- Craigslist - forever free. Forever ugly. Except for the prostitutes.
- Virgin Atlantic - airlines are cool. Let’s start one. How hard could it be? We’ll differentiate with a funny safety video and by not being assholes.
- Mint - give us all of your bank, brokerage, and credit card information. We’ll give it back to you with nice fonts. They will be green to make you feel richer.
- Facebook - the world needs another MySpace or Friendster only several years later. We’ll only open it up to a few thousand overworked, anti-social Ivy Leaguers.
- Dropbox - we are going to build a file sharing and syncing solution when the market is full of them. It will only have one feature.
- Amazon - we’ll sell books online, even though users are still scared to use credit cards on the web. Their shipping costs will eat up any money they save. They’ll do it for the convenience, even though they have to wait a week for the book.
- Palantir - we’ll base the company in Palo Alto, hire a bunch of new college grad engineers, many of them immigrants, hire no sales reps, and close giant deals with D.C.-based defense and intelligence agencies!
- iOS - the idea: a brand new OS that doesn’t run a single one of the millions of applications that have been developed for Mac OS, Windows, or Linux. Only Apple can build apps for it. It won’t have cut and paste.
- Google - we are going to build the world’s 20th search engine at a time when most of the others have been abandoned as being commoditized money losers. We’ll strip out all of the news and portal features to be sure.
- Github - software engineers love to pay monthly fees for the rest of their lives for free open source software!
- PayPal - people are going to use their insecure email addresses to pay each other real money, backed by a non-bank with a cute name run by 20-somethings.
- Paperless Post - we are like Evite, except you pay us. All of your friends will know that you are an idiot.
- Instagram - filters! That’s right, we got filters!
- LinkedIn - how about a professional social network, aimed at busy 30- and 40-somethings. They will use it once every 5 years when they go job searching.
- Tesla - instead of just building batteries and selling them to Detroit, we are going to build our own cars from scratch plus own the distribution network.
- SpaceX - if NASA can do it, so can we! It ain’t rocket science.
- Firefox - we are going to build a better web browser, even though 90% of the world’s computers already have a free one built in. One guy will do most of the work.
- Twitter - as already covered here, WTF.
Nir Eyal teamed up with blogger Sangeet Paul Choudary to summarize an essay written on November 13, 2012 by Bill Gurley, a partner at Benchmark Capital. Gurley described the “10 factors to consider when evaluating digital marketplaces.”
Eyal and Choudray digested the content into this interesting slide deck, which can also be found at Nir and Far.
This class, Entrepreneurial Marketing, has been very eye-opening for me. Thinking about the unique challenges and choices faced by start-ups in connecting with consumers and other stakeholders has helped clarify and extend my understanding of marketing in general.
One key takeaway for me is how critical it is to think deeply about your first few customers, how they will find you and how you retain them. I think this highlights the sometimes sloppy thinking when doing marketing on a larger scale–big numbers can cover up the atomic details of customer interactions with your message and product, and make it easy to launch a flawed marketing campaign. Start-ups have no such luxury and must be focused on exactly how customers will interact with them.
While I plan to work for a larger firm, the lessons from this class still apply. Who are you targeting? How narrowly can you slice your targets? What will they see, and what do you want them to do about it? For a multinational you’re trying to acquire thousands or millions of customers, but I still think the advice to go out and talk to customers applies. In reading The Lean Startup, I see many lessons that could be applied just as easily to GE or Unilever as they are to IMVU and early-stage startups.
During the class I had the interesting experience to be marketed to as part of a start-up’s roll out to a new market. I profiled Postmates, a company that uses bike couriers to simplify urban logistics–for instance, delivering food from restaurants that otherwise don’t deliver, or purchasing items from a department store and delivering to an office building. When I profiled them, they were only operating in San Francisco. I still signed up for their service and they gave me the normal smoke testing message that “Seattle is coming soon!” I didn’t believe them and evaluated their service assuming it would be San Francisco only for the foreseeable future.
In the last three weeks, they started emailing me that they would roll out to Seattle, and then they actually did! They now deliver food and other items within Seattle. This category of startup–the kind that works in the physical world to make urban life more convenient and efficient (other examples would be Uber, TaskRabbit, ZipCar, Zaarly, and many others)–is my favorite. I think there is a huge amount of value waiting to be unlocked with this approach/value proposition. I continue to receive interesting emails marketing Postmates, advertising various local restaurants whose food they could deliver to me (and suggesting food/dessert restaurant pairings).
I will definitely follow Postmates as they expand and grow. Young urban professionals have a great drive to make their lives simpler and better, and I can’t wait to see Postmates help them do just that!
This course is very interesting and informative. Thanks to you all for this wonderful quarter! I like the lectures which gave me the whole picture of marketing and l also learned much from the guest speakers and teamwork. Three most important things I learnt are:
Social media and customer survey are valuable resources for marketing and customer acquisition. Social media has generally growing influence in building up network and exerting marketing strategies. My friends and I are planning to run a very small business, what we will definitely do is using those social media as channel advertise our product and communicate with our customers. Besides, I will emphasize the customer survey if I start my own company. From this class, I learnt that getting out of the office and talking with your customers is more useful than sitting in front of the computer and doing market research online.
Secondly, customer retention is as important as exploring potential customers. As a start-up, you always targeting at a niche market with limited customer base. It is more easy and efficient to keep relationship with an old customer than looking for a new one. Also, customer’s feedback is valuable information to improve the product or services. In order to have stable customer base, entrepreneurs need to emphasize customers’ feedback, listen into what they want and adding new value to their product.
In addition, this course gave me opportunity to meet with the local entrepreneur and learnt their experiences of real-world marketing. I heard the difficulties they met when starting own business and admire their flexibility when facing with unexpected changes. One thing I leant from my interviewee is “Don’t keep the idea by yourself”. People’s response of your introduction can help you know the market and customer’s demands. In addition, by presenting the idea, you advertise your product and create interests. This is also a good way to acquire customers.
The companies I plan to follow is Familiar since I am interested in document sharing platform, especially photo sharing. Besides, Familiar has done a good job in marketing and grows quickly. I believe I can learn much from its strategy and unique experiences.
The marketing class is my most anticipated class under the Technology Entrepreneurship Certificate, and it didn’t fail me. Thanks for the great inputs of Andy, excellent guest speakers and classmates. I have two major take-away from this class.
- Information sharing is a good way to learn
I learnt a lot from the blog post assignment. The different posts from our classmates provide me with great resource to study various marketing strategies. An efficient way of learning business is to learn from real enterprises rather than the theories. We can benefit a lot from knowledge sharing. In addition, every time I searched start-ups to write their marketing strategies, I could always come across many exciting and terrific ideas. I truly realize that business opportunities could be everywhere. Sometimes I have the thoughts that market for everything has been filled by existing products or service, it is hard to come up with something new. But the hundreds of start-ups on the Geekwire tell me that business ideas are always inspired from daily life.
- Marketing is very hard but extremely important
From the class, I learn systemic knowledge about marketing. My previous understanding to marketing is that marketing is all about the promotion campaign of the products or services of a company. Now I gain much more comprehensive knowledge about that. Marketing includes customer acquisition, distribution channel, customer retention and referral policies etc. In the interview, the two cofounders of Postcardly expressed that marketing is very difficult, almost everyone is doing the same thing. In order to stand out, the enterprisers must figure out new marketing methods or strategies. But never give up marketing even though you fail to gain immediate outcomes from your efforts.
In short, the marketing class is very useful and informative. I value the platform created by all of us. I will keep reading the valuable company profiles and their marketing strategies via the blog. It should be of great usefulness.
Before taking the course, I am not clear about the marketing strategy within the context of entrepreneurship. During the whole quarter, I learned some practical marketing strategies and skills through company review, interview project and group project.
The topic areas we have covered gave me a whole picture about marketing strategy. First, we have a product or prototype. I need to do market research. Through the analysis, I would specifically make the market segmentation and approach our targeted segment. Value positioning is critical when we would like to market our service or product. We know what our customers need and why they need them; the next step is to prove that we could deliver the value they would like to seek. Pricing strategy is a technique as well as an art. The financial analysis would be quantitatively reasonable for us to price our product, or we might do peer review of our potential competitors. The success of a competition analysis would help us target the right customers and utilize the right pricing strategy. However, sometimes when we are trying to enter a new market, we might not have a lot of peers to review. The innovative idea would be aborted if we cannot establish customer relationship and cater to customer behavior. For example, Freemium is a good marketing tactic to disseminate our product even though we might meet financial deficit at the early stage. Distribution channels would ensure that our values could be delivered to and captured by our customers efficiently and cost-effectively. Key points would be customer acquisition strategy. Some classic theories we discussed in the class are insightful when we are trying to lean our own start-up in the foreseeable future. McClure’s Metrics systematically explained how we draw the awareness of potential customers. It is interesting to know why a start-up prefers inbound traffic to outbound. Customer retention and referral tactics would be taken seriously into account after we acquire our first set of customers.
Later on, I would follow Pathable.com. I interviewed Jordan Schwartz, the CEO of this local startup and get some first-hand information about its value positioning and marketing strategy. I like its business idea to establish a brand new online community to facilitate everyone in a business conference with more efficient social engagement. The pricing strategy is based on subscription but might be improved, I would like to talk more about this with Jordan and I have connected with him and his company in LinkedIn and Facebook. I would pay high attention to the second round fundraising of Pathable.com.
Finally, thank you, Andy, it is an interesting and enlightening course.
The single greatest aspect of this course was its ability to convey the core academic messages within the context of real-world scenarios. Andy has done a terrific job planning and executing a curriculum that incorporates theory and practical advice into every topic addressed throughout the entire quarter. Prior to this course, I had not had access to the volume, diversity or quality of entrepreneurs who were kind enough to participate in our weekly speaker panels. The differences and commonalities in their experiences and lessons learned were fascinating. Evaluating startups through a marketing lens was also a unique experience, and the learning about the level of detail involved in every stage of the process was eye-opening. This class was vital to helping me understand the importance of a well-planned, linear, and measureable marketing strategy.
This course revealed a plethora of online, publicly available resources any entrepreneur can, and should, use when building a marketing strategy. In fact, a key takeaway was the accessibility and supportiveness of the Seattle entrepreneurial community. It became clear that many startup communities around the country do not share this general attitude, and it would behoove any fledgling entrepreneurs coming out of this class to leverage that to the fullest. Generally speaking, I learned a great deal about customer acquisition, retention, and referral, especially in regard to the online mechanisms through which each can be achieved. My background is no in tech, and so SEO and other online techniques were all brand new to me. Accordingly, the entire course was a rich and interesting learning experience for me, and I would encourage anybody interested in learning how to market a startup to make enrolling in this course a priority.
Before this class, I really didn’t have much knowledge of marketing or business, in general, as I have an engineering background and this was the second business class I have taken to date. In the end, I learned a great deal about marketing and how it relates to online presence, marketing to investors, acquiring customers, and keeping customers (all the basics). I really liked the examples used in class by Andy, since I often knew what companies he was mentioning (like Golazo) and this helped me see these companies in a completely different light when analyzing their marketing strategies. As for assignments, the team project was a challenge at first, but after we knew what to incorporate (after the check-ins) everything became clearer and it ended up being the assignment that tied everything together for me. As a group, we tried to incorporate at least one marketing strategy we learned from every class and this was extremely helpful in learning everything that Andy was presenting. Being able to learn from my group members about what kind of marketing campaign we should launch and what avenues we should use for our target market was all new to me. It took a lot of creativity and novel thinking, but it was an enjoyable experience to learn in a group setting. I also learned a great deal from the speaker panels that came in and answered all our marketing questions. The panels were a little on the tech side of business, but overall, it was nice to see how companies actually do things in practice, as opposed to theory.
A company that was introduced to me, as one of our assignments, was 500px. The first version of 500px came about back in the day when the internet was slower, when a 3.2 megapixel camera was the fad, and when 500 pixels was a good size for displaying photos on your computer monitor. Since then, 500px has been revised to correspond with newer technology; however, they still focus on providing a service to the highest quality photographers. 500px is an online photo sharing and photo selling platform that also comes in the form of an iPhone application. Before this class, I had never heard about 500px or noticed them. An interesting fact, was that I had been viewing picture feeds from 500px from my RSS feed for about a year. Now when I see a picture pop up with their logo, I know the background of the company and if I absolutely love it, I know I can go purchase a print from the original photographer online. I have also recommended 500px to a few photographer friends, some of which were already users. They have had only good things to say about it.
Lastly, I want to thank Andy for making Mktg555 an enjoyable experience. I learned an incredible amount in this class. Maybe I’ll see ya at another Sounder’s match in the future (drinking Golazo)!
This was a very informative class over all. I would say the top three take-aways I had were:
- The importance of content creation: while I had always known that social media, blogging etc. were important elements of running a business I had never gone through a full thought exercise on why these were critical. These pieces always seemed like a “time-suck” requiring more energy than they were worth. This class helped me see the larger value picture of how content creation helps drives free acquisitions.
- The importance of putting detail into your strategy for “go-to-market”: Like one of the judges said in the last class, everyone always says, I will build the product, the magic will happen and then there will be customers. It is easy to be vague about your marketing strategy saying “I will use social” and I will “drive customers to the website”. This class helped me think about the first 100 customers and the very tactical methods we need to use in order to get them.
- Methods of Free Acquisition: This class helped me think through bootstrap marketing. I knew there were many avenues to free acquisition, but this class helped expose me to many new tools and methods for getting customers for free.
One new company that I learned about through this class and will continue to follow is Dwellable. I love to travel and am always looking for alternatives to hotels. It will be nice to have one spot to go to which compiles all of the options for vacations rentals into one spot with an attractive user interface. I additionally like the idea that through supporting Dwellable I will be supporting a Seattle based company.
Andy, thanks for a quarter full of “doing.” The frameworks and theories are undoubtedly important, but learning from the successes and more importantly, the failures of entrepreneurs has been the greatest take away from this class.
The flexibility found in MVP, the laser focus to hone in on the TAM, Joanna’s spark, Sasha’s humor, Kelly’s curiosity, Chris’s cross-industry leverage of customer acquisition and retention strategies – these are all things that can’t be found siloed in an ivory tower. Through GiftTracker, I also learned the joy of winning potential customers and investors by enabling them to understand a problem and the market demand of that problem. In addition, though I failed to express it well, there was great joy found in working with others with such different backgrounds. I only wish we had more time to gain better insight into the things they all study outside of Marketing 555.
Through the lens of entrepreneurs and by executing on our own business ideas, I gained deeper insight into the start-up ecosystem and will be looking for ways to imbibe in that culture of being among energetic folks who are creating value every day. So Andy, holler when you’re heading to a cool event or when Sasha’s hosting a party or when Golazo is offering free drinks or tickets at a soccer game!
Overall, I learned an incredible amount in this class. This fact makes it hard to pick a “favorite thing” or “most important thing” that I learned throughout the course. However, there is one thing in particular that stuck with me better than the others.
It is important to properly identify your potential market, available market, and target market. Understand your target market will allow you to best acquire your first customers as well as help define your product/niche. Once you have honed in on your target market, your positioning and everything else follows.
Another great thing about this class was the opportunity to learn about other local startups in the Seattle area. I was fortunate to speak with the President of Presage Biosciences, Nathan Caffo as well as one of their researchers, Joey Casalini, to learn about how they are transforming the landscape of preclinical testing of cancer drugs. Talking with Mr. Caffo, I was able to see first hand how marketing strategies that we learned about in class are more than just academic.
Overall, it was a great quarter.
This quarter in Entrepreneurial Marketing has reinforced the basics of marketing and opened my eyes to the “realities” of marketing to matter what part of the life cycle a company is in. Time and time again this quarter we heard from presenters that good ol’ PR and ad placement was often the best way to go to get new customers and build a business. Despite the new and ever-changing technology that defines so many of our lives, we have not evolved to a place where we can build companies and gather customers simply through social media. Facebook and twitter are not enough to make a company. You still need product placement, reviews, and traditional marketing tactics. (I have to admit I was secretly hoping to hear that marketing for startups is completely different but alas, I was left wanting).
What is striking about the startup world is that new companies have to be more in touch with the customer even though our lives are driven by technology making it easy to “interact” with one another without leaving our bedroom or even getting out of our pajamas. Leaving the cubicle, leaving the building, even leaving the city where it all started is important to get real feedback, understand the user experience, and hone a new product so that it can stand out from the rest. Talking to people on a bus, in a restaurant, at the gym can provide invaluable insights and result in thousands of new customers. Avoid burying yourself in your phone, tablet, or book and connect with those around you. It’s not rocket science but it can make all the difference.
Of all the companies that we learned about, read about, and heard about over the last ten weeks, there are two that I will continue to follow. The first is Optimum Energy. They are getting ready to make some significant changes and if all goes as planned, they will have the ability to set new standards of efficiency for the built environment, saving money, time, and significantly reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. This would be a win-win for everyone.
The next company is one that I only recently discovered but has been around since November 2011 – its called Everlane. They specialize in cutting out the middle man in the retail clothing process and sell to the consumer only through their online store. I recently made my first purchase and so far am pleased. They appear to be doing a nice job breaking through the establishment and helping people understand how they are being “screwd” when they buy designer clothing.
Two very different companies in two very different worlds – both changing and disrupting the marketplace in fascinating ways. Only time will tell.
Thank you Andy for your contributions and dedication to the class this quarter. I have very much enjoyed meeting with and hearing from all the guest speakers. I liked how you had guest speakers for every topic in the class and their information was very valuable. Each speaker shared great knowledge and it was great to hear their experiences – success and failures. Also, I liked how we as a team worked on a product or service and applied the topics learned in class to the project. And the panel of judges was a great idea too so that we could hear their insight and comments.
I took Entrepreneurial Strategy in the fall and I found this class to be great to take after that class. For learning more about start ups and getting to meet folks in the Seattle Start Up Community, these two classes worked well together and provided a great progression for my learning about how I can be an intrapreneur at Boeing.
The marketing strategies we learned about inbound and outbound really hit home for me when I had my interview with Scott Ruthfield from Rooster Park. It was interesting to learn from him about how relationships matter and that word of mouth advertising can go a long a way, plus it’s free! Also, I was able to really get engaged with the conversations of the guest speakers because I am watching my boyfriend work for and deal with a start up in San Francisco, Wheelz. I felt like I could retain the information and advice from the guest speakers and be able to pass on my learnings to my boyfriend while he dealt with the changing environment at Wheelz as they are going through a pivot right now.
Thanks again for the experience and allowing us to network with all the entrepreneurial leaders here in Seattle. Moving forward I do plan to research and network with more entrepreneurs like Scott Ruthfield who are in recruiting and consulting. I would like to see what it would be like to help do the hiring for a start up in the future and be able to consult a start up when they begin to create their culture.
I enjoyed the course for the opportunity that it provided to interact with local Entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship is risky and requires a leap of faith. Hearing from people who have don’t it in the past and how they achieved their dreams was an inspiring and a learning experience for me. It also gave me an opportunity to reach the guest speakers and create connections with them for advice in the future.
I enjoyed the lectures and the emphasis that they placed in going beyond the marketing plan in identifying the first 10 customers that you would target. In an environment when you don’t have a million dollars to market the product the emphasis on how to use social media channels was a learning experience for me.
One company that I will follow in future is SpiralGenetics. The company came out of the UW business plan competition and is focused on genome sequence analysis. They recently got a $3m funding and I was really impressed by the CEO and her vision for the future.
I enjoyed Marketing 555 class from the view of lectures and assignments. Lectures contained fulfilling theories, useful information about current trend and helpful sources. Variety of assignments help us understand how startups try to acquire and keep customers.
I had never studied marketing and do not have work experience in marketing area. The class lecture helped me to understand foundation of marketing theories and trend of marketing strategies, especially for web-based strategies. “Customer acquisition strategy” was the most interesting part of lectures for me. Effective acquisition strategy for first customers is to reach to narrowing target customers who would influence to other people, not send broad message to mass potential customers. Company should know specific characteristics, preference of potential customers to narrow down the potential customers group.
Interview with entrepreneur was great experience for me. I did not know any entrepreneur at the beginning of the class so I should find an entrepreneur for the assignment. Therefore, I was a bit nervous when I contacted to an entrepreneur. However, as many entrepreneurs, Ms Susan Dorsch welcomed me to her office and told a lot of experiences for the assignment. She co-founded Office Nomads with Jacob Sayles and Office Nomads is a “Coworking” community in Capitol Hill, Seattle. Although she had few marketing plan at the launch, her company had gained customers and expanding the business by pivoting the marketing plan. In addition, it was interesting that she said most important things for marketing was “know myself”. In marketing class, we heard “Know your customers” many times. However, startups can not give all functions that customers want in actual world. So “Know myself” is considered as one of most important things for entrepreneurial marketing rather in addition to “know your customer”. I will follow Office Nomads and continue to see how expand both the company and “Coworking” community in Seattle.
In conclusion, I learned a lot not only in Marketing 555 classroom but also outside the classroom. They will help me to do business in the near future.
Wow! What a quarter. This course was one of the favorite that I took as an MBA at the University of Washington. The assignments were interesting, the exposure to real entrepreneurs was great, and the topics were relevant.
As a regular TechCrunch reader I had some exposure to the entrepreneurial tech world and social media scene but I enjoyed that this class went deep into the marketing concepts and ideas that I had learned throughout graduate school. I enjoyed being able to relate to the material and the different marketing techniques that the start-ups we talked about decided to pursue. I’ve always been interested in customer acquisition and have run facebook ads and used analytics before so it was interesting when we talked about that in class. When Andy ran an ad targeted right to our class I even was thinking about how it could have more effectively reached us with a higher bid amount. The final project and check-ins were great and definitely helped drive the concepts home.
The companies that I plan to follow are primarily analytics and customer acquisition related. I am very interested in following Simply Measured and also SEOmoz. I’ve used Google Analytics many times before and I am always fascinated about the reasons people visit a website and what I can do get them to stay longer. I think following SEOmoz will show me how people get to a website and following Simply Measured will show me what they do while there. I’m excited to do more research on both companies and continue to learn ways to better market a website or company through SEO and analytics.
Thanks for a great quarter Andy!
Key lessons and my take-away from class
Any entrepreneur who wants to test demand for their product and get their first customers for virtually no cost should take this class! It teaches practical methods and provides hands-on practice with web-based tools to develop successful marketing strategies for any new idea. I have to admit, I knew nothing about marketing (much less entrepreneurial marketing) when I signed up for this class. It is the second business class I have ever taken. I not only learned basic terms, frameworks, and strategies for building startup marketing plans, but got real-world experience by actually putting them to work in developing our final project. Areas that were most impactful to me included: (1) positioning and storytelling, (2) customer acquisition and metrics, and (3) web marketing, SEO and SEM. Positioning is all about conveying your companies value proposition in eight words or less – it tells a story that intersects the product, customer, and channel. Although key for early investors, it’s also necessary for early adopters (customers) since they’re buying into your vision and product. The customer acquisition and metrics was also quite impactful. I didn’t realize the value of doing this so early-on in the process (even before a product exists) to gauge potential interest and demand. By spending a mere $20 on Google word ads and developing a pho-website using LaunchRock, we determined how interested people might be in our final-project idea before anything would have to be invested in development. This will probably be the biggest take-away for me and I will refer back to my notes often on all the various ways to assess a potential market and interest at virtually no expense. Finally, web marketing, SEO, and SEM were completely new but I know understand the value of rankings and strategies on how to improve them. Following key influencers on twitter or even understanding their rankings through FollowerWonk were insightful, key lessons.
One company I learned about that I’ll continue to follow: Earndit.com
What fascinates me about Earndit is their business model – and I believe that more companies that are socially minded will start becoming more successful as people buy-in to their approach. And this is one of the first companies I found that actually gets you excited about looking at paid-for advertisements. On the surface, Earndit simply rewards you for exercising. By linking your fitness app or device, Earndit rewards you with points that can be redeemed for products or services based on the amount you exercise. But it costs you nothing and they make money providing the service. How? With its established user base, Earndit can sell advertising to companies selling fitness products. And by selling ads, they generate revenue which they can then spend on “rewards” for their captive market. But what they’re doing is also good. They’re improving people’s lives while making money. I’m excited to see how they grow and what other companies will soon follow.
To be upfront, I was a social medial doubter before I enrolled to this course, which might be attributed to my scientific/engineering background. During this past winter quarter-2013-, I had the great opportunity to learn what real marketing is from one of most enthusiastic, savvy, and well-connected lectures from the UW-Foster Business School as well as the Seattle area.
It is extremely challenging to summarized everything that we discussed and learned during my time at MKTG555, but some of the key point that I, personally, take home are: know your customer, size your market, and most important have a strategy. Also, we covered in depth the enormous power of social media, which to my understanding now to me more than a channel of communication-it is a community. With this said, I realized with this course that social media can be successfully leverage to build and market any product (nowadays, having a company’s facebook page will not cut it). You need to create an ecosystem in where you engage your community a.k.a. future and current customers as well as your industry peers. Moreover, it is essential to highlight that each social media setting is unique; customers will use twitter, pinterest, facebook, and many other to communicate, socialized, understand, and most important share your product-free marketing-. Understanding the relative strengths and weaknesses of these channels, grand portion covered in this class, will help companies to develop a campaign that not only just reach people, but also connect with your target consumers. Currently, to the best of my knowledge, the best social media campaigns had been directed to interpersonal interactions that are linked to social interaction of brands and expand beyond company’s products.
Throughout this class also we had the opportunity to put in practice a real marketing campaign, which is different from fancy strategies from the book, for our final class project. As well as we had the chance to meet some of the most recognized entrepreneurs in the Puget sound area- great experience!
Overall, this class was extremely informative and useful. I will definitely continue reading Geekwire, startup Seattle, marketing 555 blog as well as have better understanding of SEO now after looking into SEOMoz. I additionally will keep follow Steve Blank’s blog, since the information there has been helpful.
My take away from this course:
- Raise my awareness of social media’s critical role in marketing campaigns.
ENTRE 555 changed the way I think about social media in marketing campaigns. Though I knew the importance role for Twitter, Facebook and other networking tools in marketing, before the class I never thought about trying using these tools to acquire customers (although I am always a successful case when acting as a customer). Until then I realized that Twitter and Facebook should not act only as entertainment, but also a critical part of marketing promotion plan. Besides, I think Andy’s slides for each section were really useful for they provide lots of valuable marketing information and opportunities.
- Build relationship with real world entrepreneurs.
It’s a good idea to do interview with local entrepreneurs. On one hand, it gave me a good excuse to ask for a tour in an organization I am interested in; on the other hand, it’s also a good chance to improve my interview skill. I made an almost same kind of interview last quarter, with a different topic though. I was not satisfied with my performance due to the lack of experience. Therefore this quarter, I adjusted the interview tactic (a face-to-face interview instead of a phone interview, etc.), and I am pleased I did a better job than last one. Facts proved that a face-to-face interview should always be the first choice if circumstances allowed. At least it works for me because of its efficiency (reduce the chance that we’ll be misunderstood) and a good way to build an ongoing relationship with your interviewees.
- Diverse class members, good way to make friends and learn.
As Andy mentioned in the last class, ENTRE 555 was a various combination of different backgrounds students. It was an interesting experience to work in a team with diverse members. I appreciate my teammates’ great efforts in making our project perfect and I learnt a lot from them. Ways how they thought, how they cooperated, and how we respected each one’s perspective.
Marketing is a comprehensive and complicated domain. I did not expect to learn all its essences in 10 weeks. Although we did a mock startup marketing plan, I know it will be more complicated and difficult once we step into the real world. However it was a good exercise as we spent 10 weeks to think seriously about our product’s marketing strategy. I am thankful that ENTRE 555 showed me ways to dig into this field. Thanks all.
In this course I learned the whole chain of doing marketing and what are ways an entrepreneur can try to guarantee the functioning of each link. The two most important things I learned are:
First, start early and talk about your ideas to as many as people, who will usually give you a lot of inspirations for shaping your business. “Going out of the building” will help you know how things are really going on.
Second, the social media add value on raising people’s awareness and going to market. There are many online tools an entrepreneur can access to market their business. But as so many businesses are doing marketing through online platforms, I think it becomes even more important to guarantee the quality of the product per se.
I have also learned a lot from working with my teammates on the “3DSpecs” project. I got to know how to be aware of the problem and find the niche market from certain industry. And when presenting to the investors, being clear about the problem & solution, showing how much effort you have put in and being brief and organized in presenting will leave good impression to the investors. I really appreciate what my teammates have done in this project.
I am personally very interested in China-US relation, especially in international trade domain. So I was doing individual interview with the one of the entrepreneurs in this market, hoping that the contact will make me become more familiar with this industry and which is also a good chance for me to start building the network in this field. So as the Pacific Northwest and China are forming a long-term trading relationship, the market of international trade between these two areas is growing. With the implication, both the strategic thoughts and the specific tools I learned from this course, I will consider how get a market share with the assistant of online platforms.
As a formal journalist, I have seen a lot of marketing campaigns and how companies approach media to promote their products. I always think I know what “marketing” is. However, ENTRE 555 opens a new world for me. It’s the first time I strategically learn about marketing and begin to understand the underlying logic behind marketing campaigns, from product positioning, market segmentation, pricing and distribution, to customer acquisition, retention and referral.
There are so many details to think about in order to successfully promote a product. For example, I remember the first time I wrote about the customer acquisition plan for our product. I said we would promote the product on social media, media, blogs and outreach event. Andy commented: What will you do on Social media? Why would anyone find you on Facebook? Which writer in the campus newspaper? Why would a tech blogger write about you? Which one? At that time, I know that I can’t act just based on assumptions. It’s a strategic thinking process, full of details, which determine success or failure.
Besides, for this class, I interviewed several entrepreneurs in town. I like that they all have big dreams about what they are doing, while still down-to-earth and willing to take on trivial work. I learned from them about the importance to use twitter promoting ideas to reporters and maintain relationships with them; I also learned the strategy to ship the product sooner rather than later and get feedback from customers to improve the product.
I wish our classes could be longer so that I could dig into more details about all the marketing tools, analytics and tactics. Thank you all for the fantastic journey this quarter.
I don’t like the “goodbye parts” so I will try to keep this short and sweet. Marketing 555 has been excellent in providing a set of tools, strategies, and knowledge to apply in a startup company. It has -among all- been practical, which is a key element in our education towards the re-incorporation in the job market with a higher profile.
As a suggestion for future courses, I would recommend to let people pursue their own company for the group project, so a lot of people don’t end up spending part of a quarter working on something that nobody in the group would like to pursue afterwards, and focusing on their own goal and potential venture instead. In addition, maybe some complimentary readings to expand subjects like SEO, adds, etc. could be a great supplement.
Having said that, I want to emphasize again that this experience and learning with Andy, the class colleagues, and the panelists has been awesome. I have learned a lot of useful stuff that I intend to apply immediately to our hotel venture. Specially, with a clear emphasis on customer acquisition, pricing, and referral.
Long live to entrepreneurship. Those who do what they love, are the ones who usually win.
Many thanks to Andy and the excellent guest speakers that volunteered their time to discuss the challenges entrepreneurs face as they work to capture their target markets. Three themes resonate in my mind from the class; 1) an entrepreneur needs to be passionate about his/her company, 2) a startup should be scrappy to delay accepting outside funding and the associated loss of control of the company, and, if possible, 3) outside funding should be delayed until needed to scale a proven concept.
Multiple guest speakers spoke of the challenges of leaving or convincing talent to leave stable “401k” jobs to join a startup. Each time the subject was approached, my mind transitioned to risk vs. reward and theoretical NPV calculations. What will my personal charts look like when future opportunities/ideas present themselves and what will I do? The deliberations are just starting.
One startup that has captured my interest and that I will be following in the future is Super Critical Technologies. The company was started by a group of recent Foster graduates and advertises “We build compact modular power plants” on its webpage (supercriticaltech.com). Not a lot of additional information is available on the company, but the company logo includes the unmistakable graphic of a shipping container. It seems realistic that new technology could be disruptive to the power plant industry and maybe it will be done by these Foster grads.
A Geekwire ad linked by the company’s Twitter account (@SprCriticalTech) reports Super Critical Technologies recently raised $200k in angel funding to complete the conceptual design and establish supplier relationships and that they are fundraising to build a prototype power system. Best of luck.
This class has sparked my interest in what it takes for a startup to succeed. I plan to follow the progress of several startups that I have learned about this quarter. The startups that I am inerested in all seem to have great ideas. But I know that the probability of at least one of them failing is high. I want to see what is needed beyond just a great idea in order for them to achieve to success. Our group’s project was Find A Spot, which is based on the idea that there is a market for real-time public parking information. In doing research on this concept, we learned about ParkWhiz. Users enter their parking destination, arrival time, and departure time into the company’s website. The website returns a list of spaces and their prices, any one of which can be booked at that moment. The website allows you to print a pass to place on your car’s dashboard or download a pass for your smartphone.
The ParkWhiz business model was not immediately clear to me until I mentioned the idea to a friend who works at a commercial property management firm. Her company is considering listing some of the parking spots at their retail centers with ParkWhiz. For each booked spot, the supplier keeps 85% of the price and ParkWhiz keeps the remaining 15% plus a 10% customer fee. So if she charged $10 for a spot at her center’s lot, the customer would be charged $11. Her company would still only make 85% of the $10, not the $11. Although the ParkWhiz website is easy to navigate for customers, pricing information for suppliers is not readily available. The company was quick to return my inquiry, however.
My friend’s company is exploring the idea of offering some of their shopping centers’ parking spaces to event-goers who attend events near their centers. For example, they own a shopping center near the Anaheim Angels’ baseball stadium that has empty spaces during game nights. They can offer those spaces to baseball fans as long as there are still spots available for their tenabts’ primary customers. Her main concern is that extra security would have to be hired to enforce exclusivity to those who actually paid in advance and to eradicate “squatters”. Despite this additional security cost, I thought this was an extremely lucrative revenue opportunity for her company.
The company has great PR. I found out about ParkWhiz from a sidebar in “Inc.” magazine. The website is very up front about who its business partners are, which include airports, professional sports franchises, and ticket clearing houses. These relationships and free PR create a formidable top-of-funnel awareness. It would be interesting to know how many of their website visits translate into actual parking spot bookings. I know I would have trepidation about my parking spot actually being available upon my arrival. Regardless, the company is on to something. It has very low capital costs and has identified a real customer pain point.
This is actually the first business class in my life. I remembered when I came into the classroom the first day, Andy asked “are you a business student?” I said “No”. “Have you ever taken any business class?” “No, I guess.” “….” ”is that ok?” “Well, probably, I guess.” That is how I started.
I am from Public Affairs and we don’t talk about new ideas and creativity that much and we don’t talk about MONEY at all. The first class when we created our own ideas and attract members to join you to make the marketing plan for your idea, that was the most exciting class I had.
Through every week’s guest speaking, I have met several entrepreneurs who are doing something interesting for me and got inspired by their stories. My reflection on all these stories is that sticking to the initial idea that interests you but keep changing on the strategies.
From the individual interview, I met one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Chinese community in big Seattle area. his story of quiting from Microsoft and starting his own business with his own invention should be a good model for the Chinese community here working for big companies like Microsoft, Amazon or even technology companies in Silicon Valley. They could create more and better realize themselves if they have the courage as well as the marketing plan.
Our team project works well, although we have only four members and all are international students. We did a lot before narrowing down the target group to an actual community in Seattle. I think we have come up with the plan that you can start with at any time.
In any sense I could think of right now, this is a valuable experience for me. Some part of me has been changed during this course, which is a good thing.
San Francisco-based Carbon Lighthouse develops energy efficiency solutions for a variety of building types. The benefits of a Carbon Lighthouse project include the reduction of a building’s energy costs and its impact on the environment. Since 2010, the company has completed 86 projects, reducing carbon emissions by more than 20,000 tons and saving customers, on average, $2.84 per square foot.
The company uses proprietary tools to analyze energy usage data that is collected from the building’s systems, allowing Carbon Lighthouse to deliver the lowest-impact solution for making the building carbon neutral. This may involve a combination of the items below. Purchase and installation of expensive new major hardware systems is never required.
- Rescheduling of utility equipment and resizing of pumps and fans
- Installation of cost effective variable frequency drives for the building electromechanical equipment
- Optimization of HVAC systems
- Installation of renewable energy generation sources
- Purchase of carbon allowance retirements
The company serves utility and commercial properties of all sizes. This represents a significant market opportunity, as commercial buildings are responsible for 20% percent of all U.S. energy consumption. The majority of Carbon Lighthouse’s projects have involved small- to medium-sized commercial properties, ranging in size from 20,000 to 500,000 square feet. This market segment is underserved due to the sheer number of these types of properties. Furthermore, efficiency does not receive the same level of publicity that other renewable energy resources receive. Carbon Lighthouse is making a deliberate effort to educate the public-at-large about the role that improving energy efficiency has in our collective effort to reduce energy consumption.
Carbon Lighthouse distinguishes itself from its competition by approaching each opportunity as a systems integration project instead of by offering individual efficiency products. The result is that the company’s clients receive the highest possible return on their efficiency improvements. Carbon Lighthouse collects data on the energy-usage and operating characteristics of each set of building utilities. It then analyzes the data to develop a solution treats the utilities as an integrated system. Clients end up with a carbon-neutral property that relies on low-impact utility optimization instead of installation of entire new systems.
The company recently integrated its sales and engineering efforts into a formalized process. The cycle has seven steps, starting with customer acquisition and ending in solution implementation. This process allows Carbon Lighthouse to leverage its systems integration approach. By analyzing each step in the process, the company has identified focus areas for customer acquisition and sales growth. Currently, one such focus item is improving the conversion of customer leads into on-site visits in which efficiency opportunities can be identified. Once potential customers understand the how optimization translates into real savings, the probability of that customer executing on his or her environmental interests becomes much more realistic.
Carbon Lighthouse has acquired most of its clients by networking at sustainability events and establishing relationships with local real estate groups. It recently hired a Director of Business Development and has increased its social media activity. But more importantly, Carbon Lighthouse is generating interest by educating the public about the benefits of energy efficiency. It has done this by hosting webinars and presenting at energy conferences. It is generating publicity in other forms of media. The Director of Engineering was published in the January 8, 2013 edition of Forbes, and the company has been featured in a local TV report and in a Bloomberg television spot. As efficiency awareness increases, Carbon Lighthouse’s market will grow.
Marketing 555 was a fun class this quarter. Through my group’s project I was introduced to a lot of new local specialty food stores. It will be great to visit them, learn more about the items they carry, and try out some new recipes. It also introduced me to the company Grocery Server. Grocery server had a similar goal as our business idea: make it easier to find grocery items in your neighborhood. However, Grocery Server focuses on telling you where you can find any item, not just those that are rare ingredients, as well as tells you about discounts and deals. Rather than being the go-to resource website, Grocery Server provides this information to other sites that use their service. Because of this, Grocery Server has popped up on so many recipe websites I have visited. I think their approach to serving the market is a great one. By providing the information to well known recipe sources, they don’t need to conquer that market too. They bring their information directly the users who need it and the businesses that benefit from it.
I think one of the most important things I learned from MKTG555 is that you can be clever in marketing. Although it is nice to have a large marketing budget that allows you to do print, TV and other traditional advertisements, these may not actually be the most effective means of acquiring new customers. Cultivating a grassroots following through social media efforts, blog posts that reference your business, or PR stunts that grab attention can be very effective marketing techniques at low cost.
As a Real Estate student with a background in Landscape Architecture, I have never dived into the issues covered in ENTRE 555 in much depth. Although the class materials focused heavily on online tech and merchandise, I have found that the concepts of product positioning, market segmentation, customer acquisition and retention are relatively universal no matter the product type. By stretching my thinking to look at these issues through a different lens, I have broadened my understanding of how and why people react and make the choices they do. Most importantly, I learned about new methods and tools for gathering customer information and luring them my way.
Prior to the course, I was very anti (most) social media. For years, I have worn the fact that I don’t have a Facebook or Twitter account as a badge of honor. That, however, has now changed. While I have not opened a Facebook account in my real name, I have done so under an alias so that I am able to better investigate what people are up to. Baby steps. With my new found appreciation for the potential social media has for business or product development and success, I may begin to mix a few tweets with real world handshakes in the near future.
Speaking of Twitter, I began following many of the people whose names came up in class, people like Dan Martell and Joanna Lord. What is clear to me is that most successful people in the online/ tech space are not very shy or quiet about what they are up to. What I understand now, is this isn’t 100% about self-indulgence; rather it is about finding and creating opportunities. Social media is a way to find your tribe of like-minded individuals and businesses. By being consistently active and providing relevant, interesting content, people will follow, share, and support your ideas. That, perhaps is the greatest thing I took away from ENTRE 555.
One company I came across this quarter that I will continue to keep track of is Livemocha. I really like their product, particularly how they have made it social, making an online language training program as practical and realistic as possible. Since I work internationally and travel a lot, the idea of an online social language training program that I could sign up for a couple months ahead of a trip is very appealing to me. Perhaps even more appealing is the idea of an ongoing online and classroom based training program for languages spoken in countries I work constantly. Livemocha has my attention, and likely my business into the future.
As I am a business class novice, my key takeaway from class will probably be a bit basic as compared to the rest. I had heard the concept of the sales funnel before, but had never really explored it. I learned the value of tracking potential customers throughout each step of your customer acquisition process, and then using the information you gather to identify the hurdles for customers in your acquisition process. Never having worked in a retail environment, this was new to me. I am working hard to figure out how I can use this concept to improve my work with rural farmers in East Africa, which will likely take a much more relational form than the online form we discussed in class.
One other key lesson I took away that was easier for me to connect to what I currently do was the idea of positioning. Our guests, Andrew Wright and Rob Salkowitz, said that positioning is all about what space you occupy in people’s minds. They said no two companies or products can occupy the same space, so getting into and staying in that space is the trick. I think about this relative the work I do with farmers, not only in how we position ourselves in their minds, but also how we position ourselves in the minds of investors and other supporters. I have been challenged by this to think about everything we do, from fundraising to implementation, to make it all consistent relative to our overall vision and mission.
A lot of what I learned in MKTG 555 came from having new entrepreneurs speak to the class each week. Not only did it put marketing concepts in context but it also helped expose me to the wide variety of startups that exist in Seattle. I think this knowledge of what is out there was one of the best parts of the class. Between the guests, companies highlighted in class, and researching companies for blog posts, I feel like I have a much better sense of the startup scene and have discovered a lot of new companies that I will continue to follow. One in particular is Exo Labs. Before this course, my focus was on biotech companies developing drugs but I have discovered a lot of startups doing exciting things in the life sciences outside of drug discovery/development. This opens up a wide range of new opportunities that might interest me in the future.
I also learned how critical it is to focus on who the initial customers of your company are and how valuable (and easy) it is to get out and talk to them. I think I have improved by ability to identify that customer by observing other companies and through our group project. Additionally, this was my first introduction to strategies behind SEO and web marketing and I know that having this background knowledge will come in handy.