Cyriac Roeding is a co-founder of Shopkick, a location-based mobile application that rewards shoppers for walking into and shopping at brick and mortar retailers. With 1.5 million users and retail partners like Crate and Barrel, Macy's, Target, and Best Buy, Fast Company recently recognized Shopkick as one of The 10 Most Innovative Companies in Retailing.
"Too many entrepreneurs get caught in the age-old chicken and egg problem.
If you had consumers using your app, then you could get the first retail partner. If you had retail partners, then you could get consumers to use your app. If you had funding, you could build a team and breakthrough technology. If you had a team and breakthrough technology, then you could get funding. And so on, and so on forever, at every critical moment. The art of the entrepreneur is to break through that - to find ways to "crack" the chicken and egg problem.
Never believe someone who says one depends on the other. As an entrepreneur, you have to believe so fully in your vision that you can convince others to agree. Find a way through, get the first hook, find a few consumers or find a way to the top of a partner and convince them the world is changing, and you can help them change with it.
Seem like too much, too quickly? Select the one piece that would set off the domino effect in the fastest and most furious way, and focus on that. Even if it is the hardest piece to get.
With Shopkick, that was getting the first retail partner. With a large retailer, funding from a top VC would follow, and from that, a team, and from that, technology. How to get that first piece? Find ways to get to the very top of the partner quickly, and explain how your idea can address their major challenges. It must be so compelling, have so little downside, and so much upside that there is no other option but to say yes.
And then you go in parallel and try that at 10 potential partners, not one, and create a "rush" effect. And then hold on, because things go big very quickly once you crack that problem."
You might also enjoy these previous startup tips: