QStart Labs was established in 2008, but its roots go further back.
For years, what is now known as QStart was simply the tech team for Columbus-based NCT Ventures and it only serviced NCT portfolio companies, helping them save on technology costs and enabling them to use more of their investment for momentum building activities that drive better, faster exits. Then, the team realized it could successfully offer its services to lots of other companies and the rest, as they say, is history.
To put it simply, QStart, focuses on building successful businesses on the web.
“We are a unique combination made up of part technology development and part startup advisory services, which allows startups and their investors to reduce the typical cash outlay, time-to-market, and risk associated with launching a new web-based venture,” says its president, Kevin Hiser.
“We have a hand-selected team of entrepreneurs, designers, nerds, and investors that know what it takes to launch a successful startup,” he continues. “We take a pragmatic approach to the business, technology, and coaching needs that get startups and investors’ portfolio companies off the napkin and to the bank as quickly as possible.”
Read on to learn who is occupying QStart’s time at the moment, what is key to the company’s success, and why your startup needs to be disciplined when establishing its web presence.
The Metropreneur: What specific services does QStart offer?
Kevin Hiser: QStart Labs is not a typical vendor that provides one–time, project-based work. Yes, we provide technology development advisory services and more, but we realized that startups need more than a vendor that could just build “cool stuff” with no understanding of how to actually build a business. This “status quo” is not good for startups or their investors, so QStart Labs set out to break the mold!
We focused on creating a unique relationship by bringing together both technology development and startup advisory services that would fully align with our clients’ interests and built their business model around it. What does that mean? We are in it for the long haul, as we can only succeed when our clients succeed.
[M]: QStart has launched three new businesses in April and plans to launch at least 10 by year’s end. Can you tell me more about that?
KH: We launched seven businesses last year and are selectively launching 10 this year. The most recent include Venture Highway in March, Ripple Mobile’s Plan My Trip in May, SpeakerSite in May, and TuVay in May. We have nine more in the selection process from all over the country, including Silicon Valley, New York, Texas, and Florida. Most likely, six of these will be selected.
[M]: When it comes to startups, what do they often forget to take into consideration?
KH: There are tons of things, including building too much technology to get to market, building low quality that is not scalable for growth, lack of pragmatic decision making ability, not implementing a strategic planning framework to guide them and make decisions based on, mistaking “customer-focused” as having to constantly develop every feature a prospect wants, which may not align with their objectives, giving away equity like it is candy, pivoting “just because,” and on and on.
[M]: What should startups keep in mind when developing their web presence?
KH: Be disciplined! Entrepreneurs need to dream big, be pragmatic, and focus on what gets them to revenue while staying true to their purpose. This allows them to use their resources wisely, grow the business, not chase assumptions that potentially are wrong, and set a roadmap for continued success. Being disciplined also allows them to gain traction early which will help them grow organically or be attractive to potential investors. Again there are many, many things they need to consider but they vary from situation to situation.
[M]: Is there anything else you think we should know?
KH: QStart Labs is unique in that we are not interested in just doing “project work.” We were built to help startups get from idea on a napkin to a successful exit. You could say that we build businesses on the web and we are passionate about our mission!
We are unique because of our team, our roots in the venture capital world, and ability to understand how to build and grow companies, whether bootstrapped or funded. The key to our success is the model that ensures alignment with mutual success and motivates the right decisions at all times along the journey. We walk the walk in a world where most only talk the talk.
To learn more about QStart Labs, visit QStartLabs.com.