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So What Does Your Startup Do?

This past week, I was at SXSW Interactive, where all sorts of internet startups show off their latest and greatest and try to be the next huge launch, like Twitter and Foursquare. Amidst all the hoopla, free food, open bars and other assorted  freebies sponsored by the different companies, it’s tough to tell what each company is promoting and what exactly they do.

I know my friend Rob wrote a similar post after we were at a party and trying to figure out what the sponsor did. He searched the iTunes store for the company name and four apps came up with that name, and it was hard to tell which was the proper one. After discerning that it was the third or fourth app on the list, the description read “Official mobile app, contains updates and general information about [redacted] and the people behind it.” So now we found their app and still had no clue who they were or what they did. At least they threw a good party.

At SXSW, people are more focused on the party than the promoted product and are more than willing to download an app to get a free drink or t-shirt, only to delete it an hour later. They have no reason to load the app again and probably don’t know what it is or what it does. If they don’t know what it is or why they’d use it, then they have no reason to keep it.

A startup should be able to describe what they do in a sentence. A brief overview will whet the appetite of any potential user without inundating them with too much information. If people can get the simple version, they will be more open to the longer explanation if it is something they are interested in.

SXSW has been called “spring break for geeks,” and geeks are always open to new technologies. We treat SXSW like a playground and if we find the toys we like, we will assuredly continue to play with them.

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