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STARTUP

Is a Start-up Like a Rock Band?

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Rock Band vs. Tech Startup Riffing off the new cult of celebrity around company founders (hi, Mark Zuckerberg and Evan Williams!), ReadWriteStart takes a look at a new infographic from artist Shane Snow who compares launching a company to launching a band. Says ReadWriteStart: "Rock bands assemble members of complementary abilities, create a rough-cut demo tape, network with similar bands and begin touring small venues. The same is true for startups, which gather a team of varying skills, produce their first prototype, and begin networking with other startups and investors." What is selling merchandise at shows if not bootstrapping? And where startups have angel investors, rock bands have indie record labels.

Love, Consumerist Style. Is your Muji backpack stocked with an iPads and Nanos, but your love life still empty? Then welcome to Cupidtino.com. The dating site where Apple fanboys and fangirls can meet (exclusively on Apple platforms, of course), fall in love, and bump iPhones (to exchange contact information). Started by 3 self-professed geeks from Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, the site plans to launch this June and already has private funding.

Joel on Software raises VC. Two months ago Joel Spolsky, the founder of Fog Creek Software and the creator of the popular Joel on Software blog, explained in an Inc. column why he was giving up blogging. Since then, Joel hasn't wasted much time, raising $6 million for his new start-up, Stack Overflow. As he explains, "We tried charging...and that didn't work so well. So we asked ourselves, 'How would the people of 1999 solve this problem?' And the best answer we could come up with was, let's make the damn thing free, and get some VC somewhere to pay for it." The round was led by Union Square Ventures, whose Fred Wilson says his firm was happy to take that deal.

Why Amish entrepreneurs rarely fail. The five-year survival rate for new businesses in this country is roughly 50 percent, so how come Amish businesses have a staggering 95 percent five-year survival rate? Erik Wesner, the author of Success Made Simple: An Inside Look At Why Amish Businesses Thrive tells CNNMoney that it's due in part to the culture, which stresses hard work and cooperation. It's also a matter of sticking to their strengths. "Would consumers trust an Amish cell-phone dealer or an Amish computer repair guy to know what he's doing? It'd be a pretty big mental and marketing hurdle," says Wesner. Can you guess which nationwide chain of pretzel shops was launched by another Amish entrepreneur?

How technologists can enter the business world. Bilal Zuberi, a scientist-turned-entrepreneur-turned-venture capitalist, has the skinny on what it takes for technologists to enter the business world. One of the most important keys? "Network A LOT," he writes. "Scientists can never network enough since its not natural to most." And if you've caught a bit of the entrepreneurial bug, "Be the technical co-founder as a first step," Zuberi writes. "You can hire better business people than you and learn from them." (Via peHUB.)

How to do business like a prostitute. It's not what you think. On his Quick Sprout blog, tech entrepreneur Neil Patel is able to draw some important lessons from the world's oldest business. Some of his findings: it's easier to upsell than it is to sell, tell your customers exactly what they're buying, and location is everything. "You don't see prostitutes standing on every street corner, right?" he writes. "Of course not because not all locations are good for business. It's the same reason why you don't see a gas station or a McDonald's on every block."

How to make your company stand out in a crowd. Unless your business is in a super-specialized industry, chances are you have a handful of competitors offering customers a similar product or service. Joe Meyer, CEO of HopStop, a mass-transit direction site, sits down with the American Express OPEN Forum for a video interview where he explains the best way to deal with competition and make your business stand out. His advice? Don't worry too much about your competitors, worry about your own business. As he explains, "If you're thinking about your competitors all the time and not thinking about your own business and the market, then you're probably going to fall behind and you're going to be more of a copycat instead of a leader." Listening intently to suggestions from your users and constantly working to improve your business are two of the best ways to stand out from the competition.

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Last updated: May 5, 2010




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