For startups seeking early stage investment, it’s true, “there’s no such thing as bad press.” Before you can fight for investors, customers, or even free users, you have to fight for attention. As an early stage startup, your biggest deficiency is likely going to be attention. The more attention you get, the more opportunities you have to market your product and forge strategic partnerships.
Trying to Find the Best Type of Attention
To most startup founders, investors are the holy grail of strategic partnerships. It’s no secret that the capital and knowledge investors have to offer can be a game changer for early stage startups. As a result, startup founders from every industry flock to the doorsteps of VC firms in hopes of dropping investors’ jaws to the floor with incredible revenue numbers and exponential growth rates.
Venture capital is extremely competitive and even more crowded. Investors are used to hearing about things a company is doing well, and for later stage investments, showing your successes may be exactly what you need. But for early stage startups, standing out is everything.
It’s easy to see how subscribing to the ‘disruptor’ mindset aids in product development and business strategy, but perhaps its most important role is revealed when it comes time to seek investment. Disrupting an industry is fundamental to making a viral product––something truly new and unique that makes people rethink their current solution.
Disrupting an industry is fundamental to making a product that goes viral. This starts with a product that is, despite the cliche, truly new, and yes, truly unique. Successful implementation of the disruptor mindset starts with your users and ends with your investors.
Snapchat Proves that Investors Aren’t Afraid to Experiment
Successful investing has always been associated with strong growth rates, positive cash flow, and impeccable leadership. But for startups, being great simply isn’t enough anymore. Access to new digital tools and education has made it significantly easier for startups and their founders to get the resources they need in order to build a successful business. While running your own business is by no means easy, technology definitely makes marketing and distributing your product significantly more manageable.
For this reason, it’s impossible for businesses to set themselves apart using numbers alone. Despite being undeniably successful, even some of the world’s biggest companies like Snap, Inc. continue to struggle with getting the right numbers in front of investors. While Snapchat may always struggle with monetizing its millions of users, there’s no service that better captivates the attention of millennials and other younger audiences.
In social media, there’s nothing more unique than ephemerality. Following the belief that a picture is worth a thousand words, Snapchat makes it possible to share your life’s greatest moments with just a few taps. Instead of providing yet another medium for millennials to post on, using Snapchat inherently changes the way the world thinks of social media.
Revenue Doesn’t Always Matter: Focus on What’s Actually Important
When seeking initial investment, Snapchat wasn’t too different from the way it is now. Snapchat has essentially had the same strengths and weaknesses since its inception. While Snap, Inc. is second to none at retaining users and captivating their attention, the company has always struggled to effectively monetize its various products. Despite this, pre-IPO Snap had investors lining up at the door for a chance at stake in the tech giant.
The point is: investors don’t need numbers to determine whether or not a company is going to explode. For most investors, identifying a truly successful business has more to do with the founders and their actual idea than the numbers that show up as a result. If you’re seeking investment, you need capital (and knowledge) for a reason. Focusing on the “what” and “why” behind your business is a great way to captivate the attention of potential investors.
If you’re disrupting an industry, show investors why your product captivates and retains new users. Snapchat has never focused on revenue because monetizing users has always been its weakness. That being said, the crew behind Snapchat was never really worried about making money off of its users. Snapchat is made unique by the experience it creates for people using the app. For the makers of Snapchat, the emphasis has always been on the user, resulting in an app that continues to push the boundaries of digital content creation and marketing.
Don’t Be Scared If You Get a Few Weird Looks
Receiving a positive reaction from your users and potential investors is good for many obvious reasons. It doesn’t matter who you are, everyone enjoys and deserves a scratch on the back from time to time to keep them pointed in the right direction. That being said, puzzled and negative reactions are equally beneficial to the development of your business. It’s only when you receive no reaction at all that you should start getting worried about the validity of your idea.
While negative feedback doesn’t give you the same warm, fuzzy feeling from hearing your users talk about their favorite features, it indicates that you’re on the right track. In a society where everyone is in a constant battle for time and attention, a negative reaction is still an investment of someone’s time.
Receiving any reaction, even if it’s negative, means that you’re at least touching on a matter that hits close to home. If you’re creating something truly revolutionary, there are always going to be naysayers and those generally afraid of change. Luckily, your startup’s success isn’t measured by the number of people that tell how terrible your product is. Take a stand, and don’t be afraid to hold your ground.