I’ve had the pleasure of working with a number of start-ups. Some have done well, some not so well, and a few have been just brilliant, but before their time. In the latter case, there was pend-up market demand but the timing wasn’t right. Which is a euphemism for we f’ed up.
In the seminal tech book “Crossing The Chasm,” author Geoffrey Moore suggests advancing from early adoptership to early majority is nirvana for start-ups. Most marketing planners (and everyone is a planner in the startup world) will say timing is key for this jump to happen. But honestly, two things are critical for startup success: pent-up demand, e.g., app-driven ride sharing, and near perfect business execution. If the product is hinky, all the demand in the world won’t help. In fact, it can kill your product fast. Think being massively hungry and digging into a rotten tomato.
On the business side, awareness is important. It helps if you have an ad budget — about $5 million to make a national consumer impression. Or you can go the viral way and target key “Posters,” those who Codeword (agency) would call influencers. First user experience needs to be right. Naming needs to be right. Internal vision has to be fixed so external comms are in synch. You need to develop your own language. This ain’t no disco.
So startup entrepreneurs, don’t blame timing if your business doesn’t take — blame execution and lack of pent-up demand.