Dear Tech Startups: What Makes You Different?

How is your tech startup different?

Do you hear the Jaws theme music when someone asks you that dreaded question? If so, you are not alone. Because, in your mind, isn't it obvious? To you, maybe, but you've got to think like the consumer, like the journalist, like the VC or Angel investor and become well versed in explaining how you are different. As co-founder of the UPitch app, I don't mind putting myself in the hot seat, to lend an example of how to break this down for yourself. Below, I'll go into to a bit of detail to share what we feel makes UPitch different in hopes of helping you to understand what makes your tech company, product or service different and how to articulate it.

Inspiration strikes! You feel you've come up with a revolutionary and disruptive idea. You sacrifice your sleep, your social life, your finances, and even a bit of your sanity to bring your idea to market. Inevitably, you will be met with both cheers and jeers as some people will call you a genius and others will dismiss you, outright. But there is one thing you can count on whether it's in the pursuit of funding, publicity or sales. You will continuously be challenged with a myriad version of the same question: What makes you so different? So get ready for it.

In other words, "How are you solving a problem and filling a gap in the market? Why should we change how we do things and adopt to your product (or service)? What you are offering simply isn't needed because we already have X, Y and Z and that's what we're used to doing/using." The best one of all, "Oh that will never work."

Take heart, because you are in good company. Oprah was told she would never find a national audience for her talk show. Author Jack Canfield was told that no one would be interested in a book of short inspirational true stories titled, Chicken Soup for the Soul. Baywatch, the most watched television show on the planet in the 1990s was cancelled after its first season by NBC. When Steve Wozniak brought the concept of a personal computer to Hewlett Packard they rejected it under the notion that no ordinary person would have use for a personal computer. Thomas Edison's teachers branded him "too stupid to learn anything," he was fired for being "unproductive," and as an inventor, Edison attempted to make the light bulb one thousand times before he succeeded.

And we all know that old adage, "They laughed at the Wright brothers."

Negative or perplexed offhand comments by those who "don't get it" are not a reason to throw in the towel. Quite the contrary. Those comments and questions are more of a necessary rite of passage to success. And as irritating and frustrating as they can be, naysayers, skeptics and curmudgeons will actually help you to better understand and refine your message. They force you to raise your game, which is ultimately a positive.

In the spirit of using our invention, the UPitch app, as a guinea pig in this article, I will communicate to you what makes us different, the problems we aim to solve and why. Hopefully these insights can assist you in translating how to communicate what separates your company or organization from the pack, and why your mission and your voice are relevant to your market.

Because our app operates as two business models in one, catering to the needs of journalists and bloggers on one side, and to public relations professionals, entrepreneurs, artists and start-ups on the other side, I will break it down into two separate categories of messaging and positioning.

TO JOURNALISTS, BLOGGERS, WRITERS

You're barraged with a slew of unsolicited email pitches. You feel you are plugged into your respective beat(s) through platforms like Twitter, press release services and through your go-to PR contacts. That's great and no one is discrediting that argument, but here is ours...

UPitch App is an easy, convenient, fun, anonymous mobile discovery tool for journalists, bloggers and tastemakers across all industries and beats. It will not create more pitch content. It will shift the current paradigm and ultimately change and improve the way that pitch content is delivered to you.

Journalists are working with a strange dichotomy, and it's a dilemma. You're looking for that next big story, new product, next tidbit of news, etc. but are overwhelmed with an inbox filled with longwinded pitches, many of which are written poorly and are irrelevant to what you cover. This is mainly due to the mass marketing and sale of your professional email addresses. You can follow the top voices on Twitter to see what the Microsofts, Facebooks, Donald Trumps and Kim Kardashians of the world are up to, but what about that next big product, personality, mover and shaker who is about to break and you don't even know to follow them? With that way of doing things, you could very well find yourself scooped.

Sorting through PR pitches in your inbox leads to needle-in-haystack syndrome which leads to fatigue. Press releases are indeed a useful tool as they are broken up by category and formatted professionally. However, press releases are still long form declarations (400 - 800 words). There are also thousands of amazing start-ups out there who can't pay PR Newswire upwards of $1,000.00 to effectively showcase their wares, not to mention paying for a public relations firm to represent them.

As attention spans grow shorter and the need to feed a 24 hour news cycle accelerates, UPitch enters the picture going into 2016 as a mobile discovery tool that allows journalists to anonymously log in to a third party platform, choose industry filters and quickly browse through illustrated and linked micro-pitches only relevant to the beat(s) you cover. If something piques your interest, then and only then, you would swipe right to reveal your identity to the pitcher. You can direct message them to learn more or coordinate a time to speak further.

It's mobile, micro, and relevant, and it suits today's on-the-move lifestyle. Our work lives and personal lives are more fluid these days. Who's to say you can't find your next great story lead while relaxing on your couch at home swiping through the UPitch app? And really, what more do you need than: headline, summary, 400 characters, 5 images and social links? Anything else you want to know, just swipe right and ask. You don't even have to share your email address if you choose not to.

TO ALL PEOPLE SEEKING EXPOSURE & MEDIA COVERAGE FOR YOURSELF, YOUR BUSINESS OR A CLIENT

Simply stated, for you guys the UPitch app is a tool of mass opportunity. So take advantage. Open UPitch on your phone (or sign in at upitchapp.com if preferred), compose your micro-pitch using our preset template, and upload pics, put in social links and url. Next, choose up to two industry categories that best suit your pitch and hit the Submit button. Your pitch immediately goes in to the app's live swipe feed, beaming right to journalists' phone screens who choose your matching industry categories as their selected beats.

If they want to learn more they'll swipe right and you will see them pop up in your Matches. Either one of you can now initiate communication by sending a direct message to get the conversation started. What's just happened here is truly amazing. Instead of sending an unsolicited email pitch to a journalist and clogging their inbox, thereby making them the passive recipient, with UPitch, you have just both pre-qualified each other to begin a productive dialogue about possibly doing a story together.

Journalists who browse UPitch are actively taking the steps of opening the app on their phone (or any mobile device) and choosing industry filters that correspond with your pitch. They are now active participants in the process rather than passive recipients. Your pitch goes from unsolicited to something that journalists are seeking out. Should they swipe right, you can now consider that journalist an active lead; someone who has taken proactive steps to express interest in your story. And, say what?!, it's free.

You now have an audience of targeted journalists viewing your pitches for free, granting you direct access to people who can potentially write about you, talk about you, interview you, or share your information.

Now it's your turn.