These key lessons on entrepreneurship are intended to give you insights on how startups really get started. They give another side to the traditional startup story by, rather than emphasizing company successes, explaining specific steps that were taken to turn ideas into reality. Every investor may not embrace your ideas, but if you place value on growth and execute consistency, you will see through these stories that you too can thrive.
Do you want to open your home to strangers so they can sleep on your coach? Investors were originally held back by the idea. We are taught to fear strangers, and here Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia were, suggesting people open their homes to strangers. These indebted entrepreneurs began hoping simply to make some extra money by buying beds and charging people to stay in their home. The efforts that were then made to further establish the business are unique and strategic.
Seeing as half of their business emphasized breakfast, as it was initially called Air Bed and Breakfast, they thought of somehow selling breakfast to people at the Democratic National Convention. This breakfast needed to strike attention and bring recognition to their brand, so these entrepreneurs used their design skills to create a cereal that appealed to both parties. You can check out the quirky Obama O’s and Cap’n McCain’s. Maybe investors were declining their disruptive idea, but by investing in their skills, they raised a hefty sum of $30,000 to invest in what would become Airbnb.
The Dollar Shave Club
A budding frustration with the high prices of razors led entrepreneurs Mark Levine and Michael Dubin to create The Dollar Shave Club, which solved a problem that consumers didn’t even realize they had. The Dollar Shave Club created perfectly engineered, yet basic razors and sold them at a rate substantially lower than their competitors. The founders took a clever approach to advertising by playing on the unacknowledged reality that razors are overpriced. All written and visual content embraced grit and crudeness, humorously encouraging consumers to come to this realization as well.
The Dollar Shave Club essentially created a movement with their viral launch video that implicitly said, “you’re silly not to become a member of our club.” People were warped into their model, joining what truly felt like a club through the company’s dedication to social media engagement, targeted notifications, and personalized interactions. What is most shocking to buyers is the money that went into the launch and the immense attention paid to what is considered a commodity product. The viral launch video viewed by 25 million people cost them a mere $4,500.
Take a look at their launch video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUG9qYTJMsI
Money isn’t the be all end all
Money and investment can undeniably push your business, idea, or product ahead as you launch, but The Dollar Shave Club proves that money is not the be all end all. What the Dollar Shave Club spent on Marketing and video production by using their wit and resources is substantially lower than the average $50,000 that costs the majority of businesses investing in high-quality video production for a product launch. Additionally, other than Google advertisements, The Dollar Shave Club didn’t spend on marketing. This does not imply that their launch was not thoughtfully executed, but rather, the opposite. Founders Mark Levine and Michael Dubin invested their time and planning efforts in ensuring that their personal investment wouldn’t be extreme or over the top.
Make Thoughtful Investments
Airbnb’s proves that by strategically investing in yourself and your company, you can succeed. When investors were constantly rejecting the founders of Airbnb, they used creative tactics to earn money, all while advertising their company. Sometimes an idea may be denied by investors, but you need to find the loopholes to get what you need done, done. That is exactly what Airbnb founders did by designing their political cereal boxes and selling them at the Democratic National Convention. When they couldn’t find investors, they made their own investments, and in return earned $30,000.
Storytelling is Key
Both Airbnb and the Dollar Shave Club had stories to tell, and they did so in a way that further established their brand. The Dollar Shave Club connects with their audiences through grit and humor that people actually wanted to become a part of the club. Airbnb, on the other hand, created a story through design and creativity, something that was essential for founders selling a disruptive idea to the world. When one tells a story to their audience, they then connect and relate to people in a persuasive and transformative way.
Take Andrew Stanton’s quote from his Ted Talk, The Clues to a Great Story, storytelling confirms “some truth that deepens our understandings of who we are as human beings. We all love stories. We’re born for them. Stories affirm who we are. We all want affirmations that our lives have meaning. And nothing does a greater affirmation than when we connect through stories. It can cross the barriers of time, past, present and future, and allow us to experience the similarities between ourselves and through others, real and imagined.”