Startups fail in Marketing, Not in Building the Product

I am in Bangalore for the past 3 years now, have probably seen more than 200 startups (50 from TheMorpheus + 150 others at pluggd/TechSpark/TiE/Jaaga/SiliconeIndia etc) and I have yet to meet anyone who is not able to build “it”. Whether it is a product company or a services company (product needs building something tangible, services need building team of skilled people, both are equally difficult), the problem they face is, after building it, everyone hits a brick wall. Now what ?

When people start companies, they are way too high on adrenaline since startups are heavily glamorized. People sit in cafe coffee days, discussing how great our product/company will be, discussing features after features, reading HackerNews/TC and generic no context essays of PG. Once the excitement and the kicks settle down (normally after 8 months), people realizes that they never thought of marketing and how they are going to sell and acquire customers.

When they start (I also made the same mistakes), most of the acquisition strategies are just in your head and never tested. You tells yourself how easily you will go from 1 to 10 to 100 to 500 etc where as in reality, getting 1 to 5 to 10 sales can take months and this do lot of damage as mentally you were prepared to see numbers going exponentially which rarely happens.

Development is not that difficult, nor is Marketing (of course you can’t sell a product which is poorly built or if there is no market) but Marketing takes 3X more time. So if it is taking you 6 months to build the product, it will probably take you 18 months to do sales and marketing before you can really call your effort success or failure.

3 thoughts on “Startups fail in Marketing, Not in Building the Product

  1. Priyakanth Manda

    In the US or other well established markets, your company can receive a lot of traction from the sources you mentioned, HN/TC etc. But such resources are not present in India nor they are popular if they exist. It would be great if you can jot down your own experience in marketing your company. Also what do you think is the best way of spreading word about your product or service.

  2. Pushkar Gaikwad

    Hi Priyakanth, yes HN/TC can get you lot of short term traffic/exposure spike which Indian blogs lack. India also lack the early adopters culture, very few startups uses other startups products in India. Though most of that traffic is casual curiosity traffic and most of the time is not the targeted market for startups.

    Since you are asking, alright, give me some time, I will put down my whole startup experience, it was more of a nightmare actually. I had finished writing that post in November 2012, just waiting to write the ending.

    I am currently building an inbound marketing product and strongly feels that is the way to go. For example, I am the only guy and have zero marketing budget but I had created a 25 Ways to do content marketing PPT, it took me 2 days to create it but it hit slideshare home page and have few thousands views in just couple of days which got me some decent traffic.

    I am certainly going to write more on marketing in coming months, keep an eye on this blog 🙂


  3. Priyakanth Manda

    That certainly brings me down from cloud 9 to cloud 8. 🙂 Thanks for cautioning and showing the hard reality. Subscribing to your blog, right away

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