Aren’t We All Startups?

Maybe you should stop introducing yourself as a Startup and simply say what you’re business is successful at delivering.
John Kobel

Background

In my last post – Start Hanging Out With People Who May Have Your Solutions, I reiterated the value of Steve Blank’s “Get Out Of The Building” and Mark Suster’s post “Why You Need to Take 50 Coffee Meetings”. Here’s an example of the my Return On Investment (ROI).

Aren’t We All Startups?

After watching me pitch over the last few Westmount Networking Breakfasts, John Kobel offered me some friendly advice. He suggested that people may avoid doing business with a Startup because it sounds risky. People want to do business with successful people with a proven track record.  So when it came to my turn to pitch, I shared John’s advice & dropped the “Startup” from my opening 🙂

But as I listened to everyone else’s pitches, I couldn’t help but notice that we’re all Startups – in one form, or, another. Yes, some have established businesses behind him and some have been at this longer than I have. But in the end, we’re all pitching. We’re all searching for the right words to connect with someone listening & open the door to building a relationship.

The problem with networking meetings in general – not just our’s, is that we’re usually pitching to the same crowd with a few visitors.  Now I understand these meetings are more about developing long-term relationships that typically pay off over the years.  But there are lessons to be learned from all these Coffee Meetings (and other events) and no reason they can’t deliver an earlier Return On Investment. That’s when I had my Light Bulb! “Ah Ha Moment”. All I had to do was start listening to the customer & find early adopters who, not just want the service, but truly need it.

One-Liner

Nearly All Consumers (97%) Now Use Online Media to Shop Locally, According to BIA/Kelsey and ConStat, March 2010. How many are finding you? Give us your sales pitch and we’ll connect them with you, right from your Inbox. Forget about managing search engine marketing campaigns, web sites and even qualifying the leads. Our metrics prove we can do it all for a fraction of what it would typically cost you. We are ReverseTheSearch.co.

I need to work on our true customer – the supplier, landing page but that’s the big idea. From a Pivot point-of-view, there’s really no change to the core principle. In fact, we’re actually trimming away a lot of the Waste and starting over with the Minimum Viable Product.

Next Up

I’ll fill in some blanks with the Elevator Pitch version coming soon. But in the meantime, feel free to contact me with any thoughts.

To Pivot, or, Not to Pivot

Sometimes when you swing at the ball, you simply miss and create a hole in the ground.

Lessons learned from entrepreneur by Demian Entrekin

Retrospective

In the spirit of Agile, here’s my retrospective on Pivoting.

The Yin & Yang of it All

Eric Ries defines the concept of a Pivot as:

… the idea that successful startups change directions but stay grounded in what they’ve learned. They keep one foot in the past and place one foot in a new possible future. Over time, this pivoting may lead them far afield from their original vision, but if you look carefully, you’ll be able to detect common threads that link each iteration.

Why would you Pivot? Well, in our case, we felt we achieved Problem/Solution Fit – we think we have a problem worth solving. Granted, we’re working a little backwards here because we feel we have the Minimum Viable Product (and more) before running any Experiments. (That “MVP Feeling” could very well be an issue.) Nonetheless, you start thinking about Pivoting when you’re not getting any traction – people just aren’t adopting your solution. So at one point you’ve got to wonder if it’s your message, your target audience, or, simply you & your ingenious idea?

If they aren’t ready to listen, it doesn’t matter what you say

Don Dodge posted:

Don’t waste time trying to convert someone who isn’t ready to listen. Move on to the next prospect. Go back to the doubters later with a fistful of customers or partners. Or better yet, let them come to you…when they are ready to listen.

Personally, I love that! If I understand correctly, that means you’re just not targeting the right audience. But that also means, at some point after trying other audiences and still without traction, you have to rethink the root cause.

Pivoting comes to mind, but unless you have enough data from previous Experiments, or, a Minimal Viable Target Audience (MVTA) to Experiment with, then you’re exposing yourself even more to the dreaded “W” word:

Waste is any human activity which absorbs resources but creates no value.

— Womak/Jones, Lean Thinking (Thanks Ash)

Pivot or Divot?

Demian Entrekin brings up an interesting image.

One unfortunate aspect of the term “pivot” is that it sounds like “divot.” If you are a golfer, you know what a divot is. It’s a hole in the ground where you missed the ball.

So what happens if you think you’re not getting traction because your new fangled ingenious idea changes the status quo? We consistently get good feedback from Consumers because we save them time & money trying to find What they want from local retailers/merchants who actually have it in stock. However, the retailers/merchants we interviewed & Experimented with don’t really seem to care about saving anyone time & money.  Not even their own! I just don’t get it.  If you, as a sales rep in a store could reply to a simple message  – like email, Twitter / text, or, instant message that you have something in stock, doesn’t that make your life easier? Didn’t you just close a sale with Minimal Viable Effort (MVE)?  Most sales reps we encountered share the attitude that if the customer wants it they’ll find me. Don’t they even know their ABC‘s? What ever happened to Always Be Closing? I hate status quo!

Lesson To Learn

So unless I completely missed the boat on our Problem/ Solution Fit, I have to plot a course towards a more fitting Minimal Viable Target Audience (MVTA) to run the next Experiment, to gather more metrics, before even thinking about the next Pivot.