How To Stand Out In The Crowd At Launch Festival

Note: This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” that helps you and your company thrive!

This week’s focus: how to stand out in the crowd

The Launch Festival 2013 concluded in San Francisco this past week. Approximately 50 companies stayed in stealth mode waiting to reveal to the world what they were all about in front of angel investors, venture capitalists, fellow entrepreneurs and the media. Each company had a problem of how to stand out in a big crowd and attract the attention of potential investors.

While some may have thought it’s all about “them,” like it or not, they were being compared to identify which value propositions, teams and ideas had the best chance of disrupting a current marketplace and create huge upside for the founders and investors. For example, which among the 50 is the next Yammer which launched at the Launch Festival 5 years ago and sold to Microsoft for $1.2 billion last year?

How could companies have prepared better and attracted more investment money? In no particular order:

  • Too much focus on the technology; not enough focus on ”who wants to buy and why.”
  • If you are tackling a complex problem and your solution to that problem appears complex, you aren’t ready to bring your offering to the world.
  • Entrepreneurs reliant on external data sources need to understand risks of sharing out of date data. Customers will abandon your solution if they show up for a cancelled meetings or events.
  • Not enough attention on what potential investors care about, e.g., business model, monetization strategy, current revenues (if any), margins (current or anticipated), and, the team. Exasperated judges had to ask.
  • Unprepared for judges pushback (objections)–need to anticipate potential questions and objections and have cogent responses, preferably preemptively. If you are caught flat-footed, it undermines you and your solution.
  • Assume the judges don’t know more about your market potential than you do. You live it; they don’t. Judges were incorrect about several market assumptions and got away with it as the entrepreneurs let them.
  • Stand up for your convictions when you know facts are on your side. Be humble when the converse is true.
  • Most offered very little insight as to “why” their solution was going to be a game-changer and be widely adopted.
  • When will tech companies learn that the “best” companies don’t win–it’s the companies that market, sell most effectively and get serious traction via end-user adoption that win.
  • Most firms clearly needed assistance with marketing and with connecting their solution to paying customers–the “if we build it, they will come” school has been disproven time and again.
  • If it’s likely the judges have little expertise in your industry or with your solution, you had better educate them in 30 seconds or less or they will make you feel like you don’t understand your market and total addressable market.

There were a lot of interesting companies at Launch 2013. Sadly, many more of them have the potential to thrive than probably will.

Thought for the week:

“Anybody can have a great idea. Few people can execute. Focus on that!” – Dave McClure, 500 StartUps


What do you think? I welcome your blog comments!


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Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

© 2012 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

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