How to launch and grow your startup

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This guide is based on Mixergy’s interview with Adeo Ressi.

After he learned that close to 90% of startups fail, Adeo Ressi created an organization to support startups and helped 1,000 entrepreneurs start 499 companies. It was all done by helping people launch and grow startups, so we invited him to teach you how to do it.

Adeo is the creator of The Founder Institute, the world’s largest idea-stage startup incubator.

Here are the actionable highlights from the interview.

1. Launch as soon as possible to get customer feedback and beat out competitors

Udemi’s founders launched their education platform within just a few months of forming the idea in Adeo’s Founder Institute, and they got an advantage over other online education companies because they entered the market so early.

Take Action:
Talk to potential customers to make sure people like your idea, and launch your product as soon as you know you have a viable idea.

2. Recruit expert team members to convince investors that your company will succeed

Adeo mentored the founder of Retailigence, who convinced other founders to drop their companies and come work for him, and the team he assembled helped attract angel investments and additional rounds of funding.

Take Action:
Pitch your startup to people who work in related fields, including other entrepreneurs, and emphasize the things that make your startup great.

3. Keep a positive attitude so you won’t be discouraged by negative feedback

When Adeo hears people say he’s too hard on the entrepreneurs he mentors, he reminds himself that many founders are grateful for his help and he shouldn’t let a few unhappy people ruin his motivation.

Take Action:
When you hear something hurtful, think about positive things like your accomplishments and goals, and remember that all entrepreneurs hear negative comments at times.

4. Avoid monkeying with your product so you won’t continually delay your launch

Adeo had to stop tinkering with the Founder Institute’s name and website because a journalist was going to publish a story about it within an hour, and that pressure gave him the push he needed to launch.

Take Action:
Set a deadline to launch your product, and tell people like relatives, friends, or journalists about the deadline so you won’t be tempted to delay the launch and keep tinkering.

5. Quit your day job so you can fully commit to your startup

Adeo told an entrepreneur that if he had quit his comfortable job he could have turned his customer service idea into a fantastic startup, but he didn’t, so the startup never launched.

Take Action:
Leave your day job, even if it means giving up a cushy lifestyle, and work on your startup full-time.

6. Define a vision for your startup so you won’t be distracted by opportunities that aren’t right for you.

Adeo turned down $34 million from the Colombian government because managing a multi-million dollar entrepreneurship program in Colombia would have distracted him from the Founder Institute’s mission of helping entrepreneurs worldwide.

Take Action:
Decide what your startup’s mission is, and turn down any opportunities that won’t contribute to that goal.

Want to make sure you get results?

Watch the full interview now
Written by Sarah Brodsky, based on production notes by Jeremy Weisz

  • Joe Vlcek

    Only one of my starups was not successful. The company that failed had the most capital to work with. My most successful companies started with little capital.

    Startups need to spend every penny with a purpose and that purpose should always be focused on things that will give a very fast ROI. I have seen so many companies spend money on things that have zero impact on the company’s cash flow.

    Running an internet company? Start it in a basement. Need a warehouse? Clean your garage out. Need marketing? Find creative ways to keep the costs down and research every marketing avenue before investing.

    Basically, #6 Be Frugal. Spend with a purpose no matter how big your budget is.

  • Anonymous

    I’m glad to see these points here – I felt a bit stupid quitting my job, but two weeks in and I love working on getting my solution out into the world. 

    I can only afford to live for a few months, am using airbnb to help pay the bills, and am telling all my contacts what I’m working on so they’re at least aware of what I’m working on – which has paid off so far through an introduction which has validated what I’m working on.
    Life is at least more interesting now, although it’s critical that I stay focussed and shake off distractions.

  • Andrew Warner

    Congratulations. You have some tough days ahead, but they’ll be worth it.

  • Andrew Warner

    Cheap is a great way to start.

  • Josh Haynam

    “Launch as soon as possible” seems to be a catch phrase. What I want to know is if launching sooner rather than later affects the scalability of a startup. Does launching too soon with not enough features prevent a new company from growing to a huge size? Just a thought…

  • Anonymous

    Cheers Andrew!

    I signed up to Mixergy before I quit by the way – I’m blaming you if it all falls through (joking).

  • Anonymous

    Hey Josh – my take from ‘get it out there’ is that the purpose is to gather feedback asap – and then let this guide your future efforts (rather than spend 6 months building something no-one really wants).

    Does it prevent scalability?This probably depends on the type of business you’re running. I’m going to make an assumption that you’re talking about software based businesses.From a technical point of view it doesn’t have to – e.g. I’m deploying to the cloud from day one – it’ll take me probably a good week to two weeks to figure everything out and script up the basic deployment. But these scripts are things that I can reuse over and over again for future projects – I think it’s worth the effort. BTW to really scale in the future I’d need to do a bit more work, but I can incrementally get there. If my service became really successful I’d be able to support my customers.From a business point of view – I’d think that you’d be able to scale if your business has low costs and doesn’t require great amounts of investment. This being said if you have access to cash (either from your wallet / bank or rich friends?) then of course that makes life easier once you start to grow.

    If you’ve tried your best but are failing at scaling, are making money, and still can’t serve all of your customers – then I’m sure investors wouldn’t mind helping you out ;)

  • farez

    Found this: Talk about giving yourself pressure to launch! I have no affiliation with that website… I just found it interesting after watching Adeo talk about pressure from Michael Arrington about to publish a story about his startup!

  • Andrew Warner

    Cool idea.