At Startup Weekend, the goal is to create complimentary teams, develop solutions to Big Questions, and generally have a good time. One of the key aspects that the new teams will have to tackle is around marketing and messaging – and there’s no better way to do that then by finding some kind of advocate, often called a brand ambassador.
Some startups have found success in creating strong bonds between their new companies and superstars, and many hot Silicon Valley startups count celebrities as part of their capital stack. And it’s not just Mark Cuban or the Shark Tank folks who are jumping into the startup frenzy.
Recently, Cristiano Ronaldo took a page from Ashton Kutcher’s playbook by investing and promoting a startup named Mobitto. Mobitto is a mobile app that helps local businesses and brands to increase loyalty and brand engagement. According to their CEO, getting Ronaldo on board was more than a gimmick: it was part of Mobitto’s long-term strategy. Mobitto gives out ambassadorships to key users, who can then collect points by inviting friends, sharing activities on social networks, endorsing merchants, and also by walking in to the store and buying products. Users can also get points for bringing in new business to participate on the platform. Mobitto is currently working with smaller merchants, but it’s eyeing the major chains and brands. While Cristiano Ronaldo’s ongoing role in Mobitto role hasn’t been defined yet, you can bet that his ability to endorse companies and products from his corporate sponsors will become part of the revenue stream, and that Mobitto has just begun to bring on board the top talent as ambassadors, and investors.
All that glitters is not always gold, though, so just because a startup lands a celebrity doesn’t mean that they’re bound for glory. It reminds me of a joke I once heard. A man is at Grand Central Station waiting for his train that leaves at 6 p.m., but he has forgotten his watch. So he looks for someone to ask the time. He spots a guy carrying two suitcases and sporting this fabulous hi-tech watch, so he asks him for the time.The guy replies “Sure, which country?”The fella asks, “How many countries have you got?” to which the man replies, “All the countries in the world!””Wow! That`s a pretty cool watch you`ve got there.””That`s nothing,” the man says. “This watch also has a GPS facility, fax, e-mail and can even receive NTSC television channels and display them on its miniature active color pixel LCD screen!””Boy, that`s incredible. I wish I had a watch like that one. You wouldn`t consider selling it by any chance?””Well, actually the novelty has worn off for me, so for $900, if you want it, it`s yours.”The watchless traveler can hardly whip out his checkbook fast enough to hand over a check for $900.The seller takes off the watch and gives it to him. “Congratulations, here is you new hi-tech watch.” Then, handing the two suitcases over as well, he says, “And here are the batteries.”