What if you took Jessica Alba’s striking beauty, Will.iam’s style, Gwyneth Paltrow’s penetrating insight and added Gary Vaynerchuk’s hardcore entrepreneurial spirit and day to day experience into the mix and turned it into a TV show? You’d get Apple’s 2017 “Planet Of The Apps”, a show for VC’s and Start Up Founders to meet and match and potentially launch some groundbreaking new Apps that could disrupt industries and alter certain business landscapes.
Here are the 3 most potent takeaways I got from watching Episode 1…
1 Have An Outstandingly Valuable Product That Fills A Key Need
The truth is that in order to really stand out from the competition and stand a chance in front of the jurors, and more importantly, to stand a chance in the marketplace, you really need a product or service that is outstandingly valuable and fills a key need. Ideally nobody else is currently filling that need. I know it sounds like such a simple concept and yet the vast majority of participants failed to come up with such a product or service. In the case of “Companion App” (@getcompanion) the need to feel safe while spending time outside alone – especially in dangerous environments or during dark hours – was filled by providing a service that lets users add their closest friends to the app and allows them to virtually be with them in realtime. Any danger to personal safety is immediately registered and can be responded to either manually or automatically based on certain pre-programmed triggers within the app. The reason the concept resonated with the jurors was that a) it is based on one of the strongest human emotions: fear and b) it provides a very good reason for people to connect digitally.
2 Evaluate Anything That Can Go Wrong
You have to evaluate all the strengths and perhaps more importantly, the weaknesses your product or service has. This is key to self awareness and market awareness, which in turn is key to the success of your product or service. During the initial presentation, Companion App’s pitch appeared pretty solid and even managed to convince Gary Vaynerchuk of its viability. That said, once the marketing master himself arrived on scene to coach the two founders on how to get it funded by VC & Angel investors, a big load of ‘good old surprise’ hit the fan. Google had just released its new service “Trusted Contacts”, which turned out to be almost exactly the kind of product “Companion App” wanted to be. While the two had a plan B in place it was not as strong as it could have been. Gary Vaynerchuk essentially ordered them to cold Email around 20% of the leading family owned security businesses in the US, in order to secure enough financial backing to at least give the start up enough financial runway prior to their pitch to Lightspeed. If you don’t want to depend on last minute emergency decisions for your successful pitch you should seriously consider brutally assessing your product or service’s exact weaknesses and iron those out prior to pitching.
3 Become An Eminem Of Emotional Intelligence
I swear I’m not talking as a fanboy when I say that Gary Vaynerchuk’s extreme level of emotional intelligence essentially secured the deal. Lightspeed Venture did after all decide to invest 1 million $ into ‘Companion App’, but not before some serious questioning and a moment of serious classic ‘awkward silence’ when Nicole Quinn (@Nik_Quinn) brought up the topic of the similarity between Google’s new ‘Trusted Contacts’ service and the service Companion offers. I mean the fact that Gary hammered the importance of that issue into his two protegés’ heads (see the 2nd point in this article) was important enough but what he did next was simply a stroke of genius. He responded saying that he made sure the two would spend a lot of time fearing Google while developing the app. This statement not only conveyed an understanding of Lightspeed’s position on Gary’s part, but literally disarmed the whole argument that Google’s product would be dangerous competition. He literally spoke as though he was a Lightspeed VC investor and made sure that their concerns were addressed. The speed at which he did so clearly demonstrated that this guy is an Eminem of emotional intelligence. He was freestyling, you can tell he constantly thinks in this manner. This is salesmanship- and “marketing-think” at its finest. So the key here is to always address your product from the perspective of the market. Don’t simply consider your own position, but far more importantly, think from the position of the market, because after all, they are the ones who are supposed to buy into your idea.
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