Creating a Software Company? 9 Decisions You Have to Make

So, you have decided to sell software. Congratulations, you are now a software company!

Maybe your building the next big new product that is going to change the world, or perhaps you are re-purposing an internal piece of software that has really helped your company. Either way, it doesn’t matter. There is a lot of strategy and implementation work that needs to be done (maybe more than you realized!).
Read more on Creating a Software Company? 9 Decisions You Have to Make…

If You Build it, Will They Come? A Real-World Reminder for Web Entrepreneurs

During the sales process at Atomic, we actively discuss the business model and marketing strategy of our entrepreneurial clients. Marketing is a major risk points for many young web startups. Last week I listened to my colleague Bruce Watson share a powerful analogy with a first-time web entrepreneur.
Read more on If You Build it, Will They Come? A Real-World Reminder for Web Entrepreneurs…

Practical Advice for Bringing a New Product to Market

Do you have an idea for a new product or service? One that gets you so excited you have to turn it into reality? Do you run the numbers and it makes you dizzy or unable to stop giggling?

At Atomic Object, we know how that feels. We were once a startup, and like others we made a few mistakes along the way. This is why we now publish what we know (both successes and failures) and continue to learn from others.

At a recent D-NewTech Meetup, Dan Izzo (Director of Product Development at Fathead, Inc.) gave some excellent advice for anyone trying to start a new company or developing a product outside their current expertise. I was impressed by how practical his advice seemed and can attest to its value based on our own experience. For those not able to watch his entire presentation (starting at about the six minute mark), here’s a quick summary of his major points.

Read more on Practical Advice for Bringing a New Product to Market…

Minimum Viable Product or Mediocre Value Prop?

Scott Anthony highlights the importance of building a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) compelling enough to steer clear of becoming a mediocre value proposition:

Sometimes, though, a Minimal Viable Product turns into a Mediocre Value Proposition. A company might introduce a product in the marketplace. A few customers find it interesting (you can always find a few customers). Results fall short of expectations, but the company says, “Well, it’s just a minimal viable product for learning.” The company makes a few tweaks, scales up spending . . . and falls flat on its face.

Read more on Minimum Viable Product or Mediocre Value Prop?…

Building a Small Marketing Website

So you want to build a small marketing website.

I am frequently asked by friends how to set up a website for their small business. We rarely build marketing websites here at Atomic Object, so I hope this will be a helpful guide.

A small 1-30 page marketing website is critical to attract, inform and invoke customers to buy your product or service. These days, if you don’t have an online presence, you’re missing the boat and probably losing potential business.

Read more on Building a Small Marketing Website…

Lessons from Startup Weekend Detroit

What kind of business can you build in 54 hours? That’s the challenge at every Startup Weekend event and the group in attendance at the M@dison building for Startup Weekend Detroit was more than up to the challenge. Six of us from Atomic Object made the trek out to the event to participate. We built, and learned, a lot.

Drew Colthorp and I worked with Peter Beaugard, Kari, and Ben on turnDetroit for the weekend. In a nutshell, turnDetroit’s goal is to promote community involvement in identifying, funding, and pursuing opportunities to make productive use of vacant spaces. We were reminded of a few important lessons throughout the event, and our project in particular illustrated that the most important problems to solve are often not technical in nature.

Read more on Lessons from Startup Weekend Detroit…

Prepping for a Five-Minute Funding Pitch

About a week ago I had a wonderful opportunity – I gave one of the five pitches at the January 2012 5×5 Night. Mike Marsiglia, myself, and three others have been working on a side product for about a year now[1] and I pitched it at 5×5. We were planning to use the money to hold several small marketing events to meet new customers, but we were not selected to receive any money. Despite not winning the juried award, we still took home $135 as part of Mercantile Bank’s sponsorship and met about a half dozen sales leads. Not bad!

Here are some of the steps I took to prepare for the most intense talk I’ve ever delivered.
Read more on Prepping for a Five-Minute Funding Pitch…

Drawing Your Business Ecosystem

We first read about business ecosystems in the Entrepreneur’s Guide to Customer Development.

Over the last year we have added a business ecosystem drawing exercise to our project kickoff practices. This exercise is designed to quickly give our development team a high-level understanding of our client’s business.

A business ecosystem drawing shows high-level value exchanges for the entities that participate in an offering.

To better understand how to draw a business ecosystem, let’s investigate Atomic Object’s simple product development consulting business.
Read more on Drawing Your Business Ecosystem…

What We Expect Startups to Know

Ten years of working with entrepreneurs has given us some insights into what’s necessary to increase the odds of their success. While there is no magic formula you can follow to create a successful product or company, there are some things you can do to increase your odds, or, put another way, there are some things you can ignore that almost certainly introduce risk and decrease your odds.

Read more on What We Expect Startups to Know…

A Venture Capital Cheat Sheet

Lately I’ve found myself in many conversations about startups and sources of funding. It’s a natural part of the work we do at Atomic; we build software products for other people’s businesses, and many of the new clients who reach out to us are part of startups. Locally, the Momentum program and 5×5 night have sparked conversation and excitement around the Grand Rapids entrepreneurial community. The Michigan chapter of the Lean Startup Circle is kicking off soon. Globally we’re in the wake of several new tech IPOs (Linked-In, Pandora, & Zynga).

In these conversations I’ve observed and experienced a little hesitancy in defining or making distinctions between different terms in the venture capital space. For instance, one common misconception is that different types of funding relate directly to specific dollar ranges, rather than company stage.

Here I’d like to lay out a basic outline of the terms of venture capital, keeping in mind the sometimes loose colloquial uses that make rigorous distinctions impossible.

Read more on A Venture Capital Cheat Sheet…