What Techstars Founders Learned from Seth Godin

We are incredibly fortunate to have stellar guests & speakers at Techstars. This past week Seth Godin, best selling author and marketing guru, gave a talk that founders been raving about since.

Seth is magical. He is incredibly insightful. He is thought provoking. He is funny. He makes things simple. He breaks through the clutter. He is like a painter with a brush, and a scientist in the lab coat all at the same time.

Seth drew the bell curve, and then used it to explain how products get adopted, how things go viral, what crossing the chasm is, how VCs fund companies, and much more.

We asked the founders to share what they learned from Seth’s talk.

Michael, associate at Techstars:

Focus on creating a product that your early adopters LOVE, and the mass market will eventually be drawn into the fold.

Ditch the elevator pitch and make a personalized connection with a prospective investor/partner/etc.

Danielle, co-founder of Gloss Genius: Loved Seth Godin’s talk; felt really lucky to be a part of that. Something that stuck in my head:

Ironically, most users that become interested in your company haven’t really “heard” your company’s story; they become interested because they’ve heard their story through your company. They’ve heard why your company is important to them.Continually challenge, and share why your company matters to your users.

Karim, co-founder of Gloss Genius: The #1 thing that stood out to me about the talk was how knowledgeable he was about so many industries and business models – he seemed to have such a keen understanding and great examples for all of the companies.

I really liked the point about crafting a story that addresses the specific problems of users at each point in the bell curve, particularly around “amplifying the pain” for these people/users/customers.

Romain Lapeyre is a co-founder of Gorgias:

Don’t target the mass, target the early adopter segment and make sure you appeal to this segment only. For the first 1-2 years of your startup, that’s enough. Leverage the fact that early adopters like to refer products to their friends.

Kevin O’Brien is a co-founder of GreatHorn:

Fantastic presentation of a core tenant of selling, whether it’s an idea, a product, or a company: emotional connections matter, more than anything else.

That’s a huge takeaway, and even in a B2B space, an important point to underscore. Loved the connection to Moore’s diagram, particularly relevant as we segment our market not only in terms of vertical, but also persona of our target. Amazing.

Christine, co-founder of Impact Health:

Tell them a story that tells them you understand their problem, and that you are legit.

How do they share us with their friends? Who has the major problem with buying the right health insurance? Ignore everyone else.

Who are our nerds. What is our minimum viable market? What is the smallest amount of features you can provide to the smallest amount of people?

Helen, co-founder of Impact Health
Loved Seth. Top 2 things that stuck in my head from his awesome talk:

Appeal to the Nerds – they will be your champions. Lead with the problem that you are going to solve.

Andre co-founder of LiveLike: I loved his idea of mapping discovery of the product on a normal differentiation curve.

Don’t jump from innovators to trying to get the mass market. Go from innovator to early adopters to full market. Very relevant.

Saswat, co-founder of LiveLike:

Top thing (and the central point of the talk): Focus on the nerds, build a product they love, and the rest will follow.

Orkun, co-founder of Mona

Last week I wanted to tweet an idea that I always think about, which I didn’t, but it was this: There is a normal distribution to almost everything in life.

It was amazing to see how Seth conceptualized the human behavior of early adopters in one tail moving to the mean percentiles, and then to the laggers on the other tail. Whether a customer, investor or mentor, focusing on early adopters (or nerds) is a great advice.

Seth frames it in such a simple yet scientific way that you feel like you’ve cracked the code to bringing out products to the masses.

Jason, co-founder of Morsel

Focus on the extremes, never start out in the middle with normals. Listen to the problem they want solved first. Never start out with a sales pitch.

Adrian, co-founder of Sailo

I thought that Seth made a fantastic point about focusing on the few people that have a problem at first not the tempting masses that come later. In a way we all know that but he made that point so well that it was surprisingly enlightening.

He is also just an awesome speaker and we could have probably listened to him for hours. It was great to have him here.

Kenaniah, co-founder of SPIDR

People always divide into bell curves and have different “world views” according to where they are on that curve. Early adopters are on the fringe of the curve and are more open to new solutions for a problem than normal people in the middle of the curve. Target the early adopters, but have a transition plan to pick up the normal, general population.

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Alex Iskold View All →

Engineer, Immigrant. Vegan. 3x Founder, Managing Partner @2048vc. Previously ran @techstars in NYC. I write #startuphacks: http://alexiskold.net .