1. Technology is easy – getting customers to pay you is outrageously difficult.
When was the last time you heard about a web startup failing because the product didn’t work? Almost never. With the greatest respect to all the hackers and engineers out there coding away, making a product do what you want is simply a function of time. Spend enough development time on it, and you can write code to do almost anything you want. Getting a customer to pay you some money for that feature you just added? That’s an entirely different proposition. The vast majority of web startups fail because they don’t find enough customers, at the right price and in enough time before they run out of cash. If we spend as much time on marketing your startup as you do on writing and shipping your code, and we just might beat the odds.
2. Customers can always choose to do nothing
When pitching a prospect we are generally trying to convince them to do one of two things:
(i) Leave a competitor and join you
(ii) Stop doing nothing about their pain problem and join you
Who knew that getting them to leave a competitor was often easier than getting them to stop doing nothing? At least if they are using a competitor they recognise that they have a problem that needs solving! The truth is, many prospects are indecisive, stagnant, glacial, apathetic, unwilling, and unmotivated. Demonstrating your product and then asking for the sale is just as likely to be met with a yawn and a scratch of the arse as it is with a chequebook. If you understand how difficult the process is, then there is a good chance you will approach it with the right amount of preparation and effort.
3. Financial models are fantasy
Their is one good reason to construct a financial model prior to having any real customer data. Do it to prove to yourself that the fundamentals of your model will produce a profitable business over time. Think of it as a sanity check. Once you are happy that the model works in theory, throw the spreadsheet away. Never look at it again, and for christ sake don’t go out and try and raise investment funds off the back of it (guilty as charged!). Just launch your product and get as much real live data as you can. Months later you can giggle about how wrong your projections were, but at least you won’t be making life altering decisions based on nonsense.
4. There is no replacement for quality user testing
User testing pays for itself many times over. This doesn’t mean getting your mates over to play with your creation in return for a 6 pack. It means getting real life customers/strangers to use your product while you watch. True story. Our startup is an online event registration solution that allows customers to sell tickets and accept registrations for any sized event. Three months after launch, we sat and watched via web cam while a Canadian tester spent 15 MINUTES just trying to create an account. In one of our releases, we had cannily decided not to display a “register button” to anyone using Internet Explorer. No-one using this browser could get in and use our product, and it had been that way for over a week. He eventually managed to get in, but man was he pissed!
What else do you wish you had known before you did your own web startup?
Post by Scott Handsaker founder of Eventarc
If you want to know how to get your brand exposed to 100,000 people for $8 then we need look no further than what David did.
You may remember this post where David go his Jarritos soft drink van all branded up. Well, he took the next step in exposure and got to the AFL grand final early for a front row car park near the MCG for a measly $8. As far as I can tell it’s one of the greatest media investments of all time – there were 100,000 people in attendance. See photo journal below. Great startup bootstrapping David.
If you read this blog regularly you know that I have recently held a Startup School in Melbourne. Beside the fact that it was great fun it also a very enlightening entrepreneurial experience in a way that most businesses are not. It had a start, a middle and an end. It allowed me the entrepreneur to conceive of something, implement it, promote it and post analysis it. This is something we usually must do while our business is in progress.
Events give us the opportunity to improve our entrepreneurial skills, because everything is compressed into a tight time line, with defined deadlines. It forces us to make tough and quick decisions on the marketing mix (Product, Price Place and Promotion).
No matter what type of business you own, or skills you have you can and should run an event of some sort for the above reasons. The lessons you’ll gain will help your full time gig immeasurably.
Startup Blog says: Events are rad.
For those of my blog readers already locked and loaded for startup school – Good 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!
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.
There are only a couple of seats left for the Melbourne event. If you’re thinking of attending, it’s time to get moving and book, as I expect the event to be closed by the weekend. Remember there is a money back guarantee for me to ‘blow your mind’. If you need to contact me, my details are in the side bar.
See you there, Steve.
I went to 30 Rock to check out the NBC studio. One thing that struck me was the involvement they create for customers in the studio. Here’s a picture of me as Al Pacino:
It’s an old trick, but the point is simple:
The days of passive consumption are over.
We now demand to be part of the experience, to create the stuff we buy. Especially in new media and web forums.