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Quality, color, value

Starting a buzz about your business is an all important factor in creating success. You need to be seen, but by the right people, and that is achieved primarily through education. The right people are in a niche audience for your niche product or service. (And if you think that you’re not niche, I suggest you really scrutinize your offering more closely, especially how it fits into existing markets). You have to identify and then educate your niche audience. Then educate them some more.

I hope that you had a great education and that your schoolteachers excited your interest. The chances are that if you had an outstanding teacher, they shaped who you are now, by getting you enthusiastic about a particular subject. A great teacher can help produce people who go on to become outstanding in their chosen field. What’s for sure is that no teacher ever got their students interested by boring them.

Education is a continuous process, and it has to make your target audience feel...

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Buzz buzz buzz

Finding the sweet spot

When there’s a buzz about something, people pass on the word to other people. That is, other people who are just like them. So investors talk to investors – it’s natural. It might seem great to imagine millions of people talking about your startup, but actually that’s not practical, or useful. If you have a huge audience, you have to do a huge amount of communicating with them. It’s better to concentrate on a focused target audience, and get them buzzing, just like bees in a hive who want to share the good news about where the sweetest flowers are.

Few startups understand how to do this. That’s not so surprising: they are in the business of launching an exciting new product or service, not dealing in mass communication. Creating a buzz is the practical way of getting noticed within a target audience, but let me point out, creating a buzz is not about advertising. In fact in this case, advertising is the last thing you...

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Something at once

“Startups, by their nature, are entrepreneurial - testing new things, launching new products, and disrupting themselves. That's why you join a startup in the first place - to create, to stretch beyond your current capabilities, and to make an outsized impact.” 

- What a great summary of why we do what we do in the world of startups! It comes from Jennifer Hyman, CEO and co-founder of Rent The Runway, a fashion and technology company, and it applies so well to any new business, in any sector. I want to isolate one word of Jennifer’s quote however: testing. We test ourselves for sure, but we must also test everything we do.

So many choices, so little time

Right at the beginning of a business there are so many choices to make, and it’s sometimes enough to drive you crazy! Do we go in this direction, or that direction? Left or right, up or down? How will we attract investors, and how will we ensure that they are the right investors? The process of logical...

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Repeat, then repeat again

Education is mainly a logical process, based on frequent repetition. We don’t learn Math or a language by randomly dipping into a textbook and pulling out an equation or word. Instead it’s patient and step-by-step, usually guided by a teacher. Education is also a process of nurturing, because the teacher (or parent) has to guide their pupil with care and ideally, love. The teacher forgives the mistakes and constantly strives to make it as easy as possible for their student. Part of making it easy is to make learning fun, a vital ingredient at any level of education.

We all recognize the importance of education, and most of us have been lucky at some moment to have received that ‘lightbulb moment’ where suddenly an aspect which previously defeated us becomes clear. It’s the ‘Eureka!’ of Archimedes, although often more modest in scope! As well as my business and coaching activities, I also lecture in university, and one of the most satisfying...

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Education³

“Selling stuff is easy. All you gotta do is give away stuff that makes people happy …and then sell ‘em stuff that makes them even happier.” That’s not my quote, but one from internet marketing copywriter, Frank Kern. Is it really as simple as that? Certainly a model for many services and products across the web is, ‘Free now, subscribe later’. We get hooked by the brilliance of the offering (think Spotify for instance), but then are attracted to the ad-free Premium version, or other enhancements not available in the basic offering. Selling is therefore clearly still a huge driver for all businesses, but is it the only driver, or for that matter even the most important driver?

Think about things differently

Sales mean income, and we are all interested in the bottom line. However from the dotcom bubble onwards, a different paradigm has emerged, where even a business which is negatively trading can attract the dream of many startup...

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Digging for diamonds

In the late 1930s a new word entered American English: Dumpster. It was a shortened form of the name of a large trash container called the Dumpmaster, made by the Dempster Brothers manufacturing company in Tennessee. Dumpsters soon became the almost universal way of collecting large amounts of waste, and somewhere along the way the redistribution of that waste became known as ‘Dumpster Diving’. Yes, people would walk past a dumpster and see a perfectly good chair in there, climb in and reclaim it. Or books, or lamps, or anything. Now in cities around the world, dumpster diving is the way many street people get their daily meals.

Also along the way, journalists, private detectives and anyone interested in exposing secrets, learned that dumpster diving was also a prime source of useful collateral. Offices would throw out files of private client information, and the trash of Hollywood stars would be raked through for interesting correspondence to sell to the tabloid...

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