10 marketing lessons for early stage tech startups

– Mark Suster is a former serial entrepreneur and a partner at Los Angeles-based venture capital firm GRP Partners. This article originally appeared on Suster’s blog “Both Sides of the Table”. The views expressed are his own. –

I made every textbook mistake at my first startup, which is why I believe I was much more effective at my second one. I have adopted the motto “good judgment comes from experience, but experience comes from bad judgment.” We need to learn from doing, by trial and error.

If I can help you avoid some of my first-time mistakes it would be a victory. The following are some lessons I learned about early-stage startup marketing. Because market is such a broad topic, I’m restricting these lessons to PR marketing (as opposed SEO, SEM, product marketing, etc.).

1. Where Stealth is Good – There’s a lot of discussions on the Web about whether startups should be stealthy before they launch or not. The truth is there isn’t a “right” answer for your company. You need some guidelines to make decisions. My general rule is that it’s good to be stealth in the early days while you’re building your product and testing your market. Stealth does not mean constipated, paranoid and totally untrusting of others. It does mean not telling more people your future plans than is necessary. It means avoiding drinking too much at cocktail parties with other tech people and bragging about your plans. It means not over-sharing your deal with VCs or other investors.

The truth is that we work in a very small, tight-knit industry and news and plans spread fast. In the early days you don’t really want three extra teams hearing your ideas and gearing up to compete before you feel you’ve got a solid head start. Most people totally advise against stealth. They think that only by being open and testing your ideas in an open marketplace can you be successful. Be careful about this advice.

from MediaFile:

The return of the Internet-bubble phantom

Oh, man. Not another Internet bubble scare. They just won't go away.

The first Internet bubble—the so-called dot-com boom and bust—was a decade ago. Since then, the Internet sector has been a hotbed of tiny startups experimenting with new wrinkles in the web's evolution: social graphs, smartphones, local technology, augmented reality, etc. Some of the ideas are good, some startups become superstars like Facebook, drawing in more capital to similar companies.

And when it happens, someone—usually a prominent VC—blogs about how it feels like an Internet bubble, spawning a news meme. The talk fades after the bubble never really emerges. Look at Google trends for “Internet bubble” and the news volume (the smaller graph at the bottom) shows a spike about every year or so.

The latest scare started, innocently enough, with a blog post last week by Fred Wilson, an influential VC at Union Square Ventures.

from MediaFile:

Tech execs, where would you put a million dollars?

Most top technology executives are used to juggling businesses worth hundred of millions of dollars, yen or euros. But this week at the Reuters Technology Summit, we asked: if we gave you $1 million to invest anywhere -- but not in your own company -- where would you spend it?


If you want the quick answer, I would invest it in Twitter.  I'm sorry that we weren't in it. I don't know where it's going and it would be a fun ride.

-- Tim Draper, managing director of venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson.