Santa Clarita Startup uses Kickstarter to Raise Funding – In the News!

Last month SCV Startup Meetup held another informative and useful event centered on the topic of using Kickstarter as a source of funding. The speaker was my friend and fellow entrepreneur,Voldi Way. He capably and, in an entertaining way, shared his experience in raising money for a new project in the works at WayForward Technologies – a local game development company where he is the founder/CEO.

The event got coverage in the Santa Clarita’s local paper, the Signal in an article written by Paula Whidden.

I was happy to offer my observations, which showed up as several quotes in the article. Although I learned a lot, and it is great to see “locals do good stuff,” limitations on the types of projects that can be funded this way most likely excludes Kickstarter funding as an option for Zejoop. The possibility deserves further investigation, but it would like be an atypical campaign.

Here are some more of my thoughts on this event:

  • it was great to hear how Voldi had applied a Kickstarter campaign to his own long established and successful company
  • I was able to ask very specific questions that might help me in my business. I got answers that I could not have gotten by just reading another article online
  • Being part of the SCV startup community is fantastic. Attending this Meetup means more than simply hearing a good presentation – it’s an opportunity to interact with other entrepreneurs and share ideas and lessons learned. Seeing what Voldi went through, and hearing his answers to questions from the group is just like getting a head start if I ever use Kickstarter myself
  • One important take-away was the value of a Kickstarter project trying to create relationships with other on-going projects and then cross-promoting. By mentioning and linking to other projects, both companies benefit from wider exposure and access to new audiences.
  • Interesting fact: the success of a 30 day Kickstarter campaign can be predicted based on its performance in the first four hours after it goes live
That’s all for now – it was a great event and it is always encouraging to be around like-minded people who taking control of their futures by being engaged in the process of building a business from nothing but an idea!
(PS – check out the picture in the article – it’d be hard to miss a certain sparsely-populated “dome” attached to a person proudly wearing his University of Maryland hoodie – that’d be yours truly!)

 

Learning about Product Marketing from the Google Ventures Library

                   

Stumbled upon a great video on the topic of startup marketing that was posted in the Google Ventures library – delivered by Adam Gross who is Co-Founder and CEO at cloudconnect.com, and has been involved throughout his career at personify, salesforce.com, and Dropbox.

This is timely information for Zejoop, at this critical point in its tech startup evolution.

(Google Ventures is a seed round, or early investor for new startups – looks like a great program, with quite a few free resources – definitely worth looking into. However their  model seems to be “don’t call us, we’ll call you”, as in, you don’t apply, but you somehow otherwise “get yourself noticed.” That seems a little mysterious, and somewhat “fraught” (with peril?) but it is also interesting, and adds to the allure!)

screenshot from the presentation given by Adam Gross

Good information on Marketing – food for thought regarding the positioning of Zejoop

All of this is of critical importance to Zejoop as it tries to find its way though and past its development and beta test phases.

The entire video will be worth revisiting again later, but a few points stood out for immediate application.

The first of which were his comments on product positioning on the x-y axes of “strategic” (increasing horizontally from left to right) and “emotive” (increases vertically from bottom to top). Clearly a company like Apple is high on both scales but the the question has to be addressed early, even for a startup like Zejoop; how does it get from wherever it starts – “low” on both counts – to “high” on both? Unless the importance of this trajectory is comprehended, and that it demands a plan which is well formulated and then followed, what is the likelihood of success? Without a goal, how will you ever know you’ve arrived?

Another key idea was that of creating a industry transitional narrative – where is Zejoop going and how will it make a difference in the landscape?

The third idea which made an impression was how he described “differentiation.” To me that means asking and answering “what makes Zejoop different?” Of course this is pretty basic, but the way he articulated the point was very helpful. He told an anecdote of a friend who was at TiVo and he asked, regarding the product itself, why is it that the “pause” button is the biggest of all the buttons? – answer “that is what makes TiVo different than just TV” – the ability to pause and resume playback off a live stream. Timely story to hear as this is just the type of thing I need to tackle for Zejoop. After all there are any number of options for people to do their casual event planning. What makes Zejoop different and how can I emphasize that within the product? The good news is that a couple of good ideas have occurred to me as I’ve thought this over – but that my friends, will be a separate post!

Finally the video highlighted the importance of thinking about strategic partnerships. Clearly there are big players who have already fielded many aspects of event planning. Rather that thinking about how to take them on, head-on, why not discover the minimum viable enhancement that Zejoop can provide rather than duplicate an entire infrastructure that already exists? Oh, and by the way, an entire infrastructure developed by an army of highly skilled develops employed by big-tech? Sounds like folly, right? Better late than never, and this part of the presentation gave me a few good ideas to do just that.

That’s all for now, but I wanted to capture these thoughts while they were fresh in mind, at the risk of losing them by not doing so immediately. More to follow as I turn ideas into actions.

Moving Forward with Zejoop

There have been several articles out of VentureBeat the last few days that need further examination for their application to the evolving business model and implementation approach for Zejoop. Here they are:

I need to fully absorb these later, but the gist of the first article is e-commerce prevails over ads, etcetera for monetization. This is good news at first glance because a primary channel for Zejoop is affiliate-link sales based on the “type” of event planned. Of course, no option is off the table, but it is good to know that my first instinct was good.

The second article asserts the importance of creating your app in such a way that it appeals to youth and that it is properly packaged in a slick mobile implementation. Well, of course, I knew this, but I needed to hear it again, clearly stated, right now. The implication for Zejoop is huge. By necessity, the way that I am learning to be a software developer, and due to my choice of the Java-based application framework Grails, I have basically built a fully capable desktop version of Zejoop that happens to have a reasonable, but not optimum mobile version attached. I’ve built desktop browser first, and have gotten mobile almost as an afterthought – passable but not as slick as it needs to be.

Fortunately, I have found that there are possible paths forward to get great mobile even from my starting point without needing to start over. A good discussion to that effect is here:

Hidden in that discussion are links to Grails plugins that will/may hopefully facilitate such a transition. Here are links to GitHub repositories and requisite documentation:
That’s enough for now. Sorry if this is not your cup-of-tea; I have indulged here somewhat, making a post that I’ll find useful for me, but for you, not so much, maybe.