Product/Market Fit, Competition, Marketing, Customer Development, Entrepreneurship, SaaS, Boards. Roundup #22 Oct 20 2014
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?