Start Up Blog

Arrogance = your opportunity

I bought this reasonably cool pair of board shorts for surfing this summer.

boardshorts

They cost me a whopping $80. Which is what I call ‘insult pricing’. It’s a pretty simple equation actually. The key players in the surfwear industry (Billabong, Quiksilver and Ripcurl) charge these prices because they can. They don’t have any ‘credible competitors’ in this board short subsegment of clothing.

In recent years surf brands have been hit by many competitors in other areas of the market which they used to ‘own’. Especially in t-shirts, from the myriad of streetwear companies, to the uber cool on-line players like Neighborhoodies and Threadless. Interestingly the shorts in this photo would cost >$5 to make. There is significant margin in the product. Such high margins often begets competitive entry into the market place.

The arrogance of said surf brands has invented an opportunity for a nimble entrepreneur to steal part of this market. And the way to do it is exactly the way Threadless have. Go online and build a community to design the uber cool boardshorts / shorts and sell them globally at a fair price. In fact, surf wear is so clichéd and over branded these days that I avoid wearing it. Most of the designs are very rank and have really lost their edge. I only use surf brands for surf equipment. The only reason I bought the pair in the photo is ‘lack of options’.

If anyone knows some one already doing it – let me know
If anyone wants to do it – let me know as well. I think it’s worth ‘investing in’.

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Tell your story – ‘Quickly’

People are very time poor, or maybe just a little impatient. Regardless of which it is we have to be able to tell our story quickly.

Vanguard Investments do it in 2 seconds. Click here to see how they do it. (Watch the animation)

Even this chart below tells the story on long term ‘index’ investing. Of which Vanguard are the founding forefathers.

vanguard-story

The recent downturn is a best a ‘blip’.

How long does your startup story take to tell? Here’s a tip – we’ve got a few seconds at most.

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People Watching

If you’re an entrepreneur and you’ve never been ‘people watching’, then start up blog strongly recommends a session. For a lot of reasons it’s a cool thing all entrepreneurs should do. For one, all our revered entrepreneurs are champion trend spotters. And they spot these trends a long time before they are reported in the Sunday newspaper lift outs.

What’s next?

Go some where busy, go somewhere where there are zillions of transactions, go somewhere sans commerce, go where families hang out, go somewhere singles hangout, look for the subgroups, watch people looking at shelves in stores – guess their decision process, see if this process is the same for all or different for all, see what they wear, see how they move, how did they get there, where are they from, bring a notepad with you and write down ideas, go places you’ve never been before…. Watch people, guess their motivations, view their life in action and then we’ll be the ones gaining life experience…. Just go and watch.

shibuya-crowd

The funny thing about our world is that we are all in it every day, but very few of us are actually paying any attention to it. Step off the stage and become the director. Make it a habit to pay attention to what is going on in our world.

As entrepreneurs and marketers we are lucky. We can do our homework everywhere we go, and our start ups are the key beneficiaries.

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A few steps forward

I saw this auction sign board while walking in my local village. A real estate agent who has the night light powered by a solar panel. The first I’ve seen of it’s kind.  I was surprised.

solar-panel

It’s not a huge innovation, it may even cost them more than a standard electric powered light does, I’m note sure. What I am sure of is this, it moves them and ‘us’, all a few steps forward. To using better and smarter technology.

I felt good about it, good enough to be writing about it here. So the question is this:

What small things can your startup do to take it’s brand, and us all a few small steps forward?

The Wingman & advertising awards

The following is a true story as told by Ender Baskin:

 A few mates went out for some beers at a local bar. They were young, vibrant guys who where looking to meet some girls. Fine. One of the guys had a very cool t-shirt which said the following:

 “Don’t get too excited I’m just the wingman.”

 The group of boys all loved it. They thought it was very cool, awesome in fact. They were certain it could only enhance his changes of meeting a girl on said night.

 As expected people ‘did’ love it. They all came up and remarked on how funny, cool and smart the t-shirt was. Only problem was, it was all the blokes who happened to remark upon it.

This parable is a a little bit like the type of advertising that wins awards. The producers and colleagues in the industry love it. Yet award winning advertisements don’t always sell the product. Cool and funny is great, often a nice bonus when communicating with our people. But if the basic objective isn’t met, we’re better off with something less cool that actually works.

Prices vs Relationship

A while ago Philip Welnman spoke at the Hive. (Australian Entrepreneurial forum) One thing he said struck me, and I think it’s true

“Without relationships we can’t win. We never lose business over price, it’s always the relationship, and price is the fall guy.

Sure, there’s probably some exceptions, like commodity trading. But who wants to trade commodities anyway?

Steve – rentoid.com

Beer is the new wine

I recently had some beers and a meal at a place called Little Creatures dinning hall in Melbourne Australia.

For the uninitiated, Little Creatures is a craft beer which has it’s origins in Australia and has recently opened a flagship ‘dinning hall’ – seen below.

little-creatures-dinning-hall

They’ve simply taken this to a new level. I’m not taking about the fact that they have weird and groovy beer flavours, all naturally brewed. I’m talking about the way they take you on a personal journey with their service.

My favourtie was the beer education programme. They have a ‘pony show’ – I don’t think it’s called that, but it is what I’ll call it for this post.

You get a taste in little groovy pony glasses of all their different beers, then choose one you like. One of their ‘Little Creatures Beer Experts’ comes and sits down on your table with you and they explain all the different types of beers. A real sit down for 10 minutes. A rare treat when the usual sitiation is waiting 10 minutes for crappy service in bars and restuarants. They teach you how to taste each beer and the slight nuances of each. They even provide an idea what type of people generally like the different types.

pony-show

It’s really nice and fun. I even heard the word “sessionable” to describe a beer – They invent some nice jargon to make you feel part of a tribe. Cool.

No need to advertise this little venture. We’ll do that for them….

And this is what cool startups are doing in retail.

Ideas are free

Posted in brands, business, entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship, Ideas, marketing, Marketing Insight, startups by Steve Sammartino on December 3, 2008

This is nothing new – but when was the last time you checked out Springwise?

springwise

Springwise is a daily blog featuring new, cool and groovy business ideas, concepts, brands, products and organizations from around the world. Springwise is for everyone, everyday. Even if you don’t need an idea, or you are merrily changing the world already with your startup, it’s a great way to do the following:

Keep up with the world

Be inspired

Find potential collaborators

Cross fertilize thinking and transfer ideas into what you’re doing

In today’s world ideas really are free, but as a startup a more important question is how we take advantage of them.

Best advice ‘ever’ for entrepreneurs

Posted in brands, business, Business planning, entrepreneurs, entrepreneurship, Ideas, marketing, Marketing Insight, startups by Steve Sammartino on November 27, 2008

I often get asked the following question: “If you had to give one piece of advice for entrepreneurs what would it be?”

Here’s my answer:

Revenue must exceed expenditure.

The more it exceeds it by, the better.

I like doing cool stuff as much as the next guy, and no I wouldn’t sell tobacco to kids in Africa to make money. But it becomes really hard to do cool stuff if your business doesn’t survive.

2nd worst shop front of all time

I took this pic of this shop front / side in my local neighbourhood. It’s easy to see when you drive past.

hexworks

Startup blog prize (free book) for anyone who can tell me what they do without calling the number (or knowing someone who works there / digging around).

I’m all for single minded simplicity, but if we are going to go to the effort to paint the brand and phone number, it’s also handy to have a tag line which tells people what we do.

Steve – rentoid.com

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