#0011 Luke Warner of Intergreatme
33 ideas on starting businesses, finding co-founders and getting crowdfunded
Luke Warner is a South African entrepreneur who co-founded Intergreatme. The technology start-up holds the title of the largest crowdfunding campaign in Africa, raising R32 million with the platform Uprise Africa. A Civitas team member sat down with Luke to discuss how he got into business, lessons from crowdfunding and how to get market exposure from your competitors.
Summary of the best ideas from the discussion
- Start a business to solve a problem.
- All you need is a solution that you’ve validated with market research.
- No matter how successful you get, you’ll still hear more no’s than yes’s
- Get very comfortable with accepting no and getting rejected
- There is no such thing as one launch, you’re constantly launching.
- Talk to your competitors and ask them to tell you why you will fail
- You only need to six months ahead of someone else knowledge to be an expert to them
- Automate your sales process to scale your business.
On starting a business
- "I didn't start a business because I wanted a business, I wanted to solve a problem because I was frustrated and in order to solve a big problem, businesses are the vehicle that you use to connect people's interests."
- "I'd three or four other businesses which were failures or flops, and it's because I didn't take them on full time."
- "The truth is, you really don't know what you're doing when you start. All you need to know is that there's a problem. You think you have a solution and you've spoken to enough people who say they will pay you money. That's your indicator that it's time to to take it on full time. "
- "If you don't have confidence that people like what you have and they're willing to give you money, then then you should not resign from your job."
- "For us, the risk [of crowdfunding] was big enough to take. Because for our use case, we had a big consumer-facing model. We needed market validation to prove that the customer wanted the Integreatme brand."
On finding a co-founder
- "I probably had two or three like pre-co-founders where it just didn't materialize. When it comes time to resign from your job... some of them will say, "no ways."
- Getting introduced to his co-founder: "Either you're going to meet your competition, or you're going to meet your next business partner."
- Meeting his co-founder: "We thought we were cool people to hang around and we said, well, neither of us actually knows what's going on here. And this is probably gonna be a bumpy road. So you might as well have a friend to laugh with and cry with. And so we decided to join forces."
- "I'll go as far as to say you hear a thousand "no's" for every yes. Even when you are successful, people have this illusion that the more successful you are, the more we actually gonna hear yes. I would argue that like an Elon Musk or and a Jeff Bezos probably still hear a 100 no's for every one "yes".
- "It's not that people don't believe in them...they just don't want to take the risk. When you're being innovative and changing society and cultural norms, you're taking a risk."
- "You just have to a massive, massive tolerance for accepting no and turning a no, not into a yes but still finding currency in a no. What would you like to change for it to become a yes? Or what's your biggest red flag. Or what gives you the most comfort? Or the most discomfort? Or how would you like to see this work, assuming everything else works? People always come up with but, but, but this is why it won't work. Assuming I can solve for ABCD and E then would you be interested? So I think that's a key skill as an entrepreneur is to find currency in the no's."
- Creating value for every ask: "I generally find that it's better to give 10 for everyone that you ask."
- "There is no such thing as the one launch. You're launching every day, and you're launching every week. We must have like 50 or 60 app releases. So every time you do a release, that's launching a new feature set or launching a new capability, launching an update. So each time you have a new client, that's a new launch. It's very incremental, and it's very iterative."
- "You're launching every time you tell somebody this is what my product does, do you want to be a customer?"
- "You're launching every day that you speak to somebody and each person you speak to amplifies the signal that you want to go to the market and that creates market awareness."
- "Looked at like a Discovery Bank or a Rain Telco. When did they launch? It was a two-year progression of slow media releases saying this is when we are coming, this is when we're going to come. When you actually launch you are doing five or ten thousand transactions a week. Is that really a launch?"
On market awareness
- "I went to all of my competitors in the early days, in the first couple of weeks. I went to go sit with them, and I told him exactly what I was doing. I showed him how I planned on doing things."
- "By going to your competitors and going to the big movers and shakers and saying this is what I'm doing. Although they can be rude to you and say this is stupid, it's never going to work. You're on their radar, and now they're talking about you."
- "By going to the competitors and say straight up, this is what I'm going to do. Immediately they can't help but say to you. This is why that won't work. You're like, well, thanks, you saved me six months."
- "You are using the inherent negativity to de-risk your business model."
- "You never have to be 10 years or 50 years ahead of somebody. I rate you only need to be six months ahead of somebody to be an expert. An expert relative to them."
- "We specifically went for crowdfunding afterwards because we have a B-to-B-to-C business model. So we make money on businesses. It's free for the consumer. But the people who benefit the most from our platform is the man in the street."
- "For us, the risk [of crowdfunding] was big enough to take. Because for our use case, we had a big consumer-facing model. We needed market validation to prove that the customer wanted the Integreatme brand. They wanted the experience of once and never again having to fill out forms. So that's why we went for crowdfunding."
- "It [crowdfunding) is a tool the same way a payment gateway is a tool and screwdriver is a tool, and a hammer is a tool. You look at at what the problem is that you're trying to solve, and then then you go and find the tool. You don't come with the tool and then force it into the problem. "
- "It's almost more powerful because people putting money into your business have something to lose. And so they effectively become brand ambassadors and evangelists for your business...But more importantly, they don't want to lose their money. So at every chance that they get to market your business, they're going to do it. "
On dealing with crowdfunding investors
- "A lot of the time, I respect them and appreciate that they've invested in our business. But a lot of the time it is a distraction. So you've got to weigh that up."
- "They want to share their ideas, which is cool. But it does become difficult to draw the boundary as to do you listen to them, or do you not listen to them? And so you've got to draw a respectful boundary. "
- "There's also mental stimulation for investors. So now they are getting to learn about a company for the first time, or they get to be a board member for the first time. So there's a lot more to it than money. It's about co-creating and building an empire of value together and learning that process. "
- "They say you got to do some things that don't scale at the beginning to get some form of market validation or credibility."
- "Lots of people have paid us money. They pay us good money for it, and now we need to automate our selling process, and so that's how we plan to scale is by making the sales process fully autonomous."
- "If my business model is to allow you to get your customers with one tap, you should kind of sign on to my business as well with one tap."
On believing in your business
- "There was a stage last year. September, August, every month I was like about to go bust. I actually had to sell my car in order to pay salaries. And so we've got a new car like two or three months ago. But for a year I didn't have a car because we had to pay salaries."