Notes from Sarah Allen’s Sep-1 Talk in SF

Sarah Allen gave a great talk about her entrepreneurial journey at our September first Bootstrapper Breakfast in San Francisco.  Sarah Allen is a serial entrepreneur who is leveraging her  software development consulting business, Blazing Cloud, to bootstrap her mobile-focused startup, Mightyverse.   We also had a lively discussion about marketing and technology adoption issues, hiring people and discussing solutions with prospects.

Marketing techniques

  • Very helpful to have your personal blog: Doesn’t generate customers but gives credibility.
  • Twitter: Before you have a following, it tells you what you need to know. Before going to a conference,  find people and follow them on twitter.
  • Writing a book is a good marketing technique.
  • Write articles but make sure you have a link on how to contact you.
Hiring People
  • Software Development:  If the people developing the software do not reflect the software, we won’t have the right software.
  • If you can, you should pay people what they are worth.  Working with experienced people can save time and management overhead.
Problem: While developing a product, do I focus on a vertical or do I focus on everything? Which vertical do I focus on?
  • Pick randomly but not too randomly. Do your market research and if you find a dozen people who are willing to use your product who belong to a particular vertical, start off with that.  Build verticals in snapshots.
  • When asking people on their vertical of interest, instead of asking them directly, ask them about their problems. People are always happy to talk about problems.
  • Don’t wait for your software to be perfect and satisfy all attributes before putting it out there.  As long as a basic functional version is ready, put it out there to be tested by potential customers and users.
  • Can you find 14 users who will help you develop your product? In Sarah’s case, even though everyone they talked to thought it was a good idea, it took several niche ideas to find 14 people that would help them develop the product.
  • Other things to ask your 14 users: how much would you pay, make sure you really understand the problem & the impact of your solution.
  • Find problems that are not going away. Then search for how you can solve it and in such a way that people pay for your solution.

Problem: How to get people to use the product. Encounter a lot of inertia to get people to use the product and hit a brick wall of people not wanting to change.

  • Can target people who aren’t using any product and aren’t familiar with the technology.
  • Go to the people who will actually use the product and then, the people higher up in the organization, who will pay the money.
Other Technology Adoption Techniques

One member suggested doing a project along side their current project, in parallel to their current development. So the customer could see the advantage but not be exposed to the risk as they had the current project to fall back on.

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