Want to know how to win the 2016 Student Startup Race?

Well, winning this competition might be easier than you think – even if you only get started in August!

If only a few people take part, then all it might require is for you to do ONE of the following before 1st September 2016:

  1. Acquire 100 new Users
  2. Generate £100 in Revenue
  3. Crowdfund £100

Do you think you can do that?

The most awesome thing about this competition is that you do not have to give a three-minute ‘pressure’ pitch or slave away at your computer writing a 100 page business plan. This is because we believe the only person who’s opinion really counts is your customer’s and it is they they who will decide if you have an awesome product/service worth buying or not.

The Customer is King

Once you have entered the 2016 Student Startup Race then you need to decide which category might be easier for you to win: User Acquisition, Revenue Generation or Crowdfunding. You can always change your mind if you start to make more progress in another area.

The competitive nature of The Startup Race is intended to encourage gifted entrepreneurs to progress quickly through the various stages of startup growth rather than getting caught up in minutiae. To get you going, I have suggested a few ideas in this article based on my experience of founding six startups and obsession in discovering what works but I hope you will work hard to avoid making common mistakes and instead invent new ways to achieve growth, make more money and have a bigger impact to inspire us all.

Once you have entered the Student Startup Race, you will also gain more advice like this on a regular basis as well as access to the world’s best startup tools that I have created and curated to accelerate your startup’s growth and give you an exciting opportunity to win cash prizes and introductions to investors.

Good Luck

P.S. you can watch my recent 30-minute video on How to win the 2016 Student Startup Race here – How to win the 2016 Student Startup Race

How to win the 2016 Student Startup Race

FIRST, decide on your Business Model 

Rather than wasting months writing a work of fiction (business plan) that nobody will ever read, you can use the Lean Canvas to create your business model in 20 minutes instead.

The Lean Canvas

Quickly validating your hypotheses in each of these segments is how to win the 2016 Student Startup Race. Next to learning how to sell, this Build-Measure-Learn process is also one of the most important entrepreneurial skills you need to learn; otherwise you will waste years of your life. If you have a multi-sided business model (most do), then this resource will also enable you to create different canvases for your Supplier, Buyer and other key players.

SECOND, set a goal and track your progress!

This may seem like an obvious statement but few people actually set goals and work to achieve them within a set time period. Working towards a goal and measuring the progress you make each week has almost magical benefits as you don’t really begin to learn anything of significance until you are striving to achieve your goals.

Furthermore, your goal must be easily achievable otherwise your subconscious mind will not believe it and that’s why I suggest you start with 100 Users, £100 Revenue or £100 Crowdfunding. Once you have achieved this, then you can set bigger goals with a sense of confidence.

“That which is measured improves. That which is measured and reported improves exponentially.”

Karl Pearson

Acquiring Users? Consider the following strategies:

1 – Leverage other people’s networks

Sure, you can work eighteen-hour days for two months trying different ways to be heard amongst the tremendous noise online or you can simply benefit from the audience that like-minded people and organisations have already acquired. If other organisations decide to promote you, you will also benefit from ‘social proof’ on a massive scale (people’s views of you change from being a risky unknown to a more credible startup) and they will be more likely to signup with you.

Here at The Startup Race, we’ve followed this strategy over the past month and been kindly promoted by most of the Scottish Universities, Incubators and other entrepreneurial organisations for students. You could also ask influential Bloggers to promote you, www.inkybee.com will enable you to identify them.


  • Make sure you have crafted your Vision (guidance in how to do this can be found in the members area) and make it public.
  • Over the next seven days, identify like-minded people or organisations, tell them to your Vision and ask them ALL to promote you.
  • Track their responses and thank those who’ve promoted you; encourage those who haven’t done so yet, to do so.


2 – Viral engines of growth

Eric Ries the author of The Lean Startup says that you need to determine which engine of growth is most appropriate for your startup because if you get it wrong, it will be too expensive to acquire Users, you’ll soon run out of money and go out of business. One of the easiest ways to make this work is to enable your users to create things that they want to share with others. YouTube is a great example of this.


  • Read Eric’s article on the different Engines of Growth here
  • Validate your hypotheses in the Channels segment of the Lean Canvas to work out whether this is the most appropriate engine of growth for you.


3 – Paid engines of growth

You are probably aware of Google Adwords, Pay-Per-Click or Facebook Ads but it can cost you a lot of money before you work out how to make it work effectively. Either find a CoFounder who knows this stuff or hire my go-to-guy, John Daniels of Mavaric.

There is also a strategy called Referral and Affiliate marketing for you to consider. This strategy is one of the secrets behind many billion dollar startups such as www.udemy.com. Essentially Affiliates will use a tracking link you provide them with to promote your product to their email lists for a 10 – 50% commission.


  • Work out if you have enough time and money to learn how to do it yourself
  • If not contact John here
  • Register with www.refersion.com to get access to an affordable tracking link service

Generating Revenue? Consider the following strategies:

1 – Get people behaving as if they are your customers

It’s not how we feel affects how we behave,  it’s actually the opposite. Get your visitor to start to behaving as your customer from the very start by giving them a small set of actions they can take and then provide ways for them to escalate their involvement with you and your services. Especially provide them with a small purchase they can make to get them behaving like a ‘paying’ customer.


  • Check out Rip it Up by Dr Richard Wiseman
  • Make sure you have activities your customers can engage in for free
  • Create a small Minimum Revenue Product (MRP) for your customer to buy to acquire or pay to use


2 – Take away all barriers

Avoid internet ‘door knocking’ or requiring people to register before they can find out about or start to use your service or product. We’ve done this with the ‘Start Here’ startup progress survey on our home page. Big internet companies such as Amazon and eBay only require you to register when you have browsed, decided you want to make a purchase and are ready to pay. Then they ask you for your details.


  • Count how many steps there are between your customers first visit and when they can start using or buy your product or service.
  • Make sure yours are less than three.


3 – Create an MRP and use escalating price points 

Acquiring your first customer is very expensive in terms of sales and marketing. Smart businesses start to make real money on repeat purchases and up selling more expensive services and items. I recommend entrepreneurs build a  ‘Portfolio Pyramid’ where most people buy your cheaper foundation services/products but a few (10%) make their way all the way up to your most expensive services and products at the top.


  • Start with your MRP, then think about the most expensive service/product you can provide and create a range of purchase options for your customers between the two.
  • Make sure your cheapest and most expensive services/products are available to buy before you do anything else

Crowdfunding? Consider the following strategies:

1 – Use Twitter/Facebook

Avoid the steep learning curve and expense required to use the major platforms; just start using social media to identify your ideal customers and start reaching out to them. Michael Devlin of Core 150 used Twitter to acquire 4,000 followers. Then he used a video as his MRP to persuade his customers to pay in advance and finance his first product run.


  • Identify the social channel that is most effective in identifying your ideal customers.
  • Make sure your vision is clearly articulated in a simple and creative video
  • Work hard everyday to acquire followers via your social media channel
  • Create an easy way for your customers to pre-order your service/product


2 – Blogger Outreach

Leveraging the networks of bloggers who are influencers in your market and to signpost peop


  • Use www.inkybee.com to identify your major influencers
  • Build relationships with them and determine what commission they require to promote your campaign
  • Make sure you have the technology to track their affiliate commissions


3 – Use Crowdfunding platform

If you have the financial runway to learn how to use the major platforms and provide all of the information and resources they need, then of course you need to consider this strategy. Be sure to innovative with your video. You don’t have to spend a fortune via a digital agency to differentiate and be newsworthy – Plume Labs used the idea of Pigeon Patrol to gain world-wide attention for their services.


  • Work out the opportunity and financial cost to using a crowdfunding platform
  • Innovate with your video and your idea to be newsworthy
  • Work hard to ask all of your friends and family to donate so your campaign gets momentum

Any questions? Get in touch here

The only reason we are running this competition is to encourage more students to be entrepreneurial and to increase your chances of success by motivating you to take more action.

We also want to turn tables from startup founders having to chase investors; instead we want to help you to generate the metrics that investors are looking for – Users, Revenue & Team (See Angelist)

In the meantime…



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