From start-up to scale-up perfectly describes our journey at Von Seidels.
With high hopes for the African continent and loads of energy, Von Seidels was established in 2007 as a boutique IP firm and has grown into the pan-African law firm that it is today.
We perfectly understand the journey from “start-up to scale-up” with all the highs and lows, effort, challenges and celebrations along the way. With that being the theme of the 2020 SA Innovation Summit, we are thrilled to be the IP partner of this huge African innovation event and community this year.
For those starting on this journey now, we have 8 practical tips to share.
Before you start moving forward with your business idea, check that someone else is not already doing it for your target market and location.
Test your business name and product/service idea with your friends, family and would-be market to see if it has traction.
Like with raising a child, you need a village for support including your co-founders or partners, mentors and other entrepreneurs.
Sharing your business idea and purpose convincingly and comfortably is crucial. Think about and craft your ‘elevator pitch’ to explain your business in a nutshell to someone quickly, say, in a 30 second elevator ride.
There are many free tools and services to use in the early stages, for example, to register your company, open your bank account and for marketing.
Google’s range of apps is free including Gmail, spreadsheets, documents and slides. When you are ready to market your business, use free tools such as MailChimp for email marketing and Zoho, Hubspot and Insightly for customer relationship management. Wix is one of the most popular free website building tools and you can use Google Analytics to track website traffic. And of course, social media is free and effective for getting visibility to a massive online audience.
Invest in reliable, scalable systems from the beginning as you will need these to expand with your business. Many systems and software tools have free or low cost versions for start-ups which you can easily upgrade and add functionality to as you grow.
Protecting your IP is essential. Trademarks, copyrights, designs, patents, know-how, trade secrets, domain names, image rights, data and privacy policies are all forms of IP that can be protected.
Set up a clear, legally-sound agreement with your co-founders/partners first. Draw up confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements (NDAs)
and invention assignment agreements. Once you have employees or instruct freelancers, ensure they sign these.
Also remember that agreements can be contained in an email chain. It’s also wise to confirm your understanding of all conversations with a follow up email.
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