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Everything You Need to Know About Product-Market Fit


  

What is product-market fit?

While the term “product-market fit” gets thrown around a lot in the startup world, it’s not always very well understood. In fact, we can’t even agree on who created it! Some people say that the concept of product-market fit was first developed and named by entrepreneur and investor Andy Rachleff. Others give credit to famed investor Marc Andreessen, who at the very least popularized term product-market fit when he wrote about in a 2007 blog post. He said, “Product-market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.”

In other words: You could have an amazing, sophisticated, well-thought out idea — and people just don’t get it. (Think: That first focus group for Pied Piper on HBO’s ...



Article

Should Big Competitors Scare Me?


  

Think of big companies like the Death Star.

On the outset, it's a planet killer. But its weakness, (other than a really questionably-architected ventilation system), is that it moves at a glacial pace.

I spent 10 years running a digital agency working with these Fortune 500 giants like BMW, Best Buy and Eli Lilly.

What we don't see on the outside is how impossible it is for these companies to move internally and how we can use that lack of mobility to our advantage versus worrying about our home planet of Alderaan getting blown up.

Big Companies Face Inward, Not Outward

The first thing we need to know about big companies is that their culture is almost always faced entirely inward.

That means their staff, unlike ours, spends more time co...



Article

Everything You Need To Know About Pitching Investors


  

The investor pitch. It's feared. It's desired. It's terrifying.

But don't worry: We've got you covered. Here's everything you need to know about that all-important investor pitch.

What should your investor pitch include?

Invisu.me Co-Founder and CEO Donna Griffit is a master pitcher who has helped countless founders distill their pitch down to exactly what they need — and nothing they don’t. She had the opportunity to sit in on a private pitching event where a delegation of startups had the opportunity give a five minute pitch and receive direct feedback from a group of top-tier Silicon Valley VC’s. (So top tier that she can’t even say who was there but, trust us, you will want to memorize this section before your next pitch.)

Here’s what ...



Article

Is a $0 Founder Salary a Badge of Honor?


Wil SchroterFounder + CEO of Startups.com

  

There's a weird discussion around Founder compensation, especially when the number is a big fat zero. We read about famous Founders from Google, Facebook, and Tesla taking $1 salaries, while earning millions in stock.

For early-stage Founders, we often can't get paid (so it's not much of choice!) but there's also this presumption that if we're forgoing personal compensation to roll all the profits back into the company, then we must be really committed.

It Buys Us Nothing

There's no argument out there that Founders shouldn't be paid, so taking compensation to zero is just a silly move.

The only time Founders or execs get the stink eye is when they take inordinate salaries compared to the rest of the staff or relative to the stage of the ...



Article

When Will My Startup Make Me Happier?


  

We often think about this concept of our startup "making it" through a sale or some other outcome and then we get to be truly happy.

But that's not how it works.

Our "success" actually comes gradually, day by day, at a glacial pace so that we never actually notice it. Until one day, we wake up, and things don't suck anymore.

So we can't think of our startups driving happiness as being a definitive moment in time. We have to think about it as little pieces and parts that gradually — but noticeably — get better.

When we can say "No"

If we think really hard, we can probably remember a time when we actually got to use the word "No" to things.

You know, like working all weekend, draining our bank account to keep the company afloat, or simply ...



Article

Celebrate the Tiny Wins Like Super Bowls


  

When we talk about celebrating startup wins, it's not about a big funding round. It's the fact that we just made payroll again.

Along the way, we forget to celebrate those tiny wins. Instead, we get distracted by the day-to-day problems, the emotional roller coaster, and the grind that is startup life.

What Kind of Wins Should we Celebrate?

Every possible positive step.

We just shipped a feature. We increased site traffic by 10% over last month. Our last customer just sent us a glowing review to the team. Every last one.

Each of those victories compounds into the overall goal. When we overlook them, or worse, fail to recognize them within our team, we lose out on the opportunity to build positive morale and momentum.

In a startup, morale...



Article

What's Product Design?


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What is product design?

Product design is the entire process of taking a product from idea to customers — and everything in between.

“There’s a widespread misconception that design is all about aesthetics,” product designer Eric Eriksson writes. “Most people don’t seem to understand that it’s about solving problems instead.”

There’s another, more limited, definition of product design which we’re not going to explore in detail here. But basically, that other definition is talking just about how a product looks and functions. For the sake of product design for startups, we’re focusing on the more holistic, process-oriented definition.

What’s the difference between product design and product development?

While product design is part of produc...



Article

What Happens After I’ve “Made It”


  

I grew up ridiculously poor.

By the time I was 19, I founded my first startup, with less than $20 in the bank. I chose the one career that could somehow make me way, way poorer.

Within the first year I had racked up over $100,000 in personal debt, which took me from "poor" to "infinitely poor.” Today we call that college debt.

Sometimes "The Bet" Pays off

Within a few years some of the startup bets I had made began paying off.

Before I knew it, I was shopping for exotic cars, a new home (I was still living in a campus apartment at the time) and writing a single check to payoff all my college debt (a smaller check since I dropped out so quickly).

In my mind, I had made it.

But then a funny thing happened... nothing. Nothing at all. I woke...



Article

What Is Product Differentiation?


  

What Is product differentiation?

Product differentiation is process used by companies to clarify the differences between their products and other products on the market. Those other products can include competitors but also a company’s own products, to prevent overlap between the offerings. The goal is to find a product’s unique selling point (USP).

Why is product differentiation important?

Product differentiation is important because it makes your product stand out from the crowd! It’s easier and easier to create a company or sell a product or connect directly with factories in China these days. So what makes your housewares product or dating app or SaaS product different from all of the other housewares products, dating apps, and SaaS pr...



Article

The Secrets to Crafting an Irresistible Elevator Pitch (With Examples)


  

What is an elevator pitch?

Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: a Founder and a VC walk into an elevator…

In all seriousness, if you’ve spent any time swimming in the startup waters, you’re probably familiar with the idea of the elevator pitch. But in case you missed that day in Founder School, the scenario is this:

Say you got in an elevator, and standing in that elevator was the one person that could make or break your business. You have the length of that elevator ride to convince this person to get on board. And no, the electricity can’t suddenly cut out and leave you with a couple of hours to fill instead of a handful of seconds.

Well — What the @#*! do you say?

We’ll get to that.

Why are elevator pitches important?

There’s a reas...



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