If the backbone of the American economy is small business, then the spark is startups.
New companies, not only in the tech sector, are key in many community and state economic plans, including right here in Arizona. As such, the Arizona Commerce Authority recently received 108 proposals for the Arizona Innovation Challenge, which will reward $1.5 million to companies creating jobs in Arizona in renewable energy and sustainability, bio and life science, electronics, information tech, aerospace and defense and advanced manufacturing.
The program is a huge first step in pushing Arizona away from its current leading industries (real estate and tourism) toward a future that doesn’t depend so much on having everyone really like our weather. I can’t help but feel a little guilty after receiving a press release about this program from Francine Hardaway last week, because I had no idea this program even existed.
I’m sure that’s my fault, but it made me wonder how much publicity startup funding, and the startups themselves, can garner in our state. We’ve so long been dominated by the housing crisis, you’d think that any sort of positive business news would be front and center on every news site and rumor mill, but this one apparently got lost in the shuffle.
But that’s not my only concern. You see, most startups fail. An overwhelming majority burn through their funding in less than two years and close up shop. Sometimes this happens because their product or service is too quickly copied or not even really needed, but often because the startup founders are too busy working to get their product/service in front of enough people to get big buyers.
This kind of publicity certainly doesn’t come cheap, nor is PR for startup companies particularly lucrative for anyone who is willing to help. But I’m sure that there is something that can be done to help companies like these that will be the face of tomorrow’s economy. Perhaps access to email lists? Help writing press releases? Mini PR plans with some sort of equity trade?
What would you do? How can startups get the publicity they need without taking too much time from their product or wasting their money on PR plans that don’t work?