Start-up Advice: Brian Daly, Techstars

23 Aug 2016

Brian Daly is the European marketing manager for start-up accelerator Techstars.

Based in Berlin, Brian Daly has been with Techstars since 2014, when he joined its Associate Program in London, working his way up to the position of program manager in Berlin and on to his current position of European marketing manager.

Before joining Techstars, Daly was the founder of a couple of start-ups himself, and he also worked with the Web Summit in Dublin.


In your opinion, which areas of technology hold the greatest scope for opportunities?

I think the obvious answer here is artificial intelligence and machine-learning technologies, but what will be interesting is how they are applied in the next five-to-10 years.

I think we’re going to see a lot of change in interface and how we interact with services. I don’t see how there will be a need for clunky applications when a lot of the same can be achieved through messengers.

Payments is still such an interesting topic, too. How can you make paying for your food in a restaurant or a coffee in a cafe so much more seamless?

Autonomous cars, drones, planes, cargo ships, trucks etc… are all very interesting. Huge disruption with millions of jobs to be taken. Is that a good thing, though?

Are good entrepreneurs born or can they be made?

I think great entrepreneurs are are born out of the situations that they were exposed to throughout their lives, especially from a young age.

It’s the work habits they form, the routines they create, the obsessions they obsess over. It’s the network they create. The people they surround themselves with.

Also, I believe that great entrepreneurs who change the world are somewhat mentally ill, in a way. No ‘normal’ person would go to the lengths of hardship and trauma to achieve what they achieve.

What are the qualities of a good founder?

A great founder is a people person, has passion and drive. They have a high EQ and know how to execute. Great founders can make tough decisions for their companies while keeping their team motivated.

‘Have a big vision but a narrow focus’

What does a successful entrepreneur need to do every day?

Learn from other people.

What resources and tools are an absolute must for your arsenal?

I love Inbox, the new Gmail! It’s incredible. MixMax, an email marketing tool, I swear by it.

Facebook is an incredible tool for me too. My job is mostly about contacts and reaching out to my friends.

How do you assemble a good team?

Ha, good question. Building incredible start-ups is all about the team. It’s the most important thing to get right and it’s not easy. That’s why only some companies make it.

What is the critical ingredient to start-up success?

A great team.

What are the biggest mistakes that founders make?

Not making hard decisions, such as not firing when they should.

Who is your business hero and why?

Never really thought about it.

What’s the No 1 piece of advice you have for entrepreneurs?

Have a big vision but a narrow focus.