Start Up Blog

Passion is not enough

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on April 9, 2013

We are often told we need to be passionate about our work, our startup or the product we are selling. And while it is true, it is also a little bit ephemeral. Today I heard a better way to describe what we need to do to sell our ideas from Brian Tracy – whose an old school business coach, though his approach is still highly relevant today. Brain says we need to be able to do this:

Transfer our enthusiasm.

I love it, and I’m going to use it as a way to judge myself after I present an idea or project to people in the future.

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Would you like some pie?

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on May 30, 2012

There are 2 people who are offering you some pie.

Person 1:

They tell you that they are about to bake a pie. They then continue to tell you a story that they are terrific pie makers and that all of their experience in and around the kitchen (watching their parents bake) and eating lots of pie, gives them the right qualifications to make a really great tasting pie. They also tell you about their secret recipe, which has never been used before. They are certain it will make a far superior pie. They even show you the written recipe and tell you about the ingredients and methods.

After all this explaining they then ask if you’d like a taste, but before that, you will have to wait until they bake it. Then they ask you to give them some money to go build a kitchen and buy some ingredients. They want to bake these pies at great scale. They think they can sell many of these pies.

Person 2:

Has already baked a pie and offers you some. They have only baked this one small pie. But would like you to try it even though it is just a small sample. It smells nice, and it looks nice. You try some and it tastes lovely. You then engage in some conversation about their pie. How they baked it, the ingredients, and if they think they could replicate this pie and make it at scale. It turns into a really great discussion and evolves into a deeper immersion about the pie business. You’re both really inspired by each other and start planning some next steps.

Your startup is the pie. Which person would you invest in?

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Facebook IPO repurcussions

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on February 20, 2012

The upcoming Facebook IPO is a very interesting scenario. Not just from a startup / social media or tech point of view but from an economic one. There are a lot of facts and figures being thrown around, but from my point of view I’m interested in just a few of them and what they mean for tech entreprepreneurs:

100 Billion Valuation: If the IPO is successful the expected valuation is 33 times their current revenue. And around 100 times their earnings. For comparison purposes Apple current has a 14 times earnings ratio while Google has 12 times. Both companies which have established and growing revenue streams. I know which companies I’d rather hold stock in.

68 Million in acquisitions: In the past year Facebook invested $68 million in purchasing other companies. They have an appetite for acquisition. And that appetite will only grow when the pressures of being public come to the fore. It means that startups who have invented ways to extract money from the Facebook platform are well placed to be bought by the mothership. If you have an idea on how to do this get moving, because the stock market pressures will ensure that startups with revenue generation via Facebook will be targeted.

The IPO will create 1000+ new millionaires: All of which will feel a sense of ‘owing the tech community’. Many of whom will feel like tech rockstars and want to start their own Angel funds. Which means there will be more startups being funded by the FB IPO gold rush. If there was ever a good time to seek money from the Valley, post FB float will be one of the good ones.

 

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Your friends & family don’t care

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on December 15, 2009

Seriously, your friends and family don’t care about your startup. They don’t have to. Sure they might pretend to care, but mostly they’ll wish you luck and get on with their lives.

Of all of my family members, only one has ever listed an item for rent on my website rentoid.com At first this surprised me.  I thought that having a very broad target audience, they’d like it and get involved. They didn’t. So why we feel the need to seed our new startup with family and friends is beyond me. It’s really a waste of time. If they don’t like what we do, we’ll be offended. If they don’t buy what we sell, we’ll be offended. The feedback is less like to be honest than from a stranger. And most of all we are not going to get rich selling to our family and friends.

Startup blog advice is this: Go direct to your real market. Family and friends rarely, if ever, hold they key to startup success. So why delay the start of said success by launching to them?

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My new startup

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on November 19, 2009

I’m launching a new startup. For those who don’t know about it here are some of the key points:

  • The brand extension comes from an already successful enterprise
  • The partnership & legal agreements were entered into over a year ago
  • The idea is not an original one, rather a new execution of a proven formula
  • We didn’t pitch the idea or ask for permission, we just did it
  • It’s a brand extension
  • It’s a self funded project with no external capital. But we wont have ownership
  • We will give away the corporation, once it is cash flow positive
  • It’s a very long lead project
  • It wont be cash flow positive for more than 20 years
  • Estimated cost of the project is around $500K
  • We do expect to however, to yield emotional & community benefits very early after launch
  • It’s an industry we’ve never worked in before, but have a natural flair for it
  • Some of the product development will be outsourced to 3rd parties
  • Outsourcing will occur in 3 large segments of up to 6 years each
  • The most important product development will be done in house
  • There wont be any major advertising, brand awareness will be driven through family & friends
  • We already know it’s unique, but wont require any intellectual property protection
  • However, major security measures will be taken to protect the asset, especially in the incubation phase

My new startup is my baby due January 25th, and it’s the most exciting one I’ve ever been involved in. We’re involved in more startups than we think…

Startup Blog says: Let’s not define ourselves by what we own, but the cool stuff we do.

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We need each other

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on September 17, 2009

I used to think my skills base limited the areas of business I could play in. I remember thinking back to the dot com boom in the mid and late 1990’s wishing and dreaming that I could some how be involved in the excitement, the fervor, and yes, maybe even the money. But I wasn’t a programmer, a digital designer or media player or a venture capitalist. I was merely a marketing manager trapped in the industrial complex of consumer goods. The bust came and I was quietly happy that peoples paper fortunes and egos got busted too. Which in hindsight was not a nice way to think. It was built on jealously, lack of knowledge and immaturity on my behalf.

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Since then I’ve learned this: The type of skills we have matters far less than the fact we have a skill set which is valuable.

Translation: We don’t need to be a technology gurus to be operating or starting up in the technology space.

Maybe we are good at sales, marketing, raising capital, managing and motivating a team, project management, accounting. All of these skills will be needed in whatever business we start or are involved in. What matters is that we can add value in the chain somewhere which takes us from idea to revenue. Where we sit in that chain isn’t as important as we think. What really matters is being able to create the value chain.

It’s a rare combination indeed for a person to have tech genius and business brilliance. Fact is we need each other. We couldn’t have succeeded at rentoid without the business heads or techies collaborating. I wish I’d known this 10 years ago.

Sure it can be an advantage to startup in an area where we have expertise. It can be an incredible way to keep our costs low. But it’s not necessarily a barrier to entry. If we want to success, we’ll have to build a team in any case. And building a revenue infrastructure is what we ought be focusing on as entrepreneurs.

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Magnation – great battle story

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on April 22, 2009

Last night Sahil Merchant the founder and CEO of Magnation (uber terrific magazine retailer) gave an inspiring talk at the Hive.

It was great to hear a great battle story, and not some story by an egoistical rich guy. A real battle story. His honesty was brilliant, and everyone loved it. Rather than re-tell it – I’ve used the power of twitter and and captured all the tweets with #hivemelb from last night which occurred while he was speaking in real time. It’s very interesting to see what caught peoples attention.

Read bottom up to see the tweets in order of occurance.

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When seeking investors

Posted in entrepreneurship by Steve Sammartino on April 10, 2009

Here’s some simple advice when seeking investors for your startup.

Never use the words ‘The Next’…

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Regardless of the uber successful business which follows these two words it just isn’t going to happen. For two reasons. The first is our probability of being this successful is almost non existent. Secondly if we are this successful, we wont be the next, but something new.

The main point is when people use the words the next, they lose credibility. And when someone says it to me regarding their new business venture, I find it hard to believe anything they say after that.

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