Why You are an Extension of the Brand

In this special guest feature, the team from Logo Garden discusses the importance of brand extension for your Startup.

The most important element of your brand is consistency. It needs to permeate the same message time and time again. There are several factors to consider…the visual, the words, the product/service, and YOU. That’s right, you! After all, who knows your company better than you do? The goal is to get consumers “on board” and interested in your business. To do so, you need them to “buy” into not only your product or service, but just as importantly, your brand. If you aren’t passionate about what you are offering, why would any potential customer be?

Are you With the Brand?

  1. What makes you different? What sets you apart from the competition as a brand ambassador and human being? Use those skills and ideas to promote your company. Communicating your message in a consistent and intriguing way will dictate how people relate to your company.
  2. What are you most proud of in your company? Do you donate profits to charitable organizations? Do you enlist summer interns in order to help them gain valuable experience? Whatever it is, shout it from the rooftops! People want to know why they should give you their money and they want to feel good about where they are putting it.
  3. What do I want people to remember my company by? Aside from putting out a superb product, do you want to be known for old-fashion customer service? Do you want to be looked at as modern and fast? Everything you do from the way you respond to an email to the way you carry on a phone conversation will be part of your brand’s larger message.

Learn more at LogoGarden.

Compete in the Startup Open

Startup Open, the featured competition of Global Entrepreneurship Week, is accepting applications now through September 15, 2012.

Startup Open is designed to develop innovative startups at the local, regional or even national level.  In order to qualify, entrepreneurs must have had a “startup moment” between GEW 2011 and GEW 2012 (November 2011 to November 2012).  Startup Open defines a “startup moment” as “any action related to launching a new business, such as incorporating a company, officially opening the doors for business, completing a first sale, or securing funding.”

Applications are due September 15, 2012. Register now.

Vizify Startup Puts the Best of You Online, All in One Place

One of the fun parts of my job is getting to test the wares of new Startups. This week I kicked the tires on Vizify.

Vizify helps you transform all those interesting impressions you make online into one definitive, multidimensional, graphical biography, without ever asking you to face a blank screen. It’s the easiest, most sophisticated tool for showing the best of you online, all in one place.

The process of developing my profile on Visify only took a couple of minutes as it pulled a lot of my information straight from Linkedin.

I really like the results. If you are like me and have more than one home on the web, Vizify is a great way to present yourself. Sign up for your own visual profile today.

Bo Ewald Takes the Helm at LiquidCool Solutions

Former SGI CEO Bo Ewald has taken over as CEO of LiquidCool Solutions, formerly known as HardCore Computer. In what is being described as a reboot of the company, Ewald replaces former HardCore CEO Chad Attlesey.

With a new business model, LiquidCool is transitioning from being a direct manufacturer of high-end desktop computers and servers outfitted with patented liquid submersion cooling systems. Instead, the company will focus on selling liquid cooling technology to system vendors. While LiquidCool will continue to service the Hardcore machines being the used by customers, it is no longer in the computer manufacturing business.

Ewald has a storied history in HPC with leadership roles at LANL, Cray Research, Linux Networks, and of course SGI, which he left in 2009 before the company was acquired by Rackble. His experience and wide industry network will undoubtedly be key to getting the best possible partners for LiquidCool. Read the Full Story.

On behalf of insideHPC, I’d like to say, “Good luck, Bo. And welcome back!”

Why Launch Dates Matter

In this special guest feature, Wil Schroter from Fundable.com writes that you choose your Startup date with care.

As a startup, we live by launch dates. Some launch dates are based on particular events or restrictions, others are totally arbitrary dates pulled out of thin air.

No matter what drives them, launch dates matter.

Setting a hard date and sticking to it isn’t just about creating a stake in the sand. It’s a powerful catalyst for driving the entire team and the product to a meaningful milestone that everyone can get behind.

Fundable Launch

The team behind Fundable has dealt with launch dates for a very long time. Over the course of the past two decades (we’re old) we have launched 9 of our own Web startups and have helped literally thousands of other startups get launched as well.

Still, no matter how many times we go to bat, it’s still incredibly hard. What we have learned through blood, sweat and tears (mostly tears) is that setting critical milestones is the only way to get everyone on board. Without launch dates, the center does not hold.

Vanquishing Procrastination

We started putting together our launch plan about 90 days prior to our May 22nd public launch. We began the project much earlier than that, but it took a few months before we had our arms around what we were actually going to build.

Once we knew what was on tap, we scrambled to put together a launch date. We were less concerned about the actual date than we were with vanquishing procrastination.

We’ve learned one lesson very well – we will take as much time with any task as time allows. I learned this back in college. If I had an entire semester to finish a term paper, I would take that long. If I were down to 3 days, that’s also how long it would take.

We freak out about procrastination, and without a set launch date, we feared that demon would swallow us whole. Was 90 days the right amount of time? Maybe not. But we knew that without a line in the sand, we’d still be debating when this project should launch.

Launch Dates help Benchmark Productivity

For as much as we fear procrastination, our team is militant about productivity.

The early stages of a startup, before there is a functioning product or real customers, are the hardest to benchmark because we live in this amorphous state. Setting critical milestones in stone, especially the launch date, create tangible goals that everyone can understand and react to.

Our team needed benchmarks. I needed benchmarks. I needed to know on a day-by-day basis whether we were getting moving the ball forward or just spinning our wheels.

When I look at the first month of our dev calendar, when we had roughly 3 months until launch, we were wildly unproductive. We felt like we could afford to slack off because the penalty felt far away.

We keep a very detailed log of all of the work we do, so it’s easy for me to see that as we got closer to our launch date, our productivity jumped exponentially.

This isn’t unique to us and it’s not unique to launch dates. It’s the human nature of procrastination, which is why without that launch date we would have never had a driver to increase productivity in the first place.

Deadlines Force Critical Decisions

New product launches inherently involve a feature list that is always longer than it should be, and ours was no different. We had a million features and a million good reasons to implement them. Without a deadline, we would still be working on them months later.

A launch date takes that option off the table. We wanted to launch with the ability to have startups provide detailed business plans for interested parties. That would have taken another two months and even though it’s a critical function for us, it wasn’t critical for our launch.

Our discussion wasn’t just about whether it was a critical feature, it was about whether we could survive launch without it. There’s an important distinction there.

We weren’t paring down the feature set by what people arbitrarily thought was important. We were paring down the feature set because everyone could agree that in order to build one feature, another feature had to be discarded.

It’s hard to make critical decisions, especially about features, but a deadline puts a common reference point – time – at the heart of the conversation. It allows everyone to agree that these decisions must fit that framework or they get tossed, period.

Our Launch Date Saved Us

We may have worked up until the final moment of launch, but we launched. Did stuff break? Yup. Was it worth the cost? Absolutely!

Our launch gave us an important early move into a very hot space (crowdfunding) that is witnessing a launch of a new entrant just about every week. We were able to capture early press and a great deal of customer attention.

More importantly, we got a head start on getting real world feedback from our customers that validated most of the decisions we made to not build features in the first place.

In the end, our launch date may have cost us some sleepless nights, but it saved us months of being unproductive. It was a fair trade I’d say.