Startup Class '07 and '08 at Telecom ParisTech
In my previous post if been detailing 9 steps to make sure your startup exists. Inspired by an initial idea of Chris Exline, I decided to make a small survey of the startups admitted at the Incubator of Telecom ParisTech in 2007 and 2008 (startups are hosted 18 months by the incubator, and then kicked-out, that’s the rule).
To figure out how well the startups of the incubator were doing, I came up with a simple score the startup websites.
Survival test for startup websites:
+2 if look & fell is GOOD.
+1 if look & fell is just OK (zero if horrid).
+2 if benefits of product or service is clear.
+1 if I must struggle to figure out the benefits.
(zero if I am still clueless about benefits after struggling)
+1 if there is no happy talk
+1 if PageRank is greater than 3 for a B2B company.
+1 if PageRank is greater than 5 for a B2C company.
+1 if there is an English version.
+1 if people can buy or consume right away.
+1 if there are news.
+1 if there are forums.
The maximal score for this test is 10. One can argue that this test is very subjective. Frankly, after reviewing 50 companies, I rather think otherwise.
Any website with a decent, professional looking is ranked as GOOD with 2 points - no need for flashy graphics, decent is enough. In the other hand, if the website feels amateurish (colors messed-up, random layout) but still functional, then it’s OK, you get 1 point. If the website is utterly broken in design or in navigation, then it’s zero point.
Same for the benefits. If I can get a rough idea, in less than a minute, of the added-value of your company, then you get 2 points. I mean no need for detailed ideas, big picture is enough. If I have to struggle for 5 mins to finally guess what could be your added value, then it’s 1 point. If after 5 mins, I am still utterly clueless, then it’s zero point.
Concerning the PageRank, I am putting a much lower threshold for B2B website, because those folks typically need 100x times less customers than B2C companies to be profitable.
Not having a English version is like shooting yourself a bullet in your feet. The French market is small, so small, compared to USA+UK+Canada+India+Australia. To get 1 point here, you don’t need to have translated everything in English, any portion that makes sense is enough.
In my opinion:
any 6 months old startup should get at least 6⁄10.
any 18 months old startup should get 9⁄10.
I have collected raw data for 52 startups within a Google Spreadsheet, and here are the results at present date 2009-04-21.
Disclaimer: I have a strong bias toward Lokad since it’s my own company so it was removed from the study.
8 La Cartoonerie
3 Connect and Go
3 Patent Organizer Software
1 Système Polaire
Average score: 5.5
6 Ecce Vino
6 Quelle Energie
4 Eyes Triple Shut
4 Hedera Technology
3 Aquilant Technologies
3 The Metrics Factory
2 FI Technologies
2 Media Mobility
Average score: 5.3
To be honest, those results look rather poor to me.
Two thirds of those startups don’t offer any chance to their customer to buy or consume the product or service online.
Roughly one third of those startups are not able to express the benefits they could bring to their customers.
More than half of the startups can’t get even a limited English version of their website.
Moreover, startups do not improve much over time. Considering 2007 vs 2008, if feel like if there were two categories of startups:
the ones that got a good website right from the start.
the ones that will never get a good one.
Yet, my own experience told me it’s so obviously not true. Just have a look at the first version of the Lokad website and compare with the current one. Granted, I am still far from what Branding Geniuses could produce, but still.
I would be interested to see how other incubators are doing on their own.
Reader Comments (2)
Hey, I almost entirely agree with your rankings, so I do not think it’s a subjective exercise either… There’s definitely room for improvement in most cases Julien
April 22, 2009 | Julien C
This is an excellent and quite original article Joannes ! I wonder what the results would be if you extrapolate the test to other start-ups incubated in other French … or US (!) incubators ? I should try to apply this the test to the start-ups at the Agoranov Paris incubator ! I will keep you posted. All best, Emmanuel
April 23, 2009 | Emmanuel