The startup mentality, verbal design and lessons learned-this year at AZEC13 – slideshow

Yesterday at the AZEC13, entrepreneurs ranging from startup to seasoned offered their knowledge and advice about growing a business to a full house at Gangplank Chandler.
I was there live and captured advice from Pat Sullivan, CEO & co-founder of Contatta, James Archer, CEO of Forty Design, and Heidi Jannenga, co-founder of WebPT.

Pat Sullivan, two time Entrepreneur of the Year Award, founder of ACT! and SalesLgoix and now CEO and co-founder of Contatta shared insights to the startup mentality, how to compete against the giants in the industry and dealing with your money backers.
When asked to how they are dealing with entering the CRM market against SalesForce, or any giant in an industry for that matter, Sullivan’s tactics are pretty simple, “The best way is to not go head on, but to sneak up on them so they don’t have time to respond.” Paralleling the David and Goliath story, Sullivan said, “you have to fight with what you have in your arsenal, and fight on your terms not theirs. Contatta isn’t in SalesForces’s DNA… they have 15 year old technology, we don’t.”
While building Conttata, there are a few philosophies he kept in mind, “Users are becoming increasingly intolerant of something bad…users will give you about 7 seconds to review the product. [If they think it’s bad] then I consider that a minimally viable product. [What we build at Contatta is a] maximally beautiful product.”
Having been in startup mode multiple times, Sullivan acknowledged that problems and struggles are inevitable. One struggle Sullivan shared with the audience was that Contatta went to market a bit too early, but now that they are out there in beta, and have no intentions of going dark, they continue to work through it. My question to him was how do you deal with the venture backers when a startup goes too early or too late to market? Sullivan said, “Be transparent, be honest. So many entrepreneurs try to hide something… it’s going to come out. Every startup has problems, and it’s important to be transparent, your ventures may not agree with what you are doing, but at least you are honest about it.”
James Archer, CEO of Forty Design shared insights on how small businesses can use visual and verbal design to give your customers some mental delight when visiting your website.
*Use these design goals for your customers: Efficiency, intuitiveness, content, functionality, mental comfort and delight
*Begin to understand what the customer really feels about your products because you are not qualified to speak on behalf of your customer and can’t assume what your customer wants–it’s worth investigating
*Remember to tell a story
*Copywriting is verbal design
*Find the spirit of your company
*The verbal part is almost as important as the visual part
*If you can’t come up with money to do it right, then the business probably wont’ work anyway
Heidi Jannenga, co-founder of WebPT shared lessons learned in her talk “Love, family and entrepreneurship”
*Stand out in a crowd – do something different
*Be your own stakeholder – discover the priority needs of the company and decide how to spend your money for growth
*Partnering wisely – if you make a conscious decision to do something bigger and take on an investor, then take on an investor (partner) that adds value to your company not just writes a check. You have to have a partner that believes in you, has your back and adds value to your company.
*There are three people that need to be in your company, the risk taker, the doer and the processor (someone who can look at the whole company and figure out how to make it better)
*Be adaptable
*Know your customers
*Hire for culture – pick and choose the people that match the culture of our company
*Take it one day at a time
*Do it your way – Be educated by the people who are willing and wanting to help you. In the end, it’s your decision and there is a sense of gratification when you make that big win and you know you did it your way.

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