Category Archives: Leadership

What Makes YOUR Company Stand Out?


Previously, we wrote about one of the most common – but almost always fatal – errors that we see in business plans – Incorrect Positioning vs. The Competition.   Today we hope to give you some ideas about how to better present your company in a way that truly stands out.

Repeat this 10 times: “We MUST dramatically, effectively and persuasively contrast our company against its competition.”

Not very catchy, I admit, but true nonetheless.

Blog Head PlanningThe point is that you MUST ACTUALLY SHOW investors that your new product is so unique, so compelling and so relevant to your target market that you will displace and even eradicate your competition.  (I guarantee you that your competitors will fight back.  Plan for it.)

Here’s what we want to hear you say and what you need to truly believe —

We’ve carved out a niche. One specific enough that no one is currently targeting.  Company G or F or Y might be in this space but they are not hitting this niche because of X and it is hard for them to move into this niche because of Y.  In fact, G, F and Y are potential partners or possible acquirers (it’s never too early to be thinking about an exit)  because your idea is similar but out of their reach.

We’ve identified a market too small for the established companies but big enough for a compelling business. (Big Enough ≧ $100 Million) Because the big players are too inefficient at building [whatever you build that is so special], they choose to ignore this market.  If you believe that you can build a solid business in this market and can show good growth AND profits, might you not be an obvious acquisition target.

Our technology is so different that we’re changing the conversation.  Although your solution may be technically complex, it must be easy to use and just as important, easy to describe.  For example: how Netflix changed the way people watch movies at home.  (Two times, by the way.)

Our target customers have historically solved this themselves or just lived with it.  New technology makes your product possible.

New technology and modern thinking make this the right time.  (iPhone = Right Time; Newton = Wrong Time.)

This industry has never seen a solution like this. It was previously impossible to address the market this way BECAUSE –

  • It takes an incredible team.  (We talked about this before – Dream Team – but it never hurts to make the point again.)
  • New hardware/technology now makes this possible. (But be prepared to talk about why YOU are the best company to implement this new stuff.)
  • New attitudes enable new workflows.  (Google docs, Facebook, etc. now universally used by non-Geeks.)
  • This now-commoditized industry makes the slightest edge a big deal.  (Be prepared to talk about how you will stay ahead of competition.  Remember, “Anything worth being copied will be copied,”)
  • This industry is just now showing signs of embracing new technology.  (Remember, “Anything worth being copied…..”)
  • We have three lead customers signed up as alpha testers.  (When you enable customer success, they will become your best evangelists.)

So now you can effectively contrast yourself against the competition without letting them define your identity.  In fact, you may have just morphed your competitors into potential acquirers! Very cool! Investors love that.

Tune in next time and we’ll talk about another Fatal Error – No Real Path to the Customer aka If You Build It, They Won’t Come Without Your Help.

 -Steve Hogan

Required Reading for Entrepreneurs

Here’s a GREAT POST from Brad Keywell, co-founder and Managing Partner of Lightbank Ventures and co-founder of a few well-known start-ups (such as Groupon), wherein he talks about a book that should be required reading for entrepreneurs. In my humble opinion, it should be required reading for everyone, especially our “leaders” in Washington.  Brad says that this book changed his life.  Your thoughts? -Steve Hogan

Don Mattrick Needs a Hat Trick

This morning’s news was brimming of stories surrounding Microsoft’s Don Mattrick taking over as Zynga’s CEO. While original CEO, Mark Pincus, is not completely out of the picture, Pincus will be taking the position of chairman and chief product officer. For the sake of Zynga, both Mattrick and Pincus will need to work together to nurse the company back to health.

Being CEO is hard, but taking over as CEO is even trickier. We know this because it is something we do when necessary. Although we mentioned it is tricky, there are a few things that Mattrick must keep in mind if he wants to turn Zynga around.

 Utilizing Pincus

Obviously the founder will be crucial to Zynga’s success, CEO or not. While Pincus couldn’t fair the weather as CEO, he is a valuable resource.  Just  because he is no longer CEO, he can still provide vision of where he would like the company to go with Mattrick holding the reigns on operations.

 Going Mobile

One of the reasons Zynga is amidst so much turmoil is their lack of speed in moving to mobile. Everything is moving towards mobile and if Zynga wants to stay afloat, they need to innovate quickly.

Repair Company Culture

It’s no secret that Zynga hasn’t been portrayed in the most positive light as of late. With news of mass layoffs, unhappy workers and unhappy investors, Mattrick has a lot of work to do in the morale department.

In order to best manage this transition; it is crucial for Mattrick to focus on the essentials. In the end, we want everyone to win in this game.

What other options do you foresee Mattrick running into? Even better, do you have any advice for the gaming savant?

– Nikki Griggs, Business and Marketing Associate, Tech-Rx


When Founders lose interest in their startups!

Here’s one perspective on mindset. EVERY entrepreneur, especially the first-timer, has dark days. When Founders lose interest in their startups!.Bored It’s what you do when the dark days outnumber the bright days that matters. It’s easy to begin to believe that you are not the right person to be leading your venture. Perhaps not! However, you were the right person to start the venture and that is the biggest step. I would add this to the advice in the article: Seek the help of others who have been in your shoes. You will learn that you are not alone in your feelings. If you doubt your leadership ability, ask the advice of others — not just your friends, but those who will cast a critical eye. Perhaps an adjustment to your management team is needed. There are hundreds, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of company founders who were CEOS, but found others to lead their company and became Chief Visionary or took some other position in the organization where they continued to add value. Those wise company founders were almost always richer (both financially and mentally) for having turned over the reins to someone who can take the company to the next level. Your thoughts? -Steve Hogan