January 20, 2016

Last May we did a crowdfunding campaign for our smartwatch Pulse Play. Just before we launched, a lot of people told us what a big mistake it would be. These are the things they said.

“You’re taking a big chance.”

“Your goal is too high.”

“If you can’t get people to contribute, you’ll kill the product.”

You get the point.

The easiest thing in the world to do is to tell somebody that they’re wrong, and it’s a favorite pastime in the startup world. As an entrepreneur you’ll find yourself in endless arguments over where to take your product and how to build your marketing strategy, not to mention defending the idea itself.

Everybody has an opinion.

And the biggest offenders? Investors of course. In about 99% of the meetings I’ve had with them, they knew exactly how to improve...

November 30, 2015

Have you seen the award-winning ad for Volvo Trucks created by the talented people over at Forsman & Bodenfors? It shows JCVD doing an epic split over two Volvo trucks driving backwards. If you haven’t seen it, watch it; if you have, watch it again. It’s a classic.

So what does this commercial have to do with startups? My answer is: EVERYTHING!

I would love to see the brief that the advertising agency got when they were asked to create this ad but, without reading it, I assume it went something like this:

“We are launching a new line of European heavy duty trucks and each of these five trucks has some spectacular technology which is the result of very innovative engineering. We want you to find a way to explain this to people so they choose our truck...

October 15, 2015

After 17 years managing and supporting companies and non-profit organizations in their fundraising efforts, here’s what I’ve learned: it ain’t easy.

More often than not in a young startup, NO is far more common than YES. The CEO is usually spending 95% of his time researching and chasing down potential investors. Meanwhile, he’s trying to figure out what will make investors click with his startup’s message in the hope that one of his leads will be fruitful.

When I meet with startups that have already started this process, they usually show me “the spreadsheet.” You know the one – a million columns wide for every conceivable parameter. Contact information, last contact, what they sent, when to follow up, their birthday, their kid’s birthday.

Why is it always in Excel? Be...

September 1, 2015

Most crowdfunding campaigns fail. I’ve heard 60%. I’ve heard more. Last April, we ran a crowdfunding campaign for our first startup and, though we succeeded, the experience gave us a lot of insight into the challenges, and a pretty clear idea of why so many fail.

It’s all about the community

It boils down to one thing: a community with a real, quantifiable intent to purchase. In our experience, that excluded Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. In fact, there was only one type of community that ended up showing actual intent: email subscribers. And unfortunately for crowdfunders, a good email list takes a lot of time to build.

Why not social media

It’s important to think about the communities you build in terms of whether you “own” them or “rent” them. You rent your community on Facebook,...

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