10 Rules For Startups

Here is some advice for start-up companies from Paul Hayes, a man who clearly enjoys the entrepreneurial challenge and the social aspect of his work. The former marketing guru for Havoc games shared some of his life lessons at the Dublin Web Summit recently:

1. Resist the temptation to talk about yourself. No one cares. Hayes said you should be talking up your product, how great your software is, etc.

2. Never talk about your technology. Others should do that; ideally your competitors.

3. Press releases are for two things only: When you secure funding or when you have landed a customer.

4. Get your tag line right. People don’t have the mental capacity to remember your feature list.

5. If you can’t say it on a t-shirt… See number 4 above.

6. It is never too early to talk to customers. This also goes back to the differing opinions about intellectual property. Basically, Hayes says you have to tell people what you are doing and why it is worth buying. Secret products don’t go to market.

7. Try to get cheap viral marketing. Hayes spoke of deliberately getting an ad banned in the U.K. and promoting it in the U.S. as being “banned in the U.K.”

8. People remember how you make them feel not what you say. Around this point, Hayes really began to warm to his theme. The son of a Tipperary pub owner, he seems to know a thing or two about serving drinks and keeping a party going.

9. Love conferences, hate stands. This point related to one game-show conference he attended for Havoc in Silicon Valley. With a large budget (for a small Irish company), he found himself with a tiny stand squeezed in between Microsoft and Sony. Hayes felt the display looked pathetic and thought those conventioneers that did see him felt embarrassed for him.

10. A meta-party beats a party. This is what the image of the trolley bus is all about. Unable to compete with the big boys on their terms, Hayes rented a trolley bus in San Jose, Calif., and ferried conference goers to the lavish parties hosted by Microsoft and others. With a drink in hand, and mad craic from the crazy Irishmen on the bus, the attendees were brought to the parties and then back again to their hotels. As Hayes reasoned, they would only remember the first and last half hours anyway — and those were with him in the bus.

A similar ploy was used at a games conference in Cannes, France. This event was in a conference centre at the harbour, so they rented a boat and berthed it just outside. The boat hosted parties and meetings, and was large enough to accommodate the company’s attendees. Hayes estimated the cost at around €10,000, which he said would have been what a hotel cost.

Trolley bus image courtesy of GenBug on Flickr.com