Daily Archives: September 24, 2010

The marketing challenge for startups

Watch this video with Indinero’s founder, Jessica Mah. She’s 20 years old. I’ve known her since she was 16 and she’s always been an aspiring entrepreneur.

But look around the house that the co-founders all share. Five geeks sharing rent in Silicon Valley. Keeping expenses down. It’s messy, clothes are around. It’s not a showcase office that you can bring press or potential customers over to.

Why not stay in the small house?

Well, the marketing challenge for a startup is to appear big. Jessica even admitted that in her interview, saying their investors are pushing them to get an office. Why? To appear bigger!

So, look at the other ways that Indinero appeared big in the past few weeks.

1. They hooked up with YCombinator, the Silicon Valley startup accelerator. How did that make them appear big? Well, they got to present to hundreds of press and investor types at the end of the program and were joined into an alumni network bigger than anything they could do on their own.
2. They were on CNN Money. Big.
3. She was on Techcrunch TV. Big.
4. They have a great website, with a growing list of customers. Big.
5. I met Jessica Mah at TED. She paid for that out of her own pocket ($6,000 expense), which puts her in touch with big name investors and influentials. Big.
6. They integrated with FreshBooks. Big.
7. They got funded by many of Silicon Valley’s biggest investors, which landed them on influential Vator News. Big.

All this is covered on CrunchBase, too. Big.

How else can a small, scrappy, startup appear big?

On the other hand, I love startups when they are small. There’s nothing like the smell of a real startup that hasn’t shed its scrappy roots yet. Or maybe that’s the pile of clothes over in the corner that needs to be washed. :-)