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The Five Lies That Will Kill Your Startup Dreams


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...and how to make sure you don't fall for them.

This is the presentation I gave at The Combine in Bloomington, Indiana on April 10, 2015.

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The Five Lies That Will Kill Your Startup Dreams

  1. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies The 5 Lies That Will Kill Your Startup Dreams by Tara Hunt
  2. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies
  3. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies
  4. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies
  5. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies
  6. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies
  7. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies
  8. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies
  9. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies the 5 lies I believed
  10. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies 1. build awesome stuff + they will come
  11. @missrogue case study product: subscription model
  12. @missrogue “Subscription services are a fad.” BEFORE “The market isn’t big enough.” “We don’t invest in high costs with low margins.” “Women don’t need this service.”
  13. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies ~10million views
  14. @missrogue “What a brilliant idea!” AFTER “Best tampon ad in the history of the world.” “What [revenue] took me a month, I now do in an hour.”
  15. @missrogue “My tiny company that had been limping along released a video. And the video exploded...Suddenly I had a flood of orders and received an outpouring of support in the form of emails from women and girls around the world.” Naama Bloom, CEO HelloFlo
  16. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies marketing is important (and marketing is more than you think)
  17. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies the customer path to use/ purchase
  18. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies where is the marketing problem? AWARENESS RESEARCH DECISION USE RE-USE REFER LOVE Do they know you exist? Can they find you when they are looking? How do you stack up against the competition? What’s the user experience? How frequently would people use your product Is there a reason that people would share/ recommend? Do your users fall in love? PR, WOM, ads SEO, SEM Reviews Product*, customer service Usage/ demand Sharability/ Growth Hacking Community We were in the wrong places, not building relationships with the right people. Our SEO was pretty decent, but we didn’t have any budget for SEM. Very few reviews. Most people were raving about Pinterest and Shopstyle. Took us a while, but we finally got to a great user experience. Too late… The frequency for searching for specific fashion items too rare. People did share when they found and used us. A few did. But we didn’t build the community we should have.
  19. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies 2. build stuff people need + they will come
  20. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies The market is saturated with products, apps, and services. It’s no longer about building something that people need. It’s about building something that people love. That’s really hard.
  21. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies product market
  22. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies market research is essential
  23. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies market research 101 Start with core assumptions. Here are a few: 1. a target customer (not everyone): Ours was “women who love fashion + shop online” 2. the problem you are solving: Ours was “Shopping for fashion is frustrating. Too much choice + not enough personalization.” 3. knowledge of the current ‘solutions’ + why they don’t measure up: Ours was Shopstyle + that it doesn’t account for personal style and doesn’t include non-affilate shops
  24. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies Talking to Humans by Giff Constable. BUY IT.
  25. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies market research 101 Now, challenge those assumptions with real research: 1. walk a day in your customer’s shoes (go through the exercise of buying something or using something) 2. find a way to observe how people actually solve the problem 3. ask people (strangers - not friends) who have just gone through the exercise about their experience
  26. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies 3. you’ll figure out your business model later
  27. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies how do you figure out your business model?
  28. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies
  29. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies
  30. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies steve blank’s edits:
  31. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies also: 0 250000 500000 750000 1000000 year 1 year 2 year 3 year 4 users profit be realistic here
  32. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies 4. press = success
  33. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies
  34. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies
  35. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies
  36. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies 55 articles about Buyosphere in major publications. traffic generated? (negligible - don’t believe the hype)
  37. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies 5. raising money = success
  38. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies raising money was our biggest downfall.
  39. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies $$ stole our focus l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies
  40. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies $$ made us lazy l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies
  41. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies $$ took us off track l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies
  42. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies we weren’t entrepreneurs. we were fundraisers. (and we aren’t alone)
  43. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies
  44. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies entrepreneurialism is heartbreaking.
  45. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies entrepreneurialism is exhausting.
  46. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies entrepreneurialism is hard work.
  47. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies entrepreneurialism is NOT heroic.
  48. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies entrepreneurialism is about making.
  49. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies entrepreneurialism is about solving.
  50. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies entrepreneurialism is about growing.
  51. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies entrepreneurialism is ultimately rewarding. (if you are doing it right)
  52. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies don’t fall for the lies. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies
  53. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies make your own path l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies
  54. l@missrogue | @tctotem | #startuplies thank you! Tara Hunt Director, Audience Development Entrepreneur-forever / @missrogue l