Launching a new startup is always exciting. The upward potential in front of you is practically limitless. When you have the right idea at the right time, a startup that begins life as two people in a garage can eventually become a multi-billion-dollar enterprise.
But before you get to the beginning level — you’ll need to go through some difficult growing pains. Early in your startup’s development, you’ll likely be low on capital. Even if you have an angel investor or a venture capital (VC) firm backing you, you’ll have an abundance of expenses, limited income, and a finite amount of time before the money completely runs out.
Accordingly, you’ll need to be frugal. You’ll need to find creative ways to save money.
So what are the best ways to stay on the lean-side of things?
When to Save and When to Spend
First, you need to know that there are good ways and bad ways to save money. Saving money effectively isn’t just about reducing your expenses to the bare minimum; it’s about knowing what’s worth splurging on, what’s worth eliminating, and everything in between.
When to cut expenses is best understood with an example. Oftentimes, new startups are inclined to cut costs that seem superfluous or unnecessary for the core business model to function. For example, they may avoid digital marketing altogether, saving thousands of dollars in the process.
Cut or Keep?
But when you cut something that is essential in business — it is problematic; digital marketing is the best way for a startup to increase brand awareness and attract new paying customers.
In many cases, digital marketing offers a return on investment (ROI) of many times your initial capital, meaning $1,000 per month in spending could turn into $3,000 per month in revenue. Cutting this expense is often a terrible long-term move.
Knowing your costs and what that cost expendure will do for you — is the best ways to save money without compromising the integrity or long-term growth potential of your business.
One of your best options is to go fully remote. These days, remote work is not only possible, and in some cases practically necessary, it’s downright fashionable. Buying or leasing an office can be an enormous expense that impacts your bottom line, and it’s not something you truly need. If you go fully remote, you can instantly save thousands of dollars each month.
Saving money isn’t the only advantage of going fully remote, either.
Adopting a fully remote model means you’ll be able to hire people all over the world, greatly increasing your potential talent pool. It also means your employees will (in many cases) benefit form higher morale and higher productivity. Team management, collaboration, and communication can be more challenging, but these are becoming easier as our work norms shift.
Minimize the Team
Too many startup entrepreneurs get excited about the prospect of growing the business as quickly as possible, so they move to hire a full team of people immediately. They imagine the team they might need in a year or two and try to build it out immediately.
Employees are Your Largest Investment
Employees are going to be one of your biggest expenses, so this is a financially unsound move. Instead, it’s better to hire only the people who are absolutely necessary to get the job done. Only hire new people when you truly need them.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to hire people based on their talent and their passion, and not necessarily their experience. Someone with 20 years of experience in the industry may seem like a great fit for growing your organization, but they’re also going to demand a high salary.
By contrast, someone fresh out of college will be much less expensive — and they may still have the skills and energy necessary to bring life to your organization. I’ve found the best way to cut through what is best in a startup — is to ask your business friends some questions and talk this move through with someone. Sometimes your excitement can make you overcome good sense.
Keep Your Day Job (If You Can)
It’s an attractive idea to quit your day job and pivot to working full-time on your startup idea. And in many cases, this works out fine. But if you can manage to continue working your current job while moonlighting as a startup entrepreneur, try to do it.
You’ll have a reliable stream of income on which you can depend, helping you fund other aspects of your business.
Your employees probably don’t need the absolute latest models in computers, smartphones, and other technology. Buying used can immediately save you a significant sum of money on your equipment purchases — oftentimes with no significant drop in quality or performance.
Just be sure to review the condition of these products carefully to verify that you’re getting a good deal.
Barter With Other Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs tend to admire and support other entrepreneurs. Starting a business is hard work, and it takes a special type of person to go through this effort. Accordingly, if you ask another entrepreneur for help or a special deal, they may be willing to help you out.
For example, if you need to find a benefits provider for your employees, you may find a local entrepreneur who owns an employee benefits business. Rather than paying them directly for their services, you may help them out by giving them a beta version of your startup’s technology for free. It’s a win-win scenario that saves you money and helps you flesh out your professional network at the same time.
Additionally, don’t be afraid to negotiate. Sometimes, simply asking for a better deal is enough to help you get one.
Rely on Open Source Software
Enterprise software companies tend to charge a lot for their platforms – mostly because they can. But you don’t need to pay for a $5,000-per-month solution if you can find one for free that works just as well.
Open source software has a lot of advantages, the most notable being the fact that it’s typically free to use, even for commercial purposes. You’ll also get to tap into an extended community of supporters if you ever need help managing it or fixing a specific problem with the platform. Before committing to any software purchase, see if there’s an open source alternative that fits the bill.
Pay Attention to Discretionary Expenses
As a startup, you’ll have a lot of discretionary expenses — things that aren’t absolutely vital to the operation and growth of your company but are still worth considering purchasing. Review these expenses carefully. Do you really need this? Is there any viable alternative you could get for free, or for less money?
Outsourcing is one of your best options for long-term development. Rather than hiring someone new, you can pay for an agency or a freelancer to handle the work for you. This move is often less expensive than making a full-time hire, yet it still provides you with adequate support.
Outsourcing is also conducive to scaling; you can hire people for as much or as little as you need, which is perfect if your startup is in the midst of growth.
Tightly Manage Cash Flow
Cash flow is one of the most important financial considerations in a startup, dictating how much money you have coming in and how much money you have going out. Simple tactics, like delaying your outgoing payments as long as possible and following up on unpaid invoices, can help you ensure you have access to enough capital to keep your business growing.
Control Your Growth
Speaking of growth, keep a tight leash on your startup’s growth. Your long-term goal may be to scale enough to serve billions of people all around the world, but you’re not in a race to get there.
Many startups end up failing prematurely because they try to grow too quickly; they invest too much in new areas of the business that are underdeveloped or spend too much money on new hires and new equipment before they’re ready to manage them. It’s better to take your time and scale gradually, making confident and well-informed moves along the way.
These are some of the most effective and most important ways to save money as a young startup, but they aren’t the only ways. Think carefully about the cost-to-value ratio of every decision you make, and try to keep your expenses under control as you try to establish a firm foothold in your industry.
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Fintech Kennek raises $12.5M seed round to digitize lending
London-based fintech startup Kennek has raised $12.5 million in seed funding to expand its lending operating system.
According to an Oct. 10 tech.eu report, the round was led by HV Capital and included participation from Dutch Founders Fund, AlbionVC, FFVC, Plug & Play Ventures, and Syndicate One. Kennek offers software-as-a-service tools to help non-bank lenders streamline their operations using open banking, open finance, and payments.
The platform aims to automate time-consuming manual tasks and consolidate fragmented data to simplify lending. Xavier De Pauw, founder of Kennek said:
“Until kennek, lenders had to devote countless hours to menial operational tasks and deal with jumbled and hard-coded data – which makes every other part of lending a headache. As former lenders ourselves, we lived and breathed these frustrations, and built kennek to make them a thing of the past.”
The company said the latest funding round was oversubscribed and closed quickly despite the challenging fundraising environment. The new capital will be used to expand Kennek’s engineering team and strengthen its market position in the UK while exploring expansion into other European markets. Barbod Namini, Partner at lead investor HV Capital, commented on the investment:
“Kennek has developed an ambitious and genuinely unique proposition which we think can be the foundation of the entire alternative lending space. […] It is a complicated market and a solution that brings together all information and stakeholders onto a single platform is highly compelling for both lenders & the ecosystem as a whole.”
The fintech lending space has grown rapidly in recent years, but many lenders still rely on legacy systems and manual processes that limit efficiency and scalability. Kennek aims to leverage open banking and data integration to provide lenders with a more streamlined, automated lending experience.
The seed funding will allow the London-based startup to continue developing its platform and expanding its team to meet demand from non-bank lenders looking to digitize operations. Kennek’s focus on the UK and Europe also comes amid rising adoption of open banking and open finance in the regions.
Featured Image Credit: Photo from Kennek.io; Thank you!
Fortune 500’s race for generative AI breakthroughs
As excitement around generative AI grows, Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs, are carefully examining the possible applications of this technology. A recent survey of U.S. executives indicated that 60% believe generative AI will substantially impact their businesses in the long term. However, they anticipate a one to two-year timeframe before implementing their initial solutions. This optimism stems from the potential of generative AI to revolutionize various aspects of businesses, from enhancing customer experiences to optimizing internal processes. In the short term, companies will likely focus on pilot projects and experimentation, gradually integrating generative AI into their operations as they witness its positive influence on efficiency and profitability.
Goldman Sachs’ Cautious Approach to Implementing Generative AI
In a recent interview, Goldman Sachs CIO Marco Argenti revealed that the firm has not yet implemented any generative AI use cases. Instead, the company focuses on experimentation and setting high standards before adopting the technology. Argenti recognized the desire for outcomes in areas like developer and operational efficiency but emphasized ensuring precision before putting experimental AI use cases into production.
According to Argenti, striking the right balance between driving innovation and maintaining accuracy is crucial for successfully integrating generative AI within the firm. Goldman Sachs intends to continue exploring this emerging technology’s potential benefits and applications while diligently assessing risks to ensure it meets the company’s stringent quality standards.
One possible application for Goldman Sachs is in software development, where the company has observed a 20-40% productivity increase during its trials. The goal is for 1,000 developers to utilize generative AI tools by year’s end. However, Argenti emphasized that a well-defined expectation of return on investment is necessary before fully integrating generative AI into production.
To achieve this, the company plans to implement a systematic and strategic approach to adopting generative AI, ensuring that it complements and enhances the skills of its developers. Additionally, Goldman Sachs intends to evaluate the long-term impact of generative AI on their software development processes and the overall quality of the applications being developed.
Goldman Sachs’ approach to AI implementation goes beyond merely executing models. The firm has created a platform encompassing technical, legal, and compliance assessments to filter out improper content and keep track of all interactions. This comprehensive system ensures seamless integration of artificial intelligence in operations while adhering to regulatory standards and maintaining client confidentiality. Moreover, the platform continuously improves and adapts its algorithms, allowing Goldman Sachs to stay at the forefront of technology and offer its clients the most efficient and secure services.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Google DeepMind; Pexels; Thank you!
UK seizes web3 opportunity simplifying crypto regulations
As Web3 companies increasingly consider leaving the United States due to regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom must simplify its cryptocurrency regulations to attract these businesses. The conservative think tank Policy Exchange recently released a report detailing ten suggestions for improving Web3 regulation in the country. Among the recommendations are reducing liability for token holders in decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and encouraging the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to adopt alternative Know Your Customer (KYC) methodologies, such as digital identities and blockchain analytics tools. These suggestions aim to position the UK as a hub for Web3 innovation and attract blockchain-based businesses looking for a more conducive regulatory environment.
Streamlining Cryptocurrency Regulations for Innovation
To make it easier for emerging Web3 companies to navigate existing legal frameworks and contribute to the UK’s digital economy growth, the government must streamline cryptocurrency regulations and adopt forward-looking approaches. By making the regulatory landscape clear and straightforward, the UK can create an environment that fosters innovation, growth, and competitiveness in the global fintech industry.
The Policy Exchange report also recommends not weakening self-hosted wallets or treating proof-of-stake (PoS) services as financial services. This approach aims to protect the fundamental principles of decentralization and user autonomy while strongly emphasizing security and regulatory compliance. By doing so, the UK can nurture an environment that encourages innovation and the continued growth of blockchain technology.
Despite recent strict measures by UK authorities, such as His Majesty’s Treasury and the FCA, toward the digital assets sector, the proposed changes in the Policy Exchange report strive to make the UK a more attractive location for Web3 enterprises. By adopting these suggestions, the UK can demonstrate its commitment to fostering innovation in the rapidly evolving blockchain and cryptocurrency industries while ensuring a robust and transparent regulatory environment.
The ongoing uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrency regulations in various countries has prompted Web3 companies to explore alternative jurisdictions with more precise legal frameworks. As the United States grapples with regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom can position itself as a hub for Web3 innovation by simplifying and streamlining its cryptocurrency regulations.
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jonathan Borba; Pexels; Thank you!