Tag Archives: startup

Don’t Sell the Problem – Sell the Solution


One of the most important stages in the process of building a product is choosing your marketing strategy – including your target and goals (especially if you are on the marketing team).

Frankly, when you’re a marketer (or least not a developer), the initial product development period gives you time to think, plan, and act towards your marketing strategy and decide how to approach bloggers, customers, users, etc.

Your marketing strategy should involve many aspects such as social media, public relations, and SEO, in order to broaden your reach as much as possible. To keep it simple, Kissmetrics covered these points in an amazing guide called “The Ultimate Guide to Startup Marketing

Getting to know and choose your market (the first point in Kissmetric’s guide) is not only about defining demographics and market size, but about the message you are going to deliver to each one of these potential users.The first thing to understand is that you are not selling your users the problem, you are selling the solution.


We want to help people who have a problem sharing content

Earlier this month, we released the private beta of our new product, Swayy, a tool that brings you content to share with your community. As founders of a startup, we worked hard keep our social media accounts active on a daily basis. This in large part involved finding engaging content for our followers to consume, and thus grow our community and position us as thought-leaders in the industry. That was OUR PROBLEM. No one had to explain me why I should be active on my social media outlets, what my goals should be, how time-consuming it is, and how painful they are to maintain. When you are familiar with the problem, you understand the solution.

Once we had our first version of Swayy ready for beta testing, we decided to devote the first few weeks to pitching it only to close acquaintances and asking them to test it in order to get early feedback.


The feedback was divided into two clear groups:

Those who had the same marketing problem as I did focused on the quality of the content and the necessary components of the system.

Those who don’t understand the point of sharing mostly gave feedback on the UI (which should not be discounted).

I instinctually had the urge to explain to the second group why they should share, why it’s important to be active on social media, and why they should want to grow their community. After enlightening them, how could they not fall for Swayy?


You can’t convince people to solve a problem they don’t have

The defining moment in our marketing efforts was when we realized that we cannot sell the problem itself. We’re not here to explain the importance of social media for you and your startup, we’re not here to explain what sharing can do for you. We aren’t the messengers of blogging, content marketing, and content sharing. We’re here to solve a problem for the people who already know they have it.


Filter feedback from “fake” users and ignore their metrics

Having more users onboard is a good thing, but it’s a bad thing when it negatively affects your usage percentages. The users that didn’t understand the point of Swayy or social media marketing were not counted as signed up users, and their activity on Swayy was ignored. These “fake” users are great for getting feedback on UI, UX, the onboarding process, and so on. Their feedback is important, and we made a point of never ignoring it.


How we approach user growth at Swayy

At this moment, several weeks into our private beta, we’ve better learned more about who our users (or potential users) are and are not. We also learned which channels to use for finding potential users, and which should be avoided.

The most important lesson we learned since launching the beta is to not waste time explaining why Swayy will help one solve a problem someone might experience in the future. We’re here to solve an existing problem for those who know they have it.


I would love to hear about how you find your potential users, and the ways you reach out to them. Leave comments or be in touch on Twitter


If you are interested in using Swayy, leave your email at www.swayy.co to join our growing private beta.




Photo Credit gem66


Why You Should Learn To Code Even As a Non-Technical Founder


Being in a technical environment my entire professional life, I came across programming several times:

First, as a System Engineer I came familiar with basic scripts programming, and DB structures. Later on, during my engineering studies, I learned some basic C and Java programming.
I never became an expert or developed the desire to be a programmer, but by knowing the basics of programming and how systems are built, I understood how it helps one become a better startup founder.

Got my hands dirty

I was always capable of having decent coding conversations, so when we needed an extra hand in the development of SUMMER, it was clear to me I could step up to help with the client-side programming.

I took the minimum time necessary, and expanded my “knowledge” with HTML, CSS and Javascript. My contribution to the product was negligible, but I became more familiar with the product, got myself involved in techie conversations, and ended up with a different point of view in regards to my marketing role.

I fell in love with this status. When I was asked to program for my studies final project using any programming language I wished – I took the opportunity to learn Python (our server-side language), and wrote an entire program based on it.

As I expanded my knowledge of programming, I began to better understand the bigger picture.

Get explanations from the programmers

I’m no longer involved in a programming role, but I’m still doing my best to know about the inner workings of our products. I initiate frequent discussions with my technical co-founders, I want to know the flow of our system, what it takes from us to do certain things, why some take longer than others, and so on.

Understanding the background of your system, and how beneficial it can be for you is a huge advantage for several reasons:

1. Know How Stuff Works

The basic and most common advantage when you know how your system works, is actually absorbing the daily routine of startup life. Additions and improvements to your product might be something you talk or think about frequently.

Encounters with bugs, unclear scenarios, and other weird cases happen all the time. Knowing the cause of these issues, and understanding the situation is important as a founder of the company, rather than waiting helplessly for the problem to be fixed.

2. Pitching & Meetings

Startup founders often find themselves in situations where they need to talk about the startup and the product. When in a marketing role, you can find yourself with people wanting to know more than the general explanation of the product. Some people will be interested in the technology behind it, learn about future capabilities, technical advantages, and so on.
Having the answers to these inquiries can improve a meeting or a discussion, and prevent questions from awkwardly hanging in the air.

Picture yourself speaking with potential collaborators, interested bloggers, or a journalist wanting to cover your work – having the right answers allows you tell a better story, and even can be a time-saver for both parties.

3. Product Support

In an early-stage startup, all of the founders handle customer support. If you are the person behind the social accounts, you are the first stop in the support process. Knowing the answers to technical questions from customers saves their time, your time, and the precious time of your fellow programmers. With my understanding of the product, I am able to easily answer questions regarding low-level bugs and user feature requests, leaving the development team out of the communication.

Trust me, you and your teammates will greatly appreciate streamlining of this process.

I would love to hear if any of you non-techies had the chance to learn to code, and how it affected you in your startup.


Picture credit: Hans Braxmeier

How to Manage your Time Better as a Startup Founder


A lot has been written and said about Lean Startup, Minimum Viable Product , and Bootstrapping your idea to a product quickly and efficiently.

The techniques are known and well described and the unending amount of tools that help you to achieve it are also common knowledge by now.

But getting to know how to do it, doesn’t mean you can set your mind to accept it.
So HOW do you get yourself to become that person? How can you adapt to lean thinking?

Seinfeld Moment: When Karmer told Jerry he’s gonna make his Rickshaws in NYC idea happen, he explained how he’ll do it quick, efficient, and with a minimum cost:

“We’ll start out with one, and then when it catches on, we’re gonna have a whole fleet!”

I used to be

Before starting my first venture, I used to work in a Telecom company for around 5 years.
This is a completely different type of work, with different working methods – Selling Cycle is long, we got to make sure everything is perfect, and things may take some time. In many cases a very long time.

So when I started my first venture it was obvious to me I knew the right methods, Quality Assurance was a top priority, and everything should be well polished.

Worst part? my partner was working in the same company as me. We were both screwed.

needless to say this first venture failed, but during that time of failure, I came across the principles of being Lean.

Getting to know those principles, on the other hand, doesn’t make implementation easier.

How to make that mental switch

Diving in my second venture, SUMMER, left me no other option but to decide (quickly) what’s important and what to focus on.
When you don’t understand what’s important, you spend all your time on every single part of the product, and on every single and useless feature that comes to mind.
It took me one failure to learn NO ONE cares about most of what you’ve done, and to get my mind not to care either. To be more conservative – I’ll care when I’ll need to.

So I came up with a Pareto concept for my Time usage:

Spend 80% of your time for 20% of your product elements


Picking out the features under the 80% percent in the graph is great for you to be agile, smart, and efficient.

Decide your 20%

Recently, me and my partners were thinking about some cool stuff we wanted to create, and we didn’t want to waste our time on anything. Every one of us has his Pareto in his area.
During the weeknd, mighty Rambo Oz built the Social Bar so we could test our assumptions on some part of our bigger idea. We knew exactly what’s important, and what we should spend our time on.

Many people already explained and shared their case studies on how to do everything right.
I would like to focus only on how to choose what to work on, and how to spend your time.

1. 100% of the visitors that will get to your landing page will see, well… your landing page.
Your Goal – get as many of those visitors as possible to understand your message.

2. considering how good you did on this first part, some portion of your visitors would like to go on with you. Your Goal – Keep your sign in process quick, easy and clear as possible.

3. Those new users you just owned now want to use your product, or actually try out this one thing you promised them, and caught their eyes. How many of those will start using your product immediately?

4. The rest of your product – Leave it for when it becomes necessary.

5. My Tip – Even with the slimmest product you build, let the users leave a feedback – they will from the get-go, and you’ll get a lot from it.

72 Hours of hard but precise work, led us to #1 on Hacker News with our “Show HN” post of Social Bar, getting thousands of visitors, and hundreds of sign ups almost immediately.

That can only be done with the right time usage, and knowing which elements to focus on.

How do you split your time when building a MVP?

Photo Credit: mararie on Flickr

If You Have Competitors, Go On With Your Idea


So you did it, you had the big A-ha! moment. You encountered a problem and come up with the solution; an idea that you find really helpful or needed in so many ways.

It might have arisen from a personal need, or be a new use or twist on something that already exists. It could be anything.

The funny part about ideas is they take a second to come up with

After this one-second spark of brain lightening, comes the interesting part. Who is already an innovator in this field, who is trying to solve the same problem, and how they are doing it?

It’s a hard search to start – you don’t actually want to see others doing the exact same thing, and even worse – succeeding. 

While building and improving upon SUMMER and other previous projects, I used competitive analysis as a metric to assess where the business stood. The process of understanding where my business was relative to other taught me the value of competition.

Someone is already working on your idea

The important kick-off point is the fact that even if no such thing exists already, someone else is working on it right now. And it’s probably several people.

Whether it’s the exact same idea or something similar, the point is that people around the world are using their existing technologies to implement solutions, or inventing new products to solve the very same problem as you.

What if there are no competitors?

You should stop and think why there is no one else doing it.
If no one is experiencing the problem you are trying to solve – can you think of keywords people will google to hit your landing page?

There is a chance someone tried this already and failed? Try and find out why.
Is it because there was no demand for the product? Or perhaps the problem was implementation.

Reasons for failure can be a bad marketing approach, and often times it can be that the solution was simply born ahead of its time.

In any case, by doing this research, you will find out whether to go for your idea or not, and more importantly – how.

Why you should WANT someone else to work on the same idea

The equation is simple:

Someone working on your idea = They share the same problem = You have a market

Of those who are having a problem, only a small portion will do something to solve it, and the ratio stays the same the larger the problem is. From the other side, the more people you have as competitors – the bigger your market will be.

Get yourself an edge (learn from your competitors)

Competition is good for your idea – it challenges you to the next phase of development – beat them.

In addition to finding out why your rivals might have failed, try and see what they are missing.


Research the competitor’s Cruchbase and AngelList profiles, find out if they received funding, when they got funded, and who are their advisors.

Business Model

Check out the features they offer and how much they cost. Figure out which feature is the most expensive one and why.


Peek at their Facebook and Twitter accounts – see if they’re active enough, and how many people are engaged with the company.


So the next time you’re glowing with a new idea – pray for some competitors and then get to know them well. Your idea will become much better, faster than you can imagine.


photo credit 50mm on Flickr

Why I Founded [SUMMER]

On April this year, just around my birthday, me and my co-founders got the cheering message that we got into a Start-Up Accelerator program we applied to a short time before.
By that time our mobile app was running for a few months. We already knew most if its biggest problems, and had a pretty good understanding as to how to make it better and more successful.

So we decided to treat this news as a good sign from above. It was a time of new beginnings for us.
Our product was a location based, professional people discovery tool – So we set down and thought hard about the big problem we were trying to solve, and what it meant for us: What information do we want to discover about people, and more importantly, where can we discover such info?

We realized we discover people all the time, like everybody does, while wandering around the web – and the one thing missing for us is that information.
Although the web is packed with information, both social and contextual, getting the information in one piece, on-demand is almost impossible.
That’s where our long journey began (I guess around 3 weeks…):

Building an MVP that gives us the best information about (Professional) people we find interesting – and showing it to everyone we possibly could, which is a lot while being in an accelerator 🙂
This process was as if we were testing users, gathering feedback and A/B testing, trying to understand where exactly this product would fit, and to whom.  That might be one of the greatest parts of an accelerator – The fact that you’re surrounded by so many talented people, companies and mentors, every day, all day.

Time flew by, and we were trying 5 different products, all based on that simple but vital point – One place, On-demand, Meaningful data about people we find interesting.
Then, we got back to the first question we faced in the beginning of our journey – Where do we discover these interesting people? And the answer? that as well, was lying right in front of us, quietly, before: Everywhere we wander around the web. We are reading so much, everyday. We see names, wishing to expand our knowledge – but there is no way to do so.
So we thought – “No more copying and pasting, no more opening 10 tabs” – We’ll Summer it from now on (get it?).

Right away we started building Summer, an easy way to get information about people we read about online, within the page I’m in, with just one click. Not too long after (Thanks to Shlomi, our almighty CTO), we had our first version of Summer that recognized names wherever you are on the web and generate information about them, ready to release to our close circles.
Looking at it today, I have to admit that was an embarrassing version (Hey, but that’s the point isn’t it?).

The procedure went all over again, we got some great feedback (for real this time), worked hard on the user experience, and got to the day we wished for – Releasing our Beta, and publishing Summer to the Google Web Store.

This is a really exciting time for us, so I felt it would be a great chance to tell our personal story, and I’m sure it will become even more exciting as time passes.
It is also a great chance to introduce our amazing team:

@ohadfrankfurt @ShlomiBabluki @ozkatz100 and myself @liordegani

Check out Summer on the Google Web Store, on our Websitefacebook Page or Twitter.

We would love you to join our journey.