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David is now Goliath
This is my site Written by matan on April 4, 2010 – 12:22 pm

“Once all struggles are grasped, miracles are possible.”

– Mao Zedong

Remember when you used to need huge infrastructure and tons of cash to start up a start-up?  Yeah, I (kind of) do also, but I’d rather forget. Hearing the old-timers talk, it sure sounds like it was a royal pain – let me assure you, it was.  Luckily, things have changed. The garage days of Messers Hewlett and Packard are back, to a certain extent. With the advent of free/cheap cloud computing and pay-as-you-scaling, it almost seems that all you need now is a good idea, a decent grasp of open-source technologies, and some integration abilities.  Well, and a plan, because we all know a good idea is nothing without a great plan. In the days of yore, just a promise was (almost) oftentimes enough to get you millions in investment funding; today, you have to show for it before the first penny changes hands. So the plan is key.

So, how do you get a plan?  You can watch copious amounts of MacGyver and A-Team re-runs in an effort to come up with something not involving a welding torch and an exploding vehicle, or you could actually talk to prospective customers and see what they need.  Chances are, they have some solution in place at the moment; equal chances are that they’re  getting it from someone else, and (again) even odds are that it probably isn’t making them happy. You can do better; if you can make them happy and provide solutions to their real-world problems, they will become your customers.

Selling an idea is one thing, but selling a solution (be it a product or a service) is different.  You’ll need something tangible (or at least viewable)—so take open-source components, fit them together, and throw something up on the web.  The beauty of SaaS is that you can scale as you go.  You don’t have to bat a thousand your first time at the plate, and you don’t have to over think your swing.  Keep it simple and don’t worry about engineering it perfectly the first time around; just get something working end-to-end, and improve as you go.

So how do you go from prospect to customer?  Well, after you’ve talked to your prospective customers, gotten their wants/needs/dreams, and built a demo, go back to them.  Talk to them again and show them what you have.  Allow them to offer critiques and tweaks, and really listen to them.  Don’t only consider one source, however, since you won’t (hopefully) only be selling to one customer.  Make sure you have appeal across the spectrum and yet still fit your niche.  Build your idea and leverage your talents to make their lives easier, and miracles are entirely possible…

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