Start Up Blog

Know who will miss you & act accordingly

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 23, 2014

Let’s imagine something horrible for a few moments. Let’s imagine that you die. That something unexpected occurs and your life is over. The plans you had, the lives you’ve touched would all be thrown into disarray. It is incomprehensible to imagine this, our own death. It’s as if we have this built in mechanism to avoid the mere thought of it. But if it did happen, what would happen at the company you work at? Deadlines would be missed. Some stuff wouldn’t get done. Co-workers would be sad or even shocked. Friends we’ve made would be devastated. There’d be a lot of upheaval, but here’s the over riding reality of you dying and if you work for a large company:

You’d be replaced in 4 weeks.

It’s even foreseeable that the process for replacement would begin the same day the news dropped.

Now let’s compare that to what would happen with your home and family. Lives would be devastated and irreparable. You would never be replaced and the pain of the loss would last a lifetime. Young children would be especially impacted. The hole could not be filled be anyone, anytime, ever.

So why is it that we work late? So why is it we put up with corporate bullying? So why is it we continue to work for jerks for career advancement? Why is it we give large portions of our waking lives to a faceless corporation?  Why would we give an inordinate amount of time and effort to an organisation when the ultimate reality is that we are disposable? The next time you have to make a choice to stay late, play the corporate game and over deliver to corporation  XYZ, and choose between the job and the family, maybe you should think about how they’d act if the unthinkable happened. Once you remind yourself of this you’ll know what choice to make.

It’s another reason why we need to listen to the call to run our own race, and create our own future and for independence. The people who deserve us the most, are those who couldn’t live without us.

 

Why Beacons will become the Pocket Spam of the web of things era

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 22, 2014

There’s a lot of talk about the amazing things beacons will be able to do at retail level. And all of it is true – at least from a functional perspective. For the first time products will be able to directly interact with potential customers at store level. Physical spaces people spend time in will be able to interact with the people inside those spaces. Department stores, farmers markets, concert halls and  football stadiums are all being filled with beacon technology. And it will give birth to a new era of pocket spam. I wonder if what we really need right now is more vendors shouting at us with offers we didn’t know we wanted? I doubt it.

So, here’s the startup opportunity for Beacons which few are focusing on just now.

How to stop them.

Yes, the spam filter equivalent for the intrusive beacon. And I know you’re thinking that this time it’s different, because it wont happen unless we allow push messages. But when was the last time you read all those terms and conditions for a web based service? Often we say yes to something before all the details emerge and when the world was slightly different. It’s our legacy decisions which get taken advantage of.

Often the market for the hotdogs around the stadium is bigger than what is on the main playing field. And there’s always less people watching that game while you set up shop on the sidelines.

How to hack your ‘To Do’ list

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 18, 2014

projects list

To do lists are just one of those things. We know they matter, a lot. We know that having them and following them certainly leads to getting more done. Then why is it, that they tend to get longer and not shorter? It’s because not all tasks are created equal. It’s because our human operating system is a 200,000 year old piece of software not designed for a list based society. Let me explain.

The Urgent and the Important

Generally the things we do can be broken down into either Urgent or Important. If it’s neither of these things it shouldn’t be on the list. Urgent stuff has deadlines and customer requirements and might even be a fire that needs extinguishing. Important tasks are the other things we’d like to do, and know we should do, but very often don’t get around to. We don’t get around to them because they’re well, not urgent. Our DNA is designed to respond to urgent, to fear, to danger. And while urgent tasks don’t mean a sabre tooth tiger is going to eat us for dinner, our emotive reaction is much the same. It’s why fear and urgency most often wins. In a modern, sans sabre tooth tiger world, we need to do the opposite of what our instinct tells us to.

The irony is that the less important tasks we do, the more urgent things pop up. By only doing the urgent we create a perpetual cycle of inefficiency. We start carrying buckets of water to the ‘fire’, instead of building a pipeline and hose system for the time a fire breaks out. If we ever want to get in front, and start hacking our to do list we need to undertake some counter intuitive actions. Are you ready for it?

- We need to miss some deadlines.

- We need to disappoint some people.

- We need to let some urgent things go unattended and go, wrong, break, fail.

- We need to embrace a metaphorical ground zero.

To get started it is worth splitting your do list into two columns: Urgent and Important Tasks – see what gets your attention at the end of each day and you’ll see the trap we all fall into. You’ll also see that important tasks also change their shape and often become urgent later. What we need to do is the important things which build a structure and system to remove many of the recurring urgencies. Once we have to courage to do this, we’ll end up being the people who can respond to urgent, the fewer times they occur. It may even be worth taking secret holiday for a week (pretend to be out of town, off line and on vacation) to get your important stuff in order and start a new pattern.

Happy To Do list hacking!

Loving your customers – celebrity style

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 8, 2014

At Tomcar we seriously love our customers. It’s a highly personal interaction at this early stage in the business, so we both take it personally, and make it personal. We care about how our cars perform for them, and how they make their working lives better. We’ve recently been documenting the delivery of our vehicles and making some short films about it.

Yes, we know it doesn’t really scale as a business model.

Yes, we know that major car manufacturers would never do this.

Yes, we know that it makes us seem like small fry.

But here’s something else we know: Doing things which do not scale in the short term, is what gives startups a chance at scale later.

Here’s a little video of one such unscalable activity. Oh, and if you buy a Tomcar, you’ll get your personal movie made too.

- – -

So a question you might want to ask is this – How can you treat your customers like micro celebrities of your brand?

Top 10 internet stocks – more than 1 trillion valuation

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 8, 2014

In a very short period of time, opinions of anything can change. It wasn’t so long ago that these statements were made about the internet as a commercial platform:

  • It’s for nerds. “Fine, you nerds can do what you want but normal people are never going to use this thing.”
  • It’s completely decentralized, which means you can’t trust it. No business is ever going to do anything on it because businesses won’t work on an untrusted environment. There won’t ever be any e-commerce.
  • There will never be any internet payments. No one will put their credit card on the internet.
  • It’s an open-source kind of thing so there will be no Internet companies.
  • It’s got all these technical deficiencies. It’s slow. It’s unreliable. It doesn’t work right. When you do a search, sometimes you get an answer back and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes when you dial in you get a busy signal.
  • What happen if your ISP goes out of business? Then you can’t get back online.
  • Once you get on the internet, even assuming you get on the internet, there’s nothing to do. There’s no content. Time magazine isn’t online, the New York Times isn’t online. It’s just a bunch of nerd stuff.

These classic soundbites come from Marc Andreessen in a recent interview while referencing those who think bitcoin will never be more than some kind of digital space oddity. While we are on the topic of economic change, it is telling to have a look at the market valuations of the top 10 internet companies. That is, companies less than 20 years old who could not have existed pre dot com. The US top 10 public companies now have an accumulated value of $1.168 trillion dollars.

  1. Google – $585 billion
  2. Facebook – $170 billion
  3. Amazon – $155 billion
  4. Ebay – $65 billion
  5. Priceline – $65 billion
  6. Yahoo – $36 billion
  7. Salesforce.com – $36 billion
  8. Twitter – $24 billion
  9. Linkedin – $21 billion
  10. Expedia – $11 billion

We can also add the upcoming float of Alibaba.com to this at anything between a further $120 to $200 billion.

This takes my mind directly to the potential of 3D printing, web of things and the solar energy industry. All of which are in their 1993 era. The only question remaining for entrepreneurs reading is this; What are you going to do about it?

Marketing genius, social pitching & worst case scenarios

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 7, 2014

Yes, I have been writing, just in other places. So here’s 3 recent articles I’ve put out there which could have been put here:

Why Elon Musk has delivered a genius level marketing play by opening up the Tesla patents.

The less often sited social side of pitching your startup or idea.

What’s the worst case scenario as a failed entrepreneur?

Back posting tomorrow – I promise.

 

 

Should we pitch first, last or in the middle?

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on June 25, 2014

A colleague who is in a startup pitch competition for an accelerator sent me this question:

Steve, In your experience, is it better to pitch first or last in a series of afternoon presentations? 

I answered him in two parts: There is a theory that says if you’re last, you’re only competing against the one they’ve already chosen to win up to that point. But, honestly – it matters much more to be awesome & not worry about the uncontrollable things.

I guess with most projects we have the same choice on where to focus, on superstition, or super performance.

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Practical strategies for sacking your boss

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on June 23, 2014

I’ve been doing some blogging and work in general for the good people at Pollenizer. My recent focus has been over coming the fear of leaving your job, and things we can do to reduce the risk and make the transition. I’ve written 3 posts in particular which I really think you guys will dig. There’s some links below and a little sound bite for each proving they are worth the 3 minutes each of them take to read. Remember we must first invest in ourselves before anyone will invest in us.

  1. The fast track, zero risk method to becoming an entrepreneur: This post is the ultimate startup life hack – and with a simple trick gets to you on the path to entrepreneurship in an instant. Serious.
  2. Startup training in a low risk environment: here I’ve written about ways you can up skill and help your self transition from employee to startup founder without risking anything. A must for those planning to escape their cubicle in corporate land.
  3. The worst case scenario for failed entrepreneurs: And finally a nice bit of entrepreneurial FEAR debunking, and reasons that taking the leap will not result in anything bad. This one will ease your mind.

Hope you enjoy these mind jams.

 

 

The single truth about viral activity – It’s just scenery

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on June 20, 2014

The internet is an infinite ever expanding place. We all live inside of it, move around it and want our share of attention and activity from it. The ultimate thing we all seem to want (even if secretly) is to get everyone to pay attention to our blog post, video, social feed, pithy statement of insight and all other forms of digital output. That’s the promise of something going viral. Because if we get that attention, if everyone catches on and shares our work, we’ll be on the path the greatness. We’ll have broken through the masses and be able to leverage the focus on us. Turn attention into a relationship. That’s the promise of being shared on the Verge or Buzzfeed or Viral Nova. But here’s the truth about that piece of viral marketing. It doesn’t work, it rarely has impact and is a fleeting moment, a shooting star, a moment from which the utility is the moment itself. It expires quickly.

What we need to imagine is this. The internet is a giant beach. We are all grains of sand on that beach. Some of us try to be more than a single, undifferentiated grain of sand. We agglomerate, co-ordinate and try and turn ourselves into something worth noticing. Maybe we become a beautiful sea shell. Beautiful enough for the the people walking along that beach to stop and take notice. They might see us, pick us up and inspect the sea shell. Comment on the sheer beauty, show their friend who they happen to be walking along the beach with. We get passed around, and we become the moment. They might even take the sea shell – save it – put it in the pocket and take it home, because it’s valuable – add it to their ‘favourites’. But what we must really understand is that they will keep on walking. The passer by is not there for us. Even if they are walking along the beach (the internet) to see and find interesting things, we can only ever be one of those things that makes their journey interesting. They continue on with whatever it is they are doing and onto their destination.

sea shell

Viral activity, in real terms is just scenery. And I should know. I’ve had a number of blog posts with more than 100,000 views. I’ve had 2 videos with millions of views. And I’ve been featured on all those websites mentioned at the the start of this blog post. And the over riding lesson is that people get on with their lives. Viral marketing is only effective when there is a formula for repeated impact – a business model around it, which is not easy to do. If we want the impact that we falsely believe viral marketing can create, then we’d be better off focusing on utility and frequency. That is creating something which has utility for the people beyond the moment. Utility which is worth coming back for again and again. And what that takes isn’t luck, it’s more about hard work serving others over long periods of time.

 

Even startup culture is a just a remix

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on June 18, 2014

Startup culture is becoming a big thing in the wider community. It’s seemingly graduated from a high tech nerdy subculture into a mainstream pop culture giant overnight. But is it really anything new? Or is it just a rebranding of small business as we knew it with some terrific superlatives and rockstar billionaire game winners to give us that Bruce Springsteen stadium rock ethic? Certainly the technology revolution we are all living through is significant. Significant enough to make it easier than it has ever been in history to start a business.

Net result is that startup culture hot. Just like grunge music was in the early 1990’s. Anyone with a pair of ripped jeans in a dive bar was in a band. And now anyone with a wifi connection and a laptop is launching a startup. The simplest way to remind ourselves that everything is a remix is to kick it old school and see how our new startup words stack up:

  • Pivot – used to be called adapting to the market.
  • Iteration – used to be called a product improvement.
  • MVP – used to be a prototype or a test market.
  • Growth Hackers – used to be what marketers and sales people were called.
  • Truth North -used to be known as the single minded proposition.
  • Runway – used to be known as the bank balance and how long we had left before going bust.
  • Burn Rate – used to be a sign that this new business venture wasn’t going so well.
  • Lean – used to be called doing things on a budget. (Oh, The pyramids were the first lean startup….. those pyramids were meant to be big square blocks but they ran out of materials, and just went with the pyramids instead – turned out to be a killer feature.)

And if you’re still in doubt here’s my favourite culture remix right here: The original version of Nirvana song Come as you are, was actually this song called Eighties by Killing Joke.

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