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Thursday, February 23, 2012


I just returned from a full day of discussions and a seminar at a prominent university in Philadelphia, PA.  The day consisted of meeting faculty with inventions and entrepreneurial leanings.  Then I gave a seminar on how to create a startup company.  The standing room only audience consisted group of faculty and graduate students from different schools at the university.  A few weeks before I met with some local startups to discuss issues they were having.  I usually like to provide ideas on ways the businesses can advance with fewer funds or to help them overcome current issues they may be facing.

One common pattern often shows when discussing alternative ideas, the listeners sometimes show that light in their eye that says “I Get It.”  They then say, “That is a great idea.”  The interesting part is that the idea is not that novel but it is novel to them. The experiences I typically relay have come from ranges of activities and interactions in the past.  The prior experiences help in formulating alternative solutions for those needing help.  Recall, I continually encourage entrepreneurs to get mentors and advisors for just this reason.  However, this is not the key point of this article.  You will have to wait until the end to find out the point I am making.

Take for example a group of IT professionals starting a company.  A few of the companies are preparing for a product launch and need to raise capital for marketing.  No telling how long it will take to get the funds and there is no real data to show their ability to capture market yet; does this sound familiar?  The suggestion was to provide the product for a year free to a handful of high volume users.  These special users get to use the product free as long as they write articles on the use and allow the companies to advertise on their site.  In addition, the users would receive an extension of free use if they help recruit a certain number of additional high volume users that pay for the service.  Those paying users might get some type of discount for a fixed number of referrals. 

With no funds, the company could use the concept to start a trial launch and trouble-shoot any issues that arise on the limited scale.  As momentum picked up, they would be on top of the platform and ensure the end users have minimal issues and have a great experience.  Finally, by collecting data and testimonials from users the company would be able to use the info to approach investors with real sales and experiences from end users.  You will have to wait to see if the approach works, a few of the companies are trying it now.

As I stated earlier, the issue is not that the idea is new but new to the companies.  The point of this article is not to get mentors and advisors but I strongly recommend it.  It relates to how you think of the problem and whether you insist on sticking to a hard and fast traditional approach or think of alternatives. 

In Summary, the REAL POINT IS TO: