Startups – How Do You Like Them Apples?

LeoBurnett-Apples

Starting a business is like flying by the seat of your pants. Even experienced entrepreneurs experience the simultaneous challenges of validating and launching a product, marketing, resourcing, managing staff, engaging stakeholders and securing funding. Often – in the whirlwind – a strategic approach to marketing is lost. Or worse – ignored. My view (as it would be), is that it is never too early to market.

But wouldn’t it be great if there was a way that you could accelerate your marketing? What if you could draw upon the experience and know-how of not just your best-friend-who-does-some-marketing, but one of the world’s most respected agencies?

You are thinking big dollars, right?

And yes, it could easily cost $100k.

A Little Help from Leo Burnett

During the Great Depression, Leo Burnett opened a small advertising agency. As a symbol of hope in a gloomy and challenging time, a bowl of fresh apples was placed at the front desk to welcome clients.

These days, Leo Burnett is one of the world’s largest communications companies – and they still welcome clients with fresh apples.

And now – with Help from Leo – they are aiming to give one new Australian business the chance to win $100k in strategic and creative advice.

How? They are taking the apples and turning them into a cider business.

If you think your business – your startup – or your idea could do with a boost, it’s time to hone your pitching skills. To be in the running, the minimum entry requirement is a short written statement of up to 250 words describing your business vision. Polish your words and enter at www.helpfromleo.com.

Prize is up to $100,000 (incl. GST) worth of strategic and creative advice for a single project, and excludes execution of ideas, including production or placement of any TV, press, radio, digital or other campaign, and also excludes 3rd party / external costs. Value of prize will depend on project winner requests. Conditions apply see helpfromleo.com. Ends 03/05/13. Entrant must be 18+ and own or own a majority of an Australian business with an ABN operating for 2 years or less as at 02/04/13. Limit 1 entry per business. Crafted by Leo Burnett with assistance from Eling Forest Winery.

Good luck!

What’s in Your Startup DNA

Christmas DNA

There’s plenty of hype around startups – and around the founders of those startups. We buy books (books, really? Yes!) written by startup entrepreneurs, attend talks, download podcasts and go to  conferences. Sometimes it can feel like meeting a rockstar rather than a business person.

But for every startup, there are countless others, often behind the scenes, who have helped drive those startup successes and the failures that they are built on.

This great presentation by Yevgeniy Brikman is the view from the front row. It talks about the nitty gritty of startups. It’s not the big ideas or the grand plans. It’s the stuff that makes the business tick. And it makes you think … what’s in your startup DNA – and how deep does that go.

Image: Creative Commons License Kevin Dooley via Compfight

Dodge Shows Startups the Power of Advertising

There is no doubt that Dodge and the team from Wieden + Kennedy have produced a great piece of advertising for the Dart. But as I was watching it … as I was listening to the sparce copy that was voiced with just the right amount of self-deprecation and assurance, I couldn’t help but think that it was describing the world of the startup entrepreneur.

Watch it – because it’s great. Then, play it again and listen with your eyes closed. Don’t think cars. Think startups.

What do you hear?

Start with a simple idea. Stop thinking. Start doing … Drink more coffee. Build a prototype. Mould it shape it. Hate it. Start over …

Now, despite the hype and energy around startups, I often wonder why they don’t take a small proportion of their often overblown valuations and invest in advertising. And I don’t mean advertising for themselves … I mean in brand building for the sector. Surely there are some grand stories to be told and some people to inspire.

If the car industry was the powerhouse innovator of the 20th Century economy, then surely we should look to the startup industry in the 21st. It’s about time we told some stories.

Did You Try and Fail? Then It’s Time to #flearn

At the recent FailCon conference in Sydney, Pollenizer co-founder Mick Liubinskas threw a challenge to the audience. “When it comes to startups, let’s redefine the language around failure”.

FailCon was a day-long event bringing startups, innovators, supporters and investors together to share stories and experiences. And while there was plenty of goodwill and intention from the folks in the audience, it wasn’t until Mick pulled out a live Google Document and started challenging the audience and putting names against action items that things started moving.a  Taking on the role of facilitator, he fired questions at the audience – what do we need to open up debate around failure and startups? How can we talk about success? How can we remove the stigma?

Here in Australia we not only have the “tall poppy syndrome” which aims to lop the head off anyone who becomes too successful – we also have what I call the “failure undertow” – where even a sniff of failure can drag your reputation deep into the depths of business obscurity. That leaves a very small area in which new entrepreneurs can navigate. And that, in turn, lowers our sense of reward and capacity for risk taking.

The folks in Silicon Valley have a completely different view of failure. In the startup capital of the world, entrepreneurs who have not survived a business failure are often considered amateurs. In fact, Dave McClure, founder of incubator 500 Startups considers his business a Failure Factory.

As Mick prowled the stage at FailCon waiting for audience input – a voice from the back of the room rang out. We were talking failure and we were talking learning. What if you combined them? What if we could talk about “FLEARNING”?

And it was done.

Over the last couple of weeks, Mick Liubinskas, myself and FailCon organiser, Josh Stinton have been putting our heads together to build a place to share our failures and the successes that follow. We have been talking up the concept of “flearning” and are now looking wider – for stories and experiences of failure that we can share with the wider Australian startup community. We’d love to have you involved.

Take a few minutes to check out FLEARN.ORG and let us get this conversation started. You know you want to get that story off your chest – and now’s your chance.