The Death of the Pitch

Imagine it was 2014. And imagine you were about to launch a new online product, B2C. Here’s what you would need to do:

  1. Plan ahead
  2. Pitch, pitch, pitch. Every TechCrunch writer you could reach. Bloggers. Journalists. Press Release? Embargo?
  3. Probably pay a PR firm.
  4. Pray

Now if you happen to be quite distant from your target market – say 7,000 miles away in Israel, it gets all the more complex.

Lucky for you it’s not 2014.

James Altucher talks about the end of the gatekeepers. No more waiting for a publisher to decide whether you’re good enough to write a book. Just self-publish. No more waiting to see if you got into that Ivy League school. Just learn yourself. No more waiting to see if you got into that job you wanted. Just Choose Yourself.

What happened in the past 72 hours to Meerkat has convinced me that we’ve evolved yet a step further. No more product launch gatekeepers. The tech news establishment no longer needs to be courted in order to get your product out there. And this is especially good news for the Startup Nation.

But let’s take a step back.

First there were blogs. Then there was social media. Then in late 2013 Ryan Hoover tweets:

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$6.1M in funding later, Product Hunt becomes the platform for launching your tech products. B2C in particular. Let the community decide if it’s a hit or miss. And ask questions, give feedback, etc. SimilarWeb shows Product Hunt as having 13M monthly visits. These are the techies. The early adopters. The investors looking for their prey. In an ocean of User Generated Content, there’s now a port known especially as the destinations for setting your baby afloat.

Fast forward to a story of two Bens.

Ben Lang, the MappedInIsrael-made-famous, recently-discharged-soldier turned startup-entrepreneur meets up with his friend Ben Rubin. Ben R was once an architecture student at the Technion. I know because he was in class with my sister-in-law. She relays that he was a good student, but left after the third year to found Yevvo. Got funded to the tune of ~$3.6M, pivoted, rebranded to Air. The idea was to share video with your friends. Admittedly, something was lacking in order for them to take off. Enter a deep, seamless Twitter integration. Named Meerkat. Start broadcasting live-streaming video, automatically tweeting the URL to your followers. And everyone can join in on the discussion. And so Ben L Product Hunted:

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Suddenly the PH votes go through the roof. And the opinion leaders of the day began raving. And tweeting. And downloading, installing and broadcasting. Gary Vaynerchuk, John Lilly, Howard LindzonDanielle Morrill (she’s particular mad for meerkat and blogged about it too)

The peak, at least so far, was when Ryan Hoover broadcasted to >200 ProductHunt fans at a time demoing new features, UI and product onboarding. And getting feedback. The hunter becomes the hunted, if you will.

All this when it’s a Sunday. And Jason Calacanis’ Launch is happening. And Bibi is on the way to Washington.

And no TechCrunch article needed.

Lessons:

  1. Keep looking for the twist, the integration, the partnership, the user community, the edge.
  2. Don’t worry about making an iPhone + Android app. One is good enough to test the waters.
  3. Switching course is OK, whether it’s a startup pivot or leaving Architecture school.

Shaun (@shaunwaksman)

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