The STARTUP365 2015 Innovation of the Year Journey

By Brian Hogan - Published June 24 , 2015 - STARTUP365

The number of startups is rapidly growing, but as we all know, unfortunately the majority do end up failing. Sometimes even the most seemingly ground-breaking, innovative idea never comes to fruition, and even a team of highly qualified individuals are unable to bring an inspired concept to life. Then there are those startups that seem extremely promising at the beginning. Then something changes, and the idea that was once unique and had high potential, is no longer relevant, with little demand.

So what it is that separates those few, really successful startups, from all the rest? How do the most savvy of investors know to identify the most-likely-to-succeed ventures? What are the key traits of a successful startup?

Core team: The core team is absolutely pivotal to the success of any start up. Many successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists have pointed out that thinking of an idea or product for a startup is the easy part. Developing, marketing and profiting from it is the hard part. Of course, that's where a strong, key team of personnel comes into it. How and with whom an entrepreneur builds up his initial team can literally make or break a startup. The strength of that team, and how they subsequently all work together, is critical for the success of a new business.

A successful startup will most likely have a small, key team that is highly committed to the success of the venture. While each individual may be skilled in a different area, everyone will willingly to take on any task needed. Hierarchy within the team is limited and a great entrepreneur knows he will often need to recruit people more skilled that he is. There is little room for internal competition or office politics in a small startup team. A truly successful startup will be powered by a group of highly motivated individuals who work well together. All focus is on the product and business, not internal politics. Everyone treats the product as their own 'baby' – gives what they can and most importantly, work as a team. There is no individual success, only the success of the product.

The Name: Perhaps surprising, our research showed that the name of a product or business scan also have a huge impact on its ability to grow a strong brand, customer database and ultimate success. It depends on the nature of the startup, but the correct type of name can be imperative. Naming something after an owner, for example "Smith & Sons" is less likely to sound promising to a venture capitalist. A name usually needs to be unique and catchy, without being gimmicky. It needs to sound authentic, reputable and even established, without being pretentious. Ultimately, there is no set rule when naming a business, as it is

Know your market: A truly successful startup will understand their market inside out, including being able to anticipate changes to the market and demand. It goes without saying that a good startup will have thoroughly researched the market. A comprehensive business plan and forecast is fundamental. However, the truly successful startup knows how to adapt as well. What's more, a great startup never loses track of the market, whether it be two, ten or twenty years after launch. That said, if for some reason they do, it is a temporary slump, followed by an impressive comeback. (Think Apple Inc. and the launch of the iPod). In today's increasingly fast paced hi-tech world, demand and market trends are changing quicker than ever. The ability to anticipate and adapt quickly to changes is essential. When venture capitalists can identify these traits in a startup, it is highly likely that funding will be made available. If you are looking to join a small startup, it is well worth looking for these factors to give you an idea of the probable longevity of the company. If you own a startup, consider these issues and ensure they are traits that your company possesses.

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