On October 23rd, 2014, we updated our
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Quick review of prior material Pitch Pitch Deck Elevator Pitch Cover Components Mission / Vision Focus is critical Summary Angel Investors Team Investor’s fund Problem Investor’s point of view Solution / Demo Pitch deck (details at right) Technology Naming Tools Marketing USPTO, domain, Secretary of State Business Model namecheck.com Competition CrunchBase Milestones / financial forecast Dropbox Conclusion
Components to a Website Domain Registration $10/year = the data record of who owns what virtual property Email (free with google apps) = what happens to an email to firstname.lastname@example.org Web Hosting varies greatly, $10-$2,000/month = actual physical server cost, with hard drives, networking, and electricity Web code code is free, engineers cost $$$ = the HTML, PHP, or anything else that happens when the website is accessed by a visitor
Domain Registration www.________.com Getting the ownership of virtual property A lot like owning real land. Once you own it, you can build on it, sell it, or anything. Generally very cheap, $10-20/year per domain Registrars: Namecheap.com Godaddy Use a dedicated registrar, not a “secondary” reseller
Buying already-registered Domains Domains that are already registered Legitimate reasons Domainers (domain name speculation) Cyber Squatters (typos, near existing brand names) Depending on the name, cost can widely vary Usually at least $1,000, up to millions Private sale (sometimes through broker) Auctions: SEDO, Godaddy Entertaining website that is not accurate at all: http://www.valueis.com Why? Because it’s the brand.
Pro tips for domains Top Level Domains .com, .org, .net The rest only get for branding protection Some companies/products are named for the domain del.icio.us , task.ly , bit.ly , fold.it , chronolo.gy , my.betali.st Domain hacks better for tech-savvy crowd, not for mainstream For startups, register domains for 1 year Startups tend to die or change their names, so no reason to register for longer Get the privacy add-on to avoid junk mail and scams. Lots of scams out there! Be very careful with your domain.
DNS = Domain Name System Foundation of how the internet works Technically, converts www.______.com 18.104.22.168 Commonly called the “internet phone book / address book” Frequently part of your registrar, you can tell it what to do with the domain for various instructions http://_____.com http://www._____.com http://somethingelse._____.com Email to ____@_____.com
Google Apps Free* and Awesome! * free for small accounts, like startups. Better than the alternatives Lots of great collaboration tools Email Calendar Documents Chat Moderately-easy setup (requires DNS changes)
What about the website? Must set up DNS Point to someone else’s server We will do this for the market research phase pointing to other web apps (launchrock or CMS) Point to our own server (must buy hosting) A CMS like Wordpress or Joomla running on our server Or, our own custom code (web application) We will do this in a few sessions
What are CMS? Content Management System Modify a website without programming Generally built for non-techies, but even techies use them Easy to install, easy to update, easy to manage Examples PHP-based: Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla, CakePHP .NET-based: DotNetNuke, Umbraco Proprietary: Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace, Moonfruit Many, many, many more
Pros and Cons of CMS Pros Cons Easy to install Limited by feature-set of the Easy to update chosen platform Easy to manage Platform change cost is very high Requires minimal Not a good foundation for a programming or custom web application engineering effort A lot of things “out of your control”The Bottom Line: Sometimes, use a CMS to start, but plan to start over later.
Launch Page Send people to it while the “real site” is in development Real website will take lots of time to build Launch page gives some info, gets them interested Collect email addresses for a mailing list Contact them as you progress. Do a “hot” launch, not a “cold” launch Assess business opportunity Run advertising to see marketing costs (CPC, CPA) Analytics on visitor data
Building a Launch Page Use an online Launch Page builder. You will replace it later, anyway. Consider it temporary. May have a small cost. Consider it a “bridge” cost. Will need to set DNS records to point the domain to the host Online Tools that build Launch Pages LaunchRock Kickoff Labs Unbounce MyBeta List Wordpress theme: Launch Effect
Wordpress Platform Much more robust than a simple launch page… Lots of very useful features Lots of customization Can run a whole business website Many small business websites are running on Wordpress It’s my tool of choice for small business websites Can even be customized at the programming level Extensible to be like a custom web application Very simple custom web applications can use a wordpress foundation.
What is Wordpress? Wordpress.ORG A free, open-source platform. Managed and improved by the goodwill of many programmers around the world. Built for all (simple) websites, NOT just blogs. Easy to use, but requires installation Wordpress.COM A company (for profit) that makes it simpler to get started with wordpress. Free to start, but charges for “add-ons” Can be limiting, and doesn’t have the full flexibility of Wordpress.ORG
Wordpress.com Step 1 - home
Wordpress.com Step 2 - signup
Wordpress.com Step 3 – theme
Wordpress.com Step 4 – dashboard
Wordpress.com Step 5 – editing
Wordpress.com Step 6 – site is live
CMS vs Custom Application CMS Custom Application Easier, faster, cheaper Harder, slower, costlier No technical skills Lots of technical skills Limited by platform Unlimited… dream big! Our strategy: use a CMS to put something together quickly, as a placeholder, while we develop our main web application
Our Goals Is this a viable business opportunity? What is the market interest in this product? Who are the competitors? Who are the ones we need to be most concerned about? Who are our users/customers? Do some customer development!!
Google SERPSERP = search engine result pageJust do Google searches for relatedkeywords… see what comes upWhich ones are direct competitors?Which ones are niche focused?Which ones are unrelated?
Google Insights and Google Trends
Google Analytics The purpose is to understand who your visitors are Where are they coming from? What are they looking for? What are the trends? Requires minimal setup Complex tool with lots of data Learn it during the marketing pilot, then use it for the real product.
Google Adwords The purpose is to understand what kind of advertising works best What keywords are best? What ads work best? What is your conversion rate? How much does a user cost? Costs money to run set a budget before starting Requires significant setup Complex tool with lots of data Learn it during the marketing pilot, then use it for the real product.
In-Person Market Research Run focus groups Ask them lots of questions Have them take surveys Do interviews with potential customers Use your existing relationships Reach out to new people
When to stop? It’s a judgment call, stop when you feel comfortable. Perfect results don’t guarantee a successful product Yet, a product can still succeed despite terrible results
Before we begin… Building a “web startup website” is very different from building a “small business website” Just like starting a “web startup” is very different from starting a “small business” – remember last session? By a factor of at least 100… Much more difficult Much more expensive Much more time consuming You get what you put into it (money, time, effort)
Why so different? When you build a web application, you’re actually building something completely new that’s never been done before. When you build a small business website, you’re actually just using someone else’s web application All the small business website builders are web startups Wordpress.com Wix Weebly SquareSpace Moonfruit If you use that, you are just a customer “user” to their startup.
Functional Requirements Questions to answer What customer problem does this product solve? What are the customer use cases? How will the customer use this product to solve his problem? How will the product make money?
Content Every single screen… text, images, videos Instructions to the user Search-Engine-friendly URLs and content Long tail keywords Content Uniqueness Any emails that are sent? Blog posts? PR releases? Social network accounts (Facebook, Twitter)? Analytics tools
Agile Software Development Start Small Minimum Viable Product Iterate quickly Track user data Flexible software Release frequently Cycle weekly or every two weeks
Homework (In Teams) Register the domain I recommend namecheap. A different registrar is OK if you already use a registrar. Set up Google Apps (for the email and calendar) Set up Launch Page I recommend LaunchRock. Using a different launch tool is OK, but may be more time consuming. Get it the launch page running live, and test it Market Research Investigate the Google SERPs for related keywords Set up Google Analytics, optionally Google Adwords Spread the word about your new startup and send people to your launch page Begin the Design Write out the functional requirements Design a sitemap Don’t forget… Work on the pitch deck as much as possible with your team.