5 Key Takeaways From StartCon 2018


It’s 8:30 AM on a bright Friday morning. It all seems a bit calm. Maybe, a bit underwhelming as well.

There is a small but growing queue outside the Royal Randwick Racecourse, Sydney. Student volunteers in blue t-shirts are scanning in people and handing them cool swag bags. A few stalls making last minute additions to their stalls. The folks who had come early were strolling around and having their first cuppa.

The setting could easily have been mistaken for just another boring conference. I couldn’t have been more wrong!

StartCon 2018

It was the calm before the storm. It was the beginning of a high intensity, action packed, adrenaline boosting couple of days at StartCon 2018.

5 Key Takeaways From StartCon 2018

StartCon 2018 is Australia’s largest startup and growth conference. In its ninth year, it brought together a bunch of awesome speakers from organisations like NASA, Google, Mckinsey, Microsoft, Slack, Hubspot, ProfitWell, Crazy Egg and many more.

The Australian startup ecosystem, and by extension the business environment, is maturing and there are a lot of factors contributing to that. What is important is that we learn from the best and the worst from different environments and thrive ourselves.

And that was the focus of this year’s StartCon – “The Silicon Valley is Dead. Long Live Silicon Valley.”

The sessions, each lasting 30 minutes, presented powerful ideas across various themes of growth. Speakers with proven track of achievements in their respective fields shared their thoughts. Some made me introspect deeply, some inspired. But every single session had at least one strong learning which can be applied to a growing business.

Here are my top 5 from takeaways from StartCon 2018

Have A Single North Star Metric - Krista Seiden | Google

The single minded pursuit of vanity metrics has proven to be the first step towards business failure.

What is important is to have what is termed as a North Star Metric – a lofty but relevant goal.

While the term was used recurrently across speakers, the best definition came from Google’s Krista Seiden: A North Star Metric is a measurement parameter which is relevant for both the business and the end user it serves.

For an online education company, a North Star Metric, for example, could be the number of students who complete the course. Not how many paid, not how many downloaded the course prospectus, but those who complete. That’s how their customers would be successful and therefore their business will thrive.

Be In Love With The Problem, Not The Solution - Jurgen Spangl | Atlassian

This may be a common sense statement. But if we think about it there are plenty of examples of business not following this maxim.

We start a venture, a business, a project to solve a problem for our end customer. With proper research, we come up with a seemingly brilliant solution.

However, our ego consciously or subconsciously kicks in, and we become attached to the results of our brilliance or even the effort we have put in. We refuse to change even when the customer herself tells so in no uncertain terms.

If we genuinely consider ourselves as problem solvers, we will focus on solving the problem.

5 Key Takeaways From StartCon 2018

Customers Use What They Know To Make Sense Of What They Don’t Know - April Dunford | Rocket Launch Marketing

In the hyper attention seeking world we live in, this is more profound than ever.

We have an information overload. Our mind will identify patterns. It seeks things which match these patterns and as a result there is almost always resistance to change to something new.

As a marketer, by just being different we will not be able to break the clutter. Developing an understanding of the customers will help us be different.

Be A Mad Scientist - Matthew Brimer | General Assembly

Again, I could relate to this statement (and what followed) as a marketer.

Customers are humans with unpredictable, often irrational and definitely complex behaviour. In order to achieve our North Metric, we need to experiment like crazy. We will fail more often than we succeed. And, that is all right.

What is important is that we learn, iterate and implement a better version.

Pay Attention - Suneet Bhatt | Crazy Egg

Suneet Bhatt’s session was the second last of the conference and definitely among the top three highlights of the two days.

In our pursuit to seek attention, whether as marketers or as individuals in a relationship, we often ignore to pay attention to what the person across the table is saying, doing or feeling.

Attention is a two way street. The more we pay, the more we get.

It is important to not just step back and pay attention once a while, it should be rule number one in all our endeavours.

5 Key Takeaways From StartCon 2018

These were my top 5 takeways. There were definitely many more. Some of which I have already started working on (Inspired by message from Patrick Campbell, CEO of ProfitWell – focus on doing more – consider this a bonus 6th learning).

What did you learn? Or do you have anything to add? Please share in the comments section. Would love to have a conversation around that.

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