52 Lessons From Columbus Startup Week 2017

By Hannah Greene

Every year, Columbus Startup Week creates consistently greater events, speakers, and panels. This year was no exception. As a sponsor, ZoCo was lucky enough to create the brand and collateral. Below, find some of our highlighted insights from various events throughout the week.



Matt Scantland Interview

Matt Scantland from CoverMyMeds, Moderated by Mary Yost from Columbus CEO
  1. Get your product in front of customers early to see if they’re pulling more out of you instead of you pushing it on them.
  2. With your first iteration product, you’re going to be wrong.
  3. Don’t disrupt the industry—transform it. Find a way for all of your customers to win. Look for markets where each customer segment isn’t happy—that’s where you’ll find the most success.
  4. Win with people. Let them grow and build their career with initiatives above and beyond their job title.
  5. When starting, focus on solving the problem, not on creating a ‘startup house’. Startup is a phase, not a destination.
  6. It’s great to be involved in the startup community—but you must be involved in your industry through trade shows, conferences, and anywhere else you can access your customers.
  7. For any product you want to build, you’ll need to dedicate at least ten years to it. If you look down the road and don’t think your product will benefit the industry in five or ten years, it’s not the right product.
  8. The more your company grows, so does your access to changing and impacting the industry. It’s not about jumping ship once you’re successful, but using your platform to keep doing good for your customers and industry.

“Find a way for all of your customers to win.”
Matt Scantland, CEO, CoverMyMeds


What’s Wrong With Your Website

Brad Ness from Blue Laser Design
  1. Your website is not a cost of doing business, rather an investment in your business.
  2. The internet is a great equalizer—two guys in their basement can look like an international corporation, and vice versa.
  3. When it comes to online marketing, it’s better not to do it than to do it badly.
  4. You have 0.3 seconds to get someone to say “tell me more” on your website.
  5. Images of people are greater than images of things.
  6. Tell your story and engage your market (by not always trying to sell to them).
  7. 3 ways your website hurts you:
    1. It makes you look bad—diagnosed by a high bounce rate.
    2. It doesn’t work for you—people can’t find you or a low conversion rate.
    3. It hasn’t evolved with your business—if you haven’t touched your website in a year or more, you’re due for some updates or maybe an upgrade.



Brand Strategy How-To

Lacey Picazo, our fearless leader from ZoCo Design
  1. Your brand is more than just a logo—it speaks volumes as to who you are as a company and is one of your most valuable assets.
  2. Your brand is how people experience your products. It should be authentic—people can tell if you’re faking it.
  3. Brainstorm all possible human attributes of your brand, then distill it down to the most unique five characteristics.
  4. SWOT. It’s a classic for a reason. Even if you’ve already done one, it’s not a bad idea to revisit this as your company and market consistently evolve.
  5. Who is your audience? You probably have several—but figure out who your main audience is, what they care about, how you reach them, how you want them to feel, and how you will achieve this.
  6. Look at your competition. What are they doing that is different? Why are customers appealed to them? What is their awareness like in the market?
  7. Take a look at your benefits and advantages to find your best marketing strategy. What do you do that is good and different? That’s your money maker.
  8. Finally, tie this all in a pretty bow and define your positioning.
    1. We are the only (category) that (differentiation) for (customer) who (why).




Brand Development: Know Yourself

Rachel Friedman from TENFOLD
  1. Rachel Friedman predicts that “Culture Equity” will be the new “Brand Equity” in the future because of the war for talent.
  2. Everyone is good at the ‘customer-centric’ business focus, so now companies must focus on internal culture to be a differentiator.
  3. Brand ≠ Culture. Brand is common, consumer touchpoints. Culture is distinct.
  4. 6 Culture Components: Vision, Values, People, Rituals/Practices, Place, Narrative
    1. Usually, values are not memorable or distinct in any way. They’re usually table stakes (Treat people with respect, etc.). When establishing values, be true to yourself and your team to make them memorable.
    2. Our brains are wired to remember stories, not facts, so create a narrative around your culture.
    3. Why not connect with your people through the very place they spend most of their time? The work environment. It doesn’t have to be an extravagant expense to communicate your narrative.



Elements to include in your pitch deck

Darshan Vyas of LOUD Capital and David Hunegnaw
  1. Your pitch deck should show your vision for the company and is the first thing you want to invest in.
  2. Overall, keep it short, scannable, and engaging. Investors don’t want to read a novel.
  3. Here are some astounding stats to keep in mind:
    1. 40 meetings—Average meetings before closing a round of funding.
    2. 12 weeks—Average length of funding rounds.
    3. 19.2 slides—Average slides in a ‘good’ pitch deck.
    4. 3 minutes 44 seconds—Average time an investor spends reviewing a pitch deck.
      1. That’s 21 seconds per page, folks.
  4. Use infographics, photos, and icons to visualize information where possible.
  5. The pages you need:
    1. Who are you, what’s your tagline? Make this striking and memorable.
    2. What’s the problem? (short and sweet—major problem is about a sentence)
    3. Other problems.
    4. Market opportunity (the bigger the market, the more exciting!)
    5. What is your solution? Just the highlights, don’t go into the weeds here.
    6. What are the benefits of your solution?
    7. What clients/partners do you have? You want to show what traction you’ve been building in the industry.
    8. What’s the competitive landscape? It’s a huge red flag if you say there’s no competitors.
    9. Investment opportunity—what are you raising, how will the money be used?
    10. Business model—How do you make money?
    11. Projections—This shows your vision and where your head is.
    12. Team—This will dictate the confidence an investor will have.
    13. Testimonials and press.
    14. Closing—You want this to be as memorable as the opening.
    15. Appendix—This is where you can put all that other information that you wanted to put above. If you have piqued an investor’s interest, they’ll look through this, too. This is a great place to add what the product looks like and any additional research you’ve done.
  6. According to LOUD Capital, what matters most:
    1. Financials
    2. Team
    3. Competitors
    4. Business Model
    5. Market Size
    6. Problem, and finally
    7. Solution



Women in User Experience

Jessica Bailey from Wendy’s, Katie Mowery from Priority Designs, and Mackensie Shaw from Nationwide. Moderated by Kim Rayburn from Cult Marketing
  1. Understand the entire experience a person goes through—beyond even your product.
  2. User Experience is beyond user interface and pushing pixels, it’s all about empathy for your stakeholders (notice: it’s more than just your users).
  3. It’s not just about the end user, but the business goals and any other stakeholder’s goals.
  4. You know you’ve made a successful design when people don’t see it.
  5. Research is the most important step in any process. It should be a milestone in the project, not skipped.
  6. Tell the story to help communicate to leaders for buy-in of changes or additions.
  7. Not understanding the product space can be a good thing and lead to unbiased questions, but too much naivety can lead to poor recommendations.
  8. To help get buy-in for research, reference case studies where they disregarded the insights and had to re-work and spend a lot of money to correct the problem.
  9. Once a business begins to receive the insights from their customers and see the success of their products, they become thirsty for more.



Social Media Best Practices

Marti Post from Mindstream Interactive
  1. Understand the difference between Social Marketing and Social Advertising. Social Marketing is owned and organic while Social Advertising is paid or sponsored. Don’t forget, your handles are rented not owned.
  2. Align social media to your business goals. Social media is the scaffolding for making your business better, and should be treated as a ‘have to’ or daily task.
  3. Master the basics. Use the platforms appropriately, create content for the platform you’re using, manage your community, and connect the dots.
  4. Only invest in what you can support.   
  5. Tell your authentic story while thinking long-lead like a publisher.
  6. Don’t just use words. Facebook said: “The camera is now the most important part of your phone”
  7. Play it for what it is: A team sport. Disclose when content is sponsored, and leverage influencers.
  8. Listen to what’s being said about you, your brand, your industry, your competitors, and more.
  9. Know when to ask for (or buy) help.
  10. Invest in training and certification.

Hannah Greene