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So you want to build a high growth web startup? Part 1

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by Startacus Admin

Entrepreneurial Spark Start-Up Craig McDonald Co-Founder of StorkUp has written a 4000 word summary on building a high growth web startup! Not only is that fab, he is also happy to share his thoughts and ideas with you all over a series of posts to appear on Startacus. Over 3 posts Craig will return with more handy tidbits of advice. Over to Craig to explain all:

"One of the best things about Entrepreneurial Spark is the sheer diversity of the businesses that proudly call themselves ESpark Chiclets. From fantastic “bricks and mortar” traders, to innovative service firms, ESpark has the lot. As someone who has been involved in a range of different businesses over the past decade or so, I love hearing their stories and offering them feedback on their ideas.

However, high growth web (and mobile) startups are what excite me the most, and it is great to see more and more of them joining the ESpark ranks.web startup

If you are looking to build a high growth web startup, then this post is for you. Some of it should be stuff you are already familiar with, but hopefully there will be a few tidbits of advice that will come in handy as you progress along your startup journey. 

It is a bit of an epic so grab a cup of coffee (or a glass of something cold) and a comfy chair…

Build an awesome deck

The first thing you’ll need to get started on is your slide deck. Done correctly, your deck can be your most potent weapon in the early stages of your startup. If you haven’t launched then your deck is going to be entirely speculative and while it is possible to tell a great story in terms of your idea, team and track record, your deck will be far more compelling once you have some data to include in it.

Last week I saw a very impressive deck from an eCommerce startup founded by two Stanford graduates. Although their startup was at a fairly early stage, they took the data they had already generated and turned it into an extremely persuasive story. From cohort analysis on user behaviour (to prove that more recent monthly cohorts were taking less time to become repeat customers) to charts that demonstrated their customer acquisition costs were being returned within an increasingly shorter time frame, they showed beyond any doubt that they deeply understood their business and that their key metrics were trending in a very positive direction.

While it isn’t really possible to describe in generic terms the specific metrics you should be including in your deck as these will depend on factors like market focus, proposed revenue model, etc. (general hint: anything that graphs in the correct direction – normally up and to the right), I can point you in the direction of the best set of slide templates in the world. For just $99, Slidevana will enable you to look like a pro when it comes to building your deck.


Prototyping your idea is something you can also be working on from day one. You don’t need any technical skills to do this, but you do need to be very familiar with how web and/or mobile applications work. Thankfully you can learn this simply by using other apps. Every web site (or mobile app) that you use for work or pleasure should be treated as a learning opportunity.

Look at how their pages are laid out, how their navigation works, what the work flow is for the various tasks that you complete. Then start to sketch out how your application might work – what pages you might need and what each of these will contain in terms of functionality.

One approach that can be helpful is to think in terms of ‘user stories’. These can range from very simple: “The user clicks on a big orange button (text: “login”) located in the top right of the page to login to the application” to significantly more complicated explanations of how a user might update their personal information, or complete a transaction, etc.

Once you have your initial sketches and user stores, you can use a tool like Balsamiq to start mocking up how the various screens might look. If you are building a mobile app, then PopApp allows you to simulate your app’s workflow with nothing more than a pen and paper (and your iPhone’s camera).

Continued on page 2! 

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Published on: 30th April 2013

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