Launch:Silicon Valley 2008 was an amazing event today at the Microsoft campus in Mountain View. Co-presented by SVASE, Garage Technology Ventures and Microsoft, it brought together a large number of exciting startups and top-tier VCs; each startup presenter was given 10-minutes to make a pitch.
One dimension each founder or CEO had to address during the pitch: what would make their particular idea marketable or defensible? Although the domains and business plans of the various startups varied widely, there was a great deal of similarity at a general level among the responses to this question.
Here are some pearls of wisdom from the founders' responses; this list seems to be representative of this time and place in Internet history:
- Make it very simple and easy to use
- Viral propagation! Usage of the product automatically encourages its propagation to new users
- Consistent with the current mega-trends: Mobile, Voice and Communication. (Although surprisingly, almost no one mentioned the iPhone!)
- Target a specific audience and feed them technology; rejuvenate an old and tired industry
- Implement an initial private beta for a small set of users, and learn from them
- Create a site or company with personality!
- It's great to have a two-sided business model and multiple potential streams of income
- Find the user pain point to address
- Create a horizontal platform and then build vertical applications on top
- Go where the users are (web site widgets, customizable home pages, social networks, cell phones); the last thing users want is another place on the web to go to, another web site to check