Three Things You Must Consider Before the Startup Camp

Guest post from Dev Singh

With the Social Innovation Sydney Startup Camp for 2011 a couple of days way, I, Dev Singh, wanted to contribute something ground-breaking and extraordinary to the incredible ideas the startup camp will inevitably be generating and nurturing. I researched widely and deeply to explore the trends amongst social innovators and entrepreneurs over recent years, to figure out what was missing to take social innovation to the next level.

What I found wasn’t quite what I was hoping for, yet as with many things involved in empowering entrepreneurs to be and do their best, the most important aspect of all came as the simplest and most fundamental.

Here are three things you can do, or at least think about, in preparation for the Social Innovation Sydney Startup Camp to get the best out of it. And if you can’t make it to the Startup Camp this year, then remember these before diving into any process of taking your idea from sketch to success.

Consider your message, not just your idea.

Behind every product, service and innovation there’s a message. A message about what the idea stands for, and what impact it aspires to. The social innovation space is generally great at messages. When there’s a social cause attached to the message, there’s a cultural expectation of talking about the idea in the context of the social issue it addresses.

However, talking about the idea in any context doesn’t necessarily express the underlying message, which exists regardless and transcendent of the idea. When you can share your underlying message with its own conviction, it becomes the a foundation stone for a brand that customers, clients and communities can invest their resources and emotions in, ultimately building a deeper and stronger commitment to the idea itself.

If you had to tear down your idea and start from scratch, would your message still stand just as strong?

Minimise hoops to maximise action.

The greatest ideas can be useless if you can’t get anyone to take action in the ways you need them to. You might need a customer to make a purchase; an investor to give funds; a community to lobby support; or even simply a website visitor to click through to a particular page. Depending on who you want to call to action, the number of hoops they’re willing to jump through before they stop trying and go home will vary. Too few hoops on the other hand can mean not enough energy or emotion is invested to take that one final step needed to complete the desired action.

It could be a matter of having too much information about your message to read before giving your readers something they can do about it. It might be too difficult for a donor to understand how they can make a donation, or even to make one. You might even be making it very difficult for possible customers or incredible would-be supporters to find sufficient contact information to get in touch.

Whatever your idea is, there are going to be inevitable hoops different people will need to jump through before they can take the actions you need them to. Do you know what your hoops are? Do you have too many, or not enough?

Think big, but encourage small.

Whether you’re selling an innovation to a broad market, or marketing a cause to gain donations, you’ll generally be dealing with consumer mindsets. Whilst the best of intentions can be widespread, we all want value when it comes to investing our precious time, energy or resources when it comes to taking that final plunge. Similar to the matter of hoops, a distinct balance on what you’re asking for and what you offer in return needs to be struck

Ask for too little and you run the risk of not being taken seriously enough. A measly dollar can be perceived as not enough to make a dent on the social issue you’re claiming to impact, leaving that dollar sitting very still in the pocket of the donor. Asking a prospective corporate sponsor to donate half their workforce for a week may be so unrealistic that they’re shocked into paralysis. The key to striking the balance is to focus on value.

Think in terms of big aspirations and impact, but encourage small and easy steps that can clearly and expressly contribute to the cause. People want to know where their dime or a dozen is going, and research has consistently shown that people are more likely to donate and offer support when they’re all the more clear about exactly where their investment is ending up and who it’s helping.

Are you thinking big enough? Are you able to encourage small and easy to take steps? Are you as clear as you can possibly be on how those seemingly small steps can have a big impact in an important way?

Dev Singh can be found on Twitter here
or, on his blog http://www.sketchpadideas.com

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