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The "Ice, Ice, Baby" reminder for investor pitches

Concise - Use the minimum number of words required to describe an idea.
Precise - Don't be wishy-washy.  Know your strategy, know your customers.  Your numbers should add up.  State assumptions and be prepared to defend them.
Entice - Short and sweet leave the audience wanting more.  Your goal is to get a second meeting.

updated: investor pitch template here.

Customer Development and Start-up Models

I am sensing marked uptake on the concept of conducting serious customer research in order to jump start high tech start-ups.  It's about time. There's definitely buzz building around Steve Blank's customer development methodology.  Ego dictates that whatever you're thinking about must be what the world is thinking about and to that, I plead guilty.

But I wrote a post about an iterative, process-oriented approach to high-tech sales and marketing on 2.9.9.   Shortly thereafter, Andrew Beinbrink, CEO of the interesting San Diego start-up SportsTV, introduced me to Seal Ellis who introduced me to Steven Blank's book The Four Steps to the Epiphany, which sounded an awful lot like what I had blogged about.  Whew.  Oh, and Steve's even got a new blog.
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Lean Start-up Part III

A little background is in order.

"Lean Start-up" is a phrase, I believe, coined by Eric Ries of Lessons Learned. This is a great blog and well worth you spending time with it. In a nutshell, a Lean Start-up is one that combines fast-release, iterative development methodologies (e.g., Agile) with Steve Blank's "Customer Development" concepts.  The objective is to efficiently create customer-driven products quickly and with a low burn rate.

Though I believe these principles are likely to fare well for software and even hardware products, it appears that most of those implementing the Lean Start-up are Internet-based products.   Without getting too deep into the specific practices, Internet products offer several advantages:
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The San Diego Marketing Scene

Since moving (returning) to San Diego from the San Francisco Bay Area in June of 2007, my running joke has been:

In the Bay Area I was a small fish in a large pond.  In San Diego, at least I'm a small fish in a small pond.

bah-dump, bump.

The San Diego market for marketing professionals certainly is different and has, not surprisingly, both its ups and downs.  Clearly, fewer opportunities exist for software and Internet high-tech marketers.  There are just not as many companies as in the SF Bay Area, including Silicon Valley.  San Diego has a strong bio tech industry, but the cross-over is not simple (or at least that's the perception).  Wireless technology is big here, led by, of course, Qualcomm which has resulted in a number of wireless/telecom start-ups.    There certainly is some crossover into this market.  It's my view, however, that a mini-bubble exists in that there are serious business model issues with some wireless start-ups, and I'm guessing the current economic downturn will expose these.  (I talk more about this in a separate post.)

Generally, I'm not feeling a lot of marketing love in San Diego.  Perhaps it is simply the natural evolution of a technology ecosystem.   First a region must build a strong technology base and then a demand for marketing expertise will emerge.  Despite the fact that San Diego-based WebSideStory was instrumental in leading the marketing ROI trend through its web analytics products, and the fact that there are several marketing related start-ups here, e.g., JuiceMetriQs, Island Data (now Overtone, I see), and Certona, generally, the idea that Marketing doesn't mean Madison Ave, appears to me to be poorly understood.

(BTW, I don't know the motivation, but Overtone moved its marketing organization to the Bay Area.  Aside from founders, until recently the entire Ortiva Wireless management team was from outside San Diego.   The same goes for Paraccel. Trend or merely emblematic of the state of San Diego resources?)

There is upside:
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Market By Numbers

For the last several years, many marketing professionals have been discussing and blogging about metrics-driven marketing.   As a matter of fact, measuring marketing ROI has become its own lucrative market.   Any marketing services vendor worth its salt is an ROI driven service and to determine ROI, one needs to measure metrics.

Hence, Market By Numbers.  Marketing by numbers goes way beyond measuring ROI, however.  "Market by numbers" also evokes an analytical, process-oriented approach to marketing.

Process-oriented and metrics driven marketing go hand-in-hand.  While I wouldn't say that such marketing derives from Engineering processes, it is similar, and is also born of analytical thinking.  We're not talking Madison Avenue here. (Not an inconsequential benefit of such marketing is the potential for a better relationship between marketing and technologists.)   While "market by numbers" is maybe not so easy as "paint by numbers," the point is that there is a process -- distinct steps one can take -- which provides CEOs and boards:

  • business plans with tight and defensible financials;
  • marketing plans with well-defined, cost-effective budgets;
  • fast and optimized customer acquisition;
  • well-defined, scalable, and replicable sales;
  • mistakes, but assurance that lessons were learned.

So you might ask, if this is so great, why has it taken so long to get here?
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