Road Trip Musings

On Tuesday night I made my way to Athens to the Four Athens open house at the invite of Jacqui Chew. Mark Dewey came along for the ride.

It was a fun night. First and foremost Jim Flannery is doing a bang up job of building a startup community in Athens. It was interesting to see what is happening there and will be even more interesting to see how the community evolves.

While we were not technically road tripping, you put a few people in a car for three hours they are going to talk about stuff. Jacqui told me I had to write about my musings during the trip. Here they are.

Growth Hacking Is A Joke
It is just another way to say customer acquisition marketing. And don’t even get me started on viral marketing. The transmission of viruses does not typically happen through choice.

So Is Customer Discovery
I love The Fours Steps to the Epiphany but I have to tell you that customer discovery is simply the first step in marketing. Marketing defined by the man who literally wrote the book on it:

Marketing is the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market.

Philp Kotler

The science and art of exploring. Exploring and discovery are such closely related words they are almost synonyms. Customer discovery is just another way to say market research that is a little less intimidating to geeks. The term customer discovery makes marketing research approachable by non-marketers and that does have significant value.

My personal definition of marketing is a bit more straight forward. Figure out what people want and create it. The figuring out what people want is pretty hard.

And a big by the way, the problem with marketing is that most marketers stray from the purpose of the discipline.

Do Things That Don’t Scale
Somehow or the other we got on the subject of the recent purchase of Jim Beam by Suntory.

A long time ago Jim Bean was one of my customers. So was Maker’s Mark (which should be the preferred bourbon of the maker’s movement). Maker’s Mark in beautiful Loretto, Kentucky.┬áMaker’s Mark that sells over a million cases of bourbon a year. Maker’s Mark with demand is so high they considered reducing the alcohol strength of the whiskey (it takes a long time to build supply) so that they could keep up with demand. Maker’s Mark with the trademarked wax seal.

You know how they apply that wax seal? The bottles are hand dipped by people at the end of the production line. I am sure they could automate the wax application if they wanted to do so. But having those people hand dip is part of the heritage. Part of what makes Maker’s special. Part of why I am talking about it now when I observed it more than half a life ago.

Delight does not scale.┬áSometimes it is better to do things that don’t scale. While I have developed my own thinking on this over the years Paul Graham has an excellent essay on the subject.

Atlanta Has Management Talent
Someone made the comment that Atlanta has no management talent. I called BS. I could name at least 20 people that are capable of scaling and running a technology business in Atlanta. What Atlanta lacks is viable startup concepts. The city needs better ideas.

Atlanta Has Money
If you have a viable concept and a decent entrepreneur or two you can get funded here. I bet we talked about 20 companies that are in the process of raising funds. To be quite frank I seeing things funded here at a stage and valuation that were never seen five years ago. If you want to raise money in Atlanta and can not do so you have to look no further than the mirror to understand the reason why.

January 23, 2014  |  Comments  |  Tweet  |  Posted in Accelerators, Entrepreneurship, Fun, Marketing