Who is Paul Graham? This is not rhetorical ‘Who is John Galt’ of “Atlas Shrugged” fame, but a real flesh and blood person who hold tremendous importance in the Silicon Valley. If you can learn marketing for success from someone, it’s him.
I googled him and did not find a real LinkedIn profile but Crunchbase definitely made my day.The Demo Day events of YCombinator are watched worldwide with equal, if not more, interest than President Obama speaking in the White House.
For Tech Geeks, he created LISP , the original AI language. AI being Artificial Intelligence here. He created a company called Viaweb which got sold to Yahoo for 50 Million dollars. This is the equivalent of Billion dollars today for Instagram. But, his real name today is for founding the Ycombinator, mentioned earlier, the Hottest startup accelerator on the Planet. So, when he says something about startups, you better listen!
Not gonna talk about Ycombinator, because, if you don’t know it, you better not read further. Now, Paul writes a series of essays which discusses learnings.
My favourite one is:
The summary is, you might build a scalable product, but, you gotta start in a non scalable fashion.
So, coming to startups today, what exactly does this mean?
Every startup needs a Marketing plan.
Please note, Sales is different from Marketing. But the nature of the initial traction determines the future of a product.
What are the different stages in a startup product? You conceptualize. You design, You implement and then, You go to the Market.
50% of startups fail, since they refuse to change based on Market feedback. The Magic word here is engagement. Engagement allows startups to reduce their CAC [Cost of Customer acquisition]. If your customer is engaged with you, then, he becomes an indirect brand ambassador and if the number of such customers increase, then, you hit the Goldmine which is virality.
In all the above terms, there is one crucial pivot, this is the ability of a startup to learn and build a better product, so that, it can reach Product Market fit.
So, the summary is reaching out to customers early in the cycle. How does one do that? Peter Thiel says, in his book, Zero to One:
“If you want to be a great salesperson , you should not sound like you’re actually selling something”
– Peter Theil
It has to happen organically. The best way to do this, is via events where one reaches out to either your direct target audience or, work with startups in such a way that you can generate publicity in a reflexive fashion.
So, what does doing an event entail? Let us assume you’re a startup which is focused on the Wellness Marketplace. So, if you create an event on any hot topic, like say, co-sponsor a food stall during Christmas in a prime location, you attract a new audience, while, you could organise a fashion show as a part of this event which can generate reflexive publicity for you.
This would not be a direct sales pitch, but, when, people want to buy something next, you will be remembered and that, my dear friends, is organic growth.
If you take that a little further, and partner with say, a food tech startup and an event management company like Explara, the resultant publicity from their channels will also work to help you get brand recognition.
So, this again increases your reach beyond traditional audiences which may build a hugely scalable Market. And, Let us not forget, established startups will have their own Monthly reach, and you will be noticed because of their participation in the above event.
For a young startup, this is pure Gold.
So, if FreshMenu organises a food festival event around New Year with Explara handling the ticketing, your reach is manifold magnified.
This is Virality.
The feedback loop in this has significant effects. Not to mention that, as a startup you will be doing AI ,ok, Only ‘I’ : Intelligence, Since, in this case it won’t be artificial, it will be human.
Summary: Startups need offline events to build Online presence.