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10 hottest digital creative jobs
During my trip as a Venture Leader in Boston and New York, I’ve tried to collect as much knowledge as possible about the US market. We’ve been to the Boston tech jam, which is basically a big party where tech companies are trying to recruit talented guys (companies which have a booth there are no more startups). One company was distributing flyers about what earn creative people in the US, depending on their location (infographic displayed above). My friend Adelina once published a really popular post about the salaries of developers and designers across the world. This kind of content is often popular, as everybody want to know how much it could earn!
I thought this content could be valuable to people who think that Switzerland is always too expensive to do tech (web, mobile) startups. Sure, this country is expensive, especially when you’re launching your company and need to bootstrap. By the way, there is an over-hype on the benefits of bootstrapping. Bootstrapping is great to prove that you can build things (execution!), but I don’t know many entrepreneurs who love this way of building a company. It’s harder. And bootstrapping can go well for a time, but to accelerate, it’s often not the right way. Swiss tech entrepreneurs are almost forced to use this way (but that could be the topic of another post!).
If you look at the infographic, you see that major US tech hubs (San Francisco, New York) have salary ranges which are really close to the Swiss ones. In my humble opinion, you can’t blame the high salaries in Switzerland for not being able to scale. What is missing is the quantity of talented people with the right skills. That’s for instance the reason why Arnaud moved Housetrip to London back in 2010. To scale, you need plenty of talents, quickly. And once you have VC funding, you have to pay market salaries (in addition to stocks) to attract the very best ones.
Quantity of talents is something, but the biggest paradox of Switzerland startup scene is probably that there isn’t enough money in Switzerland. Not enough money flows to startups and young innovative businesses. But that’s again a topic for another post!
My biggest learning in this infographic is that UX Designers are the best paid creative people (just after the information architects). And it’s completely right. What makes the difference is often not the technology. It’s the usability, the user experience (UX). Strong technology but people don’t understand how to use the product? Fail. Many people think it’s easy, or it’s quick to realize. It’s wrong. A really good UX Designer is extremely rare. And it’s a relatively new job (web or graphic design is not similar to UX design).
In my own startup, I have the chance to work with a very talented UX designer, my co-founder Sébastien. He has a deep sense of quality and details. 20/80 rule is not enough with UX design. It has to be 100% perfect and well-thought (or let say, 99%!). You can’t spare on quality. You can’t spare on the UX. And furthermore, in my own startup, we do Swiss quality!
One asked me sometimes ago if I was struggling to hire developers in Switzerland. No. I’ve found the talented guys I needed. And had even a few talented people who I would have loved to hire (I’ll come back to them once we’ll be scaling!). The “key“ is to always be in hiring mode and know where to find your future employees. But UX designers are extremely rare and not easy to find. Think about this skills if you plan to launch a web/mobile startup!
For the sixth time in a row, the student association FORUM EPFL is organizing a special day dedicated to startups on October 8th 2014, in Lausanne.
The Startup Day at Forum EPFL aims to connect EPFL young engineering talents with promising startups from across Switzerland (and abroad!). Last year, more around 80 startups were present and some hundreds people (students, innovators, and even some investors were present) visited the booths.
The Startup Day will take place on Wednesday 8th of October and will benefit from the quantity of presentations happening on this day. Giant companies (like Google!) will be present on this specific day to hold a presentation… and organizers of FORUM EPFL have certified me that everyone who’d like to attend these presentations will have to go through the startup’ stands. This will be possible thanks to the relocation of the forum in the newly opened Swiss Tech Convention Center (if you’ve never seen it, you should come on October 8th - even just for seeing this!). Good news, as it will allow startups to get more exposure.
I’ve heard some startups complaining that they didn’t get that many interested students visiting them and eager to join them. Hum. What I think? Even if you have the coolest startup in the world, you still have to prepare yourself for the event, and proactively invite people to meet you. That’s what I call hacking the FORUM! How can you know who will or could be there? It’s quite simple: FORUM EPFL allows you to buy the CV-database of all EPFL students graduating soon, or recently graduated. You can buy it faculty by faculty (yes, as a web/mobile startup, you’re less interested by chemistry PhD student!). It’s a fair price (CHF 200.-/faculty), at least given the fact that the whole day is free for startups!
But you currently don’t need to hire, so you don’t want to participate? Wrong. Remember that “a good CEO is always hiring” (I don’t remember who can claim the paternity of this quote, sorry)! It’s too late to complain that you can’t find the talents you need quickly, if you’ve never invested a bit of time to fill the hiring pipeline (same as for the sales channel)!
And moreover: Startup Day is not only about recruiting. It’s about making connections… NETWORKING! There are not that many opportunities to have so many startups present at the same time in Lausanne, and having a bit of time to discuss.
So bookmark this day, REGISTER now to Startup Day (free! Deadline is ion August 30th), set some realistic objectives for the event and… prepare yourself! Nothing is granted, even if you have a great idea!
See you there!
As you may know, I had the chance to be selected as a Venture Leader 2014 (I’ve written about it here - Gregory had to cancel at the last minute and was replaced by Samuel Welten, founder of Sunbeat). I came back from the trip to Boston and New York 10 days ago, and thought that what we’ve learnt or experienced could be profitable to everybody.
For the first time, the Venture Leader team was not travelling “only” to Boston. We’ve spent 7.5 days there and 2.5 in NYC. The experience is simply unique. It sometimes looks like a school trip, in the sense that Jordi, his team and Swissnex organized everything. We didn’t need to bother with hostel, program, taxi, training, etc. During these 10 days, I was surrounded by 19 of the brightest current Swiss entrepreneurs (delibaretely not mentioning our amazing mentors/guides). This simple fact as not being alone doing a business trip was already something new for me (most of time, I’m alone in London or at various business conferences)! It also makes you realize that other entrepreneurs face more or less the same challenges, UPs and DOWNs (hopes, frustrations, successes) than you. But we all keep going! And even if you’re convinced that your innovation will change your industry, you can only feel very humble when you’re discovering entrepreneurs who develop hardcore science (for instance, making paralyzed people walk again or extracting drugs from body of people who had an overdose).
The program is probably one of the best way to discover the US mentality. It’s really different from the Swiss philosophy of doing business. The simple fact that everything is bigger and that everything is going much faster already backs this assumption. You feel energized by it, as well as really humble. Americans don’t seem to care that much of the potential negative result, they just try. And are excessively enthusiastic about everything: awesome, cool, amazing don’t have any single meaning in the mouth of Americans. That’s just polite! In Switzerland, you wouldn’t use these words if you don’t mean it. So you need to understand this as quickly as possible to try to understand the hotness of a lead (either customers or investors). “Let’s try this” is a much better measure of interest!
We had the chance of getting a training at the famous Babson College, with two teachers (Les and Ed) who did several startups in their career (and the second one, Ed, is still teaching at 77!).
We had a lot of real-life business cases, even with the chance of being able to have a video chat with the entrepreneurs who founded these companies. The 3 key learnings of this training seem quite simple and obvious:
We’ve also heard some demystification of the US market as an Eldorado for startups: did you know that only 3% of entrepreneurs looking for angel or venture capital investments successfully close their financing round? In this percentage, all startups who are not actively looking for funding are not taken into account. It is estimated that around 750 startup closed their financing round last year, on a total of 3M startups. Ed told us (without joking) that you have a higher likelihood of getting rich with lottery!
Another point that I was already completely convinced by, is that nobody signs NDA in USA (except in biotech/pharma). Most people can’t steal your idea anyway, because they do not have your knowledge and dedication. So don’t annoy people with your NDA!
One of the highlight for me was the visit of tumblr in NYC. Yes, tumblr, the solution I’m using since I started blogging. We had one hour with Lindsey, the HR manager who experienced and managed the massive growth of tumblr (growing from 8 to 250+ people in less than 3 years). Impressive. They seem to be able to stick with their culture during this hyper growth, which can be summarized with these 3 points:
We’ve also met some Swiss entrepreneurs in NYC and in Boston, like Jo von Rickenbach who built a pharma company (Parexel) 32 years ago and grew it up to more than 14’000 employees now. My colleague Borislava Palanchova (but call her Bori!), from Audiolize, wrote down this quote, presented by Jo as applicable to new ideas too:
"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." by Arthur Schopenhauer
The Venture Leaders program is an incredible personal development trip, more than a pure business development trip. It is really valuable to every Swiss entrepreneur who’d like to enter the US market.
I’ve asked Bori (see above) what she thought about the journey:
And the final word is for Andreas Guggenbühl, of Selfnation, while climbing The Empire State Building in New York: "Hey Beat, did you this this picture? That’s startup speed!" (the 381m high building was built in less than… 11 months!).
It has been quite a long time without any post from me… I hope you haven’t missed me too much! I’ve been extremely busy these last weeks with travelling (music summit in Ibiza, the Venture Leader trip) and so on… But I’m back again to blogging!
I’ve been thinking a lot about sales in the last weeks. During my flight to the US, I’ve beed watching « The Wolf of Wall Street » (OK, I know it was released 6 months ago… I’ve never had time to watch movies !). It’s a really interesting story, especially on the selling point of view. Jordan Belfort (Leonardo di Caprio) is an expert in sales. It’s amazing to watch the techniques he’s using (even if we can argue that he’s selling with a really shortsight view). While teaching his friends how to sell anything, he used a very simple example : « sell me this pen ! ». The seller says to the potential buyer: « can you give me an autograph ? ». Buyer : « But I don’t have anything to write ! ». So he sold the pen. Create or show the need, sell the solution. Elementary business knowledge, no ? Powerful.
I’ve also written down some of his advice :
Already heard this, no ?
In the last weeks, I have also observed how some established companies act. What I’ve found weird, is that they can actually sell any kind of basic (« shitty ? ») products, and customers are ready to pay ! As a startup, it’s always tricky to find your first customers and even more tricky to make them pay you real money (let’s do a pilot but with no money).
Why can established companies sell under-average products ? I think there are multiple reasons, that you should consider heavily as a startup entering in competition with them :
It seems impossible for a startup to knock-down the elephant in the room. You’re just the little mouse, that they can squash even without noticing you were around !
As a startup or innovator, you’re often living 2-3 years ahead of the market (at least). Some of your potential customers don’t even know that they have a problem. How can you sell social media monitoring tools (for instance) to companies that do not consider social media as a relevant story ? As a startup, you’re often a technology evangelizer. But too much advance can kill you… as everyone is a sheep : once you get the first (relevant) references, that you have to find among innovators/early adopters, more than half of the market will follow. Let’s say you have identified 100 potential customers :
If your product is very innovative, you’ll probably face the problem that they are between 3 and 16 potential customers ready to use your product. Crazy, no ?
How can you handle this as a startup ? Fill the sales funnel as much as possible, it is « only » a mathematic problem ! If your conversion rate is not that high at the beginning, the adoption chasm explains it, at least partially (if you have a bad solution, you have a bad solution).
How can you do ?
Sounds simple and obvious, no ? Yes and no. Sales are tricky. Not everybody can sell. It’s an art with a strong methodology that everybody can learn, I’m sure !
Please do not hesitate to share this article and to comment this post with your selling experiences !