“When you’re just getting started, many startups will take every user they can get. They have a strong idea of a problem and they want to attract as many users with that problem as possible. Unfortunately, when you open up the barn doors you get all sorts of people with all sorts of problems. Some of them will try to hijack your product to solve a problem you didn’t intend to solve. By and large, these hijackers are users you don’t want.”
When starting out, a startup’s goal is to get traction. ASAP. That means getting to product / market fit. You cannot do this unless you’re laser clear on who your ideal users and/or customers are. Then catering exclusively to them.
The rub is, by definition, you don’t know for sure who your ideal users (and/or customers) are until you get product / market fit. At any point in time however you need to have a clear hypothesis as to who they are. Testing and pivoting your way to certainty. Ironically, the job is to whittle down the group of ideal users and/or customers as much as possible, as fast as possible – until you hit product / market fit. Then you can dominate and expand.
Michael Siebel expands on why getting distracted by the ‘wrong’ users can kill your startup.
300% IN SIX MONTHS
How do you grow sustainable, scalable inbound traffic 300% in 6 months – without spending a single penny? Gleam did just that. But how? 1) Publish two strategic & actionable blog posts per month, 2) Get your posts in front of the right audience, 3) Produce evergreen content geared around well-researched keywords, 4) Nurture your email list with exclusive & valuable content, 5) Leverage integration partners on mutually beneficial business development initiatives, 6) Produce a series of kick-ass product guides, 7) Publish case studies that ‘don’t suck’, 8) Run contests with partners to gain quick exposure, 9) In-app branding, carefully split-tested for maximum effect.
THE 50 FASTEST-GROWING B2B COMPANIES
Drift recently partnered with Mattermark to identify key marketing and sales techniques used by the 50 fastest-growing B2B companies in the US. Some highlights: 1) 44% offered downloadable content of which 4% is un-gated, 2) 22% have a live chat widget on their website. The trend according to Drift is to remove all content friction and to provide a more personalised live-chat experience.
BEATING THE BIG BOYS AT INSTAGRAM
Half of the biggest companies actively use Instagram as part of their marketing mix.Kara Burney outlines some ways your startup outperform them. In sum: 1) Most big companies engage during the traditional ‘working day’ yet many Instagram users are active round the clock – including Sundays, 2) Most big companies don’t bother using a filter – yet the Mayfair filter works a treat, 3) Most big companies use the exclamation mark but to little effect – data however shows that 11+ hashtags plus question marks are effective.
VC-BACKED FINTECH, Q2 2016
CB Insights and KPMG sum-up the state of venture capital-backed fintech for Q2’16. Highlights: 1) Funding down 49% and deal-making down 12%, 2) Seed-stage activity at a 5-quarter low, 3) Corporate participation up to 32% – a 5-quarter high, 4) US mega-rounds fall, Asia stable, Europe draws a blank, 5) Goldman, Citi and Santander lead the banking pack.
CONVERTIBLE NOTES VS. EQUITY
Elizabeth Yin (Partner at 500 Startups) weighs the pros & cons of raising convertible notes vs. equity rounds at seed stage. In sum, convertible notes / securities are: 1) Cheap, 2) Quick, 3) Flexible. On the flip-side, she cites Jason Lemkin‘s analysis that the 1) You’ll get less support, commitment, help with next round from investors and 2) Potentially higher legal bill later when converting to equity. Overall though, she’s bullish on convertibles for many startups at the seed stage.
Natty Zola (of Techstars) shows with a handy graphic how startup founders can align business progress with fundraising efforts on a scale of Great, Good and Bad. In sum, Good (the benchmark) is aligning: 1) Pre-seed with strong team/PMF hunch, 2) Seed at validated PMF, 3) Series-A with early market foothold, 4) Series-B when ready to pursue aggressive market capture. Great is one step ahead. Bad is one or more steps behind.
BUYING CHICKEN IN MOROCCO WITH BITCOIN
Charlie Shrem tells a great story about how he ended-up buying a chicken at a Moroccan market in bitcoin. (The story is hosted on the exciting new blockchain story platform, Steemit, where authors get paid for each up-vote.)
“Starting is easy, growth is hard.” Too damn right. Software-as-a-service smashed onto the scene with Salesforce in 1999 and has now become de rigueur here in 2016 for any self-respecting tech startup. With thousands of SaaS startups competing in every conceivable niche, Justin Jackson asks though whether we’ve hit peak. He also explores alternative business models such as 1) Return to desktop apps like Sketch, 2) Self-hosted cloud apps like Apostello, 3) Pay once web apps like Know Your Company, 4) All-in-one consolidation, 5) Micro SaaS on bigger platforms. He cautions that “SaaS is just a model for licensing and delivering software. It’s not a business panacea.” Here. Here. Horses for courses I say.
OUR EXCITING FUTURE
Chris Dixon runs through eleven reasons why we should be excited about the future of technology. Real quick: 1) Self-driving cars, 2) Clean energy, 3) Virtual & augmented reality, 4) Drones & flying cars, 5) Artificial intelligence, 6) Pocket supercomputers for everyone, 7) Cryptocurrencies & blockchains, 8) High-quality online education, 9) Better food through science, 10) Computerised medicine, 11) A new space age. He ends: “Right now, today, in 2016 is the best time to start up. There has never been a better day in the whole history of the world to invent something. There has never been a better time with more opportunities, more openings, lower barriers, higher benefit/ risk ratios, better returns, greater upside than now. Right now, this minute. This is the moment that folks in the future will look back at and say, “Oh, to have been alive and well back then!””
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