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After dropping out of college about twenty years ago, David started a service-based photography business. From there, he began building online communities around photography. From those communities, he started to hear the pain points and problems that other photographers and small businesses were having. He teamed up with some software guys and techies and started building software to solve those problems.
Over the last ten years, David’s path has been to buy up the company. So he owns it, operates it, and grows it like a real business, instead of a startup.
David is currently the founder and owner of three companies. He has gone from one product to another and then one business to another, learning a lot as he goes.
David loves the startup stage because there’s a lot of energy, a lot of passion, and many problems to solve in that stage.
When a business reaches a million dollars, it’s a good point to move into some more operational types of things. It took David ten years to realize that that point is not within his wheelhouse. Now, once they get to a certain place, David has a CEO that takes over. Being more operationally and financially-minded, the CEO builds the teams from there. And David goes back to start something new.
Don’t look for the easy way to run a business. Look for the right way to solve the problem. You need to know yourself and have self-awareness.
The Diffusion of Innovation got developed in the 1960s. It was popularized by the book, Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore. It shows a bell-curve of people, ranging from innovator, to early adopter, to early majority, to late majority, to laggard. There are very few people on the front and fringe of innovator and early adopter. And our world doesn’t try to train or equip people to be there.
People tend to fear the early stage of a business because there are many risks, uncertainty, and questions that don’t have answers. The answers have to get found along the way.
Warm Welcome started as a test project. David wanted to see how cheaply and efficiently he could get a rough prototype to market because that is the only way to start getting feedback.
The world of tech is moving at an insane speed. And the cost to create things has dropped dramatically, so anyone can afford to build something today. So sales and marketing are huge skill gaps for young founders nowadays.
Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn said: “In order to build something that scales, you have to do the things that don’t scale.” That is something that young tech founders need to hear and realize. In the first few years of business, they have to stop focusing on making everything scalable and do the service, sales, and marketing work that does not scale.
Many startups end up having to rebuild themselves after two or three years. Because they spent too much time in the beginning building what they thought was right instead of creating feedback loops very early on when the business was still moldable and shapeable.
Warm Welcome is a way to personalize your business with video. They wanted to focus on it strategically so that every touch-point would have a warm personal interaction. To get feedback on it early on, David invited people to his office to talk to him. He wanted to see how they responded when they saw or tried to use the product.
Often, people are not honest with their feedback. But when you are looking at their eyes and face while they are trying to use something, you can tell when they lean in and want to know more. And you can tell when they lean back because they are confused. You lose out on that kind of feedback when you use text because there is no nuance with text. With video, in-person, or hybrid of some sort, you have a much higher chance of actually understanding someone. When you can understand them, you can make changes, iterate, and improve your product.
Go and sit down with people. Listen to their problem. Then, see if your product solves their pain-point or problem. Most people focus too much on their product rather than on the customer’s problem. Make your conversation about their problem. Not about the product. If you do that early on, they can help you mold and shape the product to solve their problem.
You will stand out in someone’s inbox or LinkedIn message when you associate a video and a human with your product rather than just text. Video is a fun and interesting product. It can help many different types of people.
You need to plant a seed for your product rather than launching it. It could take years for it to grow, but you need to keep on nurturing it.
Walmart has someone in their stores to give everyone a warm greeting. Yet they don’t do that online because they think their website will build trust. But it does not. Having a video of the founder, or the account rep, smiling and greeting people as soon as they hit the website will build far more trust than anything else.
A video business card can deliver way more information than a paper card. And people can communicate through it. You build trust when people can see you, look in your eyes, and understand that there is a human behind the business.
Having a personal video on your contact page telling people how glad you are to work with them and that they can click a button to send you a message is a much cleaner and better client experience. It is a much better way to connect with your clients and customers and build their trust.
Links and resources:
David jay’s website
Warm Welcome website
Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore