Start Up Blog

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.

Relearning what we already know

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on June 17, 2014

I was recently in an office where there happened to be a couple of Rubik’s cubes laying around. Once upon a time I wasted an inordinate amount of time learning how to solve it. So I said: “Oh, I can solve that.” Adding further that I could do it in 3 minutes, but my best time is under 2 minutes. The cube was quickly handed to me to prove my lofty statement. So I start the solve, got halfway through and completely forget the algorithm – and in ‘under 3 minutes’ I look like both a fool and a fibber.

It reminded me of something important. Just because we have been able to do something in the past, it doesn’t mean we can do it now. Just because we knew something once, it doesn’t mean we know about it now. They only way to stay on top is to continue to practice and relearn what we already do and know. Just because someone ran a marathon once, doesn’t make them a marathon runner now. The things we need to practice the most should be the things we are already good at. Especially when it is a craft we use for income generation.

So after this embarrassing little moment, I went and bought a new cube and got my mojo back. I’ve also made the decision to solve it once a day – just because it’s fun and worth remembering. A bit of grey matter exercise. And for those doubters out there here it is being solved in 16 seconds… ok ok I sped the film up just a little.

For those who are wondering the current world record time for solving is 5.55 seconds.

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A list of things large companies could do without

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on June 15, 2014

I’ve spent an equal amount of time in large corporates and startups. With the success that large companies have achieved comes an entirely new set of cultures which they could do without. So here is my top 10 list of behaviours large companies could do without:

  1. Public reading events. Organise a room full of people and stop their work to read stuff to them instead of actually providing an inspiring change instigating presentation.
  2. Pre-meeting meetings: Getting everyone ‘on the same page’ – I felt sick writing that… yuck. Time wasting. Have some courage people.
  3. Promoting the best political performers: Ensuring the political champions kick on instead of those making a difference in the market.
  4. Skimp on the product: Remove cost from product instead of having a product in which customers would tolerate price rises for.
  5. Creating information spirals: Gathering more research to reduce risk and avoid making a ‘go’ decision while the market opportunity gets taken by nimble competitors.
  6. Developing slogans instead of getting stuff done: A company I worked for had a new one each year. One was Fewer Bigger Better. It was a great way to justify not doing anything.
  7. Developing internal language: Having a culture of industry jargon, codes and acronyms to create the ‘self aggrandising’ illusion of intelligence. Talking to themselves
  8. Mistake avoidance culture: Creating a fear of decision making, by rewarding staff for not making mistakes.
  9. Penny pinching: Closing the stationary cupboard during a tough year, yet the senior people can still afford those first class trips to international trade conferences.
  10. Global alignment: Ensuring the packaging for Australia is the same as the packaging in Lithuania when the product comes out of different factories and is served in different cultures. Confusing when global focus is a disadvantage.

What’s your favourite piece of corporate folly?

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Why you should love Youtube advertising & other things you hate on the internet

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on June 14, 2014

We often forget that the thing we don’t like about something is also thing that makes it possible. The annoying part of something good, is usually what keeps it alive and provides us the gifts that surround it. One case in point is Youtube advertising. It’s so annoying isn’t it, to spare that 5 seconds before clicking out, or that entire 30 second advertisement you can’t even click out of – how dare they. What we ought do is imagine for a minute that Youtube never found its monetization model. Then what? Then it probably fails, doesn’t exist and instead of having pretty much all forms of education and entertainment on demand on any topic, any time, we’d be stuck with a few free to air TV channels, home shopping, and marginal pay TV subscriptions.

The cost of the benefits is rarely a heavy price to pay, especially with new technology and disruptive innovations which need to have lower barriers to inspire adoption. And speaking of disruptions – the advertising we have to endure is not nearly as bad as it was in the TV era. Sometimes it’s worth remembering that misdirected hate is both a waste of energy and a short sighted perspective.

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We’re all faking it

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on June 13, 2014

Fake it till you make it – sure you’ve heard that. But have you ever seen a documentary showing it in action?  Been a fly on the wall while people make  dramatic transitions? There’s an old UK television show aptly called ‘Faking it’. It’s now been off the air for almost 10 years but has serious lessons for entrepreneurs and anyone looking to make a transition.

It is truly inspiring to see what is possible for most anyone with focus, hands on practice and coaching from experts. One of my favourite episodes takes country boy James Sawyer dressed in tweed who speaks with a toffy voice to become a street graffiti artist in a mere 4 weeks. The premise of the show is that his mentor has to get their student up to speed so that they can sit a test, and trick experts who have to pick the ‘faker. The test James had was to go through a live graffiti art contest (pitch if you will), against 3 other actual graffiti artists followed by an interview on the hip hop culture in the hope of to stooging the judges.

It’s worth watching and you can watch it here.

James Sawyer - Faking it

The thing is that we are all faking it, even when we are regarded as an expert in our field. None of us really know anything with absolute certainty. We guess, we estimate, we take a chance, we copy others and we just forge ahead. We should remember this more in life and forget the fear of being called out as a fraud. Most of what we do to make a living or build a startup is not life and death. Getting it wrong wont really matter that much, unless you are building airplanes and bridges. (Airplane and bridge building readers, please ignore this post.) The rest of us should start acting is if we can.

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The truth about the home town

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on June 12, 2014

There is a phrase which comes from a best selling book*

I tell all of you with certainty, a prophet is not accepted in his hometown. 

The economics of this statement are simple. If we want to get paid for you knowledge & skill, then we ought travel to a location where we are the unknown quantity.

*No, I haven’t read the book in question.

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