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People everywhere. Parties that seem to be on continuous loop all day. Vendors marketing new ideas, new startups or new swag everywhere you go. And then there's the conference with its many speakers presenting on topics ranging from anything to everything. With 30,000 people in attendance, the South By Southwest Interactive Conference can be overwhelming. So from a recent SXSW newbie to you, here are three questions to ask yourself when preparing to attend SXSW 2015.
Every Thursday evening in downtown Pittsburgh, something special happens at Little E's Jazz and Blues Club. During happy hour each week, entrepreneurs get together to tap into what's hot in the Pittsburgh start-up arena. Over drinks and cool jazz, they have the opportunity to interact and create relationships with potential financiers, university incubators, economic development thought leaders and other business stars.
"No business plan survives first contact with customers," Steve Blank says. What? Isn't the point of planning that you maximize the likelihood of success in the marketplace? Well yes, but perhaps not the kind of planning you might be thinking about. A business plan conceived on paper, powered by a great idea or invention, enhanced by research on the size of the market and a customer profile, has great potential. But it also has a crucial flaw.
Once you've heard the insight--that startups are different from big companies--it seems so obvious. Yet too often entrepreneurs, and those that teach them, approach the building of new companies with the same goals, staff structures and assumptions that motivate the management of large companies. Startup founders build teams to focus on engineering, and on the process of creating a product and bringing it to market.
With 1 Million Cups, as with any startup, our tendency is to put our best foot forward. We spend a lot of time talking about all of the great successes that we've had over the past year--and there have been many. But one of the things that makes our program special is that sense of having a safe space to share what you haven't done well and what you're struggling with on a day-to-day basis.
At a Life Science Ventures Summit hosted by the Kauffman Foundation, Huffington Post writer Jennifer Hill led a discussion focused on the players in entrepreneurship and asked the panel about approaching investors (0:38:28 – 0:44:00). The panel included Nick Franano, Avi Roop and Geoff Clapp.
Building on a simple idea can be the most important thing for a company in the long run. A focus on a simplified solution and a diverse marketing plan were two key things that set Smart Monitor on a successful path.
Leaving presentations to chance is like embarking on a trip without a map (hat tip to Amanda Schnieders for the metaphor). If you don't know where you're headed and how you'll get there, you may not reach your destination.
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