Two important lessons from SXSW every entrepreneur should know

Mar 15, 2015 4:50:52 PM

The 75F team has been having a blast at SXSW in Austin this weekend. 

There are two key messages we've learned from a keynote and an interview which directly relate to our company. We feel they are important for entrepreneurs to think about, so we wanted to share how they relate to our business.

Here is quick description of 75F for context:

75F is using the powerful Internet of Things to fix temperature imbalances in light commercial buildings. Saving energy while not sacrificing comfort. For more info, read How it Works.

1. Impact of the Internet on Enterprise

Steve Case Steve Case

Steve Case, tech billionaire and co-founder of AOL gave a keynote about the three phases of the internet. In it's current phase, the relationship between Enterprise and the internet is becoming increasingly important and complex. Steve stated that the most successful entrepreneurs he sees in this space are the ones who know how to build strong partnerships with current stakeholders. 

As an example, if you want to build a new disruptive education app, you shouldn't cut out teachers or professors. How can you enable them?! In many cases, there are multiple stakeholders that will touch your product or service and building it to work with them instead of omitting helps strengthen a partnership with current stakeholders. Integrate key players into your solution instead of omitting them. These partnerships can move mountains for your business and build an entire evangelical sales force that isn't even on your payroll. 

75F is building strong partnerships with manufacturer representatives, distributers, and contractors to reach it's customers in the light commercial building market. We've designed our system to be intuitive, not just for building owners but all stakeholders through the distribution channel. Including both contractors and end users during product development and commercial launch have been key to building strong partners that are fighting for our product to succeed. 

2. YOU NEED AN ESCAPE HATCH

Malcolm Gladwell Malcolm Gladwell

Bill Gurley  Bill Gurley 

The 75F team attended an interview of Bill Gurley a silicon valley VC, hosted by best-selling author and speaker Malcolm Gladwell. Towards the end of the interview, Bill arrived at a very important point.

As an entrepreneur, you need to have multiple streams of revenue. As you are starting to grow your business you don't know if your assumptions about the market are correct. Will the market bear my price? Is my technology strong enough? How much money will it take me to get customers? Etc. 

If your business is reliant on one business model and any one of the hundred variables goes against you, your business could sink. If you can, try to figure out different ways you can execute your business and get paying customers. Bill Gurley called this an Escape Hatch. Create multiple opportunities for your business to grow - when one door closes, you'll be thankful you have an Escape Hatch to try something else. 

For 75F, we have multiple streams of revenue. 

  • We sell hardware.
  • We sell access to our cloud computing algorithms, as a service.
  • We receive money from utilities for demand limiting capabilities. 
  • We are continuously gathering Big Data from buildings that is useful to many companies and industries. 

As an entrepreneur, you can't know for sure what will work. That is where some of inherent risk lies. Find multiple ways to generate revenue to spread out the risk - you'll be more successful in the long run and probably sleep better too.

Hunter Dunbar

Written by Hunter Dunbar

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