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.