Anatomy of a startup biz dev program

I’m working on a free Intro to Startup Biz Dev class on Udemy and in my research I ran across a piece by Gagan Biyani (co-founder of Udemy and advisor to Lyft) on startup growth. In it, he discusses the importance of understanding your product’s lifecycle and the underlying psychology for your users throughout each step. I’ve been thinking a lot about how business development “works” and how crucial certain processes are in the eventual success of a killer approach to biz dev. So, I decided to outline the anatomy of a biz dev program specific to startups, a system gleamed from my experiences and observations over the years.

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Eff yo product! Learn, don’t launch.

My co-founder, Mike, and I started MusicBox without writing a single line of code. Truth be told, it took less than 5 days to cobble together a landing page, logo and brand messaging, an email distribution system, and to make sure we had enough approved inventory of up-and-coming music to get us through a month or two. We were far from geniuses about this, but we ended up well focused on our Minimum Viable Learning Environment vs. our Minimum Viable Product.

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How the on-demand ridesharing wars are being fought with partnerships

Shit’s getting real in the ridesharing space right now, with Uber full-on attacking Lyft, Lyft possibly doing samesies, and everyone announcing ride-pooling at the same damn time (not to mention companies like Hitch and Bandwagon, who exist solely for carpooling). When your business model is to connect passengers with drivers, or riders with riders, or riders with riders with drivers, achieving mass scale through strong distribution is vital. On the heels of both Uber and Hailo opening up their APIs, I wanted to note the strong role strategic partnerships are playing in this heated up space.

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APIs Are Changing The Face of Biz Dev

We are nearing the time when opening our supply chains across the Web isn’t just a good idea, it will be essential for competitive survival….open APIs have become an increasingly vital story for Web startups and traditional firms alike to cost effectively partnership, expand the reach of their products, and drive their network effect deeply across the Web. (source)

(If anyone needs an API refresher, this Quora thread may help.) Uber’s opening of its API recently has shone the light down yet again on the immense power of the new tech ecosystem and its relational capabilities. But along with it, we’re forced to ask the question, “Are APIs making the biz dev role obsolete?”

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Product Shout Out – Strikingly

I don’t do these often – and no, I am not getting paid for this – which should underline the recommendation I’m making here. As a non-tech guy who has a slew of websites for projects, personal use, and clients, I’m beholden to template site services more often than not. Software is eating the world, they say, and this is a vertical that has thrived in such an environment. And I’m confident in saying that I’ve tried the vast majority of services out there, constantly on the search for the right balance of functionality, design, and beauty. Enter Strikingly.

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Network Effects, The Startup Hustle, & Sweet Marketer-Engineer Love

Bear with me here; this was originally three different posts, but I quickly realized the crucial connection between all topics involved.

If you’re even remotely following the startup world / new sharing economy, you’ve noticed all the two-sided marketplaces sprouting up – Uber, TaskRabbit, Airbnb, Handybook, Elance, Lyft, and so on. They all face a pretty common challenge, which is the chicken and egg problem. These platforms do not offer prime value to either side until network effect is achieved on a relatively large scale (when Member X joins, Member Y benefits). And this isn’t exclusive to strict buyer-seller services, as it’s also in play for companies like Tinder and CoFounders Lab. I’m currently working with a few startups that fall into this category, so I thought it useful to research and outline some real-life examples of solving this problem. This will lead right into my next two points: 1) startups need biz dev hustlers on Day One and 2) engineers should cozy up with marketers much closer and much earlier than they typically do.

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