After Product/Market Fit: Messaging, Positioning and Branding A lot can happen after Product/Market Fit. One of the key activities that gets elevated is Marketing. I wrote Get out of your building again, Part II, as a riff on Steve Blank’s Part I that focused on customer development. I posit that you need to get out of your building again, but this time, it’s for marketing outreach activities and to establish your physical presence where your customers and markets are. And to accentuate the importance of marketing, I published the outline of my next book on Startup Marketing. The title isn’t set yet, but it will cover Messaging, Positioning and Branding, 3 of the “non-analytical” parts of marketing, and ones that startups aren’t typically naturally good at. Truth is you don’t become a successful startup by not becoming a known brand along the way. Developing a Product that Users Want and Not Being Delusional In How to Predict Technology Flops, this Intercom blog digs up a CBInsights chart on the Top 10 Reasons Startups Fail, and not surprisingly, “No Market Need” is a distant first. The post continues by noting that you can segment technology’s impact and progress into 4 buckets: Breakthrough, Game Changer, Incremental and Disruptive. “What do all technology flops have in common? They failed to do a job for their customers.” In How to Avoid Delusional Thinking in Start-up Growth Strategy, one of my favorite entrepreneurs that write superbly well, Aaron Schildkrout has a great piece on Andrew Chen’s blog where he covers the reality of various growth levers: virality, press, bizdev, content, SEO, paid acquisition/direct marketing. Aaron ends with the power of “magical thinking”- noting that “the most important and powerful customer acquisition tactic is building a product that people love.” Complementing that CBInsights chart, Matthew Gallizzi dives deeper into each one of these 10 reasons, in How to Respect your Startup’s Context (and Grown Quicker), and tells you the gotchas to avoid. I like his multifaceted comparison of Confidence vs. Ego, e.g. “Confidence says: I’m valuable. Ego says: I’m invaluable.” Squeaky Wheel Wisdom for SaaS Churn Strategy Jason Lemkin advises: Don’t Fire Your “Worst” Customers. Hire Them a Psychiatrist Instead, because he has found “how little complaints are correlated to renewal rates and customer happiness.” That’s because the ones that churn are the quiet ones, and they leave without warning. Lean Startup Summarized in 12 Concepts If there was an executive summary to Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup book, Tren Griffin just wrote it via this blog post, A Dozen Things I’ve Learned from Eric Ries about Lean Startups (“Lattice of Mental Models” in VC), where he distills its essence without missing a beat of substance. Easy Board Meeting Slides If you agonize when preparing Board decks, here’s An Alternative to Board Decks Some Seed VCs Actually Prefer. This NextView Ventures post gives you a cookbook approach with templates you can use. Startup Lesson #8: Things that Don’t Scale Tips from DoorDash If you’re following YCombinator’s How to Start a Startup from Stanford University, they are at #8 now. This one is with Stanley Tang, founder of DoorDash (re-inventing local delivery), on Things that Don’t Scale. And you might even enjoy the annotated Genius version. On the subject of competition, I liked Stanley’s answer: “At the beginning consumer demand was never a problem, even up until now. So for us it’s just about finding a need and just focusing on serving that demand. At the beginning competition doesn’t really matter.” Thiel vs. Andreessen Well, actually it’s Thiel AND Andreessen. An insightful podcast of Marc Andreessen interviewing Peter Thiel, and it is peppered with wisdom and wit from both. Here’s a good quote I hadn’t heard before from Thiel, on the subject of managing teams: “Conflict happens when different people want to do the same thing, not different things. The challenge as a boss is to have people do different things. If you tell two people to do the same thing, you generate a fight out of nothing.” The Sign of a Great Entrepreneur Having been there, I know that entrepreneurs can be stubborn and dogmatic. But there comes a time when they need to listen and be influenced by actual feedback that is beneficial. In All the Great Entrepreneurs Make this Change, John Vrionis of Lightspeed Venture Partners observes that Great entrepreneurs begin the journey as passionate artistic visionaries who ignore the counsel of many, and then EVOLVE to become excellent LISTENERS who make refinements based on feedback. So, can you make the switch from visionary non-listener to a proactive listener and refiner?]]>
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Startup Management is a manual selection of 15 article links from the hundreds of weekly articles being curated. Previous issues are available here. For regular updates, please visit the website’s River of news (as a stream), or Magazine view (by category).
Venture Capital and Global EcosystemA lot of good articles this week in the Venture Capital and global Ecosystem categories. Rather than list them here, here are the direct links for these categories: Venture Capital and Ecosystem.
Marc AndreessenHere’s a transcript of an insightful interview of Marc Andreessen by Andy Serwer of Fortune, Inside the mind of Marc Andreessen. Must read. He talks about the state of IPOs, building long lasting companies, disruptive models, the shared economy, and where advertising and marketing are going.
B2B MarketingThere is a certain grind to B2B marketing in the early stages of growth. In Five Content Marketing Growth Hacks for Enterprise Startups, Ross Simmonds outlines 5 of these activities: 1) Webinars, 2) Presentations, 3) Videos, 4) Case Studies, and 5) Content.
VC/Entrepreneur RelationshipBrad Feld says to Create Structure out of the Gate and You’ll Thank Yourself Later, via a guest post by Ari Newman, where they advocate to treat your early debt investors like board members and institute structured governance expectations from them.
Raising Venture CapitalAlex Turnbull, CEO/Founder of Groove has 5 questions you need to ask yourself prior to taking VC money, in Why I Turned Down $5 Million in VC Funding. Bottom line is that your goals and the VC’s need to be aligned. There’s a good discussion in the comment section of that post, and on USV.com.
Employee EquityAndy Rachleff of Wealthfront had a long post in First Round Review, The Right Way to Grant Equity to your Employees, where he lays out a process, some principles and formula. Fred Wilson responded, mostly agreeing with Andy, but pointing to a difference in how equity is to be calculated, in Employee Equity.
Product ManagementTop Hacks from a PM Behind Two of Tech’s Hottest Products from First Round Review is a long read, but contains some really good nuggets of practical advice in product management from Todd Jackson who worked for Mark Zuckerberg and managed the fine line between Mark’s vision demands and the product development realities. “You can’t leave any chance for misunderstanding, or for even one person to walk away from a meeting with different conclusions.” And “When engineers are motivated, even if they run into something they don’t know how to do, they’ll say, ‘We can totally figure this out. We’ve got this.”
CollaborationEllen Gottesdiener and Mary Gorman explain How do you Turn Competing Stakeholders into Collaborating Product Partners. You’ll need to figure this out when you have customer partners, business partners and technology partners, each with diverging goals and priorities.
SaaS StrategyThere is a gem of a chart in this article by Indy Guha, The race for growth: Why SaaS marketers are feeling the pressure. Developed by Bain Capital Ventures, and named “The “Revenue Pit-Crew for Cloud Apps Growth”, the table breaks the key enterprise SaaS tools by the various needs and outcomes: 1) qualified leads, 2) initial buy experience, 3) churn reduction and upsell revenue, and 4) cash for growth management. Must read if you’re in the enterprise/SaaS market.
User ExperienceHow do you provide design feedback when a team gets together to review a product? Jake Knapp of Google Ventures has Nine Rules for Running Productive Design Critiques. Not surprisingly, tact is as important as substance. And Frank Guo says to Create Great UX in an Agile World by Conducting Lean UX Research, if you’d like to inject agility into the user experience process.
Growth HackingBrian Balfour outlines 3 phases of evolution in Traction vs. Growth. They are 1) Traction, 2) Transition, and 3) Growth. They correspond respectively to 1) product/market fit, 2) discovery growth levers, 3) turning up growth levers. It’s a great read, and includes the metrics you need to look at, for each phase.
Software Development ChoicesShould you build mobile apps in native or cross-platform code? “40 percent of developers have started building native, only to switch to HTML5, and 31 percent have started building cross-platform, only to switch to native” says John Koetsier in HTML5 vs. native vs. hybrid mobile apps: 3,500 developers say all three, please. However, Ravi Pratap says there’s and alternative to responsive design, in Responsive Design vs. Adaptive Delivery: Which One’s Right for You? “With adaptive delivery, the most significant difference is that the server hosting the website detects the devices making requests to it, and uses this information to deliver different batches of HTML and CSS code based on the characteristics of the device that have been detected.” Finally, a third article from Abhay Parasnis on a related topic, Native, Web, Platform: What’s the best way to build a new app?, where he lays out the pros and cons of each approach, from a developer’s perspective. That SUMs it up! Don’t forget to share on Twitter, add us to your Feedly, forward to a friend, follow on Twitter, read in Flipboard, or just visit the website often and daily. To sign-up, please click here. William Mougayar Founder & Chief Curator Startup Management]]>
Startup Management is a manual selection from the hundreds of weekly articles being curated. Previous issues are available here. The content is on the thin side this week, as I’m being much more selective with the curation. We will stick with a weekly curated update, and not do a daily one. For regular updates, please visit the website’s River or Magazine view.
TeamworkIn The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, a Zemanta blogger praises the book by the same name. These are: 1) Absence of Trust, 2) Fear of Conflict, 3) Lack of Commitment, 4) Avoidance of Accountability, and 5) Inattention to Results. The book goes through these, including action steps to overcome them. The fictional case study in the book is a tech company.
Competitive AnalysisTomasz Tunguz rebutted Steve Blank’s Company Competitive Analysis, in Why The Petal Diagram Isn’t The Best Competition Diagram For Startup’s Pitch. Tomasz says “petal diagrams don’t communicate the startup’s unique way of competing in the market”. My opinion is that the form of the diagram doesn’t matter. What’s important is to know: a) how different you are from the competition (or incumbent), b) what position you want to occupy, and c) how you’ll get there.
MarketingBrian Balfour has a long post, Adapt Or Be Left Behind – How The Marketing World Is Changing, where he enumerates the several marketing channels and tactics that are currently hot and popular. You probably know most of them, but it’s a good checklist.
SaaS and CRMPaul Philp of Amity says current CRM practices haven’t caught-up with the SaaS model, in The SaaS Industry Needs a Customer Relationship Revolution. SaaS is a soft offering, therefore requiring a customer cultivation approach across the various “soft” touch points.
Customer LoyaltyWant Happy Customers? Implement the 5-Visits-Plus-2-Badges Rule. For Your Customer Success Team — And You, says Jason Lemkin. The “5” stands for “Meet On-Site with 5 Customers a Month, Every Month, or 60x a Year”. Why? Because “you’ll learn which customers are actively using your product — but are unhappy and at risk. Attitudinal Customers are worth about 3x those who only use you because they are stuck with you.”
Product ManagementIn The Startup Method: A 6-step Process for New Feature Development, Ryan Glascow compares the “scientific method” to the “startup method” for new product and features development. It’s a good read, let alone for the comparison table that will give you a better appreciation for the agile, iterative methods that startups adopt. That SUMs it up! Don’t forget to share on Twitter, add us to your Feedly, forward to a friend, follow on Twitter, read in Flipboard, or just visit the website often and daily. William Mougayar Founder & Chief Curator Startup Management]]>
Startup Management is a manual selection from the hundreds of weekly articles being curated. Previous issues are available here. There are 21 article links in this edition. Entrepreneurs and Blogging Prompted by Keith Rabois on Twitter, there was a discussion on whether successful entrepreneurs have time to blog. Chris Yeh asked Should entrepreneurs blog? Mark Birch chimed in with Successful Entrepreneurs Do Not Blog? And I wrote a post entitled All Entrepreneurs Should Blog. The consensus is still debatable, but at the end of the day, it is up to the entrepreneur to blog or not. Blogging is not related to their success or failure, rather to their willingness and ability to communicate by writing, and seeing the marketing and social capital value behind blogging. Mobile ROI Ameet Ranadive from the product management team at Twitter has an insightful post, Why Mobile ROI is So Hard. It covers mobile monetization, with a focus on m-commerce, perhaps a hint on upcoming Twitter products in mobile commerce. “28% of mobile searches result in a conversion (defined by store visit, call, or purchase).” SaaS David Skok has a mega post, Manage Customer Success to Reduce Churn. The key point is that focusing on customer happiness is not enough. You need to make sure they are receiving the promised benefits. “Customers bought your product to get a clear business benefit. To make them happy, I believe that you need to make sure they are getting the business benefits they hoped for.” Sales Jason Lemkin has another one of his practical advice posts, If Your VP Sales Isn’t Going to Work Out – You’ll Know in 30 Days. He lays out 5 top things they should do, and the order of priority for doing them. Here’s one of the red flags: “if they start creating and driving deals themselves,” they should be out in 30 days, because they didn’t focus on recruiting a team instead. Bob Marsh asks and answers, What Has Changed in Sales? The Sales Manager. And here is a third post on sales, The Trend that is Changing Sales, where Steve W. Martin points to the increased nature of inside sales. Marketing Communications In Deconstructing PR: Advice From a Former VentureBeat Writer, Conrad Eyusa outlines a step by step approach for working the media. I know it works, because I have used a similar approach successfully several times. VC-Entrepreneur Relationship Fred Wilson and Matt Blumberg have another set of related posts on this important topic. In What Makes For The Most Productive Management-VC Relationship, Fred advises to “keep the frustration to yourself,” when dealing with startups. And in Getting the Most of Your Investors, Matt says to “take on-boarding seriously,” when it comes to new board members. Failing Last week, the Everpix shut down was publicized, and lessons were being drawn. Here’s a pair of posts that explain why the company wasn’t able to raise more money to continue operating, although they had a great product. Andrew Chen weighed in with When a great product hits the funding crunch, and Casey Newton at The Verge wrote Out of the picture: why the world’s best photo startup is going out of business. And related to this, here’s a post by Hutch Carpenter covering 10 examples of fabulously flawed product-first thinking. Marketing James Heaton has a short post, What is Marketing Strategy? that builds the case for marketing and helps you to differentiate between marketing strategy and tactics. “Why does marketing strategy matter? Because it saves you money.” Scaling In Built to Scale: Why Growth Entrepreneurs Need Structure, Dino Signore highlights this important topic. “Structure is like a well-written software code that enables your organization to reduce errors and run consistently.” Growth Hacking If you missed the third Growth Hackers Conference put on by Gagan Biyani and Erin Turner, here’s a pair of posts recapping the key points from it: Growth Hackers Conference 2013 A Detailed Bullet-Point Summary, and Growth Hackers Conference Recap and Slides. Competitive Analysis Steve Blank has a new way to depict a Company Competitive Analysis, using a “petal diagram” instead of the classical 2×2 matrix. By putting the startup at the center and linking it to the various market segments, this new visualization helps to get VCs excited about the opportunity to re-segment existing markets or create new ones. Entrepreneurship Fred Wilson posted a recent video interview of his partner Albert Wenger with me, where Albert covered the USV thesis, working with entrepreneurs, Tumblr, Foursquare, venture capital, and many other topics. SEO If you’d like to see the top 200 Google ranking factors in a wicked Infographic, here is a view on Every ingredient that contributes to search engine ranking. There is a method behind the Google search madness. That SUMs it up! Don’t forget to share on Twitter, add us to your Feedly, forward to a friend, follow on Twitter, read in Flipboard, or just visit the website often and daily. William Mougayar Founder & Chief Curator Startup Management]]>
Startup Management is a manual selection from the hundreds of weekly articles being curated. Previous issues are available here. There are 32 links in this mega edition. I couldn’t narrow it further. Too much good content! Have you been forwarding to friend, so they can sign-up and benefit too? You can help, by forwarding to 5 friends.