Anthony Rose Will Inspire You To Be A Better Entrepreneur
Anthony is co-founder and CEO of 6Tribes, a new app that uses your photos, music, apps, posts and location to find matches between people and connect you with your tribe. He headed up BBC iPlayer from 2007 to 2010, taking it from pre-launch to a major success story. ConnectiD met Anthony last month and “picked his brain” about what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur. He took us on an exciting journey where he revealed his latest business projects and shared with us some of his motivation and creativity.
1. How did you come up with your latest startup idea – 6Tribes? What led you create this social network? – Some may argue that we’ve got enough of them already!
6Tribes is all about connecting people around shared interests; I found the motivation to start this project whilst attending different events. I am going to conferences a lot where you would like to socialise and connect with people, but you don’t know them. Imagine if all these people in isolated places would magically connect and get to know each other.
Before you build anything you should validate the concept and then worry about the design. We invited people to test it first and the idea was to create something that played to the idea of 6 degrees of separation but taking on the hard work of figuring out how to connect everybody on a 6 degrees of sharing interest. Whilst testing the concept, users started sending feedback saying that the App seems to be more like a tribe bringing people together. So we took on board their suggestion and we called it 6Tribes! At that point we hired a development team and started building it.
2. Where do you find the inspiration and motivation to launch a new startup?
It’s a bit like having kids…you don’t really intend having kids and it’s quite the same with startups. You start with an idea, start asking friends and family about it, they say it’s a good idea and one day you wake up working on a new project and investing in it. Same as with kids, you cannot get bored of your startup or decide to suddenly give up on it. It’s a significant commitment to take on and you need to plan in advance an exit strategy which hopefully will be successful.
3. How do you manage your time between launching new businesses and being there for your family and friends?
It’s a marathon and not a sprint. You need to achieve a work-life balance and if you happen to make a hobby out of your job, that’s fantastic. Plus, I am fortunate enough that my partner is sharing the same lifestyle and business pace as I do. It’s important for people to realise that there is no point in completely burning yourself out within the following 6 months, startups can take up to 8-9 years for an actual exit. People should pace themselves to grow the team, grow the business and stay sane in the process!
4. We see startups exiting the market every day. What have been your biggest challenges to date?
I need to make a general observation first – Ideas are cheap and implementation is expensive. I am witnessing the fantastic change in society from a discrepancy between those who have the ability to do things and those that are struggling to everyone having the potential to become an entrepreneur.
The reality is that the majority is chasing investment and most VCs could hardly keep up with this high demand. VCs usually close up a deal per month, sometimes even 2-3 a year and this definitely poses a threat to the myriad of startups that are expecting to enter the market and grow. Back in the days where you had brick-and-mortar businesses you could fairly predict the demand and the competition. These days, you’ve got an idea for an App and it’s actually impossible to know if it’s going to take off or not.
VCs feel stuck and they request to see traction first before looking to invest. This could only hinder the possibility for new businesses to come to light as they cannot pass through the seed phase. For the VC it is like playing at the casino (numbers on the board, get to see who won the last round and you put your money on that one) but for the founders, who usually put everything they’ve got to keep the business alive, this is a big challenge and a huge responsibility to take on.
I believe that the surge in the number of businesses unable to secure funding is likely to affect every entrepreneur at some point during his or her journey including myself. A great hope might be crowdfunding!
5. What would be the single biggest indicator to you that you are doing the right thing?
The real indicator is your growth, the retention rate, the daily/monthly active users, but this comes after some period. The fact is that companies achieve exponential growth after a few years. But how do you persevere? Your gut is telling you something, but your head is ignoring it!
After you get a working prototype for your app and you ask your friends and family to test it you should look at this exercise in retrospect. Even if they are not the perfect target users, see if they use it frequently or not. If you are not using your own App, then you should continue working on it. It’s easy to ignore that signal, thinking that they are not the right audience for your product, but what if this is telling you that your main product could become a simple feature whilst an option inside your App has the potential to replace it? The sooner you do that, the better!
Thing of different uses for your product – e.g. Instagram started as a check-in app and resulted in a successful social network which achieved even more engagement and retention after including filters.
Saying this, my advice that I learned from myself is that you should not wait until your App is live, you should be looking at early indicators from your team and usage.
For a venture to be successful you need funding, promotion and marketing and eventually this will lead to a product with enough traction and retention. With startups your get an abundance of ideas, but you don’t necessarily have the content, and you may lack either investment or the right assets – marketing, finance, tech etc. With corporates getting your ideas heard, up and running may take longer, but on the flip side you’ve got all the resources in place.
75% of my time is spent on things I enjoy doing – joining talented people to create innovative products which makes me seize the day. 20% are boring, but useful things – the costs of doing business and 5% you deal with HR, tax, accounting – things you don’t want to do, but you have to. 20% in a startup is all about finding funding, keeping investors happy and engaged whilst with corporates it is about maintaining good relationships with stakeholders. The costs of doing business are different, but ultimately these two worlds overlap once you’ve created that environment and the team to support your ambitions.
The right pathway would sound like – Create a wonderful team – embrace the lean startup approach – generate ideas, validate them, iterate and get users feedback!
7. What’s next after 6Tribes?
I am on the board director of Vizrt and Co-Founder of QJAM which is yet to launch; QJAM is a new venture which connects music artists with their audience based on two-way live streaming video; it is set to revolutionise the way content creators engage with audiences. In the past, an actor or a musician would have gone through a record label and as fans you could have only got as close to your idols as through a screen or attending a concert.
It’s a niche space in the media distribution and I believe we can provide new ways for bands and artists to engage with their audience; QJAM helps you DISCOVER your favourite artists and watch them live stream backstage, in the studio, on tour or just chilling at home.
8. Do you have any tips for those who are about to embark on their own startup journey?
Discover what sort of entrepreneur you are and what is your contribution to the team. Then you can surround yourself with people that could complement your skills and understand your vision. Maybe you’re a tech person and you can gather your development team
Look within yourself to see which role you play and don’t get started until all positions are clear because you will rapidly get stuck and minimise your chances of success.
The difference between founders and the rest of the team is that a member could walk away at any time, but the founders are like the parents, they simply cannot leave! Finding somebody that has the making of a co-founder would mean that he/she should be willing to earn that place and get ready to embark on a real rollercoaster.
You both need to acknowledge that you’re in the same boat and there is nobody out there to go and ask for a solution to make this work. You’re dropped on a dessert island and you either are going to die or you get yourself a team, build up a shelter and start hunting!
10. You are an influent entrepreneur meeting new people everyday. I am curious to find out how you keep your address book always up to date and avoid losing contacts details over time. Business cards are pretty handy, but they simply cannot stay up to date.