Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Magic Words of Early-Stage Startups

There is nothing like putting your product out there for the first time, especially if it's your first product. Whether it's good or bad is irrelevant. As a entrepreneur, especially a first-timer, you're convinced you are on the cusp of changing the world.  That's how I felt when I started the now defunct Browsemob, (God rest its soul). The whole world was going to name-their-own price, while shopping on any e-commerce website, using our bookmarklet tool.  And who knows, someday the world still might.

I sent hundreds of emails, hit up events / conferences, cold called and sometimes just showed up to try to convince potential investors, potential advisors, potential clients...basically, anyone I could get a hold of that could possibly further the cause, that Browsemob was the future and this was their chance to be a part of it.  It was a truly magical time, filled with ups and downs.

Honestly, most people ignore you, grin fuck or never reply.  But, the experience taught me the magic words of early startups, which I'll share with you.  Whether you are talking to a potential investor, advisor, customer, employee (paid or unpaid), co-founder, random person you bump into at a bar, whomever...when you hear them, you know you've reach the optimal outcome.

Now, before I tell you what they are, I feel obliged to tell you that you have to have a refined, coherent spiel, which only comes with practice. Also, when pitching your product, you can't lead with an obvious ask for the magic words, otherwise they won't come or they will come, but it'll be disingenuous.  And now, the words..."What can I do to help?"

Those six words mean that you have done your job pitching an idea, that's not quite a business yet, but one day could be.  It means you crossed the credibility threshold and have at least 1 shot at getting someone to do you some sort of kindness, based on whatever it is you've just shown them; for entrepreneurs the world over, they've led to first customers, round leaders, introductions to co-founders / early employees, high-profile advisors and so much more.

So, get out there and hustle.  And when you hear, "What can I do to help?" smile, think of me & don't screw up the ask :-)

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