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Lessons Learned from Startupism – Day 1

Posted by on Apr 3, 2012 in BLOG, Uncategorized | No Comments

smartphone pics uploaded onto Pixt.

Today, uberconnector and co-founder of @coverpage Roman Kettner brought thecommich along to a mind-opening conference called Startupism. In a city filled with networking events, meetups, conferences and workshops for every app developer and wannabe entrepreneur out there, this one was quite a pleasant surprise. There were several foci (yeah I said it, FOCI) for Day 1 – mobile app monetization, the accelerator/incubator phenomenon, and trends in the tech space – but the main idea was innovation. In essence – how is the system of people and companies that orbits the sun called Entrepreneurship moving the rest of us forward? What ideas are changing the way customers experience or expect things to work? What are the next emerging markets (and if you thought you were hip knowing what a DINK is, do you know about Yuffies? What about Skippies, Mobys, and Woofs?)


Roman Kettner and Media Coordinator Tania Arreyales

Keynote speaker Phil McKinney delivered a powerful presentation on the importance of asking questions. Not just any questions – the “Killer Questions.” The questions that he has asked have rescued HP from being #4 in PC sales and a billion dollars in the hole 7 years ago, to being #1 in all categories and 2.5 billion in profit today. How do you like THEM Apples? (Pun intended)

By far the most important thing I learned today thanks to Mr. McKinney was to question assumptions. This is difficult for me, not only because I literally grew up studying at Assumption College, but because most marketing, and by extension marketing-based video production, is usually seen as a series of assumptions – about what people like or dislike, about how an audience will react, or (to put it in a cynical business perspective) whether or not your client will approve your ideas and pay you for them.

Surprise surprise, this is apparently not the way to innovate. Assumptions are only good for the innovator as a baseline tool in order to break the assumption apart. For example – it was once assumed that laptop computers were a commodity; that every laptop owner had pretty much the same hardware and software so that it was pretty much useless to try and differentiate them. HP took that assumption, asked the killer question “What if the Opposite Were True?” and  came up with Beats by Dre – a  “built for music” notebook computer bundled with cool headphones that delivered professional quality sound – developed in conjunction with our favorite hip hop Doctor.

Beats by Dre: Laptop assumption buster

The incredible popularity of Beats by Dre also kills the assumption that a hip hop producer would have nothing to contribute to a geek-driven software and hardware platform. And the assumption that ordinary laptop users don’t care about sound quality. And the assumption that a kid who loves music wouldn’t be willing to spend upwards of $300 for a killer set of headphones. And the list goes on and on and…you get the picture.

So what assumptions need to be cracked open in the video sphere? What about the one that says a company video has to have a talking head (preferably the CEO) answering questions? What about the assumption that “young, hip startups” need young hipsters starring in their videos, and Old Established companies need families and kids in theirs?  Maybe I’m shooting myself in the foot here but it’s definitely worth exploring.

What assumptions do YOU, dear reader, face in your life or career? Which ones do you think you might apply the Killer Question to: What If The Opposite Were True? Comments below. I’d love to hear ’em.


Oh and another thing: Day 2 is tomorrow… so stay tuned for even more fun stuff from your Startupism Insider!