Startups.

    Popup Businesses.

    startup marketing

    Startups.

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    Startup is the germination stage of all business. Most of us joining companies that are fixed and have histories. They have onboarding and employee packets and budgets and sales trends. Not startups. I worked for a startup and it was crazy. Crazy cool. We didn’t have a product, though. We had some code. I was hired as the director of marketing. “Tink about that,” as my Norwegian aunt Inga would have said. A director of marketing without the Product – the key P of the 4 Ps. To say the target was moving would be an understatement. That said the business visionary, Jim McNiel, did wear some serious visionary glasses. Jim was able to raise $11M on a vision, a database, web objects and a PC demo.

    The problem with that startup was the disconnect between the vision and the reality, complicated by a detachment from consumer experience. 

    The biggest problem was the product.  I learned a huge lesson in the concept of the Is-Does. What a product IS and what a product DOES. Fergus O’Daly once said to me “Nothing happens (in marketing) until someone sells something.” And with startups, there’s often nothing to sell. Not until there’s a prototype.

    My advice to startups is have a product. Not just an idea. That doesn’t mean the product can’t change toward its betterment, but you can’t start until you execute. Until you make something. Something you can touch. Use. Live with. Ideas are great — tangibles make the world go round.

    Peace.

     

     

    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. 

    Popup Businesses.

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    The web and 3D printers have taken a toll on marketing and branding. The web, because you can put stuff up on the internet and pretend you have a product or service when you don’t. Pick a name, buy a URL, add a few stock pictures and you are off. Use social media to promote it (for free) and start your skin-deep business. This is desktop publishing not product marketing.  As for 3D printers, you can create stuff to hold in your hand, prototype and walk around to buyers as if it’s something you might find in Best Buy. With no thought toward production, supply chain, consumer law, or patents.

    It’s a popup business world.

    What’s even worse is these pop-up entrepreneurs tend to do all the marketing ground work in-house. They build websites with WordPress, ads with online templates, name things as they might their children, and fund startups with credit cards. Fail. Fail. Fail. Albeit Fun, fun, fun – until the credit card comes due.

    Startups and entrepreneurs that do things the right way (and there are thousands of them), start with a plan. A strategy. A product requirements document (PRD).  They are more business-focused  than play-time focused. They make lots of paper before starting up the 3D printer or HTML.  

    As Keith Hernandez would say, they start with the fundies.

    Peace.