Bootcamp Recap: Start-ups & Strategy Training

Last week we held our ‘Rebooted' Digital Marketing Strategy Bootcamp event in Toronto at The Spoke Club.  It was a great day, as we had a sold-out group of 30 fantastic participants from both client-side and agency marketing roles.  The Bootcamp session covers a lot of ground, and the participants did an awesome job of staying engaged and contributing throughout the day.  I was pleased to see that the tweaks that we made to the Bootcamp translated to even better outcomes for participants, as seen in the post-event surveys (100% would recommend the session to a colleague :-)  


My favourite part of the Bootcamp is always when I bring in a surprise 'client’ at the end of our session, and participants break into groups to tackle individual briefs.  Over the past few years, I have been fortunate to have guest clients attend from established organizations like the TSO, McDonald’s Canada, TIFF, and WWF.  This time was different, as we had a pre-launch start-up join us—which made the activity even more interesting.


Sameer Hassan is the co-founder of the Shonin Streamcam Security Camera.  It is a fascinating new product in an emerging category.  The Shonin Streamcam has been covered widely in the technology press, partly due to a very successful Kickstarter campaign.  Sameer and team are currently manufacturing the product, with plans to launch in 2018. 


Developing strategy recommendations for a pre-launch start-up is a different experience than providing recommendations for an established brand—particularly when the start-up founder is in the room.  Unlike working on briefs for well-known brands, participants now must consider a product that is new with a marketing strategy that is less defined.  Which, it turns out, makes the whole thing a lot more fun.


Strategy Discussions in Real-Time.  The briefs that participants are tackling are based on the actual problems that the start-up is solving.  Sameer is super-smart (trust me, I have worked with him) and has his own marketing plans and hypotheses.  That said, he is at a point in time where it is valuable to hear new ideas and different perspectives.  During the Bootcamp, there was a really rich discussion around brand positioning that everyone benefited from.


Unencumbered Creative Thinking.  People can't have informed opinions about a product that does not yet exist.  For our Bootcamp exercise, this meant that there was more time required for participants to learn about the Shonin Streamcam, but less time spent trying to figure out how recommendations fit exactly with an existing marketing strategy.  This ‘openness’ allowed the teams to develop new ideas for Shonin that may have been constrained otherwise.


Unleashing Your Inner Entrepreneur.  It is inspiring to spend time with start-up founders like Sameer—their drive and imagination is infectious.  I loved seeing how engaged participants were during this activity, and how big and bold their ideas were.  Digital media and technology unlock many possibilities for new businesses, and it was fascinating to explore this with the group. 


I'm going to give some more thought to how I can incorporate start-ups into my training programs.  The exchange of ideas between seasoned marketers and start-up founders is really rich, and both benefit from each other.  Who knows, maybe my next guest client will be a past participant of my Bootcamp.  Hope so.