The 4 Hour £100 Startup

As part of my preparation for my Personal MBA, I am experimenting and pushing myself to try new things. A startup in 4 hours is an example that brings these together.

I see life as a series of experiments. One such experiment was to see if I can create a startup in 4 hours for £100. The result is and I consider the experiment a success.

The What and the Why

I get bored easily and so I love change, it makes sense then that my current day job is as a Change and Transformation Agent. It should also come as no surprise that I get excited about companies doing cool new things. But I’ve noticed that it can be difficult to find them and I had been thinking about creating a place where early adopters who like change can discover new startups. A place where industry disruptors can tell their stories. The place is

I’m planning to use articles from the disruptors themselves. Ultimately, I’d also like to include detailed user reviews from people who recognise it’s more about the idea, than if everything works perfectly. It’s more about the why and my why is that I think disruptors are cool and more people should know about them.

The Plan

To do this, I knew I needed to be decisive and follow a clear plan. I should also point out that I am not new to this. So perhaps think of it like Jamie Oliver’s 20 minute meals, which always end up taking me longer than 20 minutes because I have never cooked the meal before.

I started a Spotify focus playlist, brewed a strong cup of Pact Coffee and I did a quick action plan, as per the steps below, naturally without the detail at the time. I knew there would be a lead time in getting content, so I did this second, even though initially it was the last step.

Step 1 – I decided on and reserved the domain for £15 (Including VAT and privacy add-on). I bought the domain on Vidahost and redirected the hosting to Siteground, who host all my sites. Otherwise this would cost from £3 per month. Changing the DNS nameservers can take a while to propagate across the globe, so I wanted to give it as much time as possible.

Step 2 – My goal was to have 2-3 articles live to call it a success after 4 hours. I came up with a list of 9 companies whose products or services I use/like. A number of them I’ve had personal contact with before which helped. My thinking was that 2-3 would respond quickly and within my 4 hours, as they did not need to generate any new content.

I tried to keep it as short and clear as possible and sent the email below to the companies listed:

The list:

  1. Quiet Rebellion – Socks and more
  2. Trine – Ethical Investing Crowdfunding platform
  3. Pension Bee
  4. Scalable Capital – Investment Services
  5. Fair Will
  6. Habito – Mortgages
  7. Tribe – Sports Nutrition
  8. Pact Coffee
  9. Archie and Doris – Accountancy Services

Step 3 – Next step was to create a logo. For expediency, I took the same one I use across all my sites and changed the colour to purple in Paint. I have already used Orange (Reaching Aspiration), Blue (ClassUp.Online) and Green (Jamberjon).

Step 4 – The to install WordPress. Most hosting services have a one-click option.

Step 5 – Find and install a WordPress theme. I wanted it to be:

  • Visually appealing
  • Have voting/trending functionality
  • Link well with social media
  • Allow front end submission of content

With a quick Google search, I found three that met the criteria. I started with Boombox and installed all the companion plug-ins. While it was powerful, I found it almost over-featured for my needs and I wasted 30 crucial minutes hacking around with it, as well as $73 (£55). I made the call to change to Cuckoo and dropped another $73 on this, but with a much better result for my needs.

I find WordPress to be easy to use, but it certainly isn’t intuitive and this is where a newbie could take significantly longer.

Step 6 – I added content. Fortunately Trine and Scalable Capital got back to me in time.

After these six steps, the website was live and gave me something functional, and good enough to share. No-one would reasonably expect it to be perfect and it certainly isn’t. At the same time I am very happy with the result.

Next steps planned are/were to:

  1. Set up e-mail with Google work (£3-£5 per month)
  2. Secure the website – The SSL certificate was tricky and I actually spent some time doing this, before parking it. – Done
  3. Connect Google analytics and Adsense – I want to wait until I had the encrypted version, otherwise it can confuse things.
  4. Add key plugins
    1. Yoast – SEO
    2. Mailerlite – Capture e-mails
    3. Some sort of conversion and other tracking
  5. Set up Social Media – £50 for promotions?
    1. Facebook Group <- Individual Reviews
    2. Facebook Page <- Promotion
    3. LinkedIn page <- Promotion
  6. Get the logo tidied up by someone on Upwork who has the right software
  7. Source user experience reviews and other content

I actually think I could have completed the first five (of the next steps) if I had lucked out on the theme and didn’t make a mistake with the SSL, which probably cost about 1hr altogether. Ultimately, it will probably cost me about £200 to get up and running, but could be done for half of that. There are also themes that are significantly cheaper or even free, and of course, only buying one theme would have helped as well.

I am going to call this a success. I started a startup in 4 hours and could have done it for less than £100. Now, you can help, if you know of any cool disruptors who would be happy to share their content and stories. Then please point them in the direction of

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