Some entrepreneurs slice & dice their ideas in many ways to decide whether to pursue it. Then there are entrepreneurs who develop a blind faith in no time.
Sure, an entrepreneur with blind faith has his disadvantages: He only hears what he likes, he only uses data to support his theories, he only picks partners who agree with him & he thinks customers who disagree ‘don’t get it’
Still, such entrepreneurs create many successful start-ups. Here is why Continue reading
Here is a repeating story – An entrepreneur gets excited about a new product idea & he presents it to someone. The listener searches the web & says “there are already products like that”, and the idea gets dismissed.
If your idea is a for new mobile app, expect to hear “There is an app for that”.
We know the power of a brand new idea – It is a passport to a green field with no competition, it makes good story lines & gets publicity, it gives room to make some mistakes and still succeed, …
Then, we also know that iPod came after many mp3 players, Amazon after many online book stores, Facebook after MySpace, and the list goes on.
So, how does one decide if the idea is to be dismissed when there are similar products? Continue reading
We know that products we make should be differentiated. It is a buzzword among business grads & is promoted in every business book.
When we make a tech product, our feature list starts with essential features and features for parity with competition. Then we add our secret sauce features that differentiate our product.
Product development has a way of energizing everyone. So along the way, we invent more features to differentiate our product even more.
At times, we strike upon valuable features that make our product stand apart. At other times, we end up with long feature lists that only delay product Continue reading
First time entrepreneurs don’t separate early adopters from rest of the users. They launch their product when it is ready for everyone, and expect everyone to adopt it at once.
Serial entrepreneurs know of early adopters, and that they must be won before the rest. So, they try to find early adopters as soon as they have a product idea.
If your product is a tech gadget, it is easy to find early adopters. Look for geeks who obsess over new gadgets & invent reasons to buy them. Since they want to be the first to use them, they don’t wait for user reviews.
Geeks are not the early adopters for all new products. But they exemplify the 2 essential qualities Continue reading
Last year I was at Microsoft’s Silicon Valley launch event for their 1st smart-phone, “Kin”. They estimated to sell a few million units. Once launched, it sold only a few, & the business stayed open only for 48 days.
This year I was at a HP launch party for TouchPad, their 1st web-OS tablet. Sales didn’t come anywhere close to the estimate & the inventory was cleared at 80% discount ($99 tablet!). The business stayed open for 49 days.
I am sure Microsoft & HP used name-brand MBA grads, customer surveys, focus groups, the best sales estimation software, & veteran sales VPs to create their sales estimates. Still the estimate was wrong by miles!
If you have pitched an idea to potential investors or collaborators, you know the value of short pitches. Here are 6 short formats to be ready with. The first 4 pitches ask for a meeting & the last 2 ask for a check.
1. Front of business card format (limit 9 words, 4 seconds): Dispense this super short description at networking events to quickly identify who to talk to (don’t waste time pitching a semiconductor idea to a Software VC). Use analogies if needed (e.g. we are yelp for local auto mechanics).
2. Back of business card (limit 25 words, 10 seconds): This pitch says ‘what you do’, ‘who you do it for’, and ‘your edge’, before the listener gets a chance to interrupt. It fits on the back of your business card (print it there once the line is perfected). Also, start all pitches & presentations with this line.
3. Elevator Pitch (limit 220 words, 2 minutes): Originally designed for chance meetings (e.g. VC on a elevator Continue reading
We entrepreneurs make mistakes without any help. Then we get advice that is easy to mis-interpret. Here are 24 popular start-up advice that lets us make costly mistakes with confidence!
1. Never give up: This was designed for fickle minded entrepreneurs to stay the course when things get tough. It turns to a trap once it is time to really back off from your idea and look for another one
2. Money will come if you do what you love: You are better off reading it as “money will come if you do something others (customers) love”. It is easier to do it if you love it. But most things you love won’t make any money
3. Impress Investors first: Some folks work on investor pitch before testing the idea with prospective customers. Happy customers can get you investors, but impressed investors can’t get you customers
Start-ups creating a website or an app usually advertise online – with paid per click ads that pack a title, product’s value, & a call for action in a tiny box
Ads on billboards & TV can claim to create brand & desire. But these PPC ads are measured for sales dollars earned & visitors registered on the same day
Here is how you come up with a profitable PPC ad
Before start: Decide how far a visitor should click before he is a customer (e.g. register) & the economic value of a customer (e.g. $8/registered user)
A PPC ad is a set of 5 elements – all rocket science about PPC advertising is about find a set of 5 that rocks (makes more than it spends)
In June 2006, when Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo became Nokia’s CEO, Nokia’s revenue & profits were on the rise. The company was already the market leader in the mobile phone market.
Then iPhone debuted in the Spring of 2007. Olli-Pekka called it a fad that wouldn’t last. So he was not in a hurry to make similar products. After all, why follow a fad? Eventually, he lost his job to someone who respected that beautiful product.
At the time iPhone was announced, Ed Colligan was piloting Palm. He was smarter – he knew it could change everything. So he brought in Elevation Partners to invest & pilot Palm, and quietly exited the scene.
Once we created an Edutainment product on CD. We had a large addressable market. Any English speaking computer user could use our product and have fun with it – a child, teenager, adult, student, teacher …
We showed the product to some bookstore chains & websites. They agreed the product was worth the shelf space – and our product got on the shelves of many stores in many cities
In the first week, each store sold only a few pieces. So, we started some ads. Some bookstores did in-store promotions. However, things didn’t improve much. So, we cut the price – sales still didn’t budge.
The problem was – children couldn’t even find it in their section. Teenagers thought it was too purposeful. Adults thought it was too playful. Students & teachers couldn’t map it to a curriculum to find it useful