3 steps to tell the startup story in a Ironman way

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One of the greatest things about working for startup is that you are given plenty of the opportunities to explore and try new things (I wrote another post on “6 reasons why I work for startup“). It has been a year and half since I first joined the team back in summer last year. I was given lots of trust and opportunities to represent the team and speak at different events, conferences and career talks. Throughout the past year,  I have roughly given more than 10 presentations and spoken to hundreds of people. About a week ago, I was preparing my presentation slides for a guest lecture. I suddenly had a very strong feeling that I wanted to make this presentation a bit different from my previous ones. In fact, I never put much time on my slides maybe because I was always wait til the very last minute or I was just too lazy to create a new deck for every event. But this time, I wanna be different.

For this sharing session, I was responsible for sharing two of our products and what we have done for the past years. I decided to put up a theme on it and tell the story. When I was trying to put up a theme for this presentation, I was just randomly thought of things from nowhere until I thought of a fun conversation we had with our boss few months ago. During that conversation, we were trying to do a little test within our team and see how people in different generation would have different reaction on different topics. Our boss has asked us who would be our favorite super hero character? Superman, Spiderman, or Ironman? The result was interesting. My other teammates and I (we are all about the same age) immediately gave our sincere votes for Ironman and that’s why I decided to use Ironman as a story theme for the show.

Why Ironman?
The reason is simple. Ironman is really representing the new generation. He is the image of high tech. His gear, suits and laboratory are so damn cool. Unlike other super heros, Ironman is only human being without any super power. He was not very powerful in day 1 but getting stronger and stronger throughout the story. He wanted to be Ironman (part of the reason) because he thinks it is cool to be. All these Ironman factors can really represent our team in many ways. We’re craving for new and innovative technology. We are very young and small team but growing fast and getting better. We are also proud to be in the team because we are working on something cool. I just can’t think of a better way to introduce ourselves by putting the analogy on the coolest super hero on this planet.

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When the Ironman meets the enemies
We are proud of TalkBox because it is one of the very few made-in-hk world class software products. The idea and concept has been proved by seeing that millions of people from all over the world love it and use it on daily basis. But at the same, competition has also been raised up once it caught a little bit attention at the international stage. After we just hit 3 millions users milestone, almost about 30 copycatssimilar products has appeared in the market. Some of them were even almost 80% the same as us in terms of layout design and color tone. No matter how hard we try to improve our product and fight back, we just cannot compete in terms of resources and development speed.

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Game over?
Sound like a pretty bad failure? I was actually thinking that way at the first place especially when you see others are doing better and better. But now when I sit back and think, I would say it is more like a big progress for us. Because we were at the world class level, we gotta face the world class problems which we could never experience in the local market. We learned the importance of localization marketing approach and understand better different users from different countries. We learned our lesson on our backend for serving millions of users and understand the pros and cons about Amazon cloud service. We also learned more about different vertical markets and how push to talk can help them to solve real problems. We believe that all the lessons we learned can take us further and continue our journey.

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The presentation went well. Audience’s feedback was positive. I did make some of them laughed during my presentation. I could tell they were also having fun with the Ironman story. Good thing was that my boss didn’t yell at me for my Ironman approach and even encouraged me to keep it up even though I know I need some more practices. But this is the way we work and why I love working with these open-minded people who promote creativity and drive team motivation on daily basis. Let’s start the new battle and change the world.

What is your favorite super hero? How do you like my Ironman story? Leave me a comment and share your hero story!

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