September 10, 2009

Let's get started ...

How many times, we feel like talking to someone but can't even take the first step. It starts with "How to approach" and once you approach "How you build a meaningful conversation". If the conversation goes like flowing water, than it is of no worry but if it does not, "the onus lies on the initiator to transform a talk into a conversation".

I had an interesting experience during my association with a startup where we handed over free gift to each person who helped testing our product. The free gift was definitely priceless for us since it would help us to spread our word [as our name was printed on the gift] but very few people noticed it. That is where each one of us started interacting with every person during the testing process[spending an extra minute or so] to explain about our product and startup through the "name" which was printed on the freebie.

It is a universal truth that "Pictures speak louder than words" and to demonstrate that we have this Twitter T-Shirt[which I ordered months back] from Pringoo

The T-Shirt contains my Twitter profile and 400 of my randomly selected followers. It is an excellent marketing tool [much more than just putting your company's name on it]. These are some of the basic things it does :

Effective story telling
As Seth Godin points out that Great story telling should capture the imagination of the audience. This is what the T-Shirt does perfectly. It not only eye catchy but also makes a person to craft his/her own story around the picture. This curiosity makes him/her to clarify whether the guess was right !!!

Starting a conversation
As pointed in the beginning, this is a great tool to make up a conversation. I was travelling in a bus and a guy came to me asking "Is this your Twitter profile" and at the end of it, we exchanged business cards and got connected elsewhere. That person was curious to know "Not only about Twitter but also about the other guys pictured on the T-Shirt"

Popularity of your service
In this case, the T Shirt was spreading the word of Twitter & to build my own brand [IMHO having 400+ followers is no big joke biggrin]. What if your service had more than XYZ followers and you randomly selected first ABC & got them printed on some medium. It would definitely help spread the word much much faster !!! Even better would be if this was handed over as a gift to some lucky user of your service.

This is just one example of so called "great story teller". May be next time when you hand over a freebie, the first question that should come to your mind is "Whether it would help build a talk or conversation" !!!

If you have any other thoughts about the Twitter picture, do share them by leaving a comment & the same would be included in the article.

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September 3, 2009

Book Review - Entrepreneur Journeys : Bootstrapping, weapon of Mass Reconstruction

Earlier on ThoughtsPrevail; we reviewed Sramana Mitra's book Entrepreneur Journeys-Volume I here & here, in this article we review her book Entrepreneur Journey's [BootStrapping : Weapon of Mass Reconstruction]

Like her previous book, Sramana follows the same format where she interviews successful entrepreneurs however this time around they are the ones who have successfully bootstrapped their business. The interviews provide vital answers as to whether a startup really needs VC funding or it can be entirely bootstrapped. It also gives some insights into why mentorship is so important for any startup.

Notably the book includes interviews of the so called sultans of blogosphere-Om Malik of GigaOm and Rafat Ali of paidContent [which was acquired by Guardian for $30M].

Though there are many inspiring interviews, the only downside of the book was that the focus was mainly on US based startups but this does not take away the core message delivered through the book i.e "How to bootstrap a business"

Some of the useful tips from the bootstrappers interviewed in the book are given below -

Greg Gianforte, RightNow
  • Find an entrepreneurial mentor, and if you are going to bootstrap, find a mentor who has already bootstrapped a business
  • Bootstrapping is a discovery process. Rather than building an ark, waiting for animals to come, and hoping the tide rises-you take an incremental approach and discover a legitimate, real world value proposition.
Cree Lawson, Travel Ad Network
  • Nothing is more expensive for a business on a personal and financial level than client and customer churn.
  • The right relationship with an experienced operator is more important than the valuation you can achieve in fund raising.
Beatrice Tarka, Mobissimo
  • You can have the best technology and the best product on the market, but without good team chemistry your business will fail.
Om Malik, GigaOM
  • I think that a lot of people do things for money, and it's the stupidest thing we can do for ourselves. Everybody thinks money is the answer, but it is not. What made me tick was writing; that's what I was born to do. How can you ignore your natural animal instinct ?
  • A lot of people make the mistake that when they outsource, they outsource it all. The reality is you outsource the physical function of it, but not the mental piece.
Rafat Ali, paidContent
  • The thing about email newsletters, which is still true today, is that you have a viral presence in somebody's inbox day in and day out.
  • I learnt that when you start a company, you need to spend money on keeping the books in order.
J.R. Johnson, VirtualTourist
  • We always knew that in the worst-case scenario, we could go into the cockroach mode and just hide out in the dark for a while and let the content grow.
  • One of the biggest experiences for me, as a first-time CEO, is bringing in smart people who are much better than I am in their fields, then staying out of their way.
Wayne Krause, Hydro Green Energy
  • I remember seeing National Geographic drawing of a big ocean device to create energy, and I kept thinking that there had to be a way to make energy out of those waves. That's how it started.
Scott Wainner, SysOpt & ResellerRatings
  • For me, being an entrepreneur is so much trial and error that I would rather make the mistakes in the lower dollar range than at the Super Bowl advertising level.
  • No matter how many businesses you start, it just takes one successful business to make up for all the other attempts.
  • If you are going to build a service and it has a good chance of becoming very popular, make sure you address the scale needs up first.
  • Everybody who tried our product wanted it. All we had to do was get into the taste test.
  • A lot of startups are based on hypothesis- they build something and start interacting with customers, but they never verify it. What they are doing is rationalizing the hypothesis rather than evaluating & verifying it.
Manoj Saxena, Webify
  • If you raise a lot of money, you are leveraging the hell out of yourself. And you probably have a lot of people wanting to grab the steering wheel if things don't go right.
  • A Lead User is typically a person who has such a strong need or pain that they go out and build something on their own to solve the pain.
Lars Dalgaard, SuccessFactors
  • I didn't care about the title; I cared about the learning.
In few words, it is an interesting as well as inspiring read for Entrepreneurs who are bootstrapping or wannabe entrepreneurs thinking of bootstrapping.Let's wait to see what Sramana has to offer in her Volume-III !!!

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