Tear it up!: Deconstruction for fun and profit

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Note: The Doctor is take a Labor Day rest from his labors (as should you!). This post from last year generated lots of feedback, so we’re running it again. Enjoy!

creative_destruction_by_in_spiro-d300jqr1Almost every day I read about a new recruiting site or service that has nabbed some VC money. Sometimes it’s big ($100M for Thumbtack) and sometimes it’s not so big ($2M for for JobR). But in every case, the company seeking funds has convinced someone, somewhere, to part with cash in return for a piece of the action.

In other words, the company has gotten someone to believe in them (or at least, in their potential).

Having worked on, in, and around many startups, acquisitions, and investments, I can tell you that this is a significant feat. In general, those who invest in companies tend to be very skeptical (although they too are human and can occasionally be swayed by irrational, illogical arguments). To take a skeptical, ‘we’ve seen it all’ group of potential investors and convince them that your service is worth something is…well, pretty hard.

Why am I going on about this? Because you (yes, you!) should learn how to ‘pitch’ your service – even if you never plan to ask for funds (or sell out). And you should learn how to pitch your competitors’ services, too.

Huh? Why the heck should you try to pitch your competitors’ businesses?

Because in order to do so, you have to deeply understand how their business works – and why it would be attractive to investors (or – ahem – your own clients).

So how do you learn how to pitch any business (like, for instance, a job board)? You deconstruct it. You tear it apart and find out how it works. You learn why someone might use the service. And then – after you truly understand the fundamentals of the business – you simplify. You take the core value of the business and describe it in such a way that prospective users would find it irresistible. You make the obvious even more obvious – in an alluring way.

In short, you turn in fact what may be a slight twist on an existing model into something so cool and useful that your potential investors have to see how it will make them rich beyond all belief.

I mean, really…What is Thumbtack? It’s like eLance married Angie’s List.  What is GlassDoor? Using crowdsourcing to find the perfect employer.

So go ahead – deconstruct your own service and your competitors’ services, pitch them (ideally not to your own clients, natch!), and learn something. It’s fun!

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