Posts Tagged ‘ startups ’

A Night With Google Part 2 – Ray’s Advice to Startups

When it comes down to startups who better to dish out the right kind of advice than CEO Ray Reddy, Ray was able to take an idea and have it blossom into a $25 Million dollar sale to Google; but this success didn’t come overnight and it certainly didn’t come without headaches. Pushlife Ray recaps that there were things that he realizes his startup both excelled at, and had shortcomings in:

Things We Did Right:

Avoid Slideware: When it comes down to a startups, everyone has an idea, a product on the drawing board. What they don’t have is the actual product, or at least a prototype. Venture Capitalists (VC’s) love when you can approach them saying “This is what we’ve done and we’d like money to take it further” rather than saying “This is what we would like to do!”

Culture is Value: Many people will tell you that company culture is a nice feature but doesn’t add value, but when you look at places like Google, or other tech startups you can certainly see there is a value. With a culture people are willing to work harder, commit themselves to the long hours, and work together building on each other’s successes and combating each other’s failures. Even as a company continues to grow new people enter the mix and can feel and thrive on the culture. Ray suggests that he say a 20-30% increase in productivity when his company developed a culture.

PR Traction Locally: Gaining a local presence is a huge deal, when Pushlife first started out it was an unknown name in Toronto, when posting jobs for interns the response was 2-3 candidates each time and as Ray says “They were absolute crap!” but after getting in the local news, getting the name out there and doing talks at local tech Universities, Pushlife’s next job posting saw over 400 applicants (topping the applicants for RIM at that particular University Co-Op site)

 – Cash Efficiency is Key: Keep your cash flow positive, it doesn’t matter how much profit you make, or how many assets you own, if at he end of the week you don’t have the cash to pay your employee’s then your sunk. Go after every government grant you can. Especially in the technology and research fields.

– Merger and Acquisition prep: It’s important to be prepared for possible Merger and Acquisition at all times, and keeping this M&A level of preparedness is also just good business practice. Make sure your patents are in order and you have proper intellectual property assignments. It is important that the company your building owns the IP/Patent rights of the product it’s building; this is one of the key assets in any acquisition and any solid growth business model.

Early Focus on Business Model: No matter what your startup hopes to achieve it’s important to have an idea of a revenue model right from the get go. Even Google, from the moment it realized it was going to be a company rather than just a pet-project, had evolved to having a revenue model in which the user-experience focus would generate profits by using ads. If your business model can not support some source of revenue then you do not have a business you have a foundation. Free is not a business model.

Got a startup? Or a concept for one? Take a step back and look at your revenue model, your intellectual property and your culture, maybe you could stand to gain some valuable traction from Ray’s experiences.

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Hooking Me In – They’re Doing it Right

There aren’t many startups that get it and I mean really get it when it comes to that initial hook. I don’t know how many startups I’ve seen offer great prizes, rewards and special perks for users to join their service. Some of them even go so far as to say “I will give you money to sign-up” but if there is one company that entirely just nailed it when it comes to getting the hook it’s “Meporter“. Meporter is the new social solution newspapers. Forget getting your news from a newspaper the next day, forget getting it crammed into 140 (inaccurate) characters on Twitter and get it live from the scene as it happens.

But enough about what they are, let’s get back to that hook! Think of it like fishing, as a startup you want to attract and catch as many fish as possible, you need three things, your bait (advertising/promotions), your fishing rod (your product/service) and your hook (the key feature that hooks people in). When it comes to meporter they were baiting us in with cash prizes. To quote TechCrunches coverage of Meporter:

“Meporter is giving away over $28,000 in cash prizes to the first 1 million users who sign up and share the app with their friends”

But even after the bait they need the hook, something so that once I eat the worm I can’t turn around and go swimming off to the next service that’s offering me a worm. For meporter it’s their simple product setup. You see the way meporter works is you load up the app on your smartphone and can report geo-located news as it happens, as well as post stories, take pictures, or check-in as an eye-witness to further the story. As you share the news you earn badges, badges which you can then cash in for fun owl covered paraphernalia at the store.

It’s rather cool that I can earn badges, I do love to gloat – it’s even cooler when I can use those badges to get myself all sorts of free swag – I really really love swag! But, perhaps the best part about the meporter model is that every time I put it down, I feel like I’m missing something important. What if something just happened? What if some really cool impromptu thing is going on across town! Well damn better check meposter again; and there it is they have me hooked!

Meposter is a great model because they get you from all angles, they give you free stuff, they give you pride-filled badges, they let you become the star columnist and they keep you in the loop with everyone else who has the same mentality. Once you get a taste of what’s going on you don’t really want to let go – and that’s where Meporter got it right, not in how they branded, not in their awesome owl covered free swag, but in the solution their service provided. It tells you what is happening now. Live. You can be there – you can make history. Damn..now I have to check Meporter again.

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