From Story to Startup: The Power of Your Network

Right now, you are probably at the story stage of your journey. That’s alright. We all start somewhere. But what if you want to go from story to startup — How do you tap into the power of your network?

This is my truth. My story how I decided to take my idea, my passion and move into startup mode. It all starts with you.

Inspired by Thankyou’s impact and achievements in a well established bottled water market, I had nothing to lose.

Two years ago the team at Thankyou led by Daniel Flynn released a little book called Chapter One. If you haven’t read it yet, what have you been waiting for? You see, when inspiration hits, sometimes you just need to run with it and keep running.

While the release of Chapter One marks the beginning of my story, it’s the networks that I’ve uncovered along the way that has taken me from story to startup.

To provide a little more context, I had been working for a health charity for a while and was actively seeking partnerships with the corporate sector. At the time I had a particular interest in health insurance and found a news article in the Australian Financial Review (AFR) just days before taking some time out.

It was supposed to be a holiday but I was excited to read what Daniel had to say, plus I still had the content of the AFR article rolling around in my head. Ten days later I had a full slide deck capturing my thoughts, preliminary market research and mapping out a social enterprise model for a health insurance comparison service to give 100% of its profits back to health charities.

What is Chapter One?

“CHAPTER ONE is a story of epic proportions by Thankyou co-founder Daniel Flynn. The social enterprise exists to give 100% of profits to help end global poverty through the sale of their consumer products. Thankyou was started back in 2008 by a group of three Australian kids from Melbourne with zero business experience and the shared belief that we all have the power to change stuff. Their journey is a bumpy and entertaining ride of gut-wrenching decisions, wild mistakes and daring moves into business, marketing, social enterprise and beyond.

Chapter One is more than a book. It’s an invitation, addressed to you. To inspire you to challenge what you know and remind you that crazy ideas can become a reality. It’s also an opportunity to be a part of something big. Something that could change the course of history.” (From About the Book, Thankyou.)

“I had an idea. But what next? Was I just another guy with another idea wanting to enter an established market?”

CARE TO COMPARE was born. I began taking my partner and friends through the slide deck while on holiday. Of course, they thought it was a great idea. Although they were biased, it was the beginning of understanding the power of my network which has helped take me from story to startup.

What can you do to move your story to a startup? That is the question. I find that no matter what you do, building your network is one of the most vital and important parts of your success formula.

5 networks that can help move you from story to startup

1. Family and Friends

Your immediate network begins at home. Family and friends are the first and perhaps the easiest people to share your ideas with. The danger here is not knowing the difference between supportive family and friends and potential customers. Family and friends can help with:

  • Early validation – perhaps they’ve used a similar product or service or experienced a similar issue that leads them to an ‘I’d use that’ moment.
  • Potential barriers – maybe there is an existing product or service that you haven’t come across or a similar product/service in a foreign market?

2. Colleagues

Your colleagues are a great source to test ideas in a safe environment. After all, it’s just an idea right so you’re not leaving your job the next day. Like family and friends, your colleagues will quickly help validate or highlight barriers for you to consider. Ultimately, they’ll extend your network with potential referrals.

3. Referrals

Referrals are like gold, bitcoin, or whatever currency you like to deal in. It’s the first sign your idea has legs. Enough merit that someone wants to connect you with someone you don’t even know. While a referral may not immediately help progress your idea, don’t give up. Another referral might be the key to taking that idea a step closer to reality. Referrals without reward are good business practice.

4. Like-minded community

At some point, you’ll find yourself connecting with a like-minded community. Take time to learn from this community and understand how you can support each other. Through a couple of referrals, I met the community manager for Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK). A like-minded community, RHoK unlocked the idea and gave me the confidence to talk the industry.

5. Your Industry

If you’re fortunate, you might find yourself working in the industry you’re looking to launch your business. Perhaps you’ve established some connections with industry through the earlier mentioned networks. Industry can be your customer, provider or both. When you understand the role of your industry it can form your idea and point of difference even further.

Is it a showstopper?

Networks are powerful. They can help identify any showstoppers and suggest alternative pathways forward. Best of all, when they believe in your vision they’ll want you to take it as far as you can to StartSomeGood.

Is it a pivot?

The best way to know if you need to pivot or not is to talk to your network. Share with them your business ideas. Pitch them your ideas. Build relationships and don’t be afraid to get advice. The more you get out there, the more you’ll know if it’s time for you to pivot, or if you should stay put and keep going.

Taking your idea from story to startup means not only tapping into your network but knowing when to listen. Trust your gut, yes, but listen to those around you too.

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