It has never been easier to start a business. The infrastructure is in place to get businesses going for lower investment than just about any time in history.
Yet that doesn’t mean that every startup is worth starting. There is a skewed sense of reality (particularly where I live near San Francisco) that capital seems to reward startup ideas for very low levels of validation.
Many pitches are structured around trying to be the next (insert successful startup here) for (insert category here). I understand the appeal of framing new ideas around successful models. But I crack up every time I hear a startup described as “the Warby Parker for” everything from men’s socks to headphones to active wear to art framing to furniture. This week’s cartoon was partly inspired by Vooza’s hysterical take on an entrepreneur trying to invent the next “Like Uber For” mobile app.
In the startup bandwagon, companies sometimes miss the marketing basics. One of the basics that I think gets missed is understanding your customers. There is a sense in startup culture that if you build it, they will come.
I’ve been thinking about this dynamic recently while illustrating cartoons for a new book called “Talking to Humans: Success Starts With Understanding Your Customers”, written by Giff Constable (CEO of Neo) and edited by Frank Rimalovski (Executive Director of the NYU Entrepreneurial Institute). It’s a short handbook on how to talk to customers in the earliest stages of a startup to validate and shape the idea. You can download the PDF for free or find Kindle and Paperback versions. Here’s one of my cartoons from the series.
Startups sometimes place more emphasis on what might sound good to investors than on actually validating their idea with customers. I’d love to hear your thoughts on startup ideas worth starting.
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away a signed cartoon print. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Monday. Thanks!)