When a Startup Takes On Big Corporations

And how to do it


In Episode 6.6 of The Startup Show, we discussed the challenges of starting up a retail product, in this case, Mati Energy, with founder and CEO Tatiana Birgisson. The beverage industry is home to some entrenched, deep-pocketed (sometimes evil) corporations, and the plucky startup has to be more than just unique and hardworking to survive in that environment.

There's almost always an element of luck involved.

The luckiest of startups can trade on their story for a little while, and Tatiana knew that her story, young woman hoping to build a massive energy drink empire out of her dorm room, was part of the reason she saw some initial success. That success (and a solid sales approach), got Mati onto some store shelves early.

But Tatiana knew that as good as her story was, it wasn't going to put Mati into customers' hands, and thus keep her energy drink on those store shelves.

At some point, the product has to start selling itself, and this is all dependent on the product attributes and being able to deftly market those attributes to a public constantly being inundated with marketing. Mati not only had to be better than the competition, it had to very succinctly explain why it was better.

We discuss some of the ways Mati accomplished this.

Then you have to consider the competition, your competitive strengths and weaknesses. But just like product attributes, you've got to be able to communicate your competitive attributes to those retailers in charge of those shelves.

The vast majority of this communication has to happen around data, and Tatiana explains how, with a little bit of luck, she got her data working for her early on.