Archives for February 2013

Nailing The One Minute Pitch

the pitch

A couple weeks ago I was asked to speak to a large group of entrepreneurs about building a good one minute pitch.

First point I made was about the mechanics: the bare bones every thorough pitch must include: [Read more…]

Start-Up Marketing (Guest Post – four in a series)

Speak to Individual

My good friend Jeff Berman has agreed to contribute a series on marketing for startups to the Scratchpaper community. This is the fourth in the series (table of contents here). Stay tuned for more.

How to Botch Marketing #3:

Speak to the Industry, Not the Individual

People have problems. People have budgets.

If you’re selling something to a business audience, it’s easy to slip into thinking your market is the business (e.g., hospitals, schools, hotels; the list is endless). But businesses don’t make decisions. To get on the radar, you need to address the needs of a specific individual inside the organization. [Read more…]

Customer Crowdfunding: Not So Fast Entrepreneurs (Again!)

CrowdfundingI have written and spoken at length about the issues associated with equity crowd-funding of companies. And not long ago I wrote a piece entitled Customer Crowdfunding: Not So Fast, Entrepreneurs, which was about the pros/cons of customer crowdfunding at the product level (e.g. Kickstarter type fund-raising). In that piece, I made the point that, for all its virtues, customer crowdfunding does have some significant risks for entrepreneurs. It exposes your product plan to your competitors and the world, long before you have it in the market. In the piece, I list the many things your competitors can glean from your successful Kickstarter campaign (spoiler alert: market size, market demographics, market enthusiasm, your price point, your features, your design and look & feel, and how long until you can bring it to market.)

The original post is probably worth a skim if you are an entrepreneur contemplating a customer crowdsourcing platform. One of my key concerns is that small companies may essentially be giving up their only advantages if they go this route.

Now, on top of those original concerns, which mostly boil down to generic and unavoidable by-product of the public nature of these platforms, I am alarmed to see a much more serious, pernicious and cynical issue come to light. [Read more…]

Pick Your Angel Investors Wisely (David Hornik)

David Hornik of August Capital recently posted a great piece on his VentureBlog regarding the importance of choosing your angel investors carefully in this age of mass market early stage investing. His advice bears repeating, and he’s given me permission to repost it here:

Pick Your Angel Investors Wisely

By David Hornik.

A great deal has been written about angel investing in recent years. Angel investing has become the sport of choice for many successful entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley (e.g., Dave Morin,Chris Michel, Ariel Poler, etc.). What’s more, it has spawned a whole new class of venture funds — once called Super Angels, now called Micro VCs (e.g., First Round Capital, True Ventures,SoftTech VC, etc.). And now traditional venture investors (e.g., Greylock Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, CRV, etc.) have created programs to invest small amounts of money in large numbers of startups. Unfortunately, as seed investing moves from a boutique practice to more mass market, [Read more…]

Start-Up Marketing (Guest Post – three in a series)

Busy World

My good friend Jeff Berman has agreed to contribute a series on marketing for startups to the Scratchpaper community. This is the third in the series (table of contents here). Stay tuned for more.

How to Botch Marketing #2: 

Assume People Are Eager To Hear From You

This is the most common marketing mistake of early-stage companies. And it’s completely understandable. You just spent months or years coming up with your product. You put an absurd amount of effort and money and focused attention into it.

So, of course, in bringing it to market, what you want to do is tell people about it, right?

The problem is, almost no one cares about your thing. Everyone you want to sell to is already doing something else to solve their problem. They don’t want to hear from you. They’re busy.

It’s Not You, It’s Them

Once your product is developed (and you’ve made sure it performs for non-techies), you need to take a deep breath and make a concerted effort to step outside your own perspective on it. You need to think of what you’re doing as the solution to someone else’s problem.

Who are these people? How does the problem look from their point of view? What are they doing about it now? How do they see their options? What would they like to do if they could?

Where Effective Messages Come From

If you understand your offering as the solution to someone else’s problem, you can develop a message that they might pay attention to. And that’s what marketing is really about: Getting your message heard. If your prospects had the time and inclination to read lists of features and functions, you wouldn’t need marketing. But they don’t, so you do.

In rare cases, a list of features is enough. But most of the time, people need to be persuaded to pay attention. That’s why marketing is interesting. It has to be.

Jeff Berman is the founder and principal of Berman Creative, a creative agency focusing on brand strategy and marketing solutions for early-stage and redirected companies. You can reach Jeff at We’re grateful for his contribution. 

Comments, questions or reactions to this post? Leave a note below and I will respond to your questions.

If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy: Ten Rules For Navigating in The Age of OutrageThat Vision ThingDelusional Economics,  Loch Ness, Unicorns & The First-Mover AdvantageDoes This Slide Deck Make Me Look Fat?,  The Long Road to Instant SuccessGetting Off The Ground; Early Formation EconomicsWhat I Look For In An EntrepreneurThe OvertureDo The Right ThingInstagram’s Turn for a Face-PalmZynga’s Bad KharmaBank of America Still SucksNetflix: 3 Lessons From the Pricing FiascoBank of America Still Sucks, Walking into a Buzzsaw (Amazon’s Brazenly Arrogant Retail Promotion), Something From Nothing – Bringing the Store to the Customer.

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