LA Tech Week: Anorak Ventures Offers 8 Marketing Principles For Early-Stage Startups

Andria Moore

Andria is the Social and Engagement Editor for dot.LA. She previously covered internet trends and pop culture for BuzzFeed, and has written for Insider, The Washington Post and the Motion Picture Association. She obtained her bachelor's in journalism from Auburn University and an M.S. in digital audience strategy from Arizona State University. In her free time, Andria can be found roaming LA's incredible food scene or lounging at the beach.

LA Tech Week: Anorak Ventures Offers 8 Marketing Principles For Early-Stage Startups
Stock Photo by Headway

Every entrepreneur knows getting started is half the battle. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by details and lose sight of the goal or mission of your company.

On Tuesday, Greg Castle, managing partner of Anorak Ventures, presented eight marketing principles at L.A. Tech Week that he and his seed-stage venture firm use to guide potential clients in their marketing efforts. Castle has invested in more than 80 seed-stage companies, five of which have gone on to achieve values north of one billion.


1. People Aren’t Numbers

Shallow audience insights mean shallow products and services. It’s important to know your customers inside and out — their likes and dislikes, the language that they use, where they spend their time. All of these are important factors in understanding an audience’s wants and needs

2. 'No' Is the Key Word

Castle said learning to say no–especially in the early stages–is extremely important to the success of your startup. Knowing what is in the scope of your abilities and how customer requests fit into your overall “roadmap” can help to decide when and if a customer request is achievable.

“Every yes is a potential distraction,” Castle said. “Don’t try to be all things to all people.”

3. Clarity Is Key

Being able to clearly articulate what a product is or does is essential, Castle explained. It’s vital to ensure overall consistency in branding and marketing by using simple language and making sure to be as clear as possible when explaining what it is your company does.

Castle said a good rule of thumb is to ask your best friend to describe your company: “If they can’t do it, then what are the chances a customer can do it?”

4. Attention Is Earned

It’s no secret that people today have very limited time and attention. It’s important to make sure your pitch is succinct and enticing.

Castle said a good way to do this is by using Irrigreen’s “1,2,4” structure. First, describe your company in one sentence. Then, describe your company in two sentences. Finally, write a paragraph that describes your company. The idea is that “1” is a brief, elevator-pitch like introduction to your company, “2” is a deeper dive into what your company does, and “4” is a detailed explanation of the ins and outs of your company.

5. Education Is Expensive

As Uber’s popularity began to rise in 2012, pitch meetings began taking on a new meaning as founders used the phrase “Uber for …” to explain what their company did. That’s the key with principle five — using a familiar concept to explain what your company does. People know and understand Uber, so it’s easy to use that as a reference point to explain the concept of a company with a similar goal, rather than spending valuable time and resources trying to explain complex systems.

6. What Gets Repeated Gets Remembered

Tale as old as time. This is why TV commercials have jingles; slogans are made to be catchy and branding is so important. Nike swoosh tells you everything about a product without even using text.. Taking the time to work on memorable branding for your company will pay off in the long run.

Castle said a helpful exercise is to pull up your pitch deck, website, social media, etc. and ask yourself if they all look the same.

7. You’re Not Always the Expert

It’s a simple concept, but an important one. Trust your experts. If you aren’t good with branding, outsource it to a marketing team. If you don’t understand data, ask someone who does. Castle said this concept has been paramount to both Anorak Ventures and his personal endeavors.

8. Perception Is Reality

In simpler terms — what you see is what you get. Castle explained that investors are only ever given a small sample of the larger data points relevant to a pitch This means that it’s crucial that the content presented to investors is in top-notch shape.

Spelling errors, broken links, broken landing pages — are all red flags to investors. Make your pitch as perfect as possible before presenting to a potential funder.

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David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.

A Fisker electric vehicle.​
Courtesy of Fisker

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​Diankha Linear
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Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is a reporter at dot.LA. Prior to that, she was an editorial fellow at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

LA Tech ‘Moves’: Dreamscape, LinQuest and PetDX Gain New CEOs

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