Vigants Lesausks: understand how the customers value your product

Do you know what keeps your startup alive? We invited Vigants Lesausks, one of the TechHub Riga Office Hours mentors and Area Manager, Eastern Europe at Scoro.com, to reveal some magic behind the sales process and what startups must be aware of when building their products. With final weeks left in 2015, Vigants shares some great thoughts on what to look back at and what resolutions are valuable for 2016.

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You’ve jumped in as a TechHub Riga Office Hours mentor quite recently - what are the most interesting insights in the mentor’s work?

When I was a kid, I dreamed to become a teacher. Life is full of surprises and changes, so I spent most of time being a sales person. I had my ups and downs, but I always wanted to be the teacher or mentor. As you can guess by now – TechHub Riga mentorship means much to me personally.

It’s interesting to meet super passionate people and challenge them. By challenging them I have the ability to change a perspective on how CEOs see the value of a product and how new approaches are born. The ultimate success is when the right questions can lead ‘a student’ towards the right solutions without actually telling them how to do their stuff.

What are 3 issues startups are the most interested in when they talk to you? What do you suggest?

Sales. Sales. Sales.

I suggest - understand how the customers value your product! Why will your customer pay money and can you use this as your core sales principle?

Sales discipline is another topic. It is hard – many startups are passionate about building, but they have not yet realised that actual money comes from selling stuff not making it. The sooner you start selling it the sooner you will get the money to pay for development. It is a circle of life in business.

What, do you think, is a profile of a 'typical' Latvian startup? What are their key strengths and weaknesses?

Key weakness – admitting that there are things that CEO is not able to do himself. Sometimes CEOs have to sit on the backseat and let some of the talented people do the work.

Key advantage – passion. In my life, I have never experienced so much energy and passion for anything as seen in the startup community.

What are the common myths of the startup scene?
  • ‘I can make a product which will sell itself.’ – Sorry to disappoint there are no unicorns.
  • ‘First I will create and then I will think how to sell.’ – Wrong, start by thinking who will buy your product and for what price even before you start prototyping.
  • ‘The best way to get money is to get an investor.’ – Wrong, the best way is to be customer financed by providing the service and actually getting paid for what you do. Investors come in when you need to scale up your business.
What can you suggest to people who are thinking about their startup but are yet to start one?

Get experience in other startup companies. Don’t fall in love with your own idea - that will prevent you from failing fast and with the least damage done to yourself and your personal finances.

Have you come up with your own startup idea?

I actually have at least 3 ideas that already have some business plan outline or real users behind, but I don’t have time to work on them.

Probably I would start with the mobile application that I ‘played with’ 18 months ago. I created it for 400EUR as a hobby and published with no marketing money. Now there are over 50 000 users. I have to make Version 2, do some extra investment and figure out monetization and set up marketing to actually get some revenues in. If you feel like you can help me do this, then let me know… we will find the budget!

Then I have an idea to make a commercial online sales training course. I have made the content outline, but I need some significant time investment to create content and professionally film it, and also marketing efforts in order to make it a real business. It might turn out to be a pretty good business one day.

And there is still an unfinished sales book I’m writing with variable success. Probably the least commercially potential from all projects, but it is close to my heart and is one of the childhood dreams – publish my own book.