After seeing several startup companies that looked fantastic not take off, I started to look the fact that just doing something better was no indicator of success. In “Exploring Easy: The frustrating difficulty of displacing what works with newer and better technology” I look at how making a task or process easier may not be better enough to be successful.
One of the coolest things I get to do often is to listen to startups pitch their companies. Every single one is an educational experience where I also get to feed off of the passion and drive of entrepreneurs. The problem is, more than half of the pitches I hear are bad. Sometimes it is the delivery, but public speaking is hard for most people, and I can go beyond that. What gets to me is when the speakers just make silly mistakes in what should be a very simple task. After a couple of recent discussions with others who hear many pitches, I have come up with a list of The Do’s and Don’ts of pitching a startup.
“What does your startup do?” Twenty minutes later I’ve lost interest and still don’t know why they do. A serious problem with most startups is that those involved with them are so afraid they might leave something out that they have forgotten how to be concise. So my advice: “Hey Startups! Be Concise!“
Truth is it feels great to hit a home run, but if you are trying to always knock it out of the ballpark you are going to have a lot of strikes. In working with a lot of people trying to come up with ideas for new products, it seems like we focus too much up front on trying to hatch a unicorn, and not enough on just having something that works. “Everyone wants to find the next great idea, what is wrong with just a good idea?” explores this and gives some examples of how trying to just solve a problem ended up being disruptive.
It sounds counterintuitive, but it is one of those positions where you sometimes have take a different path to end up where you should. I “Why medical startups should not focus on patients” in order to in the end, deliver better products and better outcome to their patients. I’ve observed too many good ideas fail because the creators are not paying attention to the people who will pay for and deploy the solution.
At some point it’s time to get real. “It’s time for Arizona startups to grow up” looks at how we need to stop focusing on getting ready for success and start achieving it. We were pleased to be the first article in AZBigMedia.com‘s new “Silicon Desert Insider” blog shares my thoughts on how its time for some tough love. Brought to you by AZ Business Magazine, it focuses on the technology side of business in the Phoenix area.
It seems like the trend these days is for large companies to not do R&D in house. Instead the let StartUps develop innovation and then buy it when the market proves it out. I had to ask myself “Is acquiring disruptive innovation good for everyone?” I don’t think it is and explain why in this week’s blog post.
If you spend time in the Southwest startup community you here a lot of complaining about not enough seed money. In “The startup ecosystem cries of despair: ‘There’s no seed money‘” I share my perspective that tight markets make for smarter investments.
Innovation has become almost a magic word, and in the startup world innovators are given demi-god status. We like to think that there are people out there who just come up with ideas that change the world. Reality is that we kind of overkill the whole thing and “It’s time to stop putting innovation on a pedestal, and praise getting stuff done.” Channeling a little Andy Rooney on this one.
We had a lot of fun while learning a lot during the first ever Perfect Pitch competition at PADT. This is an event where startup mentors get up and pitch the same fictitious company. During that process, we learned a few things that are useful for anyone trying to fundraise for a startup or those who mentor companies. “Pitching a startup well: What I learned while competing for the Unicorn Cup” highlights those lessons.
The teams are set, the judges have confirmed. Details on the fake company has been shared. It is time to see how the professionals pitch a tech startup. The area’s best startup incubators and accelerators are facing off in this head to head competition to take home the awesome Unicorn Cup and bragging rights.
The teams are:
Thomas Schumann and Patti DuBois from CEI
Nate Mortenson from Tallwave
Wiley Larson from ASU
Lauren McDannel and John Johnson from Seed Spot
Our distinguished panel of judges consists of
Rebel Brown of Cognoscenti
Carine Dieudé of Altima Business Solutions
Jim Goulka of ATI
Christie Kerner of ASU
David McCaleb of ATI
Perfect Pitch is a contest where teams present the same fictitious technology startup company. A group of expert judges will determine who gave the best pitch. The event is part of PADT’s Nerdtoberfest celebration of engineering and manufacturing in Arizona, and takes place from 4:30-6:00 on Thursday, October 27th at our Tempe offices.
Everyone is invited! We will have an overflow area set up if we get more than can fit in our seminar room where you can watch live. We will also be streaming the event live to the world (watch this blog and social media for the link).
At barqk!, we deploy the latest cloud based machine learning and big data algorithms to convert your dog’s barking into words on your mobile device so that you can understand your pet’s needs, if they are sick, and be made aware of danger.
Dog owners face significant problems communicating with their pets. Although you can train a dog to obey commands, the dog cannot tell it’s owners what it needs or wants. This leads to significant stress for the owner and may lead to death when the animal cannot communicate an obvious and present danger.
Barqk! has created a cloud connected wearable device for dogs that records their barking and uses machine learning and big data algorithms to convert dog-speak into human-speak. The translated words are sent via text or through our app to the owner’s phone. Initially the owners provide feedback to the network, and the responses of all owners to every dog’s bark are collected as big data then fed through our proprietary algorithms that use Bessel functions and advanced machine learning approximations to develop a consensus on what a given bark means. Over time a translation for each dog will be developed and we expect 87% accuracy.
Getting a new product manufactured is one of those critical steps that new companies often assume is just a matter of finding a vendor and outsourcing it. In “Getting your product made: 6 suggestions for outsourcing the manufacturing of your product” I go over some suggestions on how to make this critical step a success.
People around the country are starting to recognize that Arizona is a great place to grow tech startups. Right now our big advantages is low cost but we can do more. In “Being the lower cost option is just the start – 5 ways we can make Arizona a preferred place for growing startups” I suggest five things we can focus on as a community to make that happen.
A successful startup is often the result of how the leadership performs. In most cases the ideal CEO doesn’t exist, and if you dig down you usually find that the company is being led by two people who compliment each other. In “For every Woz, you need a Jobs” I look at one of the most famous, and successful such partnering and share some other examples and how to recognize and promote the ideal pairing.