Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
I am Christos Kritikos and I am the founder of Emerging Humanity. I see entrepreneurship as a catalyst for business activity, economic development, and (ultimately) social progress especially in developing parts of the world.
Emerging Humanity's goal is to facilitate this process and amplify the impact by helping the startups succeed! We offer accelerator programs, entrepreneur courses, startup tools and templates, and hands-on services like consulting and coaching, that help impact-driven entrepreneurs launch successful products and become fundable.
Since we started (3-4 years ago) I have personally helped more than 50 founders/entrepreneurs. We are also seeing promising activity with our (more recent) educational offerings like the accelerator and the eCourses.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I think the business and I somehow found each other!
Making honest and authentic choices when it comes to strategic decisions is a top priority.
I started my career 20+ years ago as a technology solutions consultant for small businesses. I would work directly with founders to develop products and services, so I was heavy on the "tech product" side of things. At the same time, I have always been passionate about humanity and society and how they get affected (both positively and negatively) by innovative ideas.
As I gained experience and seniority, I moved into more strategic and advisory roles and became more selective with my projects. I was also looking for ways to share my skills with more founders and amplify my impact. I was already mentoring through accelerator programs and I realized that a combination of structured programs, educational content, and targeted hands-on help is a good approach. Hence what we do!
Naturally, it hasn't been a straight path. I fumbled a lot and went through various iterations to define the identity of "Emerging Humanity". I had a general idea of what I wanted to create but many details were missing. Most of my experience was in implementing products and solutions, I was the "getting things done" person. Advisory roles (coaching, mentoring, etc) are more hands-off and it takes some self-discipline to not get involved.
Ultimately, we want to support entrepreneurs in walking their own path on their own feet. We are helping both the company and the humans behind it!
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
Emerging Humanity started as a startup consulting company and all our "educational products" (courses, boot camps, programs, etc) are built upon our experience working directly with founders in the trenches. The initial goal was to provide information in a DIY format so that my 1-on-1 sessions with the founders focus on developing their strategy. Per se, the "MVP" was a list of resources I collected from the internet. Over time I refined the process, distilled many hard-earned lessons, and created our own program.
Given that I am a "get things done" person, a key goal of our product/service is to help the founder make tangible progress. We want everyone that comes in contact with Emerging Humanity to gain something valuable (knowledge, skills, guidance, etc). Part of it may be for free or pro bono, part of it may be paid. I and my team may work hands-on with the most promising startups. Either way, we want to be an important piece of the startup's success story.
I think there are numerous programs and resources for entrepreneurs, lots of business coaches, and mentors. Despite all that, many founders get off track when it comes to implementation - the result is not there. Our goal is to change that!
Describe the process of launching the business.
I would say we have been through three phases that are quite typical in entrepreneurship:
Phase 1 - Initial excitement: I was consulting and mentoring before the company formed - it was through these activities that I came up with the idea. I could see there was a need for a "better way" to support entrepreneurs and I was already in the thick of it. I "packaged" my services under the "Emerging Humanity" brand, got the domain name, put together a website, and voila!
Phase 2 - Being over my head: Doing something is not the same as building a business that does this something. Also having a product/service that people find valuable (the people I was already working with) doesn't automatically translate into (additional) customers and revenue. I had a "beta testing group", but no customer acquisition process or strategy. Enter frustration, doubt, despair, etc...
Phase 3 - Building (on) a strong foundation: I took a step back and followed my own advice (that I give to entrepreneurs). Market research, customer discovery, value proposition, go-to-market strategy. We are still working on different aspects (improving never ends) and I feel we make systematic progress towards "clicking" with a specific market segment.
So far all this has been bootstrapped and we are still in the red. Once we find a market fit I will create a growth plan and see if it makes sense to continue on the same path or to raise a small round.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
We have used a few different marketing approaches and borrowed from a variety of playbooks.
When I started the company, I was already consulting and had collaborations with accelerator programs and complementary companies (software development, marketing, etc) so a lot of the business was word of mouth. I was also doing old-school in-person networking.
During Covid, I jumped on the online train (like everyone else). I saw an opportunity to connect (via zoom mentoring, webinars, etc) with entrepreneurs in countries where in-person contact used to be a prerequisite (quite common in developing countries). This part was very exciting! I also started creating more content on social media but my initial attempts were "cookie-cutter" and I felt I was simply "playing the inbound and SEO game", adding to the noise that already existed out there. So I reevaluated that.
Our current marketing formula focuses on two things:
- Quality content and selective media promotion. We are at the forefront of entrepreneurial initiatives especially as they relate to social impact. I believe we have something unique and important to say and we put this into original long-form content. Naturally, it includes SEO keywords, etc but it is written for humans not for indexing robots. Our content is "SEO friendly", not "SEO first'
- Strategic partnerships. We work with organizations around the world to create, codesign, or contribute to social entrepreneurship initiatives. The initiatives build our brand recognition, give us access to new markets and generate revenue. Part of these activities also feeds back into the media promotion. I believe that if we keep delivering quality, the market will catch on.
In short, our market strategy is to offer high-quality service and connect with impact-focused entrepreneurs and organizations. Our website, LinkedIn group, SEO improvements, PR, and social engagement are aligned with this strategy to advance Emerging Humanity’s mission.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Our revenue is still modest (around $5000 per month) as we are playing the long-term game. I would rather build something substantial for the future than be the one-hit-wonder everyone forgets about in a year. Even though we are not profitable yet, I believe we are headed in the right direction.
There is revenue from DIY boot camps and courses that we expect to increase over time. We also get more substantial compensation from the hands-on services (coaching and consulting) that are performance- or milestone-based. We are still filling up the pipeline so it may be a while longer before this enters the books.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
The most important lesson I learned is that feeling good and at peace with my decisions is what gives me inner strength and confidence to keep going. Conventional success is very elusive; it may or may not come tomorrow, in a year, or five years. So compromising core values for the sake of success is not a trade I am willing to make. Making honest and authentic choices when it comes to strategic decisions is a top priority. It saves me from many sleepless nights and gives me inner peace.
I have also come to appreciate leadership as a personal stance in life. It starts with the individual - every person gets to think and act as a leader for themselves and the people around them. This requires "inner strength" that comes from taking care of oneself physically, spiritually, and emotionally. So I have come to appreciate the importance of a daily ritual that keeps me balanced and healthy.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Starting from the big picture, I like to use Trello boards for strategy. This helps capture key objectives and tasks across different swimlanes. To track implementation, we use Kanban boards. Slack is our tool of choice for internal communication with the team.
When it comes to in-person projects, we use a variety of simple collaboration tools and mind mapping. I am a big fan of Mindmeister’s elegant interface. I like to use it to capture and organize high-level information for the founders.
Finally, we use Thinkific to deliver our educational content. We are also looking into more comprehensive platforms that would allow us to combine video content with mentoring and other useful features to provide comprehensive entrepreneurship programs.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
My favorite books and my recommendations for any founder or aspiring entrepreneur would be "The E-Myth", "The Four Agreements", "Miracle Morning", "The Big Leap", and "Positive Intelligence". All of these help build a strong inner foundation to withstand the obstacles of entrepreneurship. The E-Myth effectively outlines the difference between an actual business and an idea or a passion. The Four Agreements is a gem for personal leadership. The Big Leap and Positive Intelligence can get you started on tackling limiting beliefs and dealing with inner saboteurs. Finally, Miracle Morning has helped me establish a kick-ass routine.
For the more practical side of the business, I’ve relied on a variety of books. I used the "Slicing Pie" for founder equity and determining early-stage founder compensation. "Priceless" explains pricing psychology, while "Ask" deals with customer discovery and marketing. For email newsletters, I like to refer to the "Newsletter Ninja". And of course, as I am a product guy, "User Story Mapping" was essential for building product feature maps.
Last but not least, the Stratechery blog and podcast is a must for anyone interested in the socio-economic side of technology.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Make sure you know why you are doing this and what you want out of it. The most common mistake I see is probably to start the wrong way or for the wrong reasons. Putting the carriage before the horse, building a product nobody wants, and not realizing a business has a lot of moving parts. I have probably done all these myself!
Nowadays there are many ways new entrepreneurs can avoid the common pitfalls and make the most of their limited resources. Rein on the excitement. Educate yourself on the (lean startup) methodology, then follow it. Visit emerginghumanity.com, read the startup success guide, check out the tools and resources. Be open to early (negative) feedback - it may hurt, but crashing after spending lots of time & money hurts even more. Be honest with yourself. Get some coaching (hint: with me)!
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
I would like help on the market side of things. Some strategic (define and coordinate different marketing channels and activities), some tactical (collateral, copy, flyers, PDFs), and some administrative (paperwork, agreements, research). It would start part-time with hourly pay and grow as we grow.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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