You want your startup to rapidly develop a reputation as an industry leader. Ideally, you'd like not only to offer consumers something they need or want, but a solution that’s never existed before. Here are three ways you can become and stay an industry leader, with concrete examples from our success at Squadhelp.com.
1. Start With Disruption
Invest time and effort in creating a unique business that will solve a problem in a new way. Imagine from day one that you are going to be standing in front of a Fortune 500 asking them for their business, or presenting to a venture capitalist looking for your first couple million. In either situation, you will certainly be asked the simple but critical questions, Why you? and What’s unique?
Squadhelp launched in 2011 with a totally new naming solution that changed the naming industry. The naming industry?, you ask. Yes, there are as many as 50,000,000 new businesses formed every year; and on top of that, there are just as many (or more) new products, books, apps, and films. 100s of millions of “things” need awesome and unique names every year. (Some naming projects still surprise us--such as when we were asked to help name a DJ, banquet hall, summer fest, boat, or a special day.)
Branding agencies have been helping large businesses develop great names for years at a hefty price tag, but there was never a comparably affordable solution for awesome, custom names. Squadhelp changed that with crowdsourcing, and we are humbled the be array of amazing innovators that we’ve worked with, from lip balm to aerospace manufacturing to stem cell therapy.
2. Innovate with Purpose and Passion
Remember, your original vision must morph and grow into something even bigger, and better. When pondering the idea you are passionate about, consider how new business trends could potentially be incorporated. Trust yourself to recognize potential opportunities--and when you see one, pounce on it, and take action.
At Squadhelp, we weren’t satisfied when we opened a new market for custom agency-style names at an affordable price. We wanted to push passed the standard crowdsourcing model. So we kept innovating. We made incremental improvements and also major leaps--Quality Scoring resulted in a marked increase in the quality of name submission, and Gamification increased freelancer engagement and promoted constructive ideation and brainstorming.
3. Continue to Evolve
Becoming an innovative company--a pioneer--is not a destination. Holding your place among the industry leaders means taking the calculated risks of continual innovation.
At the start of 2017, Squadhelp decided to push the boundaries of crowdsourcing, while moving branding towards a new frontier. Our crowdsource community had submitted nearly 5,000,000 names to our platform by the end of 2016, and we saw the opportunity to bringing big data, machine learning, and AI into our naming process for the first time. Therefore, the Name Genome Project--named after one of the largest learning programs that the world has ever seen--was born.
We have been working on a sophisticated technology that evaluates "characteristics" of millions of previously submitted names using several factors such as business category, name style and type, country of contest holder, ratings received, and more. This program improves the standard workflow and greatly enhances communication. For example, one of the major communication blocks between our clients and freelancers is that clients are usually new to the naming process and they do not know the technical aspects of naming (such as styles and types), so they are unable to communicate their preferences. We will solve this problem with machine learning--analyzing the client's engagement trends and providing smart, actionable insights to our freelancers in a language that they understand.
The Possibilities are Endless
Get Inspired, use this framework, and create a truly innovative company of your own. The steps are clearly laid out for you, but the journey will require hard work and creativity. Innovation is not for the faint of heart. Some days will be stressful. You will stumble along the way. It is critical that you stay on your toes, seek feedback, and iterate.
At the end of the day, the only way to get that big client or solidify the investment is by providing a wow-worthy answer to the questions, Why you? and What makes you different? If the answer is your story of truly valuable innovation, you will likely win the day!
Grant Polachek is the Director of Marketing at Squadhelp--transforming the way names, logos, and taglines are developed by combining an affordable agency-level brainstorming process with the unmatched creativity of “the crowd.” His book How to Develop the Perfect Name for Just About Anything is available to SmartHustle readers for free.