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4 Lessons Learned from AAMA’s Connect ’09 Entrepreneur Workshop

October 8th, 2009 Comments off
Tom Kosnik

Tom Kosnik

Last Thursday, StartupAgents attended the AAMA Connect ’09 Entrepreneur Workshop led by Professor Tom Kosnik of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program.

The three-part workshop was very informative and covered the following topics:  (1) Is it an Idea Worth Pursuing, (2) How to Go to Market, and (3) How to Grow the Business.  Professor Kosnik incorporated real-life examples and stories from his 25+ years of mentoring entrepreneurs and companies in Silicon Valley.   Below are a few lessons learned from the workshop, but we would encourage you to download Professor Kosnik’s entire presentation at OpenWebU.

1.  Listen to your customers — Whether they are potential customers or your early adopters, listen to them and get a deep understanding of their needs.  Try to uncover the real issues and problems they have.  Build trust with your customers as you iterate the product.  Interact with your customers’ customers (who your customer sells to) to create value and help your customer come up with a better solution to their customer’s needs.

2.  Create your positioning for each target customer segment — To create your positioning for each target customer segment, state:

  • the need or opportunity for your product
  • the key benefit or compelling reason to buy your product
  • your primary competitive advantage
  • your primary differentiators

Test your positioning by using the CRUDE test.   Is your positioning: Credible, Relevant, Unique, Durable (and Dynamic), and Emotionally Appealing?

(Sources: Moore (2002) Crossing the Chasm, and Kosnik (2008) “Dynamic Positioning”)

3.  Marketing Communication Decisions — when making marketing communications decisions and measuring their effectiveness, use the “6 Ms:”

  • Market — Who is your target audience?
  • Motives — What is the objective of the communications?
  • Message — What is the point you want them to learn?
  • Media — What media will best get the message across?
  • Money — How much should you spend?
  • Metrics — When and how will you measure the impact?

(Source:  Dolan, Robert J. (1999), Integrated Marketing Communications, HBS Note # 9-599-087)


4.  Customize your hiring strategy — Ask talent what motivates them and customize your hiring strategy accordingly.  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs should be applied when recruiting and when trying to retain your employees, from satisfying physiological needs, to safety/security, belonging, esteem/achievement, and self actualization needs.

Entrepreneurs, what are some valuable lessons you have learned from starting and running your own company?

Talent, what factors are most important to you when deciding whether to join a startup?

Please feel free to comment below.  We value your input, and would love for you to share any advice you have.

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