Final Reflections and an Exciting New Company: Postmates

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!

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