5 Ways to Make Your Tech Startup to Stand Out

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5 Ways to Make Your Tech Startup to Stand Out

By Martin Roesch | Inc Magazine | May 27, 2024

Extractive Summary of the Article | Read and/or Listen

The author has spent the bulk of his career in the tech startup world. In the late 1990s he developed the security software Snort and then launched the security software Sourcefire, which was later acquired by Cisco. Currently, he is the CEO of another security startup called Netography. He also serve as a board member of several other cybersecurity tech startups. 

Over the years, he has been repeatedly in a position of thinking about what it takes for startups to stand out amid market noise, category confusion, and louder voices from companies with more resources. Five suggestions that have helped tech startups find their niche and differentiate themselves. 

  1. Make sure your idea is innovative.  As soon as a new technology starts to capture attention, the market gets flooded with companies trying to capitalize on it. But I have found that the seed for innovation often comes from examining why things are the way that they are, not chasing trends. 
  2. Prioritize the customer.  Don’t fall into the “if you build it, they will come” mentality. Innovation alone isn’t sufficient; it needs to be proven, with actual users. Before you invest heavily in building the solution, validate your idea with your target audience.   Run your idea by potential customers, ask for feedback, and truly listen. If possible, get your solution in their hands so you can learn from actual user experiences. It’s better to know upfront if you are really onto something, or if you need to pivot before you sink time and money into execution to the exclusion of a better idea. 
  3. Tell a compelling story.  You have multiple audiences you need to “sell” your solution to, including customers, investors, employees, and partners. You need a compelling overarching story that includes the current state of the market, the challenge, the opportunity, and how your company addresses the challenge in a new and more effective way.   Simplify the technical and, when you can, relate your approach to something these audiences are likely to be familiar with so that the story will resonate.
  4. Seek out mentors.  Mentors on the industry side have a deep understanding of the technology area you are focused on, an informed perspective on how the industry has evolved and where it is going, brutal honesty when they foresee potential challenges on the horizon and creativity to help you think about how to approach and solve problems.  Mentors on the business side serve as great examples of how to be an effective manager and leader, which includes recognizing the talent you have in the organization and staying focused on the mission–building a great company. The experience they bring having worked successfully with investors, lawyers, and strategic partners can help you avoid costly mistakes.
  5. Hire the best talent you can.  Recognize where you lack experience and surround yourself with people who complement your strengths and who you can watch and learn from. When times are tough, as they were during the dot-com bust and are today amidst current macroeconomic conditions, the flip side is that many great talents become available. Your company may be in a position to benefit. Scrutinize your needs and see if there’s an opportunity to bring in the right people to fill the gaps you have.

A key takeaway from the article

Standing out in a crowded tech environment will always be challenging, particularly for startups with limited resources. To find your niche, start with a truly innovative idea, validate it with customers, tell a story that resonates, and surround yourself with the right people to help you build a great company. 

Full Article

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Topics:  Startups, Technology, Marketing, Customers, Innovation, Mentor, Niche, Storytelling

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