[svlug] looking for people working on sweat equity/startup ideas...

Karen Shaeffer shaeffer at neuralscape.com
Wed Mar 29 11:58:42 PST 2006

On Wed, Mar 29, 2006 at 11:38:36AM -0800, Joe Buck wrote:
> I think that if you pose the issue that way, you aren't understanding how
> marketing is supposed to work.  Getting people to buy the product that you
> have is not marketing, it is sales.  Good *sales* can overcome weak
> products sometimes.  It is true that there are people with "marketing"
> in their title that are just salespeople, but those folks aren't doing the
> job right.
> If a product is weak because the idea is weak, then marketing dropped the
> ball, because marketing is supposed to figure out what the product is
> supposed to be, not just try to figure out how to pitch whatever
> engineering throws over the wall (of course, the product could be weak
> because the concept was good but the execution failed, and then it is
> engineering's fault).  That's why startups need a good marketing person
> before there is a product, to help make sure that the product will
> actually be something that people want to buy.
> Some of the best marketing people I've met are also deeply technical; they
> understand in detail the problems the customers are trying to solve and
> can effectively work with engineering on the product design.  The really
> good ones can also predict what the problems are going to be three years
> from now, create good road maps, and sell both the customers and the
> company management on the vision (so in that sense, marketing is like
> sales, only marketing is about selling products that don't exist yet,
> and then working to make sure that those products eventually do exist).

This is well put. But I would clarify this just a bit. In a startup, you
typically have a CTO and a VP Marketing working hand in hand to develop
the initial product specs and the technology roadmap. Conceptually, there
is a general functionality and desired direction of extensibility known
at the start. But the marketing expert goes out and determines what the
true market for a specific implementation of the functionality will be
for a given time frame. The CTO, in parallel, will be producing the
technical road map that is the underpinning of the functionality and
exploring the technical issues related to extensibility of the feature
set trajectory. In the end, these two bodies of work must be reconciled,
leading to an operational business plan for some period of time out
into the future. For startups, this is typically only 12 to 18 months.
For large corporations, the roadmaps are all 5 year plans that are
adjusted on a quarterly basis.

Really good folks are hard to find in both Engineering and Marketing.
They are, by definition, rare gems.

 Karen Shaeffer
 Neuralscape, Palo Alto, Ca. 94306
 shaeffer at neuralscape.com  http://www.neuralscape.com

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