Shahab KhanInnovation, Commercialization, Transformation
Bio

I have conducted workshops and speaking engagements as well as provided strategic and implementation expertise to venture capital organizations, consulting firms, federal departments, crown corporations, startups, and incubators. I am a Mentor at Invest Ottawa and Incubes, Entrepreneurship Advisor on Startup Canada's National Advisory Council and managing a 1200+ nationwide online forum addressing Canada's innovation gap.



Recent Answers


Yes but focus on a niche or target audience. The AI space borders on a number of vertical industries as was technology areas (chatbots, Analytics, Autonomous Vehicles, Machine Learning, Smart Speakers, etc.) . It is also very misunderstood in its application to business problems. Build your competency where you have credibility from experience, access to resources and your network. There is a lot of noise out there that will prevent you from being heard so you have to target those that are overwhelmed or at the starting point and looking for clear link to their business objectives or technology roadmaps.


My advice is to focus your time and effort as startups really do not have much time to spare on efforts that are not generating customer opportunities. Twitter does take a lot of time to build credibility in your field if your brand is not yet established. Other services like Instagram or LinkedIN work well as they offer additional capabilities to engage and communicate with your existing audience. You would be better served by joining business portals or groups in your subject area, getting engaged in the discussion and offering support and build upon it or even concurrently with a Twitter presence.


I would echo all previous answers, not to be repetitive and add one common reason from my specific experience: creating credibility in new field. When I did my MBA at Queen's University, at the time it was called MBA for Science and Technology. Language is key as it was meant for engineers transitioning to management.

With respect to my peers, a number of them were entering finance, marketing, operations and IT and coming from mechanical, environmental, computer, automotive fields to name a few. The MBA provided credibility to get into the management areas now which may not have not been attainable due to their pure engineering backgrounds.


On the plus side, you are getting some good traffic. The question is what type of traffic. Try to find out if bots are making up any percentage.

Also ensure your correctly identifying where you target market resides. People talk about penetration rates with broad campaigns with no focus. If you are operating within a specific niche whether it is language, geography, subject matter, then focus your marketing communications to services actively engaged by those niches. You may find a higher number of sign-ups with a much lower amount of traffic.

When it comes to messaging, survey existing users to determine what brought them to your site and why they signed up. This is a biased view but it is a starting point to understand key traits of successful conversions.


Contact the opinion leaders in your area or startups with a strong brand who blog about the topics you want to focus upon. As previous poster pointed out, find communities with high-level of contributors that are actively engaged. Crosspolinate the best posts across other social media to present your community as a knowledge leader and leverage key words that resonate with your audience.

As per previous post, for active users there has to be something in it for them. Sometimes it is the quality of the discussion. Sometimes it is to build their existing brand as a knowledge leader. Perhaps you have perks through partnerships with other services. These are starting points. Good to constantly survey your existing base to understand what is working and what is not working with your existing service.


Incubators differ from Accelerators in that they they are not focused on proven businesses looking for next stage of growth. However, it is important to shop around to ensure the incubator meets your needs as a new startup. You can get tunnel vision if you are still in the formulation stages of your idea and not consider wider opportunity. Incubators can also help you pivot as you get the mentorship and access to the local network available to you to bounce your idea, business case and investment planning off experts.

Once you have the idea decided, bounce it off some of your network first and get a wireframe plan together on how you think you should proceed. You will then have a better idea of the type of incubator you need based on the vertical, geographic location and group of mentors available.

If you choose to build the product ahead of time then you should also consider accelerators which help you move to the next stage of growth.


I will stay away from Google rankings aspect. For that, check out the following link: "Busting the Top 15 SEO Myths of 2014" http://www.cio.com/article/2454224/seo-sem/busting-the-top-15-seo-myths-of-2014.html. Good quote from that article though "SEO is a driver of web traffic, not a driver of business"

As one SEO expert told me, search engine optimization is on-going exercise, not a one time event. I would separate efforts between new and returning visitors. Sites in general that get a high number of visitors on a monthly basis usually have a core group of returning visitors that leverage it for content sharing or expertise on a regular basis.

In the case of returning visitors, I suggest having forum/testimonials for people have who have leveraged the website's insights or are subject matter experts and discuss the benefits, challenges, or further application of the information or area. Blogging, linking to articles relevant to the user base, also curating news from social media feeds through sites like Paper.li or Rebelmouse provide an easy content option without much effort.

For new visitors, media exposure and references from top opinion leaders in the space can help. I would look to other portals in the same industry or that attract the same age group being targeting and request the site owners to write a piece, send out a communique and/or reference your service to the targeted audience. Getting local media in your areas to report on your service can also provide exposure. I would focus on finding the free avenues first and when you find the highest referring sites, focus any ad dollars there to get the best bang for the buck.

With any new on-line venture it is critical to build the user base before charging people for the service. The site has to be the go to place for this type of information and discussion to show the foundation value and then adding services that provide additional custom value add. Simple example is Wattpad with over 30M users sharing free stories, in over 50 languages, from any phone, tablet, or computer just recently raised $46M in venture financing


With any new on-line venture it is critical to build the user base before charging people for the service. The site has to be the go to place for this type of information and discussion to show the foundation value and then adding services that provide additional custom value add. Simple example is Wattpad with over 30M users sharing free stories, in over 50 languages, from any phone, tablet, or computer raised $46M in venture financing in previous round.

I would separate efforts between new and returning visitors. Sites in general that get a high number of visitors on a monthly basis usually have a core group of returning visitors that leverage it for content sharing or expertise on a regular basis.

I suggest starting with LinkedIN or a related community-focused portal first, join discussion groups in your expertise/product/solution area and build your brand as the go-to-person or company for that subject. The next step is to begin cross-pollinating by tweeting your blog posts or group answers with the hashtags that matter to your community.

Blogging, linking to articles relevant to the user base, also curating news from social media feeds through sites like Paper.li or Rebelmouse provide an easy content option without much effort.

For new visitors, media exposure and references from top opinion leaders in the space can help. I would look to other portals in the same industry or that attract the same age group being targeting and request the site owners to write a piece, send out a communique and/or reference your service to the targeted audience. Getting local media in your areas to report on your service can also provide exposure. I would focus on finding the free avenues first and when you find the highest referring sites, focus any ad dollars there to get the best bang for the buck.

At the beginning, do some research on similar offerings from your peers or competition in personal coaching services to see what has worked.


Always look for the free avenues first before putting down any dollars as you are running lean as it is. Look to on-line forums, groups in your target market that are discussing the subject area and begin engaging and sharing insights to show credibility for your offering. As you move forward, begin to request advice in developing the basic product offering. You can then start providing incentives like entries into a draw to this focused target market, as opposed to general contact lists that get very little conversions (unless it is a targeted e-mail list). This should get you started.


I think you just answered your own question. Crowdfunding efforts take at least 6 months of planning, marketing strategy and stakeholder engagement. You are also trying to avoid noise from competing efforts or that could take away attention from your target market. If you are just starting down this road then I suggest doing your research and begin engaging in January to set the foundation for a launch around April like previous expert has indicated.


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