Can you master Startup Success? - Interview with Award-winning Startup Advisor Ash Phillips

6 min read

Nick Holder

In the dynamic world of startups, navigating the path to success can be both exhilarating and challenging. To shed light on this entrepreneurial journey, we had the privilege of sitting down with Ash Phillips. Seasoned founder, award-winning advisor, speaker, and investor deeply entrenched in the startup ecosystem.

In this interview, Ash discusses the qualities he looks for in startup founders, offers advice to those embarking on their entrepreneurial journey, and strategies for leveraging resources effectively. Discover how to avoid common pitfalls and harness the power of a supportive board of directors to drive business growth.

Join us as we tap into Ash's wealth of knowledge and gain a deeper understanding of what it takes to succeed in the startup arena.

(click here for last weeks Startup Success interview with award winning mentor Kay Kukoyi

Ash Phillips
Ash Phillips (Linkedin) is a founder, award-winning advisor, speaker and investor in the startup ecosystem. With 10+ years of deep experience in the startup space having built a global community and working with over 1,000 founders directly during this time. Ash is a regular speaker, host + guest lecturer.Inc: TEDx, Forbes, WeWork, Sunday Times, Maserati100 and more. He is founder and chair of Rebellious Co which owns & operates brands that democratise and enable entrepreneurship and aspiring business leaders. One such brand is Rebel Meetups - A global network of free events that provide spaces for founders, creators and rebels to network.

Q: As a board member and startup mentor what specific qualities or actions do you look for in founders to assess their potential for success?

Passion for the space, the problem, the customer, conviction, action, consistency, punctuality, self-awareness, and self-respect of their time + value.

Q: What advice would you give to founders just starting their entrepreneurial journey?

It's easy to sweat the small stuff, but it's surprising how many business owners forget to sell. You can read every book in the world and redesign your website 10 times over but there is no substitute for the cash + learnings you'll get from winning one customer and speaking to them. Focus there first, and repeat until you stop learning (hint: you won't).


Q: What resources or support have you seen founders benefit from the most when building their startups?

Credits from communities/programmes have a tangible and often high ROI. Also confident/practiced founders should enter any/all competitions for funding/support as every pitch they do against others after this will almost always be more competitive/higher quality. Make the most of it.

Q: What are some of the pitfalls or mistakes you have seen startups make which should be avoided?

Getting distracted by things that do not move the needle and getting 'lost in the woods' of the details of their business on the way to product market fit. Easy hack: Ask others what they think your product does/solves. If this doesn't align with what you actually want them to say, you need to adjust. It's often simpler than you think.


Q: How can founders effectively leverage their board of directors to drive business growth and strategic decision-making?

Convene a board of people who are steps ahead and/or experts in areas of weakness. Get them to work with you in a style that is beneficial to the way you work. Tough love often works but sometimes people are tentative to provide it unless given permission/requested to do so. Meet often enough to get value, but not so often that it's meeting for meetings sake (once every 1-3 months works nicely). Keep them up to date (email) monthly at least and make sure you ask for very clear things so they can help.


Q: What are the most significant factors that lead to successful board-founder relationships?

Chemistry and clarity of communications. This is a marriage. Ensure they're the right person and talk about what you both want/need on an ongoing basis.

Q: What are the key indicators that a startup is ready for significant growth and scaling?

The convergence of somewhat PMF proof, and a market showing signs of growing/needing more provision. Ideally profitability but of course this is dependent on the strategy and circumstances. Growth is dependent on the founder and the vision. Bigger team doesn't necessarily = better company.

Q: Have you witnessed any steps/measures that have enhanced board collaboration and therefore board effectiveness?

Agendas are underrated/helpful. Actions for every person to take away to do within a predefined time. You're a team, just as the rest of the company is. Work together to move the needle.

Key Takeaways

1. Founder Qualities for Success

Passion, consistency, and customer-centricity are crucial for founders.

2. Prioritize Sales

Focus on selling your product over perfection.

3. Leverage Resources

Utilize community support and competition opportunities.

4. Avoid Distractions

Stay focused on essentials for product-market fit.

5. Effective Board Engagement

Ensure clear communication and specific requests for a productive board-founder relationship.

6. Signs of Growth

Indicators include product-market fit and profitability. Growth depends on vision, not just team size.

7. Enhance Board Collaboration

Use clear agendas and actionable items for effective collaboration.

Thanks Ash!

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Ash Phillips for generously sharing his wealth of knowledge and experiences. From his remarkable journey in building a global startup community to his innovative projects like Rebel Meetups, Ash's insights have been truly inspiring.

Thank you, Ash, for paving the way for aspiring entrepreneurs and leaders!

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