I 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.
Messenger: Ryan Rifkin, Co-Founder & VP of Operations, Burstly, Co-Founder & Sr. Director of Partnerships at TagWorld/Flux (sold to Viacom) Value Prop Twitter Style: Burstly is: “A monetization platform for iOS and Android app developers”
In 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.
Messenger: Clark Landry, Co-Founder, GraphEffect, Co-Founder, TagWorld (sold to Viacom) Co-Founder, Top Level Domain Holdings (AIM TLDH), Seed Investor Adconion and Traffic Marketplace (sold to Vivendi). Value Prop Twitter Style: GraphEffect is: "A product that helps clients advertise more effectively on Facebook."
In the summer of 1999, Expertcity (creator of GoToMyPC and GoToMeeting, acquired by Citrix) released a free service called BuddyHelp. In the spirit of the “land grab” mentality of the day, we emphasized usage of our screen sharing technology with no thought applied to how we would convert such users into paying customers.
With 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.
Messenger: 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."
On September 8, 1965, baseball player Dagoberto Campaneris Blanco became the first major leaguer to play all nine positions in a nine-inning game. Technically, he filled ten roles, as he pitched left handed when facing right-handed batters and right handed with lefties at the plate. Despite his status as an all-star shortstop, Bert proved himself to be a selfless utility player. Over his career, he played all three outfield positions, as well as second and third base. His willingness to add value wherever his coach needed him most, not only helped his teams win three consecutive World Championships, but it also allowed Bert to extend his career by making himself Indispensible. Entrepreneurs should likewise endeavor to maximize their utility by playing as many positions on their startup team as they can effectively master.