infoShare 2016: The Age of the Customer has arrived

You can tell that she’s a great storyteller just by looking at her Twitter ID. Susan Lindner gave an inspiring speech explaining the importance of storytelling for startups. And she did a great job starting her story with a very local context of Bronislaw Malinowski, a Polish anthropologist. Pointing to Malinowski’s research, she argued that understanding your audience and its needs is crucial for building a coherent, engaging story.

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Did you know that that you could find the first storytellers among… the prophets? According to Lindner, they are a great example of how storytelling works, as their messages traveled from the tiniest villages to huge civilization centers. It shows how crucial virality is as it involves others in spreading your story exponentially. “CEOs – you might want to consider being prophets of your own businesses” – she suggested.

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5 Rules of Storytelling for Innovators:

1. History
2. Prophets
3. Values/Purpose
4. Message
5. Early Adopters

Lindner also gave a few motivating examples of modern companies that mastered the rules of storytelling to build and enhance their businesses. Personally, I loved these two: Zappos and Dollar Shave Club.

Zappos is an online shop selling shoes and clothes. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, sits with the call center team in one open space to have a strong and honest relationship with his employees. He even tweeted once that he’ll be “answering the phone calls to help with the holiday volume.” This is a widely known fact, Hsieh’s approach garnered lots of positive media coverage for the company.

The second example, Dollar Shave Club, is an engaging story of a subscription-based razor delivery service for men. Instead of just selling their products, Dollar Shave Club engaged customers by offering them a membership in a club for “enlightened” men. Members of the Club are not just average customers: they are smart men who choose not to overpay for “fancy brands” blades. (Note: Susan underlined that Dollar Shave Club never refers to non-members as “suckers” or “losers”). See for yourself:

Susan Lindner was not the only speaker who referred to Dollar Shave Club. Michal Sadowski, CEO of Brand24, used one of their ads when speaking about the value of the language that brands use in customer communication. “Be authentic,” “Stop using buzzwords” – he argued.

If you’ve ever met Michal, you know how eager he is to share his knowledge and experience, often using – both positive and negative – examples from his own startup (Brand24). During his speech at infoShare, he gave a lot of advice especially valuable to startups:

1. Don’t give away your products for free
2. Be close to your clients and analyze their activity
3. Look for usability bugs that influence the overall business performance
4. Look for new channels of promotion
5. Create a set of backup metrics to track your performance constantly in every field

But popular “Sadek” was not the only one inspiring startups. Rachel Milgram (StartupGrind) gave a great speech on startup investment from the investor’s point of view.

What are the most crucial factors when investment is considered? Look below:

1. Is it in a hot sector?
2. Your management team rocks
3. Functioning, scalable product
4. Traction: (ready to sell? Paying customers?)
5. Business plan makes sense

According to Milgram, these are the four hottest startup markets:

1. Fintech
2. Digital health and medical devices
3. Cloud / SaaS
4. Robotics and 3d printing

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When planning a meeting with investors, entrepreneurs should always get themselves properly prepared. Tough questions will appear, and it’s important that you’re ready to answer them in the best possible way. Investors need to be convinced that you did the research and know your market. It’s important for them to see how confident and passionate you are about your product so don’t be afraid to show your emotions!

Milgram also had a few pieces of advice for Poland. According to her, Poland is in a strategic location allowing it to become a hub gateway to the rest of Europe. This market has great IT and HR capabilities and should consider being an expert through building a startup ecosystem. To make it happen, Poland must continue to foster innovation and learn from Israel’s success story.

Most of you probably know what The Pirate Bay is. Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi, the co-founder of The Pirate Bay, spoke on how tech knowledge can influence your performance. By referring to TPB’s history, he explained some of the technology tricks he and his colleagues used to secure a safe & legal access to files shared on the web. Among these is “The Church of Kopimism ” – an official religion registered in Sweden since the Swedish government cannot listen to what is being said to a priest (the file sharing protocol is called the new “P2P” – Priest2Priest).

Sunde underlines that by 2025, each month “we’ll be doing more technology than in the entire human history.” That said, it’s crucial to understand technology and think outside the box to boost your performance and stay ahead of the pack.