Taylor Ryan – Your Customers Can Validate Your Startup Ideas, Talk to Them
BIO: Taylor Ryan is an American entrepreneur and a 6x startup founder with 13+ years of marketing and startup experience spread across 10 industries within large and small organizations.
STORY: Taylor wanted to be financially independent straight from uni, but he graduated at the height of the economic crisis so that he couldn’t get a job. While networking, he met two guys who invited him to join their e-commerce startup in the food-tech niche. He joined them, and they created a fantastic platform but barely made any sales. Their mistake was creating a platform that no one needed.
LEARNING: Talk to your ideal customer to find out if there is a need for your product. Make sure that you have monthly financial statements for your startup.
“There’s a ton of people selling products that there is no market for and without speaking to customers.”
Taylor Ryan is an American entrepreneur living in Copenhagen, Denmark. He is a
6x startup founder with 13+ years of marketing and startup experience spread across 10 industries within large and small organizations. His current projects include:
io - Public speaker, workshops, and innovation consulting
Worst investment ever
Taylor graduated in December of 2008 at the height of the economic recession. He had always been super ambitious, so he was ready to start making some money after school. Unfortunately, nobody was hiring, and despite all his best efforts, he kept getting doors slammed in his face.
Going the business route
Taylor realized that he had to build his own business to get a chance at making real money. He bounced around for the better part of two or three years with guys that he admired from afar. Then he started working underneath them, but he did not like it much.
Taylor found himself doing two to three networking events a week, and in one, he ran into some guys that were planning to start an e-commerce startup in the food-tech niche. The duo had this exciting concept of building an online platform that would allow anybody with a food allergy to find new and interesting food items that would enable them to enjoy all their favorite foods without getting an allergy.
Joining the tag-team
Taylor thought that the concept was pretty okay and so he agreed to join the duo. In about eight months, they had built a complete platform with close to 1,500 products on sale. Then they made an app for iOS and Android to allow people to discover and order new items.
The elusive financial independence
The three partners believed that this venture would be their bridge to financial independence. Unfortunately, this would not be. Even though they had a superb idea, people did not buy into it for one reason; nobody wanted to pay extra for shipping for stuff they could buy at the supermarket and food markets.
Taylor only got to learn this after talking to several people who had signed up on the platform but were yet to make a purchase.
Do your research before you hit the market
Do your market research in advance. Taylor advises entrepreneurs to talk with ideal customers and get a feel for whether they will like what you want to sell. He admits that he should have spent at least a month or a few weeks talking to 50 or 100 people that would buy from him in the future.
You do not have to build everything from scratch
When building a startup, you learn so much at breakneck speed. One important thing you learn is to be open to working with others instead of making it yourself. Hire the best to help you build your startup.
Top startup failures
Over time, Andrew has been able to classify some of the biggest mistakes startups make as attested to by his guests. These are:
Bad hiring decisions
Poor management of time and people
Ineffective teamwork and collaboration
Waiting too long to start selling
Weak accounting and finance
Low product quality
Have monthly financial statements
Make sure that you have monthly financial statements. If you can do that every month, you will be able to eliminate almost 95% of any problems you will face in the world of accounting and finance.
You have to be flexible as an entrepreneur because your product and your brand will evolve. Whatever you are building will pivot or take a completely different trajectory. So be open to such changes.
No. 1 goal for the next 12 months
Taylor’s number one goal for the next 12 months is to continue building scalable products and seeing them succeed.
“You have YouTube and many other resources at your fingertips to find a knowledge base and wealth of information that can get you somewhere.”