Small business: Selfstarters helps entrepreneurs get the best out of their business

When Flavio Hangarter’s training and development business work virtually disappeared over night as Covid hit he quickly pivoted to form Selfstarters a business that helps tech entrepreneurs to better promote and grow their businesses.

What does your business do?

We help streamline businesses. We work with tech companies and specifically business owners of tech companies. Often times they have a product, they are in market but they usually have a problem like they are in a very competitive space, they are not acquiring leads fast enough, not generating sales fast enough. We help them overcome those challenges and help them to tweak a few things in their business to help them amplify the growth.

How do you do that?

Essentially the outcome is they will get more leads and better conversions. But what we focus on is three core things; one is the positioning piece – we help them to stop marketing based on features and products and help them to tell a better story and help them to really position themselves as an authority in the marketplace. Often times they are able to charge better prices. We help with the sales and marketing process and then the promotion.

How long has your business been around for?

Selfstarters in its current form originated off the back of Covid – the lockdown we had last year. I had a training and development company which was set up in 2015. But Covid shook things up and I lost 90 per cent of the business overnight. I had to sit down and figure out a way to pivot. I felt like a possum in the headlights.
For the last 10 years I have been working in the tech space and had founded two tech companies. I was sitting on a lot of IP. I had all this knowledge sitting there that we previously – our training programmes had been sold to Government, universities and so on. I looked at what I had learned in the last 10 years and how I could help businesses going forward on the back of Covid.

Was it hard to launch in the middle of Covid?

From the beginning we were a digital first company. People are a lot a lot more receptive to things like Zoom and catching up online. We didn’t take the approach of let’s launch a business and sell but rather we looked at connecting with people in the market and looked at what some of the challenges were. And that led our product development and the programmes we created. Through that we found a couple of customers and from that point on we stopped marketing too much and just focused on recreating something that had impact.

How big is your team?

We have a Hollywood model for our company. I am the main person and as projects come in we onboard other people that can help us with the project. We partner with other companies where it is needed. If we have a need for it we work with a lot of consultants but we are focused on coaching and training. A lot of times we work one on one with clients and then if they need help with delivery that is when we bring in other people.

What are your long-term plans?

We have got some amazing results and the biggest piece we are focused on now is building a community. We have a good number of people from Australia, the South Island, Auckland. Now the focus is on making our system more assessable to Kiwis across the country, especially in the regions. I think they lack a bit of support for technology. We just want to get them the support they need to help them grow in the international market.

What are you focused on right now?

There is not one particular area. At the moment we are just reaching out to people and making them aware of our service and that it is available. We run a lot of training workshops. We believe a lot of education can be done for free and can be made available for everyone. So we run a lot of free workshops that people attend – we have monthly workshops.

What advice do you give others thinking to start their own business?

Validate your business. Last year I was working with an entrepreneur on the back of lockdown. He inherited some money and wanted to create a business and I said have you spoken to anyone? We worked together for about six weeks and he decided to switch and buy a house. I think that especially in the early stages it is really important to validate your business, your product. It goes for large businesses as well. Talking to people is key but filtering the information is the tricky part. A lot of entrepreneurs think they can do it through a survey. But a survey gives you secondary data quantitative data which tells you what is happening but it doesn’t necessarily tell you why something is happening. I think entrepreneurs need to become better at formulating the right questions.

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