We had the TIE Athens Bootcamp yesterday and one of the subject that was discussed is: I am startup, my brand is not that well-known, so how can I make others (website visitors/investors/potential customers) trust me? Here are some ideas on how you can build trust for your startup:
1. Build an Advisory Board
Wouldn’t people look different towards your startup if you had Mark Zuckerberg as an advisor? An advisory board could be a team of 5 high caliber personalities relevant to your business, with CVs that include top organizations, well-known universities, or previous success in the startup world. Of course, it’s not that easy to get ww CEOs in this team, so you could start with one-two well-positioned persons that you know and trust and build up from there.
Where can you find candidates? To get an idea of people who could potentially be interested in joining your advisory board, I would suggest that you have a look at the organizations that support entrepreneurship (see the mentors lists there). E.g., have a look at the mentor list of theEgg here, Openfund’s mentors list here, the Endeavor mentors list here, the PjTech Catalyst here, the Rockstart Accelerator mentors here, and the Amsterdam Bootcamp mentors here. Usually, the mentors in such organizations are people with a keen interest in supporting startups and entrepreneurs.
How to Approach potential advisors: Remember that these people are usually quite busy so you should respect their time and use wisely the opportunity window that you have either when meeting in person or via e-mail. It is always nice to have a working demo, so that they can understand what your business is all about and namedrop a couple of other advisors that you already have in the team. A potential email to an advisor candidate could be like this one:
“Hi Fotis. We are a greek startup focusing on X area, with a web-based and mobile solution that you can find here. Our team has 3 talented engineers/members from X,Y,Z universities (linkedin profiles) and we are building our advisory board with people who have expertise in this area and have a keen interest to support us. We already have X and Y in the advisory board and it would be of great benefit to us if you would be interested to join our advisory board. Typically, this would mean an investment of X hours per month for you via email or phone or 1:1 meeting, always in respect to your busy program. We also hope that we can be of benefit to you by informing you about the latest trends in the area that we are working on. Should you find it useful, we could also set a meeting/conf-call/skype to meet us before committing your time. If you are very busy in this period we perfectly understand it and in any case we would like to keep you updated with our news via email. “
2. Get Featured on Techcrunch/TnW/BBC etc
Send a description of your startup to as many of the top tech sites as possible. If you are lucky and build your connections, you may get featured in one of them. Use this in your website.
Who is doing it right: Incrediblue is featured on TC, Wired, TNW, Betabeat and you can read this in their first page (great job guys!).
3. Get famous Customers
Can you get top brand name customers at some point? If yes, please get their allowance and advertise this in your website.
Who is doing it right: Bugsense has famous customers such as Samsung, Skype, Intel, HBO, Microsoft, Techcrunch. They also have quotes from some of them, which is even more useful.
4. Get Support from a Top Brand
Can you get incubated by Microsoft/Google/etc? can you get in an accelerator program? can you get a competition award from a top brand? If yes, then go on and use this at your communication.
Who is doing it right: Intelen has won the Red herring Global Award
5. Write about Your Team
You probably have a great team with lots of interesting experiences. Putting a face behind the startup’s website can help your customers. People connect more easily with your brand if they can see your picture, linkedin, read your twitter and get to know your team a little bit better.
Who is Doing it Right: Imagga has an "About" section with a description of its core members
Summarizing, the trust data dots that you should connect are well-trusted People, Media, Customers, Awards and Partnerships. The more you build each dot, the easier you’ll connect with the other ones.