My favorite part in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is when Indy passes through a series of traps to find the Holy Grail. In three straight scenes he dodges decapitation, avoids hollow cobblestones, and takes a leap of faith across a bottomless chasm.
Sounds kind of like the day to day operation of a startup!
Indy survived because he had a playbook – the diary his father spent years researching. Similarly, any founder’s playbook should include knowledge and wisdom passed down from other entrepreneurs. Tapping into the experience of a seasoned entrepreneur is one of the best ways for founders to avoid “startup deathtraps” and obtain their Holy Grail.
We invited Lynn Perkins, CEO of urbanSitter.com, a P2P marketplace matching parents with sitters, to share her wisdom with our marketplace/e-commerce startups so that our community can create their own roadmaps to success.
Here are some of Lynn’s take-away points.
Identify Valuable Partnerships
Try to incorporate other startups’ innovation into your platform and consider offering your platform to other startups. Working with other members of #StartupCincy is a great way to beta test your platform.
Also, when entering a new market or vertical, partner with the most vocal groups within your target customer segment. In-person activities with these groups activate word of mouth evangelists and establish credibility.
Test, Document Results, and Then Test Again
Test your marketing channels systematically and continually. What works today might not necessarily work next month, next quarter or next year. And document everything!
Marketing activities that work in your first market/vertical might work in a second and marketing activities that don’t work in your first market/vertical probably won’t work in a second. Documenting your successes and failures gives you a playbook and allows you to iterate faster.
And don’t underestimate physical, non-scalable marketing activities when starting your company or entering a new market. Expect it to take 3 – 6 months before automated marketing activities gain significant traction.
Know The Limits of Your Competition
If the dominant player in your market has already gone through an IPO, think about how their existing position with investors could prevent adding new features or functionality that would give you an advantage.
Be confident making risky decisions, but make sure you test features manually before committing to an engineering project. The last thing you want is to discover your new feature doesn’t add value to your platform.
#StartupCincy is about helping entrepreneurs overcome obstacles and solve problems. Be on the lookout for more immersive events like this in upcoming months so you can learn from each other and tap into the experience of seasoned entrepreneurs like Lynn!