Friday, June 15, 2012

The Slingshot Business Strategy

At Yesterday's UVEF luncheon, Ryan Caldwell of MoneyDesktop shared an idea that was really powerful and relevant to everyone in the room. It's a business strategy, and the context and analogous manner in which he presented resonated with everyone in the room as one of the main take-aways.

When the space shuttle flies to the moon, it doesn't pick the straightest path to get there. It uses the earth, the largest point of leverage, or gravity, to slingshot itself to the moon more quickly and using less fuel. This means that the space shuttle doesn't actually head toward the moon when it launches. But when it slingshots around the earth, it is on a direct course.

This concept has so many business and personal applications, and it has been a big reason why MoneyDesktop has gotten traction. They started by beginning to approach some of the 14,000+ banks and credit unions in the U.S. But Ryan quickly realized that they are slow to make decisions, late to adopt new technology, and clueless when it comes to how software can make things better. His research found a much better point of leverage around which he could slingshot into all of the banks...through the software companies that build and run the online banking portals the banks use.

The main point of the slingshot strategy has a few elements to it. First, the best way to get to who you think your customers are is not always a straight line. Second, research the industry and all of the players to find your greatest points of leverage. Third, find the entrenched players, the massive parties that are too big and encumbered to change. Fourth, use those entrenched players, their mass, their inability to innovate, and their slow decision-making abilities, to slingshot yourself to your customers. Fifth, execute. It still takes a lot of work, and you need to continually pivot your trajectory, speed, and direction all along the way to make sure you hit your target!

Here are some of the tweets that tried to capture Ryan's comments:

@_KenKaufman: U may have to move a different direction first to get where u want to go #uvef #slingshotspaceshuttle

@izattapps: Leverage large entrenched players as partners. Key to capturing large user groups quickly. #uvef @RyanCaldwell

@_KenKaufman: Find a planet u can slingshot around...where can u get the most leverage, even If it's not the most logical first step #uvef #slingshot

@utahguy: Ryan Caldwell, @MoneyDesktop, use the gravity of entrenched players to achieve a slingshot affect. #uvef

@izattapps: Path to market depends largely on which players you align with and which ones you don't. #uvef

@izattapps: Not always the direct path is the best path. Long way around can leverage partners to get 10 times as much done with 1/10 the effort. #uvef