One of my new favorite shows is HBO’s Silicon Valley. Why? Because I find the startup world – and particularly the startup scene in SV – to be fascinating. On a regular basis, I am blown away by some of the ideas and technology being produced by these super smart twenty- (and sometimes 30- or 40-) somethings. And being from the more traditional coast and of a “not 20-something” generation, I find the culture to be very interesting. But on a deeper level, I think there’s more to my fascination.
If you haven’t watched the show and/or don’t plan to, it’s intended to tell the story of Pied Piper, a company founded on an algorithm developed for highly advanced file compression. And the main character first explains it as a way to for companies to quickly locate music copyright information. It’s not until others see what he’s doing that the true value of the algorithm’s compression value comes to light. And quickly, a few investors come flocking. But the main character decides to take the seed money rather than the quick but financially lucrative buyout offer so that he can create and foster his company, Pied Piper. And then, it’s off to the races…which is what is most interesting. The continued episodes share his escapades in developing a business plan, dealing with company name challenges, and purchasing SWAG. And the humor is absolutely not lost on me and I’m sure it’s not lost on those who consider themselves entrepreneurs and marketers.
But at the core, I enjoy the show because it brings up topics that entrepreneurs face every single day: WHAT is this company – this thing that we’ve created – all about, really? Are we really selling an algorithm? That might be what’s behind your company but if this is what you try to sell to your prospects, you will probably not recognize a lot of revenue, especially in the B2B space.
The truth is that there will be 50 more ridiculously smart entrepreneurs right behind you who will create the next faster, better, easier solution next month. So you damn well better figure out WHY you exist and be able to articulate it simply and effectively.
So if you’re a startup or a small business that hasn’t really taken the time to think through these things, here are 4 key questions you need to ask and be prepared to answer. Do they sound simple? Yes. Are they easy questions to answer? Just ask every entrepreneur who has tried to answer them:
Always put yourself in the mind of your customer/potential customer. It’s not about what you call a product or service – it’s about what your customer calls it and how it relates to their pain points.
But my absolute favorite scene in the first episode of Silicon Valley is the part where the founder and his friend approach Hooli, a startup turned large company, and witness a group of people on a “shared bike” to which he exclaims:
“Oh God. The marketing team is having another bike meeting.”
Perfect. Remind me to get one of these shared bikes when Take Root Marketing makes it big.
Renay M. Picard
The Take Root Marketing Blog is intended as a vehicle to assist and engage with marketers and social media addicts like myself - please share your thoughts, good, bad or otherwise. I'd love to hear from you!