Our Roc Control Innovations team posted a blog post about their search for an elevator speech. I’ve done some coaching in the comments (which were in moderation as I write this, but should be live soon). Here’s why this is important. Getting your value proposition down to one sentence means you are very close to discovering your business model. I took their speech and refined it down to a sentence and then added a few variations for when they are talking to non-railroad people (in the comment chain).
So you get something like this:
“We offer railroad operators reliable, cloud-based switch and crossing gate status reporting at a fraction of the cost of existing systems.”
Now if your audience are not railroad people you might want to add a note about safety issues:
“This is a safety issue. Unknown switch positioning and stuck crossing gates are a leading cause of railway accidents.”
The audience will get it.
I would like to see every team phrase your value proposition, on your canvas, as an elevator speech. This one defines the audience/market (railroad operators), the problem (switch and crossing gate status), the solution (cloud-based reporting), and the value/return on investment (fraction of the cost of existing systems, implied safety improvements).
Naming things is hard. There’s no getting around it. And with the explosion of online businesses, it has gotten much more difficult.Think about those millions of apps out there, all with names. Yet, when you go into operational mode, getting a name right will make life a lot easier. It’s not essential that you get a name right during the discovery phase, but it is something you should be thinking about. First, let’s look at dos and don’ts:
- Don’t use generic descriptive: Innovative Delivery Systems. Sorry guys but this is very generic. However, with the right product name you’re fine. OrdrIT fits the criteria but you’ll need ordrit.com. Locally, a good example is CaterTrax. That’s the name of the product, the company is called Hospitality 101 Inc. Website is Catertrax.com
- Search your name on the trademark search at www.uspto.gov. If a company in a similar business sector, i.e. software, has the name, you’re done, back to the drawing board. By the way, spelling things differently doesn’t usually protect you. I can’t call my company Appel Computers.
- Dot Com rules. Let me repeat this- you must have the .com domain. Other domains automatically kill as much as 80% of your search traffic
- Confusing. Is LifeSUDS some kind of healthy soap? See how complicated this is?
- Easy to remember and spell. Believe me all of these names are taken.
So what to do? Add a number to a word. Add an I to a word (iCardiac) though this one is basically overdone. Do something nonsensical like pulling a made-up word out of a block of text at random. My name is Martin. Maybe my app gets named Arti. Forget Greek and latin mythology, they’ve been picked clean.
If you make up a word or words, you are going to have a marketing task creating a reputation around the name. The perfect example of this is Twitter.
We’ll discuss this in class at some point or see me when we get office hours set up.
For more about names check out this interview with the principal of a company that does nothing but name things. And they charge as high as six figures or more.