Serial entrepreneur Steve Blank offers an enlightening and insightful wrap-up of the Fall Quarter's lectures. Distilling key issues in entrepreneurship down to six "Big Ideas", he provides a checklist of success criteria for the new startup. Through this lens, he examines each speaker's company, highlights the specific challenges faced by each, and explains in each case how these challenges were successfully overcome.
Stanford instructor and seasoned serial entrepreneur Steve Blank looks back at the commonalities and quirks of the quarter's previous speakers. Blank outlines a thorough checklist of questions and analysis helpful to any new enterprise leader, and offers insight and case studies from industry giants and new technology plays alike.
Hear that? It's the Voice of Your Customer
Steve Blank points out in his Fall 2009 Quarter Roundup that while it's vital for each company to find ways to reach their customers and create demand for their products, the strategies used by each can differ widely. Listen to speakers from these companies describe how they approached sales and marketing, their successes and failures, and what they did better than their competitors.
Viral web chats, audience direct conversation, product giveaways, poignant brand ownership, and streaming relevant content. All of these tactics are creative, low-cost or no-cost marketing techniques employed by entrepreneurs and rap artists Quincy Jones III and Chamillionaire (inspired by the theme of the 2009 Global Innovation Tournament Challenge). In this clip, both artists discuss some of their best frugal strategies in casting a net for the widest audience online, and the great rewards their efforts have unearthed, including album and ticket sales, and the sale of over five million ring tones.
The largest source of waste in the startup, says author and entrepreneur Eric Ries, is building a product that no one will find useful. This is not a technical error, but rather a tactical one. Find out early if your product has merit by developing two teams in-house: One that works on problems uncovering who the customer is and what problems they are trying to solve, and one that focuses solely on the solutions for the current product hypothesis.
Mark Pincus, CEO and Founder of gaming company Zynga, encourages fast and frequent new ideas for video game development. But rather than putting forth tremendous resources to build out each idea, they company first tests its viability with a round of "ghetto testing" - five words that will be used to market the game, posted to the website live for five minutes. If sufficient audience interest is measured, then a one-week rollout of the first version of the game is revealed to just one percent of the Zynga audience for play and feedback, almost always with some modicum of "golden mechanics" - or viral, retentive quality - built in. If these early efforts prove successful, the game grows more robust with each successive build. Pincus reports that the company is always testing several hundred products simultaneously, and that measuring this success has never been easier or more affordable.
What is it that American search companies have failed to understand in China? Baidu's CEO Robin Li asserts numerous reasons that foreign-based search tools underestimated the growth of China's online content in the 1990's and early 2000's. He first points out that the capabilities of Google and Yahoo! overseas did not match China's tremendous scale of content growth. In addition, North American companies underestimated the fierce competition and entrepreneurial spirit of the Chinese. And many Internet companies coming to China did not plan for the long-term investment necessary to fully mesh with the local market.