Nowadays, the news is flooded with several stories of different startups achieving success, failing, learning, and closing a round of funding or hiring a new CEO. Several blogs have made huge successes from publishing or featuring these tech startups and how they are disrupting industries or influencing lives. So much buzz on social media about them and major platforms like CNN, BBC etc. are finding it necessary to showcase these startups by inviting the founders over for a chat. All of these and more have contributed in one way or another to the huge noise startups has and craves for. My views on the positive and negative effects of these noises for existing and new startups are as follows:
It is widely known and accepted that there is nothing like bad publicity. Any message that gets out there about a company or brand is good enough to peak interest and drive traction or even more, especially when it is through popular platforms. New startups have leveraged it to shoot their products or offerings to an established status. Experienced and successful startups still creates more buzzes to stay relevant or credible, outshine competitors, acquire more visitors or drive sales. That is why most new startup companies launch their products with information like “as featured on Tech this and tech that” or “xxxcompany is in the news” on their landing pages.
The point here is, this is really good and can be helpful for new and existing startups to stay relevant in this era of rapid disruptions. New startups that have their strategy clearly mapped out, a few early traction and concepts validated can leverage on available platforms (blogs, multimedia channels, social media, global NGOs etc.) to get the word about their uniqueness out there for people to see and be informed about. In fact, it is an easy way to locate investors who might be interested in shelling out the funds necessary to build your company. But is the noise always advantageous for new startups? Not really and here is one reason why.
Focus can be badly affected in the middle of all the noises and this applies to both the founder(s) and the startup. Not every startup can handle buzzes about them very well or use it to their advantage. An experienced colleague shared a story of a startup that was doing so well till it got featured on a global TV platform and became almost non-existent afterwards. Some new founders feel until they get their unfinished products on popular platforms, they can never achieve success or they are not doing very well and that can be disastrous. It can because the initial focus on delivering real value with your product or service can be replaced or diluted with seeking unnecessary fame or recognition. Products with a robust strategy behind them usually don’t make immediate noises because strategy is more for longer term results and not just for right now.
Your immediate task should not be on how to make it to major blogs or multimedia houses for exposure but to build a solid product that actually meet needs or solve problems. Until you have, the noise created around you will have no meaningful effect going forward and the feedbacks will quickly derail you on the actual reason why you set up your company or build your product in the first place. Noises can also lead to an ego problem, where a founder self-validates his product or service based on the amount of hypes it was able to generate, without really doing the actual learning from the feedbacks received, thereby setting up the product for failure.
So my opinion on how to make it as a new startup in such a noisy environment is: Focus now on building a solid product or service first. By solid I mean a product or service that meets a real need or relieves a customer of a major challenge. As Eric Ries stated, “Build, measure and learn” and not build, noise and noise. When you have a well mapped out strategy, real buyers, active users, healthy traction and a focused team, then you can open up your doors for the noise to take it from there. Your startup is guaranteed to be around much longer this way than the other way round, also known as “the noisy way”.
I will love to read your views on this topic. Feel free to share them in the comment section below. Enjoy the rest of your week!