What a startup isn’t – the fun and sexy part!

So a local journalism student wanted to do a "day in the life" project on someone from our area. I volunteered as my business is going through a lot of change (we were retail primarily with ecommerce as an after thought-ish and now going to wholesale and smoother/more focused ecommerce). I thought it might be interesting since I'm back to startup mode, wearing all the hats and days are crazy.

Instead the student hears "chocolatier" and only wants to shadow on a production day. Absolutely not. My production days are intense and can't be interrupted. Besides, it's actually the most uninteresting part of the business, it's just following recipes I created quite a while ago.

After I say no and explain that another day is not only more feasible for me, but more interesting (to be fair, I'm a nerd for business), they write back saying they "respectfully decline if they can't sit in on a production day."

Ugh! Being a business owner of any sort means so much more than the fun and "glamorous" side, especially when you're in (or back in as in my case) startup mode. And not only that, it's incredibly more involved, interesting and exciting! Spreadsheets and sales meetings are intensely intriguing when you're risking it all!

Sorry, I guess there's not a lot of point to this point other than to vent to people who would hopefully understand. Product =/= business!

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Go public now while software valuations make no sense, Part II

On August 5th, TechCrunch wrote that startups should “go public while software valuations make no sense.” What came next was a happy coincidence. Just a few weeks after that post, Unity, JFrog, Asana, Snowflake and Sumo Logic all filed to go public.

Today we’re seeing some data from those debuts, most notably the incredibly strong pricing runs from both JFrog and Snowflake. But even more, Snowflake just opened at either $ 245 or $ 269.50, depending on your data source. Regardless, the company’s stock is currently worth $ 276.2 per share, some 130% higher than its IPO price. Which, as we noted earlier, was already pretty high, given the company’s most recent revenue results.

Adding to the Snowflake example, JFrog opened worth around $ 71.30 today, sharply higher than its above-an-already-raised-range IPO price of $ 44. That’s wild! JFrog is now worth around $ 7 billion, despite having posted revenue in its last quarter of just $ 36.4 million.

The message from today’s debuts appears to be that valuations are unmoored from old rules — for the moment, that is — and thus companies that can post 100% growth or greater have little in the way of a cap on their upper limit.

Our takeaway: Go public now.

Adding to the good news is that some of the valuations we’ve understood less than others are holding up. First-day pop-and-drop today’s market isn’t. For example, Lemonade is still up about 50% from its IPO price, and OneMedical is up 100% from its own. So, software valuations are so wild that even software-adjacent companies are benefiting!

This is excellent news for a great number of unicorns. The good times are still here, amazingly, while the economy is still pretty bad and the election looms. All those old rules about having successive quarters of profitability and not going public during more turbulent years is, for now, bullshit.

Normalcy will re-emerge at some point. Things will eventually quiet down. But not yet, so get that S-1 out and take advantage of the good times while they last.

Startups – TechCrunch

These 10 ambitious tech startups will take part in Techstars London 2020 program

While the entire world came to a grinding halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the first half of the year, phenomenal entrepreneurs have seen the opportunity in building solutions that make people’s lives easier, better, and more enjoyable. Having said that, many new startups debuted this year to cater to the needs of people.

Techstars London 2020 startups

This year, the well-known seed accelerator programmer Techstars has been hosted digitally for the first time on account of the pandemic crisis. Here we have listed these 10 budding ambitious startups that will meet mentors, investors, and potential clients in the next batch of Techstars program.

Audyo.ai (UK)

Founder/s: Colin Ricardo, Éanna Morley, Eoghan O’Neill
Founded year: 2020
Funding: NA

Audyo.ai lets your content speak for itself. With AI, it brings intelligent audio for the internet. Using just a single line of code, Audyo makes any publication listenable. Audyo not only increases the revenue of the companies but also their reach and provides them with rich data-driven insights into the things that actually matter.

Aya (UK)

Founder/s: Mandana Ahmad
Founded year: 2020
Funding: NA

Aya is a digital mental wellbeing companion, which helps people manage stress and anxiety. The company uses innovative tools at the intersection of psychology, computational neuroscience and machine learning in order to help users better understand themselves and their stress and anxiety levels. Aya proposes a personalised set of solutions with the help of proven approaches across psychology, mindfulness and the wider mental wellbeing space.

Decorte Future Industries (UK)

Founder/s: Roeland Decorte
Founded year: NA
Funding: NA

Decorte Future Industries builds intelligent and adaptive clothing powered by AI. The company answers the requirements from Defence to Care, for a single centralised data-gathering and capacity-enhancing platform built on top of the human body. DFI focuses on human-machine teaming and interfacing and its suits integrate the human itself into the Internet of Things, thereby enabling preventative and predictive healthcare. Also, this intelligent clothing provides wearers digital superpowers. The company’s body body-adaptive exoskeleton lets any human fit into any clothing, thereby resolving the fit-related issues.

Eola (UK)

Founder/s: Callum Hemsley, Daniel Steele
Founded year: 2017
Funding: €310k

Eola is a complete booking and management platform for experience providers. The company lets businesses to automate their processes ranging from taking bookings to resource management and also focusing on significantly increasing their revenue. The company’s cutting-edge technology makes it easy to manage all day-to-day admin so that partners can save their valuable time to focus on delivering outstanding experiences.

Lanu (UK)

Founder/s: Shane O’Donnell, Luke Coburn
Founded year: NA
Funding: NA

Lanu is changing the way houses are developed, presenting all the options to extend in clear 3D models. It allows houses to be re-imagined. This startup operates with the goal to empower homeowners and connect stakeholders in order to make planning and development simpler and to illuminate the hidden value within domestic properties. Its technology has the speed and accuracy to transform both planning assessment and property valuation.

Lupa (UK)

Founder/s: Stefano Lorini, Eleonora Mantovani
Founded year: 2020
Funding: NA

Lupa is a digital running studio where runners can find immersive, live audio experiences and personal coaching customised to their preferences on a daily basis. These details can be accessed on the Lupa app anytime and anywhere. The Lupa App guides runners and helps them achieve their running goals. You have to start by choosing a new personalised route and live navigation. It is also possible to add adaptive personal coaching to be mindfully guided to reach the goals.

PandMe (UK)

Founder/s: NA
Founded year: 2020
Funding: NA

PandMe is a “Personal Shopping Assistant” that brings a great sense of relief by resolving all the shopping problems. On an average, people spend nearly five hours to make a purchase decision and this is where this startup comes to play as it reduces the same to minutes. With the help of Artificial Intelligence and product experts, it has never been easier to choose the best option for you or your loved ones.

Pixchange (Switzerland)

Founder/s: Allison Gorecki
Founded year: 2018
Funding: NA

Pixchange is a GIF and sticker community, which enables people to engage in visual messaging with a broader and more personalised range of images. The company has created a global marketplace that lets creative types from all walks of life to earn revenue and add the highly needed variety to stickers and GIFs. It integrates mobile content creation tools, a custom keyboard, and a marketplace that let users share unique visual content instantly across platforms.

Syncify (UK)

Founder/s: Sam Harris, Jack Hughes
Founded year: 2020
Funding: NA

Based out of London, Syncify operates with the mission to create a better way for humans to fundamentally understand each other. It helps them understand that they need to be connected in a more practical and meaningful way. The company is building an app, which lets users listen to content together starting with podcasts. It is possible for users to listen to the same content at the same time or catch up on the same things and talk to each other about their shared experiences.

Troglo (UK)

Founder/s: Josh Armistead
Founded year: 2018
Funding: NA

Troglo is a mobile platform that operates to improve sexual health and wellbeing in addition to reducing STI and HIV infections. The company is building a digital sexual health monitoring platform and companion services that ensure that everyone has access to the tools required to maintain their sexual wellbeing. This app lets users take control of their sexual health by tracking their sexual activities, partners, risk score, and a holistic diary of their horizontal fun.

Main image picture credits: Eola

The post These 10 ambitious tech startups will take part in Techstars London 2020 program appeared first on Silicon Canals .

Startups – Silicon Canals

How one VC firm wound up with no-code startups as part of its investing thesis

Welcome back to The TechCrunch Exchange, a weekly startups-and-markets newsletter. It’s broadly based on the daily column that appears on Extra Crunch, but free, and made for your weekend reading. 

Ready? Let’s talk money, startups and spicy IPO rumors.

How one VC firm wound up with no-code startups as part of its investing thesis

Throughout all the chaos of 2020’s economic upheaval in the startup world, I’ve worked to pay more attention to low-code and no-code services. The short gist of chats I’ve had with investors and founders and public company execs in the past few weeks is that market awareness of no-code/low-code terminology is starting to spread more broadly.

Why? Again, summarizing aggressively, it seems that the gap between what different business units need (marketing, say) and what in-house or external engineering teams are capable of providing is widening. This means there is more total pain in the market, hunting for a solution, often with a tooling budget in hand.

Enter no-code and low-code startups, and even big-company services alike that can help non-developers do more without having to beg for engineering inputs.

I spoke with Arun Mathew this week. He’s a partner at Accel, a venture firm that has invested in all sorts of companies that you’ve heard of — including Webflow, which raised a $ 72 million Series A last August that Mathew led for his firm. (More on the round here, and notes from TechCrunch on Webflow’s early days here, and here, if you are curious.)

More interesting than that single round is how Accel wound up building a thesis around no-code startups. According to Mathew, Accel had made large investments into companies like Qualtrics, for example, when they were already pretty big and had found product-market fit. That same general approach led to the Webflow deal last year.

At the time, Webflow “wasn’t really defining what they were doing as n- code, they just said ‘we have a very simple drag and drop UI, to build websites, and soon full web applications, very simply,’ ” he told TechCrunch. But, according to Mathew, what Webflow was doing “lined up really well” with the “rising movement of no-code.”

From there, Accel “made a couple [more no-code] investments in Europe where [it has] an early-stage team and a growth team,” along with a few more in India. In the investor’s view, some of the investing activity was “thesis driven because we think [no-code is] a really interesting theme,” but some of the deals “happened opportunistically” where Accel had found “really talented founders in the space that we thought was interesting, executing on a vision that we found appealing.”

In the “span of a year, year-and-a-half,” Accel totted up “seven or eight companies in this no-code space,” which over the last five or six quarters became “a real thesis” for the firm, Mathew said. Accel now has “a global team” of around a dozen people “spending a lot of our time in and around no-code” he added.

Apologies for the length there, but what Mathew said makes me feel a bit less behind. After dipping a toe into learning more about no-code services and tooling (and, yes, low-code as well) it felt somewhat like I was playing catch-up. But as I covered that Webflow round and have since started paying more attention to no-code as well, perhaps you and I are right on time.

(We also recently ran an investor survey on the no-code topic, so hit it up if you want more VC scribbles on the topic.)

Market Notes

For Market Notes this week, we have four things. First, riffs from chats with two public company execs about the software market, some public market stuff and then some neat Airbnb spend data by which I am confounded:

  • I spoke with Apple MDM company Jamf’s CFO Jill Putman this week, after her company reported its first set of earnings as a public company. I wanted to know a bit more about the education market — a hot topic here at TechCrunch, given outsized rounds and huge market demand — and the medical world.
  • Regarding the software market for education, Putman noted that schools are buying lots of hardware, and that software sales should follow. Our read from that is that the boom in education software is not going to slow for some time as schools work on reopening.
  • Ditto the medical market, where Jamf has found uptake as hospitals roll out hardware to patients and families thereof to facilitate all sorts of demand that COVID has engendered. (Hardware needs software, enter Jamf!)
  • Chatting with the CFO our key takeaway was that there are still sectors that could generate a continued COVID tailwind, even if not all Jamf customers fit that bill. For startups that did catch a wave, this is probably good news.
  • And then there was Yext, a company that helps other companies’ customers find accurate information about them around the Web, and has recently gotten into the search game. Yext launched at a TechCrunch conference back in 2009, which is a neat bit of history. Anyway, Yext is public company now and we wanted to chat about which industries are driving growth for the former startup, and how the general climate for software is for the company, so we got on Zoom with its CEO, Howard Lerman.
  • So, which sectors are accelerating from Yext’s perspective? Government, education (again), insurance and financial services. Let that guide your take on the health of various startups.
  • Turning to the business climate, Lerman had some notes: “I will tell you in Q2,” he said, “things came back a bit from Q1.” In what sense? Retention rates, for one, according to the CEO. A return to form is welcome, but Lerman did caution that some companies were slower to “pull the trigger on big deals.”
  • Lerman also said that his perspective on the macro-climate has bounced back as well from a local-minima set around 30 days ago.

Public company execs are pretty guarded in how they talk because they have to be. But what Putman and Lerman seemed to intimate is that economic damage — provided you are selling to business, and not individuals — seems more contained on a per-sector basis than I would have anticipated. And that there are some good things ahead, at least in a handful of hot sectors.

Opening our aperture a bit, some SaaS companies struggled this week to meet investor expectations, even as more companies added themselves to the IPO queue. It’s going to be very busy for a few quarters. (Speaking of which, you can find the good and bad from the new Sumo IPO filing here.)

The economy is still garbage for many, but at least for companies it’s improving. And on that note, some data regarding Airbnb. According to the folks over at Edison Trends, things are going better for the home-booking site than I would have guessed. Per the group:

  • Airbnb’s bookings recovery outstripped its traditional rivals, growing “32% week-over-week” from late April into early June.
  • And, most critically: “Airbnb spending in July was up 22% over the previous July, and spending the week of August 17 was 75% higher than the equivalent week in 2019.”

Wild, right? Perhaps that’s why Airbnb has filed to go public.

Various and Sundry

We’re a tiny bit short on space, so I’ll keep our V&S dose short this week to respect your time. Here’s what I couldn’t not share:

And with that, we are out of room. Hugs, fist bumps and good vibes, and thank you so much for reading this little newsletter on the weekends. It’s a treat to write, and I hope you like it.

Hit me up with notes at alex.wilhelm@techcrunch.com. (I don’t know if you reply to this email if I will get the response. But try it so that we can find out?)

Alex

Startups – TechCrunch

If you are granted stock options as part of your compensation package, put money away each month for when you need to exercise them.

I say this because I did NOT do this and now I need to shell out over $ 7k that I didn’t really plan on spending.

Even if you stay for a while and you’re at a company when they have a successful exit, in order to take advantage of long-term capital gains tax, you NEED to exercise (ie purchase) them at least one year ahead of time. If you don’t, you’ll likely end up exercising and selling in one transaction which gets taxed at the higher short-term capital gains rate. If your stock has real value, this will make a significant difference in how much money you take home when all is said and done.

And if you don’t end up exercising at all then you have a nice surprise savings account 🙂

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Our 12 favorite startups from Y Combinator’s S20 Demo Day: Part 2

Figma for filmmakers, TikTok for English learners and a cryptocurrency twist that actually makes sense?

After 197 pitches, Y Combinator’s Demo Day for its Summer 2020 cohort has concluded. While the fanfare, run-ins and fortune cookies were missing in this virtual session, it was still exciting to see and hear founders from 26 countries pitch their passions. Of course, some opted for a more quiet route, raising millions before the two-day pitch session even kicked off.

Members of the Summer 2020 class drew attention from nearly 2,400 investors across the world. For those who didn’t tune in, no worries: here’s our write-up of the companies that presented yesterday.

Participating startups spanned a number of sectors: we saw companies in the future of work, sustainability, no-code, consumer, edtech and delivery solutions. Several entrepreneurs aimed big at e-mail, small at socks and straight at Shopify’s recent success.

While TechCrunch reporters aren’t in the business of cutting checks or predicting success, read on to learn about the 12 startups that stuck out to us for a variety of reasons (apart from their Zoom backgrounds).

CarbonChain

Jonathan Shieber

CarbonChain may be the company that times the carbon market correctly. Now that the European Union and other regions are taking a serious look at penalizing businesses that fail to reduce carbon emissions, a service that provides accurate accounting for a company’s carbon footprint will be increasingly valuable.

And if the company can add marketplace and offsetting services on the back of its assessments, then its proposition becomes even more valuable. But what really makes CarbonChain stand out is the rigor with which it approaches its measurements.

The company uses independent software tools to make a digital twin of the carbon-emitting assets in a company’s business and claims that it can determine the emissions footprint of operations down to a cup of coffee (it also has models for the carbon footprint of heavy industrial equipment in the world’s most polluting industries).

For the world to address its carbon emissions, companies must understand their contribution to the problem. CarbonChain could be an invaluable tool in that effort.

Startups – TechCrunch

Our 11 favorite companies from Y Combinator’s S20 Demo Day: Part I

Startup incubator and investment group Y Combinator today held the first of two demo days for founders in its Summer 2020 batch.

So far, this cohort contains the usual mix of bold, impressive and, at times, slightly wacky ideas young companies so often show off.

This was Y Combinator’s second online demo day, its first all-virtual class and the first time that it held live, remote pitches. The event largely went well, with founders dialing in from around the globe to share a few paragraphs of notes and a single slide. There were few technical hiccups, given the sheer number of startups presenting.

But if you are not in the mood to parse through dozens (and dozens) of entries detailing each startup that showed off its problem, solution and growth, the TechCrunch crew has collected our own favorites based on how likely a company seems to succeed and how impressed we were with the creativity of their vision. For each entry, one staffer made the call that the startup in question was among their favorites.

We’re not investors, so we’re not pretending to sort the unicorns from the goats. But if what you need is a digest of some of the day’s best companies to get a good taste of what founders are building, we have your back.

ZipSchool and Hellosaurus

Natasha Mascarenhas

The next wave of edtech startups is entering a market that demands a better remote-learning solution for younger learners. But that’s the obvious product gap, one that is already being tackled by the biggest names in the booming category.

The non-obvious product-market deficit is how teachers, also impacted by the pandemic, are searching for new ways to interact with students. Teachers are collaborating and cross-pollinating on successful lesson plans that work across stale Zoom screens, so why not monetize that same content?

Startups – TechCrunch

Part 2/6 of the 60 Minute Presentation for a Head of Growth Role at a Startup: Data Friendliness and Follow Every Penny.

Marketers and sales people can get a reputation for speaking in esoteric jargon, especially when interviewing. So I led with the fact I'm good with numbers knowledge and to show I'd always use data to inform decisions and be incredibly cost efficient. First post in series – here

Get friendly with data and money

  1. 'We are' not 'We should' – preface.

Time is fleeting in a startup. What you need from a growth lead is the answer backed by data, not a frivolous omnidirectional debate. I have my North Star Metric, that's my goal.

When I come to you with a direction, my phrasing will always be 'we're going to' or 'we've started to'.

This is because the data has been exported, analysed, documented and already consumed to inform my decision. By the time my proposal is shown, it will be inscrutable and proven with the research I undertook to reach the decision, I'm simply letting you know that the work has been done and this is the best step to take. My workings will always be written in a workable doc with precise links to the reporting I have extracted the data from.

  1. 'Thou shalt attribute.'

I cannot stand grey areas in marketing, there are no excuses. Not having attribution partners in place or an absolute key understanding of your purchase pathways is wastage. If my budget is $ 10 or $ 10m, understanding exactly where that money went and what the ROI was will be incredibly significant.

Example Retained agencies.

Agencies will be held accountable to report on all hours of the work they undertook for the company, they will report on ROAS and specific time taken on projects.

Be pedantic, or bring the skills in house.

A good rule of thumb is that 1 hour of work needs 30 seconds explaining; if it requires less, it is perhaps not an hour's work. Push for details.

Example Paid Social

I am an expert at reading whether an ad is good or not with the data, I guarantee my ads will deliver. The learnings and data were there to be read and understood and learnt from, so I did.

Unnecessary charges based on having poor or no attribution partners whose entire reason for existing is to make sure you're not overpaying and to source the purchase is ridiculous.

Unnecessary charges based on poor construction of your campaigns and then overpaying need never happen.

One look will tell you Snapchat's UI could be operated by toddlers, all it requires is learning the format of successful ad building based on the readily available data.

Plug into the right places, pay for the right conversions, and understand the terminology exceptionally and monitor intimately.

  1. 'High standards encourage excellent standards of practice'

Knowing where you're starting from with the specific data you can acquire, down to the minutia, will absolutely help you grow healthier and better.

Every step you take that leads to a measurable improvement in growth, IS growth.

When it comes to managing a team, being able to prove improvements or detriments makes for an easy performance review. Not just for your employee, but for yourself.

Though very black and white as a review process, it is always your responsibility to create an environment that encourages learning and growth, if your team member is not improving, it is your responsibility to better this environment and get them on the path.

An upwards curve following a performance review represents your learning, their learning and better results.

  1. 'Plot and predict'

The best heads of growth work closely with the money. This is logical when you consider that they're in control of a huge portion of the marketing spend.

A successful growth expert will be able to monitor budgets based on previous campaigns and predict the likelihood of having more or less money to spend the next month, they're in a luxurious position of being able to control growth if they're seeing success.

A growth expert can plot the course of growth in line with the company's motives.

The company may look to raise, the company might be on the sliding path to be erased; it is the growth lead's job to remain at the forefront to plot out projections and predict the good and the bad.

This means answering questions; 'How many conversions can we get for X?' 'Can we carry on growing if we spend X per conversion?' 'How much revenue can we generate with X on growth?' 'What's our runway if we cut all growth?'

They are the very much the engineer of the marketing team.

——————————————————

This is the end of slide one – next slide is manufacturing creativity; coming tomorrow.

Let me know if you have any q's or comments 🙂

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

A step-by-step guide of how I would build a SaaS company right now – part 5

Part 1 Part 2 Part 2.5 Part 3 Part 4

This is it, the last post in the series. Definitely didn’t hit one a week, life came up regularly. During this process of writing these articles it has helped to better inform my current project.

Even if you've done something a hundred times, writing out your thoughts on the subject really helps narrow down your focus and can be extremely helpful.

I'm a huge proponent of using pen and paper and creating outlines and lists and this series of articles is all about that.

We've been applying all these steps in the background and things are going well being only 4 months in. I'll throw that up as another post down the road when we've got something more tangible.

What started as a project that was going to be SaaS changed to be managed service realizing that what we offered people wanted but didn't want to manage. People are looking for turnkey these days with services that they can just track results on while paying for value and understanding that perceived value. That's not to say that we won't go SaaS down the road, but we'd rather allow the knowledge gained from running it as a managed service to help inform the best on-boarding and upkeep.

We've also seen how competitors really just stop short of actually providing something of real value in terms of how their products are implemented. We love lazy companies, even if they don't know they are being lazy.

This is part 5 of 5.

  1. Start with your revenue and monetization plan (are you targeting a sector that has money and can/will pay – Part 1)
  2. Align yourself with others in your space (cheapest way to get traction/credibility – Part 2)

2.5 – Process, process, process – Start one, refine it, continually improve it – Part 2.5

  1. Work on road mapping your product to align with what complements your partnerships (cheapest distribution) – Part 3

  2. Work on building a marketing strategy that can help expose and align your brand while strengthening its recognition with your partners (will this make us both look good) Part 4

5. Build customer advocates along the way, tell their stories (lead with examples)

The following applies to all businesses, but specifically is relevant when referring to SaaS companies as anything below an enterprise level platform has changed dramatically.

The way people purchase in combination with greater access to materials online has led to a continued decrease in trust with sales people and or teams. Most people would prefer to transact without having to deal with salespeople today. I count myself among them.

What customers want to see –

What the product looks like

Established workflows that it solves for

People like us that are currently using it

The process for getting started and on-boarded

A good story is more powerful than stats most of the time.

So let’s build customer advocates and tell their stories.

Establish the different personas that use your products, find companies/people that are using your product that would make for a good story. We’re all about helping other people relate to how to use your product for a specific industry sector.

So now let’s figure out how a well produced piece of content can check all these boxes and more.

There are a few key features here:

  • Be relatable
  • Be raw, not polished
  • Focus on the customer’s company
  • Use the customer’s social media

This is all about building a community of stories that people will come back to to reference down the line. This series of posts is a good example. The advice is provided from a standpoint of having done and worked with these groups of companies in different roles over the years.

This is marketing for today’s world, actionable, relatable, content that is built to be a seamless transition into taking action.

The majority of these stories will come from the contact you have with customers.

Be relatable

As a customer I need to be able to see myself in the person or company you are highlighting. I need to feel like I am just like your current customers, looking to solve for the same things. I need to understand that your product is for someone like me, almost tailored with me in mind.

Be raw, not polished

The BS meter is high, when high production value comes into play, there is always a hint of something not being authentic. Go for raw, not polished, this brings down the walls a bit, and relates to the point above where you need to genuinely see yourself as a customer.

Focus on the customer’s company

It’s not about your product, it’s about how your customer uses your product. Focus on their company, their internal processes, and how your product enables them to unlock losts time or revenue.

Use the customer’s social media

I don’t see this one done often enough. If you’re producing a piece of content, provide the contact information for the customer’s social media. If I’m a similar potential customer, it’s not uncommon for me to reach out to the person featured to ask for their candid feedback on using your product. I’ve personally done this more than a few times when assessing what platforms to work with or try out.

So assuming you’ve been able to do this correctly, you’ve now driven traffic back to your website which means we need to make sure that it’s clear, supportive, and enough to spark the conversation towards conversion.

You have to create a great experience.

Where does a great experience come from?

It starts from the moment someone reaches your website.

Most B2B websites fall into one of two categories:

Freemium OR Demo required

And nearly all of them are light on providing clear descriptions of HOW people are using their product. This is my all time biggest pet peeve. I don’t want to hear from your clients via a scripted video, I want to see them on YouTube using your product in a raw manner.

I know I’ve signed up for trials and upon seeing the platform never come back.

I don’t want to read buzzworthy feature sets, I want to see working examples.

We’ve made this massive transition to as someone put it in another post “REAL MARKETING”.

When you’re doing sales, your goal should be to genuinely help someone, this includes making sure everything is crystal clear, expectations are laid out, and there is a good understanding of all steps involved. People don’t like sales people though so…marketing it’s actually on you –

Make your websites better. Seriously, make them a lot better.

Know where you can ask for more information, couch it as wanting to put you in touch with someone with specific industry experience. Personalize the prospective customer’s experience.

Industry knowledge goes a long way during a sales process.

One of the best things you can do for your websites is to read all the copy outloud and match your website to a customer journey, bring someone through the buying process all one one page, then allow people to dig a bit deeper.

I’m waiting for someone to do something more creative with a pricing page as well. From a buyer perspective it’s one of the first pages I click likely before I looked at all your features, if you know it’s got a high click through rate, use that as marketing space, build something interactive so you understand who you’re pricing for, it’s like an email after you buy something, that sucker has an extremely high open rate and it’s the most misused space ever when it comes to marketing.

There are too many websites out there that have too many buzzwords, are long on fun graphics but short on actual product photos and videos, and make things a bit complicated.

You know the types I’m talking about they also usually have a video with cartoons instead of actual product shots. Off to YouTube I go!

Examples of easy places to make improvements –

  1. FAQs based on company roles – could be cool to see
  2. Normal real person copy, no buzzwords – be real not corporate, tell it like it is
  3. Actual embedded videos from your YouTube Channel on your site – don’t make me leave your website, I’ll get stuck in a youtube hole about golf or cars or food or whatever I’m not coming back
  4. A gated demo is fine, but use a service so you can provide someone with some value – for the love of god if you get my email and you need to schedule 3 phone calls for your product to allow me to see it, possibly touch it etc, you’re going to lose me.

I’ve had terrible experiences where it comes to B2B websites. It feels like a lot of brands make it all about them rather than how a customer would look at a website.

With the amount of free tools that are now available, I really don’t want to have to figure things out if I’m paying. If I’m buying software for my business, I want someone to get it configured and set up and provide best practices for making sure I get the most out of it. You have a million competitors, if you’re willing to get it setup for me and provide support so that I benefit, you’re headed to the top of the list.

If you go to an agency’s website it usually (the good ones) has a page dedicated to the process. The same should be true of any SaaS website, take the time to explain to someone they process whether buying or implementation so both parties have clear expectations.

So how does this change my opinion about how to fix this problem?

Start with the story, always.

People don’t buy products, they buy experiences involving products from people like them or people they aspire to be.

Highlight the value propositions that people want in an experience. We’re going to channel Part 1 again here and the reasons someone buys:

  1. It saves them time (reduces friction or replaces a time consuming task)
  2. Makes/saves them money (creates revenue/ adds value that lets them win business)
  3. Adoption is simple for their workforce (is easy to incorporate into an existing workflow and anyone can use it/cost of switching in relearning)
  4. Adds transparency and allows for bigger insights (provides data)

So all these things are really cool, but what if a business literally stepped in and handled all the process and flows of getting this setup, so when they turned over an instance, it was pretty much turnkey?

This is where I think we’re headed and this is where you customer advocates come in. I think this because with an abundance of platforms on the market that do similar things splitting hairs over a specific functionality isn’t something people really care about, in other words, it’s all about the results that a platform can provide and for most people you have about 2 months to prove results.

I’ve noticed this a lot with companies I’ve worked with, people get stuck into using what they know and really don’t want to spend the time learning something new or switching over.

Even the best on-boarding isn’t entirely seamless because unless you’re already a product expert it’s tough to get the most out of a new product right away.

This brings us to the big conundrum and requires a mental shift.

You’re not looking for more customers, you should be looking for more of the ideal customers.

Let me explain – when you’re building out your SaaS company when you’re a step above MVP and working towards v1 you’re going to have to do a lot of hand holding because things aren’t going to be perfect, features will be lacking, bugs will exist, etc.

Even as you start to mature, you’re battling with shorter and shorter attention spans. So we’re looking to find more ideal customers. These are the ones you can build for quickly. They are a subset of your market that you can apply work done for one with workflows and easily setup others using the same workflows/templates etc.

One of the things not readily discussed is how to measure the perceived value of your solution.

For some people the value of your solution will be astronomical, for others, maybe just a slight improvement and for those that stop using it well no improvement.

So we’re really looking for clients that realize astronomical value. This won’t be everyone, but for those that you are blowing away their expectations, understand why and how so you can replicate this for others.

This is why a really good, personal on-boarding and setup is so powerful, the keys to the castle are literally there, if you take advantage. Spend time to understand the workflows that your customers are creating, setting up, and which ones are the most impactful for them.

This is your story to tell.

I’ve noticed this time and time again with clients, some companies think that products are cheap, while others think of them as being expensive, the price, the exact same.

So we’re looking for customers that think the product is “cheap” as it has a higher perceived value.

Your SaaS business is also a services business in the beginning, you’re providing a service to solve a problem, it’s your job to get it configured and immediately providing value for the price that you are charging.

Example

Two people walk into a barber shop – the first person sees an open barber chair then gets to work on their own hair. The second person is brought to the barber chair, asks a bunch of questions about what the person is looking for style wise, lays out the services they are going to offer, hot shave, how they’ll start and finishes with product recommendations for maintenance.

Who’s going to get the better review?

The same goes for selling your software.

Because people don’t like sales people but love implementation people. Your website should be doing all of the heavy lifting and you should be implementing really intelligent ways to collect data about interested parties so that you can customize your follow up with them. It’s never about getting them on the phone to talk about their business, it’s always about what you can already know about their business and showing that you can provide value towards improving it.

There is a gap in the above paragraph that a lot of people overlook. Data collection and personalization at scale. You’re looking for intent data points during someone’s time spent on your website. Hotjar and recording screens are great, but you’re looking to build a profile of someone before they reach out or take an action to sign up etc. This is a huge space for disruptive businesses to come in. (we spend entirely too much time just guessing)

The same is true during implementation, many companies don’t have the best processes in place no matter how well they think they have things managed.

B2B really needs to learn from B2C when it comes to storytelling.

When I see a Nike commercial, I’m invested in the story behind the person trying to accomplish something, the fact that Nike is featured isn’t the focus, never has been, it’s all about what people that wear Nike are accomplishing. This is marketing, they back this up with a solid product.

When you’re building a company, you’re asking someone to trust in you, when you are newer, you’re asking people to really trust in you. Build trust through creating micro relationships with potential clients. Make it about them.

When you’re getting started and beyond, your product doesn’t do things for people, your product enables people to accomplish amazing things.

When you shift the focus to this mindset great things happen.

So the main theme of all this is –

People don’t buy products, they buy experiences involving products from people like them or people they aspire to be.

Yes every purchase is based on an experience, an influence, a need, a want, a desire, to be like someone else. Someone is always first.

Focus on them, learn from them, then tell their story.

Sidenote and closing thought on this – if done correctly, you should be looking for bite size quotes, images etc that work well for social media. Most people today discuss long form content broken down into shorter bits to drive traffic and stretch out content. Keep this in the back of your mind.

These posts have been good to write, a constant reminder of how to stay focused and create something in a responsible way.

During the process of writing these they also reflect my current journey of not just advising companies but working on building our own company.

As always let me know if you have any questions.

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