Lunch With Mark Suster

Mark SusterI recently had lunch with Mark Suster, General Partner at GRP Partners, blogger extraordinaire and overall cool dude. I am writing this entry at 4:00 AM. Mark’s kindness and insights moved me to roll out of bed, fire up my laptop and share my thoughts while they are still fresh.


Mark recently wrote a blog entry titled “Whom Should You Hire At A Startup” that was forwarded to me by about a dozen people, including several of my former students. If you have not read it, please take a quick moment to check it out. Reading it will provide you with a good frame of reference for the remainder of this post.

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Pawn Stars Teaches Entrepreneurs How To Not Negotiate

Pawn StarsI was recently working at my kitchen table while my adolescent son was watching the History Channel’s reality TV show Pawn Stars. The show caught my attention, as a litany of extremely unsophisticated individuals sold their family heirlooms and other “treasures” at cut-rate prices to the professional negotiators who star in the show.

Having appeared on a reality TV show, I am well aware of the lack of reality involved in such shows. As the Producer of the show I worked on told me, “There is very little that is real in reality TV.”

Even taking into account the show’s lack of reality, I found it to be an entertaining way to coach my son regarding basic negotiating tactics.

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Stop Rickrolling Your Customers and Prospects

Never gonna give you upIn 1987, when Rick Astley filmed the video for his hit song Never Gonna Give You Up, he had no idea it would eventually become one of the most viewed videos of all time.

By 2011, the video had been watched over 50 million times. Never Gonna Give You Up’s resurgence began in 2007, when a user on an obscure gaming site posted a link to Rick’s video under the heading for a trailer of the not-yet-released Grand Theft Auto IV video game. One year later, the phenomenon had become commonplace and was dubbed “Rickrolling,” a term that is now ubiquitous with any Internet misdirection technique.

Although Rickrolling is a harmless, rather pedestrian prank, many companies unknowingly Rickroll their customers and prospects by improperly aligning their products’ capabilities with their respective marketing messages.

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Balance Minimal Product Viability With Maximum Utility: Maximize Your Startup’s Value Proposition – MVP²

Double A-Side SingleWith a few exceptions at the end of their career, the Beatles did not include songs that had previously been released as a single on their UK albums. According to George Martin, The Beatles’ Producer, “At the time, I didn’t want to shortchange the public. Assuming the fans had bought the single, I figured they wouldn’t want to hear it again on the album.”

Although this approach was common in the UK, it ran counter to the then current Conventional Wisdom in the US music industry. However, by the release of Sgt. Pepper, the Beatles had gained complete control over their creative works in the US and curtailed Capital Records’ prior practice of including singles on US albums.

This tactic provided the Beatles with a strategic advantage over American musicians, as fans knew that if they purchased a particular single, they would not have to pay for it again on a subsequent album. In essence, the Beatles offered a product with a higher value proposition as compared to their American counterparts.

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Interview: Seth Epstein of SocialStay

Thorsten Quote

SocialStay LogoMessenger: Seth Epstein, Co-Founder and CEO SocialStay, former Founder and CEO of FUEL (acquired by Razorfish), Emmy winner for work on X-Games and re-brander of ESPN’s Sport’s Center.  Seth attended UCSB but dropped out to start a denim company. 

Value Prop Twitter Style:  SocialStay is:"An easy to set up & manage mobile platform designed for the hospitality industry.  It drives revenue & engages guests."

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Follow John’s Startup Oriented Twitter Stream!

Follow John’s Startup Oriented Twitter Stream. He promises to never Tweet about sunsets, kittens or awesome burritos.

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