there is the necessity to align your clear strategy with the people side and the culture. This includes particularly strategic teaming, customer focus, development of leadership, defining clear strategies and key metrics. If considered, the long term results are retention of key people, continuous attraction of new talents and personal development of employees, organic growth, sustainable innovation and success.
With our deep expertise in teaming and driving growth under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Petra Meyer we designed a People Development Program (PDP) starting with a compact analysis fitted to the individual startup. As a result, it helps founders understand the management approaches on both sides, the organizational and people side, and then implements a sound organizational learning based on their needs. The purpose is to steer growth in a customized, sustainable way aimed at harvesting success specifically tailored to the founders’ startup.
Startups are agile and in general able to react quickly to market dynamics and customer demand. They want to sign agreements with their customers. In the technology business this is most likely a licensing contract, but the quality can vary significantly. Very often startups are happy to have signed a Letter Of Intent (LOI) or a Memordanum Of Understanding (MOU) or even have just agreed terms per email. But this is risky and insufficient for investors. All stakeholders want to see real agreements.
To get to a licensing deal you need to understand and have years of experience of the „Art of Deal Making“, this is not a job for a junior lawyer. Imaging you need to negotiate a licensing deal with Apple or Samsung without having proper experience.
Licensing agreements without the right licensing structure and scheme in place, fail to realize their potential to bring their intellectual property and innovations to the customers. Deploying a suitable international licensing scheme and discipline to deal making allows the startup to finely tune its engine to gather momentum and secure successive deals.
Licensing agreements represent the bedrock of a successful innovative startup. Without that solid foundation, it becomes impossible to grow the organization. Designing an effective licensing scheme is essential for your company. If it is too complicated, customers will simply not understand your proposition or the deal. Keeping it understandable, structured and in accordance with accepted licensing practices is key.
Silicon Castles under the leadership of David Kinsella, General Counsel Silicon Castles, and Andreas Spechtler, also a lawyer by profession, have developed the Global Licensing Program that ensures that startups generate solid revenues based on waterproof contracts.
Startups need to be creative to innovate and develop their product, to stay on top of the competition and to win and keep customers. The success of a startup is driven by the innovation power. Therefore innovation process is a main work stream of a startup. Unfortunately, many times startup teams lack the time, but more importantly they lack confidence in the team to drive the next big innovation. Researchers or engineers have great ideas; how should they harvest those ideas?
What is needed is a culture of confidence. Get immersed in what it needs to build a ideation-friendly ecosystem in your company with experience learning. To foster disruptive thinking you also need a culture of empathy and trust. Psychological safety is vital to your team’s ability to ideate. Designing Trust  is one of our key concepts to understand what it needs to build meaningful relationships with coworkers, clients and partners.
In our Innovation Confidence Program (ICP) led by Professor Dr. Thomas Grundnigg we use the Design Thinking to better moderate and manage the initial idea creation process that leads to future product development. Design Thinking levels up with a variety of functional tools to flare and focus in the ideation process. Take away is an actionable plan to boost your team’s innovation confidence right away.