What Makes A Startup, A Successful Startup?


by Aryeh Powers

Over the past weekend, I had a discussion with an aspiring entrepreneur about a new Internet based startup idea that he was interested in implementing . One of the things that he mentioned to me about his business idea got me thinking. He told me that his business would be centered around providing a select product to a select niche market. I’m certain that we’re all familiar with the concept. But it got me thinking about what really makes a successful Internet startup and what separates a successful Internet startup, from an Internet startup that might present on a good idea, but never really takes off the ground.

Before I share my thoughts, I just want to put a disclaimer out there; with the right amount of venture capital backing you, I think that any good idea has a shot of becoming a successful Internet venture. So here is what I came up with regarding startups without huge amounts of funding. I believe that there are 2 very important factors that stand out among others, that really create a big buzz for new products or services among consumers. The first factor or strategy that a startup can do when differentiating themselves, is to create a value proposition which clearly articulates a target audience or niche to whom their product or service will cater too. Nothing says more to a consumer looking for a SPECIFIC type of product or service than a product or service dedicated to the SPECIFIC product or service that they are looking for. A great example of a niche product that stands out to consumers is Legal Zoom. I recently spoke with an associate of Legal Zoom, who told me that more Americans are familiar with the Legal Zoom brand than they are with who our vice president. This is because people who are looking for specialized legal services, know that Legal Zoom is the online marketplace for any and all legal services that they need. The legal marketplace niche is what Legal Zoom services.

The second factor that makes a product or service more desirable to the consumer is the interface and the ease of use that is associated with purchasing, using and interfacing with the product or service. If there are 2 identical products online, but one is easier to use, which one would you use? Think of all of the Google products that are so much more popular than their competitor product’s. Why is that? Most people will tell you, that the reason for Google’s huge success is that they understand the importance of their user’s experience and what their users want to see from their products. In other words, Google makes products that are intuitive and easy to use for their customers. This is why people use Google product’s over similar MSN and Yahoo product’s.

Lastly, if you are offering a product or service for sale over the Internet, make sure that the value and the way in which your product or service is offered is easily processed and that the value is apparent from your Web site or from your brand message. If your product is free, like Google’s products, than your customers will understand the value and your product will sell itself. However, If you have a pricing plan that you show your visitors, than make sure to point out where the value lies in your pricing structure. For instance, have a list of items offered with check marks there, so that people can easily understand what and why they are paying you. You may have seen those check marks around, and the reason they are there is for you to understand what the value of the product you’re about to buy is… in a clear and intuitive way. Make your users experience educational, fun and easy and they will have a reason to tell their friends about you.

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