Four ways to be a better founder: takeaways from London Creator Camp

This past weekend, those who won big at the regional Creator Awards competitions in London, Berlin, Tel Aviv, and New York—47 finalists representing 34 companies—gathered in London for a Creator Camp of their own. The intensive was chock-full of inspiring workshops, coaching, networking, pitching, and even a surprise ride on a vintage double-decker bus to visit the London Eye. The weekend was a boot camp for founders as well preparation for the next round of the competition—global finals that will be held in New York City in January 2018.

Here were four of the biggest takeaways from the weekend:

Have a sense of what your values are as a company

“It costs nothing to sit in a room and say, ‘What are we going to stand for?’” said Rafe Offer, the cofounder and CEO of Sofar Sounds, a global community of artists and music lovers who come together to experience music in an intimate and respectful setting at a secret concert. Having served as the Global Marketing Director of Coca-Cola and Director of Global Marketing at The Walt Disney Company, Offer knows a thing or two about brand-building. His best advice for companies looking to build a strong brand on a budget: “Have a sense of what your values are as a company. As a founder, it’s important to show you’re passionate and have a vision.”

Be present and tuned in

Mindfulness. Living in the moment. Being present. However you want to phrase it, it’s much easier said than done, and is particularly important when pitching a business or product, says coach Ginny Radmall of Amplify, which specializes in helping businesses of all sizes tell their stories. Most of the Creator Camp attendees already have experience pitching in front of a huge audience—but that doesn’t mean it comes naturally. Her advice for preparing for a major presentation: “Warm up your instrument. Get comfortable. And then let it go and be present and tuned in in the moment.”

Answer the question behind the question

When you get in front of a potential investor, it’s tempting to take hard questions at face value and answer them immediately. But that’s not always the best move, suggests Rahul Bhandari, a growth expert working at the intersection of technology, entrepreneurship and investing. “You should always answer the question behind the question,” he advised finalists during the session he led on how to handle the toughest critics. His recommendation for structuring an airtight pitch? The ability to answer the questions, “What?”, “So what?”, and “Now what?” “Investors want to know the risks and that you have a risk mitigation strategy,” Bhandari says.

It’s OK not to have all the answers

As the founder of a company, you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, especially in the early years. When you’re starting out, you’re the CEO, IT expert, social media manager, and HR team (to name a few) all rolled into one. With that pressure often comes the misconception that you have to be the one with all the answers, but that’s not always the case. As Leni Zneimer, WeWork’s General Manager of the UK and Ireland, pointed out in her session, there’s never shame in seeking help. “Our cofounder and CEO often talks about being a student for life,” she said. “There’s so much truth to that. There’s power in community and in knowing that you’re not alone. Asking questions doesn’t mean you’re showing weakness; it shows you’re open to learning and improving.”

With the Creator Awards, WeWork is committing more than $20 million to innovative projects and the people behind them. This global competition is open to entrepreneurs, artists, startups, nonprofits—anyone who embodies our mantra, “Create your life’s work.” Apply here for 2018.

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