startup marketing

    A Startup Thought.

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    Read a post today by Andrew Chen on mobile app start-ups which likened their success rate to those of 1999 – bubble time. I participated in a web start-up in 2006-2008, called Zude, when Facebook had only 18 million users.  Zude had $10 million in funding (2 rounds) and shut down in less than 2 years.  I was thinking over the weekend, before I read Mr. Chen’s post, how if we had stayed the course with Zude and stretched that money out, we would have succeeded. We would have learned like school kids what was working and what was not. We would have course-corrected, not given up because we faced an unsustainable burn rate. We chose not to learn, it seemed.

    The technology was good. The vision was good, albeit a little bifurcated.  The drunkin’ sailor spending approach, however, was crazy. At one point we had two CFOs.  Even the marketing dude (me) could have looked at the ledger sheet and known changes were needed.

    In his post Mr. Chen suggests “don’t burn half of your funding to get to v1.” I agree. Perhaps this is the foundation of the agile approach – never read the books.  My take?  Learning works best over time. If you stick around long enough – stay alive long enough – you have a good shot. Start-ups that quickly discard and move onto the next thing aren’t always giving themselves the best chance for success. Just sayin’.  Peace. 

    Entrepreneurs Need to Aim Low.

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    3d render of multiple arrows missing target

    I met with a local entrepreneur yesterday who began our conversation wondering how Amazon became such a global retailing force. No stores. No in-the-black earnings. A stock price in the stratosphere. Not exactly smoke and mirrors but Amazon’s arc does seem magical. Mr. Brand Hammer (That’s me. To a hammer everything looks like a nail) posited, perhaps it’s just the creation, care and feeding of a great brand??? That’s magical.

    When I worked as director of marketing at Zude the web’s first true drag-and-drop web development tool, I recall standing on the back step of my home telling the CTO that we were about to make a billion dollar decision. It had to do with product focus. Was I tripping? Sniffing too many company fumes? Probably.

    Today, thanks to the internet, ecommerce, and lack of proper marketing training, many entrepreneurs aim too high. They are looking at Amazon. And Facebook. And Uber. What they need to do is aim low. One customer, one prospect, one channel partner at a time. By aiming low, at ground level where the people are, we learn from real consumers. We use our senses to understand likes, dislikes, energies and needs. Spreadsheets and market universes are macros, entrepreneurs need to dig into the micros. They need to dump the cache and originate. Aim low me droogies, aim low.

    Peace.