Topic:   Startups

Startup Branding :: Strategy, Competitive Positioning, Personas, Naming, and Visual Design :: with Elisabeth Hass and Natalie Grummer

Most founders don’t pay enough attention to foundational branding processes, which often results in customer confusion, off-putting names/visuals, and/or an untimely death for new startups. In this episode, we dive into many aspects of branding a startup, from naming and competitive positioning to visual design and personas/values, including specific recommendations for designing a logo, mockups, and prototypes.

Real Escape from the Sex Trade (REST), Fighting Human Trafficking, and Starting a Nonprofit :: with Amanda Hightower and Brent Turner

In this episode of Ventures we dive into the horrors of human trafficking within the sex trade, specifically in and around the greater Seattle area. We look at one group’s efforts (REST - Real Escape from the Sex Trade) to combat the problem by providing a suite of services, working closely with law enforcement, and ensuring all people being trafficked understand they are worthy of love. We also dive deep into how REST got started, and how the relationship between the executive director and board chair is an important story to learn from for any for-profit or nonprofit founder team.

Blockchains, the State of the Crypto Ecosystem, Proof-of-Stake, and Figment Networks :: with Lorien Gabel, Andrew Cronk, and Tony Little

In this episode of Ventures we dive into all-things blockchains, the state of the ecosystem, the evolution of the industry (especially since 2017), the nuances between Proof-of-Work and Proof-of-State, and the suite of services that Figment Networks provides. Guests: Lorien Gabel, Andrew Cronk, and Tony Little.

Introducing Ventures: A new podcast exploring entrepreneurial stories, market landscapes, and opportunities for building new products and services

I’m excited to announce that I’ve launched a new audio/video podcast called Ventures. Now available on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and a ton of other places, the show explores entrepreneurial stories, market landscapes, problem spaces, and opportunities to create for-profit and nonprofit ventures to benefit human beings.

Introducing Satchel: a simplified newsletter and publishing platform for creators and their communities

I’m excited to announce today the launch of Satchel, a newsletter and publishing platform that facilitates direct, topic-specific communication between creators and their communities.

Investor pitch deck and communication strategies: pre-seed and seed

For better or worse, the practice of selling anything of significant value in the world of business involves pitch decks. This includes, of course, “selling” your next funding round to investors. While there is no lack of educational content out there recommending an ideal slide order for your deck (e.g. problem, solution, market size, traction, competitors, team, etc…), this article will guide you - an early stage startup CEO - through the nuances and differences of pre-seed and seed pitches, including tips for how to communicate with investors before and after the close. The more efficiently you can get in front of the appropriate angel investors and venture capitalists, the faster you can finish your round and get back to running your business.

Raising your first outside round: How to navigate accelerators, angel investors, and venture capitalists

As 2020 approaches, the market for raising your first round outside of friends and family - traditionally called a “seed” round - has changed dramatically. There are now a wide variety of financial products to fit early stages of your company (i.e. there are no longer standard amounts for early rounds, and a maddeningly large number of accelerators and venture capitalists (VCs) are competing for your attention. In such an environment, the global noise of books, podcasts, videos, and blogs - i.e. marketing material - often steer founders in the wrong direction; i.e. away from local angel investors and micro-VCs who will most likely fill your round.

How to raise and spend "friends & family" money most efficiently for your startup

There is a reason why the earliest round of capital infusion into a startup is often called the Friends, Family, and Fools round: most founders at this stage usually take money from their own savings and/or inexperienced startup investors, burn through cash haphazardly, mess up their cap table by giving away too much equity (often to too many people), literally break the law by violating securities regulations, and/or fall victim to freelancers and agencies that are happy to work for money but don’t advocate for the best interest of the company.

The five common mistakes founders make after a product launch

Congratulations, you’ve introduced your product to the world! You got media attention and a ton of new users and customers. Now what? Unfortunately, most founding teams become dazed and confused at this point and end up wasting important momentum.

How to transition from private to public beta

Eager to launch, get written about in the press, and rocket their way toward startup glory, founders often neglect to take the time needed to sufficiently learn from their customers during private beta. Then, more often than not, the public launch process becomes a wasted opportunity. Frankly, what the team thinks they know at this stage about their customers, their product, their market dynamics, and their own company operations is mostly wrong, inefficient, and/or unclear.

How to optimize your “coming soon” page to acquire customers virally

As you gear up for the public launch of your startup, successfully optimizing and leveraging your coming soon page can set you up for massive success. Unfortunately, most founders squander this opportunity by either skimping on the critical components of the process, or by overdoing them in a tone-deaf manner and annoying potential customers.

The art and science of private alpha testing

Assuming you’ve gone through the process of ideating, validating, and creating a new product, now it’s time to get serious about testing it. Hopefully by now engineering has baked in an appropriate amount of automated tests to meet the specifications you put together, but the features you decided on are about to change. Welcome to real life.

When to start writing code for your Minimum Viable Product

More often than not, founders pursuing a new software startup end up writing code too early, wasting valuable time that should be spent with customers.

How to build wireframes and mockups to validate your business idea

Building a product — any kind of product — is hard. Somehow the engineering and creative parts of your team (and brain) need to coordinate to produce something that customers enjoy. If you pause for a moment and think about this, it’s amazing that anything good gets built.

Serve customers faster: An introduction to rapid design prototyping with Style Tiles

Equipped with your brand foundations, name, and logo, a design strategy that saves an enormous amount of time when building a software product is creating and iterating Style Tiles.