I am back home now – revving
On March 1, I landed in Israel (being referred to as “Start Up Nation” these days; the eponymous book does a pretty good job describing why) and, with a dozen or so business meetings already set up beforehand, I felt I had stepped into a wind tunnel.
Israel has a large concentration of talented and innovative people. Characterized by ground-breaking entrepreneurship, Israel yields pioneering technologies, profitable business opportunities and high investment returns (this is why so many major multi-nationals such as Microsoft, Berkshire-Hathaway, Motorola, Intel, HP, Siemens, GE, IBM, Philips, Lucent, AOL, Cisco, Applied Materials, IBM, J&J and more, have chosen to invest in Israel). Israel has more companies listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange than any country outside the United States, save China.
I was curious to see whether or not I could be part of that scene
In my three months in Israel I became completely immersed in their high-tech world. I had the good fortune of meeting and collaborating with unbelievably smart, generous and driven people. High-tech executives in multinational corporations. VCs. Angel Investors. Incubators. Senior former government bureaucrats tasked with running the economy. And dozens and dozens of start-up Entrepreneurs.
I was invited to deliver two lectures at Tel Aviv University’s MBA School and a third one to high-level marketing executives at the Israeli Export & International Cooperation Institute. I presented a workshop to 70 start-up entrepreneurs at VC-backed Incubator ‘The Junction’; there were 63 more people on the wait list (here is a link to the video of my presentation).
So I could learn about working with Israeli high-tech companies and entrepreneurs, I provided free marketing consulting workshops on Value Proposition development to many start-ups I thought merited further investigation. A few implemented the changes on their websites in real time, right in front of me. Many reported startling results.
By the time I left on May 31, I had started to work with two high-tech clients, and have a number of proposals in the works.
(And, oh, yes: I also had the time of my life in Tel Aviv as well as travelling around the country. Israel is a fantastic place to vacation, regardless of your religious, ethnic, or political background. My non-business blog is here).
Why Value Proposition Development
In my meetings, one thing became very clear, very quickly: early-stage high-tech companies (both in Israel and everywhere else, of course) do not and/or cannot devote enough resources to marketing and demand-creation early enough in the game, as they are primarily leveraging founders’ tech skills. Established technology companies often have the same problem.
Never mind that the core technology is brilliant or that the market is ripe for the picking. If the Value Proposition isn’t well articulated and presented, the company’s users/prospects/clients (even investors) won’t bother listening to the underlying genius.
No Value Proposition? Here are the primary problems:
- Investors do not immediately see the start-up’s flexibility in pivoting the tool and the business model
- Go-to-market time is wasted as the Value Proposition and positioning of the product are developed too late in the game
- There is no ready inventory of Value Propositions to pivot and experiment early on to validate parts of a business model hypothesis towards finding a scalable and repeatable business model
- Market development is delayed
- Marketing and demand-creation strategies and tactics aren’t as cost-effective
At the same time, investors looking to fund start-up high tech companies want to know their investment is well spent. This means funds must not just go into product development but also into market development to find a scalable and repeatable model.
To succeed, both product and market development have to work in tandem.
What I did to help start-up entrepreneurs and seasoned technology companies
Through an innovative rapid-deployment methodology I developed, we succeeded in adding a strategic marketing layer early on in the start-up process to generate an inventory of Value Proposition and Positioning hypotheses.
This inventory of Value Proposition and Positioning hypotheses helps start-up entrepreneurs (as well as seasoned technology marketers) sell the fist sale: funding.
• Start-up entrepreneurs need to sell the concept to Investors
• Technology marketers need to sell the concept to management
Then, the right Value Proposition is executed cost-effectively via market-enablement services for demand-creation strategies and tactics.
This approach, of course, leverages investors’ financial resources to take high-tech companies with sound technologies/tools/applications (but in need of financing and marketing know-how) and accelerates their go-to-market and ramp-up.
Did I enjoy my three-month Sabbatical? I had the time of my life.