What have you done to make your startup look bigger than it is?

What kind of a phone system do you use to show that you are a large company? Or, what other things have you done to make your startup look bigger than it is?

  • I have smoke and mirrored my way thru. One of my first website clients (now pIlot program partners for my latest product) keeps reminding me that they ‘went out on a whim’ with me to get the job done. I built them an amazing website in my pajamas paying freelancers. It won them an award best in class website and increased their revenue. When I approached them to pilot my product they of course welcomed it with open arms. They recently said if anyone else had of approached them to pilot or pay for this type of product they would have closed the door in their face.

    Short answer is – make incredible relationships and over deliver… Refer to ‘your team’ and your client base and your experience etc … And it doesn’t matter how small you are, if you can get the job done well you will earn their respect and business for life.

    Good luck.

  • Got customers to sign up via freebies offered via YouTube channel. These folks will never buy anything, but we got them on our books, and VCs can see how many many users we have. Even though, these folks will never buy a thing, we used them to show the volume of our DB.

  • Real question is: does “fake it till you make it” still work?

    I mean this: if all startups are faking it, wouldn’t not faking it make you stand out more, and suck up less energy?

    Our company is bootstrapping, and we are making money with just two part-time co-founders. Not only are we proud of this, we don’t hide it, and even advertise it as an advantage: we can react a lot quicker than the competition. Customers seem to like that.

    Then again, we don’t know how much business we’re missing because of this, of course.

  • What means “look bigger” ? My startup looks like a real company, maybe big, maybe small, but at least a serious one. We are an online company (no direct sales rep). So we have a website for the product, a distinct corporate website with our mission and values, we have a Facebook page, everything properly translated in many languages, we have various emails addresses, and of course a real, powerful and high quality product which looks like made by a solid R&D team and not by teens in a garage. The only thing we do not advertise is that we are two people. But we don’t pretend we are numerous. We just don’t tell. And when someone asks, we say “we are not that many, we are still a small startup”. That’s enough if you are serious and professional.

  • Lying in Social Media that we sponsored festivals, where actually we would just give away some coupons that in the end nobody uses.

    You can’t be called sponsor without $$$ investing.

  • Give titles to people who didn’t have any previous prof experience.

    Ex nude model and circus artist (CEO’s gf) was called brand manager….LOL

  • In media we reported 70 employees working for us, where actually we have only 10 full time employees and the rest are the contractors. We save money on not paying taxes, but we want to look like big and proper company.

    Also we said company is from New York, where actually hardly anyone works from NY. We save money by taking cheap contractors around the world, but yes New York always sounds great for PR.

  • Pay to have more followers via FB, so we look big.

    Volume is everything in VCs eyes as they don’t have time to look trough the list of fake accounts.

    • I always refused fake reviews, followers, likes. My associate would like to do so (but I’ve more than 50% shares). Of course some competitors do. But I do not. Why ? Because I feel it is a recipe for failure. When you show forged traction to your VCs, how will you show them real growth ? You will explain you have real growth, if you look at real numbers, not the fake ones pitched before funding ?

      • Agreed….although stats could be deceiving too….depends which metrics you want to use to show the #.

        Nobody will figure fake FB followers…only you will know how did u get them.

        I also think in a long run it’s a recipe for failure, but hey… it can def help in getting first round $ in.

  • Hi All,

    I ask this question. I have a B2B SAAS product. My customers tell me that I’m a small for them to do business with. They want me to look big, and this is coming from my coaches at those customers. So, that is the reason I asked this question.

    The purpose is not to show to VCs, however no customer wants to be the first one to risk their career. They need more assurance and proof that the software has been used by many other customers before them.

    Thank you.

    • In section About us, put logos of big companies as clients (even though no permission to do so from them). The big company only once buy your product, but you made it look like a proper corp contract with them.

      Who is going to double check all these?

      • If you want to go this way, and you don’t feel secure about it, think about that. Imagine you put IBM or Coca Cola in your customer list. What is the risk ? As the startup founder who knows perfectly it is fake, you may be afraid of some people at IBM or Coca Cola see your web page and sue you. But seriously, who at those huge companies know perfectly you are NOT a supplier ? They have so many ! The biggest they are, the safer it is.

        In that sense, to limit risks, you can put US Army, NASA, Boeing, AT&T, Comcast and so on. But if you do like this, your credibility is at stake. Who can believe a small startup has all big names in its portfolio ?

        So you will need to take risks, and put smaller references, where there is someone likely to know it’s a lie (if the CEO or some VP like searching technology on the web…)

        That’s the point: no risk, and no credibility at all, or take some risks to be sued and lose everything. It’s up to you.

        • I totally agree with you, but I ve seen this so many times and I doubt startups got sued for it. At the end of the day, risk is everything.

  • Brag about core values (even though, we all know who’s ass we got to kiss)
    Brag about you hiring, big time… (even though, you only take close friends onboard – reason, you don’t trust anyone)
    When talking to customers, say we got to talk to our legal dep (even though legal dept is a friend of yours who you occasionally bother to help you)

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