Start Up Blog

International team & Time zone issue

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on November 9, 2009

I’ve always been an evangelist for international outsourcing. Especially as it pertains to digital work. I was asked recently if it has added complexity because of time zone differences. I had never consider the issue before, so I stopped to think about it for a while.

And this is my answer:

Having staff work on the other side of the world is usually an advantage. It feels like we have double the amount of business hours in a day. For example, when it is 5pm and something important comes up, I don’t have to wait for the next day for it to get started on. I can brief it out, and have it on my desktop by the next morning. For small startups getting things done quickly is what matters, and this process is a bit like inventing time.

Startup blog says: having a team in different time zones is rad.

Building a web community

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on November 6, 2009

I was asked during one of my live twitcam sessions the title of this blog entry, with the number 3 in front of it. What are 3 things needed to build a web community. This is the answer I came up with right on the spot.

  1. Participate
  2. Share
  3. Keep costs low

Participate: Use the service, website and community you are building. Be an avid user and of it yourself, even though you own it or built it. I use rentoid more than anyone and love it. You are not part of a community if you are a spectator. You need to be involved in it. Listen, create, help, assist, but not rule over. It’s not a kingdom or a principality, it’s a community, which means that all participants are equal regardless of their status. It doesn’t matter, if you are the customer or the creator of the community, everyone matters. It should be evident in the organic dynamics that all of the community are valued. everyone has something to offer and add that we can all benefit from.

Share: Share not because you expect something back. Share because we are all humans, and this is how humans roll. We are great at being there for each other a providing support. Doing stuff for the benefit of others for reasons that go beyond the financial. it was once said that the perfect day is the day you help someone who will never have the chance to repay you.

Keep costs low: Not for any economic reason, other than building things of incredible value like communities take time. If you build an expensive infrastructure for your community there will be too much financial pressure on making it work quickly, and communities don’t work like that. They are organic and take time to find a balance and set of values and systems. If you have too much cost associated with what you are doing, your behaviour will become non-community like. It just wont work.

Startup Blog says, Start building.

Startup School just got better

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 16, 2009

For those of my blog readers already locked and loaded for startup schoolGood News.

For those thinking about coming long – Another great reason to join us.

The uber terrific Yvonne Adele from at Ideas Culture has just joined us for the 2 events. She will be facilitating and helping us out through the two days. But don’t think she’ll just be giving the intro’s and outro’s – she’ll be giving us her spin on creativity and ideas, as well as getting us pumped up, motivated and thinking. Which will also blow our minds!

Picture 106

For those who don’t know, Yvonne’s business was recently featured in Springwise and has a list of credentials and testimonials as long as both my arms.

So, if you’ve been on the edge of booking startup school. Time to get moving. The Melbourne event is about to close the door with only a couple of seats left. And Sydney is filling quickly.

Feel free to contact me if you have any queries and want to chat in more detail about it on 0438 779566. Steve.

Production values matter

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on October 12, 2009

Sure we live in a mash up society. It’s acceptable to bootstrap. It’s OK to learn on the job in the digital arena. What’s not acceptable is to get worse. To not reach previously set quality benchmarks. In any business, no less your start up. All of the self made youtube stars invest time in the final production of their content. People expect a higher level of quality these days especially if we want to gather long term fans and loyal viewers. Production values matter. What was acceptable in 2004 in not acceptable in 2009.

The first thing you notice in the video output of these highly subscribed Youtubers is production quality: HotforwordsCommunity Channel, Kev Jumba, Happy Slip, Fred and others.

So when Miley Cyrus throws together a home made video of her leaving twitter seen below, we realize how much value her producers add to her usual output – seen underneath.

Home made Miley

Produced Miley

I myself, need to improve the videos I make for rentoid.com. So I’ve recently been investing a lot of time learning how to use iMovie editing software.

The lesson for startups is to invest in our digital output. A little more effort in production can be the difference between gathering customers and looking like an amateur.

Startup School this November

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on September 28, 2009

If you’re planning a Corporate Escape or are an early stage entrepreneur. Then 2 day event I’m running is an investment worth considering. For a very simple reason: It’ll save you many thousands by not having to make all the mistakes I did before I got it right.

What stuff are we covering?

Content taught includes:
- Idea generation
- Idea validation
- Art of bootstrapping
- Setup costs / legal Tips & tricks
- Project / Cash flow management
- Outsourcing ( digital & production)
- Raising capital
- PR – Getting on TV, radio and in newspapers (all of which I’ve done before – see http://www.rentoid.com/about and scroll down)
- Social media tools
- Staffing & handling the growth curve.

All of which will be interactive – and busts the myths of success. You wont read the truth about this stuff in books because the truth isn’t shiny and doesn’t sell. All 10 alumni graduates get me as an on going mentor to help them startup and success like I have with www.rentoid.com.

It also includes food & drink for 2 days. It is $998 for the 2 days. It’s not cheap – bit it’s the real deal. A worthy investment with a money back guarantee to blow your mind.

Startup School

If you think it’s expensive – then think about this:

  • How much is 17 minutes of prime time ‘in program’ TV coverage worth? More than $500,000. I’ve done it and startup school will teach you how.
  • How much is full page spreads worth in National Newspapers & magazine worth?
  • How much did your last website cost to build? I built www.startupschool.com.au for $220 and I’m not a tech person, designer or a coder.
  • How valuable is knowing how to raise Angel and Venture Capital? Or even know the right people?
  • What about in market validation without the actual expense of launching?

The point is your investment will pay for itself many times over.

It’ll be running In Sydney and Melbourne for 10 people only. It’s pretty much a one off event. So if you want to come book or seat at www.startupschool.com.au or feel free to give me a call {0438 779 566} for more info. Be quick it’s limited to 10 people only.

Steve

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Startup School

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on September 17, 2009

I’ll be running a one time Startup School event in Melbourne and Sydney. During November. It’s a 2 day weekend course for a maximum of 10 people.

It wont be free like the blog – but it has a money back guarantee to blow your mind:

Picture 22

Details to follow soon, but it will also include on going personal mentoring for Alumni & other benefits.

I expect seats to go quick – there’s only 10, and if you register your interest as a Startup blog reader you’ll be first in line and have priority to attend.

To register send me your details directly via email (which is in the side bar to your right) – please let me know if your registering for Sydney or Melbourne.

Steve.

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What Entrepreneurs can learn from Science

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on September 12, 2009

Think back to grade 9 school. Specifically your science classes. In science we had a specific method of learning: beaker muppets

Aim / Objective

Hypothesis

Method

Materials

Results

Conclusion

(back to start)

The thing that the science community do much better than the business world is that they know that the really powerful part of the system is the actual experiment. When scientists speak we hear them talking about the experiments, not aims and methods. The experiement is the focus – not the plans and paper work. This is something the business community must take heed from. It is beyond me why the business world obsess with the aim (forecasts) and the method (business plans).  The truth is we’ll never know until the experiment is done.

As entrepreneurs it’s compounded again. We’ve got to experiment more than existing businesses with real revenue. We’ve got to do this because we have no results or conclusions which have formed a refined aim or hypothesis. So the more experiments we do, the more robust our hypothesis becomes. Until we experiment we wont really now what materials we need (which in the business world is referred to as resources). Constant planning refinement is as useless as constant refinement of an experiment method would be. Our focus instead must be repeated experimentation.

It’s only when we do this that our startup has a chance of graduating to become a bone fide business.

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Niche Marketing & Startups

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on September 11, 2009

Once upon a time I used to think that entrepreneurs had to be smart enough to develop a niche strategy. A nice smart strategy which will keep them hidden from the big ugly and powerful incumbents and other startups. A strategy to extract sneaky revenue.

I learned how wrong I was the hard way. I was way to clever with my first startup 1-bil (an anti stress drink). We developed an incredibly clever niche distribution strategy aiming for 5 star hotels, business class travelers on airlines and airports. What we called a ‘sneezer strategy’ of niche distribution to grow from. The category influencers.

Anti stress drink

Turns out niche strategies limit the number of doors we can knock on. It limits the number of people we can sell to. It limits the angles of success we can have. It limits the number of rejections we can have (and we’ll get plenty) When we get a rejected from our core strategic market, we lose confidence, we count how many points of distribution we have left and start to struggle and lose faith. We invent our own failure.

The niche market is great for well resourced companeis doing innovative stuff. Not so for startups. It’s very counter intuitive. Entrepreneurs need to learn the truth about niche marketing. And the truth is this:

Gaining traction with any new product or company is inherently difficult. We ought sell to anyone who’ll buy our stuff. Get the message out to as many people as possible. Take all the revenue we can get and what will transpire is a niche strategy anyway due to natural startup dynamics. We’ll get rejected 9 out of 10 times on average. We’ll end up in a market niche, from which we’ll have to grow and expand from anyway. Starting with a niche in mind, really just limits our probability of success.

The startup lesson is this: Find your niche through market dynamics, don’t target it.

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Traffic Directors

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on August 14, 2009

There is nothing less valuable in startup world than people telling you what to do, while they are doing very little themselves.

Traffic Directors I call them.

These days information and ideas are cheap. The thing of great value is when people start and finish projects. It’s so valuable simply because it’s so rare. In fact that’s true leadership.

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How to make a sales call

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on July 29, 2009

Today I was out making sales calls in my local industrial area where there are a lot of different rental companies. Idea being to get these rental / hire companies using rentoid.com to generate extra business. The timing is good, because we have a zero cost entry platform and times are tough in the B to B arena.

But the thing that really matters is how I’ve been making the sales calls. Firstly, these guys are B to B, trades focused guys. renting mainly industrial equipment. The last thing they want to some tech / web geek give them bullshit about how the internet is going to save them…. So here’s what I’ve done instead:

  1. I haven’t shaved for 3 days – got a good beard growing. I’m wearing jeans and boots with a fairly standard zip up jumper. When I walk in I look like a customer, in fact I look like they do. I’m less threatening and this is obvious with the positive greetings I’m receiving.
  2. When I drop in (remember it’s a cold call) I say, ‘You know I live around the corner, I drive past here everyday and I’ve been meaning to drop in for ages. You know I’ve got web business which is all about rental companies…..” And I do live close enough to use this line. It is genuine.
  3. The F Bomb – Yep, I’m dropping this one big time – for one simple reason – they are. I’ll use whatever language they use. If they like swearing, so do I. I’m matching their culture in dress and language.
  4. I know their business. I don’t walk in and say ‘So tell me about your business’ – I do my homework before I turn up. Granted I know enough about the rental industry now to adapt to different segments pretty quick. I know what matters to them and get the conversation into that area quickly.
  5. I don’t try and sell anything on the first call. We do have a free entry to rentoid – but we also sell integrated web technologies. But I don’t try to sell anything.  Just get them to like me in fact, I’m selling me. People buy things from people they like. Then they find a logical or business reason to justify their decision after they’ve already made it.
  6. I follow up with whatever I promise. Information, phone calls, data whatever they need. I try to show I’ll be a valuable resource.
  7. I get rejected too. It’s a numbers game, and each rejection is a lesson for honing my skills for the next call.

I’m learning heaps and I’m loving it.

Start up blog says – get out there and start selling.

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