Above photo by Skyscope Creative.
Here is some advice captured from the event (from my scribbled notes and not verbatim so apologies if I missed anything juicy)…
- There are a lot of different winning formulas so there is no secret ingredient, just different ingredients.
- Business models are under analyzed and not innovative – so find a company with the closest business model to your startup and see what they did and how they did it. Answer he question “who came before me with this business model?” and study them.
- Getting funded is not a business model.
- No other company has Twitter’s business model because Twitter has a natural monopoly – it only works because there is one place to tweet and we all want there only to be one Twitter otherwise it wouldn’t be effective.
- Find early adopters and make sales calls so you get used to being rejected and learn what is wrong with your product.
Rhoost, a modern, stylish, baby-proofing products company, wants to figure out how to get more distribution and become a leader in its product category:
- It is crucial for a product to be present at the right moment – the time when the problem the product solves is front of mind. It is your job [as founder/entrepreneur] to figure out when and where that is and how you will get your product there.
- How do you do that? Talk to your target demographic (for Rhoost, this is mother’s with 6 month-olds) every day and get their feedback. Also figure out the most important google ad words or choose a brand with which to co-venture (such as Roost baby corner protectors and a high-end stroller company).
Video-making app Directr wanted to know how the new guy breaks out:
- You need to build an engine of growth into your app to make it viral by nature. For example, Twitter grew so rapidly because people made all their friends join to make the experience more fun. (For Directr, Seth suggested they only allow people to co-direct films with friends – it doesn’t work if used by itself).
- You can either be a ‘Wandering Generality’ with virality built in or by a ‘Meaningful Specific.’
Promoboxx, providing co-branded online campaigns with retailers, asked how to get more leads and close the sales cycle:
- A B2B sale is not a pitch to the company that they will make more profit – person buying doesn’t care about profit; he/she only cares about impressing boss, making the boss happy, gaining more respect, and making their job easier.
- Every big brand has a guy that runs the early adopter budget where they get limited ad spend to see if new channels work (such as Campbell’s ads on parking meters) – you don’t want to sell this guy because he only tries each new thing once.
- To sell, must address the problem – it (Promoboxx) needs to be a cheaper, turn-key solution or Promoboxx needs to figure out how to get on more podiums and invent a new category so they can create a pain and then make it go away (like Yahoo did with Prime Sponsors).
Kickstarter-launched, bedhead-hair-correcting company Morning Head asked to what extent they should take their naughty name and marketing ideas:
- Acknowledging that culture is getting coarser, you first have to decide what the goal of the company is: 1) company becomes a marketing engine for coarser products, 2) company is one product and will sell as much as possible, or 3) company will make products for the initial customer base they were able to attract.
- With option 2 (Morning Head chose 2), it is a hard sell because there is no repeat purchases for the product and very few people will talk about the product if marketing is too dirty – keep it light and smart so people can share the utility of the product and then are able to buy it. Your scarce asset is your humor so keep the joke but lower expectations.
- Everyone should realize what their scarce asset is early on.
Prospective Plus, a gateway for job seekers and employers that is trying to introduce a common application, needs to think about how one side of the two-sided market benefits so that they can go after one side first.
GrabCAD, a free CAD model library and engineer community, is trying to move from hobby usage to professional usages in daily workflow:
- The main problem is it is different customers, different stories, and different problems. With a community, face-to-face becomes critically important so it may be worth it for GrabCAD to start a business as a face-to-face connector. Software is the excuse to build a community and get people to come together.
Wordstream, a company that helps makes Search Engine Marketing more profitable and successful, asked how to get its marketing and product teams to work better together:
- Product design and marketing should be the same thing or at least work together, even switch jobs to a day. At least move their desks together.
Smarterer, a skills validation platform, asked about who to service and which direction to take the company:
- There are two options: 1) to continue growing the audience (free model) or 2) to be profitable (have people pay to take the tests). (Brining up Twitter again…) Twitter is free but it is valuable because people spend hours of attention on it. It is fearful to pick one thing and stick to it but you need to do that in order to optimize the product for one person.
And lastly, 19th Amendment, an interactive portfolio tool for fashion designers to showcase their work, while empowering consumers to critique and purchase exclusive designs, asked how do you prioritize who to go after when you have four potential stakeholders (partners, designer, consumers, and buyers):
- You have to be an Etsy or a Dribbble – you can’t be both. Partners and designers end up being the same because the schools are only doorways to designers. You don’t need a lot of designers but you will have to curate the pool. You do need a lot of buyers on board to make it an attractive proposition but make sure you are mindful of their time and work to conserve it.
Can’t wait to put some of these words to work and get it done! Want some more Seth advice? Check out an older Seth book, Bootstrappers Bible, free online.
Special thanks again to Seth for his time and insights and to Sarah Hodges, Dave Balter, and the Intelligent.ly team for bringing this wonderful event to Boston! Always learning to win at the 500 Harrison location and this was no acception!
This post was originally published on Wondering on Wandering.