I heard Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit and investor in over 50 start-up companies at a book signing recently. He was promoting his new book “Without Their Permission.” The event was sponsored by Verge, an Indianapolis group dedicated to connect founders and developers with investors and resources to grow their startups.
Alexis is a very interesting guy. Not only is a passionate and engaging speaker (more on that a bit later) he was named in the Forbes 30 under 30 list two years in a row and then he turned thirty! He helped launch Hipmunk, a travel site, and Breadpig, a site that helps authors publish their work.
A few pearls of wisdom from the mouth of Ohanian
- Understand your market before you disrupt it. If you want to market a new way to deliver outstanding food take a job as a waiter in a restaurant. Learn from the ground up.
- If you are not willing to really understand the industry you’re aspiring to reinvent don’t bother starting a start-up.
- Make something people want and love and people will find out about it. Don’t worry about marketing.
- ID a real problem. Solve it in the simplest way possible. Rinse and repeat!
- Ignore your competitors. If you have a product people want concentrate on delivering the product. See step 4. If you get distracted chances are you will defeat yourself. Many times your competition will defeat themselves for you.
- Listen to how your users are talking about your product. Watch how users interact with what you have built. Learn. Improve.
We have often heard that one of the secrets of making a good presentation is to tell a good story. Good story tellers engage their audience. Verge gave each attendee a two sided card, one with an arrow pointed up and the other down. If you agreed with something Alexis said you raised the up arrow so he could see it. If you disagreed or wanted to express displeasure with a topic you raised the down arrow. Alexis got his energy from the audience which encouraged more in the audience to participate.
Back in Shakespeare’s time it is told that audiences cheered for characters they liked and threw tomatoes at characters they didn’t. Holding up arrows is a bit more civil and provides immediate feedback to keep the presenter on their toes.
I wish more presenters would try this approach.
Until next time – all the best!