SEO ExpertMaybe I was too hard on the guy. I really wasn’t trying to be an asshole. I do understand that SEO is a hard and competitive business, and I have great
respect for people who manage to do it both well and ethically.

The other week an “SEO Expert” cornered me at a networking event in Tokyo and suggested that his company could help mine improve our Google rankings and traffic flow. SEO is something I spend a fair amount of time thinking about, so I put down my drink, put my laptop on the bar, and opened it up.

“Our company is www….” he began.

 

“No. That’s OK. I’ll just Google it.”

His company did not appear on the first three pages of results when searching for “SEO”, “Japanese SEO”, “Tokyo SEO” or similar variations.  Our expert insisted that this was an unreasonable test because Read More →

TellMeCustomerFinalOne of the shortcuts I use to get a quick read on whether a venture has any real hope for success is to ask the founders “So, tell me about your customers.”

Tragically, many founders find this question a bit jarring. Entrepreneurs talk incessantly about their product, their positioning and their fund-raising activities, but many don’t really think about their customers as if they were actual people with real problems and busy lives.

Those founders who excitedly explain who their customers are, the particular frustrations these people feel, and how the new product making their life a little bit better are likely on the path to success. Startups whose founders brush off the question and steer the conversation back to their vision or fundraising are probably not long for this world.