In the span of one week--more diverse and stressful than admitted--The Jenius was presented three different projects. Each was technology-based, with strong niche marketing foci and an A-game team at the top.
--None of the projects had a central marketing person. The closest any of them got to a "marketing person" was the project that was relying on their machine supplier's salesperson to "help them out."
--None of the projects had anything close to a quality marketing plan. Yes, they had identified contacts and key people within their niches, but the extent of their marketing plan was "We'll call these people up and tell 'em what we got."
--All three projects were seeking money. No surprise there, but to varying degrees, they were playing with the idea of venture capital in idealistic fashion: wanting the money without "too many restrictions." Although they deem their outlook realistic, it is actually naïve: venture capital will exact its many pounds of flesh no matter what you think. As one project presenter put it: "They tell me that it's better to have 25% of something than 100% of nothing." Uh-huh. And yet, despite their (limited) experiences and My comments, the project teams were still looking for that "golden handout."
The only check these people will get is a reality check. Yes, Virginians, there is no Santa Claus. However, the monies you seek are still at hand.
You may want to digress to this post and to this one to get My viewpoint about launching a start-up.
Okay, back to now. That each project lacked a defined marketing person is a common failing of tech-based companies. To techies, the coolness and lust-inducing value of what they create is logical...except to customers, who aren't techies. Marketing is "squishy", not cut-and-dried like technology, so techies avoid it like most of Us avoid touching slugs. This often leads to other problems, as mentioned here.
So what is the solution? Rather than change these projects and their composition, My suggestion is to create an agency that provides marketing that culminates in getting the project financed from the largest source of money out there: the market.
Like these three projects, many others in Puerto Rico and abroad cannot seem to make the leap from "concept/design/implementation" to "marketing/sales/revenue" without some "money m(adn)ess" happening in between. But the two points are not as distant as most people believe: the market is filled with players--mostly customers and suppliers--for whom getting in on the ground floor of a new opportunity is a great deal. In some cases, non-competing companies may want to expand their reach and who knows if a competitor wants to pick up some fast power in order to take out current (or future) competitors.
Rather than go the clunky, inchworm way of the VC fund (or waste a ton of time and talent on empty-headed "business plan" competitions), these projects need an ally that can shape up their marketing plan and get them to the market in weeks, rather than months, with an eye on finding alliances that fund the company's first quarter of operations.
This ally--this marketing agency--would work one-on-one with the client to develop a marketing/financing strategy aimed at launching the company with monies from alliances, supplier lines of credit, partnerships, etc. This requires that each project be clearly defined in its advantages to key players, a combination of research and networking. The basic work would be covered by a nominal fee (about the same cost as a business plan) and all other fees are derived from sales results.
By basing the agency's revenue directly on client sales, the company can keep its equity, launch operations and pay for the service (and pay quite well; this is not charity work). Idealistic? Unrealistic? Let Me ask you which do you prefer: An investor who takes months to put money in your hands while shredding your project for his/her benefit or an ally that works with you to get the company started because then you both benefit?
The Jenius Has Spoken.