Enjoy the Time, before the Curve.
If you ask someone when a brand was founded, they often give you the date when they first recall hearing of the brand. Most people don’t know about brands until they hit their growth curve, you know, the one that looks like a hockey stick. Which, of course, is often a substantial number of years after the actual founding date.
I’ll give you an example, Oatly, a Oat Milk brand currently sweeping across the country. Most people would describe it as nearly an overnight success, because in the last two years it has been showing up everywhere. But Oatly is anything but new. In fact, they are a 20 year old “startup” from Sweden founded by a group of academics and food scientists.
If you’re a founder, this is why it’s relevant to you.
Culture: The time before you hit your curve is important to establish and reinforce culture and how you’re going to build a business. Working on culture is hard to do when you’re just filling orders at an impossible pace.
Design: This time is also for designing and refining your packaging, messaging and brand language to attract the right people and partners to your brand. Rarely does someone get it right on the first shot, it takes refinement, learning and further refinement.
Experiment: Any venture requires a discipline of keeping your mind open to what could work and conducting measured experiments to find out what does work. This sets up an organizational humility, which keeps a team perpetually hunting for more knowledge on how to increase sales, loyalty or brand value.
There are 3,521 exhibitors at this show, and a vast majority of them were founded in the last three years. Even with attrition, the current pace that has been set is one of sensational growth. If you’re walking this show and considering founding a new venture — there are few shortcuts to your growth curve, but there are ways to increase your odds making it.
If you’re thinking of founding a new venture, here are some ways to increase your odds.
1. Defining a brand in a way that lasts requires some thoughtful deliberation, but it will be one of your largest intangible assets, so treat it with as much consideration as you would a large piece of equipment.
2. Naming defines the first piece of language that accompanies your brand and will be used to identify your venture, for as long as you own it at least. If you do it right you should have a distinct, memorable and relevant name you love.
3. Designing your visual language, starting with a logo, packaging, website and all the surrounding visual and written elements of your brand is essential. It can be done in a way that’s verbalized as “good enough” or it can be done professionally in a manner that makes your brand memorable, attractive and distinct in the category.
One in three thousand, five hundred and twenty one. Those are your base odds of getting noticed in the sea of natural and organic solutions at ExpoWest. And, with an audience of 85,540 attending, getting the right people to notice you is a precise and profoundly challenging effort. As a fellow entrepreneur, I appreciate your effort and can help increase your odds and accelerate your timeline to hit that elusive curve.
Reach out if you’d like to share a founder story with us.
Columnist, TCB Magazine