7 Random Berlin startups

I just browse hacker news a bit and stumbled upon a map of Berlin startups. Out of curiosity I looked at some of the websites. I’m surprised how bad most of these websites were executed. For this post I will take 7 randomly chosen startups and look at their landing pages.

Randomly generated numbers by random.org:

278 216 499 352 578 87 244

#278: Small Improvements


It seems that this startup offers a platform for performance reviews. I can’t see a benefit directly, besides that it is “easy”. In a quite small font-size they site presents that “even let staff create, track, and share personal goals and objectives.” – which I think is a pretty cool function. Still no benefit. “Next screenshot” as a CTA also isn’t ideal. Also the design is too gray in my opinion and boring. I think that’s what I get out of the site. It’s a boring tool for bureaucratic HR persons. They seem to have some good customers – so the product is likely quite good.

#216: NumberFour


The first thing I see is that it is an AG which isn’t so “startup”-like. But whatever. The site looks good. But I have no idea what they are selling. There’s more about the founder and his investors than the product. Blegh.

#499: shake fit


The website looks okay. The headline is crap though it says “100% personalized – achieve your goals”. They are selling a personalized protein shake. I like their configurator. All in all, pretty solid. Though I would changed the design a bit and change the headline.

#352: Trade-a-Game

Okay Trade-a-Game is now reBuy which isn’t a startup anymore. Skip – but I heard they are doing very well.

#578: d:evolute


Okay. That isn’t a startup but a consulting firm or software shop. We should I begin. The design looks plain. The picture is meaningless. About us? I don’t know. No real benefits outlined. Their portfolio looks a bit better though it’s not really sold. Very technology driven. I don’t know their prospect base. I think they mostly speak to techies at the moment. If it works, good.

#87: nugg.ad AG

Another AG and definitely no startup anymore. Very enterprise-y but I think for this target group appropriate.

#244: ComeUnited


It seems like a social network for people in media. The design looks very old. No benefits. The CTA is semi-okay. I don’t think they longer exist. The last press release is from 2010, all the umlauts are fucked up. Seems like its dead.



I liked the presentation of shake fit the best. And I think d:evolute doesn’t need to be a startup. It’s pretty cool just being a small or medium-sized business. You don’t need to grow to 20k employees. Do your thing and stay real.

How to advance liberty through entrepreneurship

Today I just post a post I’ve written but I think people can profit from it. Enjoy.


You can advance the liberty in the world. How? Provide better alternatives. If you want to live on the frontier you must have the guts to do it. It’s nice to sit back and complain about all things in your home. Even better is getting out and doing something. I’m not talking about political action. I’m talking about entrepreneurial action.

It’s easy

I started my first business when I was about 15. Super simple, people had problems with their computers, I knew a bit about computers, they came to me with their problems and I fixed it. Made about $50 to $100 per customer.

A few years later I sold books, DVDs and CDs on amazon. Started with my own stuff, later family and friends of my family asked if I can sell theirs too. I just took a margin of the price when the product was sold and handled shipping and complaints. Easy money.

I don’t have any money

This is bullshit. You don’t need 500k to start a business, you don’t need investors, no VCs, no angels. There are pretty awesome methods out there to start businesses on a shoestring budget. Even easier I give you a few business ideas which you can start with under $100.

  • Teach older people how to use the internet / pc / write e-mails: They want to, but they don’t want to bug their children or grandchildren all the time. Make an easy package to decrease the risk, print some flyers (you can design them yourself at first and they will be pretty good if you consider a few principles) and put them into mailboxes. If you are successful enough and get the marketing figured out, you can easily employ students who do the teaching for you.
  • Flip stuff The basic idea is that you buy low and sell high. /r/flipping has lots of information about this. One technique I heard that works quite fine is to buy stuff in bulk (e.g. a CD collection of 60 CDs) and sell them individually. You can start with cheap stuff and work your way up.
  • Selling snacks I don’t know the US so take this with a grant of salt. One class mate did this and I thought it was pretty good. The students wanted snacks, the vending machine however was in the basement. People are lazy. He bought candy bars for about $0.30 each and sold them in class for $1. He started first with our class, then he expanded to other classes. He made about $50 – $100 a day while in school.

Innovative products

I can understand that these businesses sound boring but you will learn how businesses work. Secondly, they just work and make you money. There’s a lot less risk involved. If you have a great idea for a tech startup, start small. Build a great website – you can do this easily for under $100 bucks – and start testing your idea first. Get it on the market and let the market decide. You don’t need any programming skills up to this point. Build a mailing list for prospects. If you think you get enough (do some realistic projections) – start building your app. Again, start small. Solve the biggest problem first. I worked with a ton of different startups and mostly do it wrong. I worked with one startup who had superb PR, had about 12-20k visits per month and made about $200 per month. How? Their product was terrible, nobody wanted it. They invested over $250k in the company and three years later they were bankrupt. If they changed their product, but stayed in the same niche, they could easily have made $20k+ per month in sales.

Advancing liberty

Provide better alternatives. This doesn’t have to be your first business. Rather start accumulating resources first (knowledge, connections, money) and then advance your cause. If you can do both in this step, great. This step won’t be easy but there’s a lot less resistance than you think at first. A lot of self-employed people (not the super rich) don’t really like the gov or the “establishment”. You basically have two routes:

  • Replace an existing service
  • Provide a better interface

Let’s start with the latter because it’s shorter. Easy example for a better interface is a tax adviser. He’s a middle-man but his services are so valuable that you decide to hire him. This sector is pretty big and includes lawyers, labels, publishers, etc.

The former option is more interesting, however more risky. Some great examples are crowd funding instead of running to angels or VCs. Publishing platforms like Amazon instead of negotiating with publisher. Video platforms like Youtube instead of begging for a TV time slot.

Look around and list all the big corporations or government functions:

  • (G) Education
  • (G) Social security
  • (G) Security
  • (C) Energy (Oil & Gas)
  • (C) Transportation (Automotive)
  • (C) Financial services (Banks)
  • (C) Drugs (Pharmaceutical companies)
  • etc.

Take a deeper look at each one and understand the bigger problem they are trying to solve. Find ways to solve it with modern technology. For example, bank giving out loans? Why can’t people give out loans directly? P2P lending platforms.

You are going to start small, even if it isn’t that small but the forces from the gov can be pretty harsh – see P2P lending platforms or prediction markets. A great way around is using crypto currencies. You won’t destroy the gov but you can replace each part of it.

Notes from How to Write A Good Advertisement


  1.  Get attention
  2.  Show People an advantage
  3.  Prove it
  4.  Persuade people to grasp this advantage
  5.  Ask for action

Get Attention

  • The reader buys something for news, entertainment or instruction so you got to deliver the same
  • An ad should be easier to read than to skip“ – awesome sentence. If you think about it is in the headline. The reader needs to think that he will miss out if he doesn’t read your ad.
  • The headline must offer a reward for reading
  • Two types of headlines:
    • a) how the reader can save, gain or accomplish something
    • b) how the reader can avoid risks, worries, losses, etc. aka. consumer benefits

Elements of a great headline:

  •   secret / simple / hidden
  •  little mistake / little something
  •   by me / my
  •   advice / how to
  •   egoistic interests / who else?
  •   new / discovery / ever / never
  •   exact numbers / specific information
  •   or your money back / or pay
  •   almost / some
  •   colloquialisms
  •   which of these? / any of these / such
  •   Paradoxes
  •   thousands / 70% of people / 2 out of 3 woman / an other
  •   you / your / yourself
  •   label interests: town, state, country
  •   today, this year, now
  •   underdog
  •   here
  •   before – after
  •   stopper: THROW AWAY, BUY NO
  •   avoid brand name
  •   what will you be? how will people view me?
  •   suppose / would have / ought
  •   but / only / limited
  •   FREE

Here’s an other great headline:

Profits that lie hidden in your farm


  •  don’t perfectly balance it
  •  pictures of people (woman, young child, baby for women; man for men), children, animals
  • bigger and less pictures
  • show product in use
  • shouldn’t look like an ad, e.g. Ogilvy’s How to create advertisement that sells

Show people an advantage

  •  What will your product do for me? aka. WIIFM: What is in for me?
  •  Sell an experience or even better an identity
  •  Imagine how people will receive your ad
  •  „advertising which does not get under this epidermis of position or circumstance, which does not get down to the most basic human appeals and motivations, misses a lot of people—and sales.
  •  Don’t neglect your first paragraph: easy to read, relate to the headline

Prove it

  •  Dr. Charles M. Edwards „The more facts you tell, the more you sell
  • People need and want facts as reasons and excuses for buying to justify to themselves (and to others) a decision which may be based on their emotions alone => „Nobody wants to be a fool.“
  • Emotions form beliefs which are later rationalized
  • „We tend to believe what arouses our desires, our fears, and our other emotions… Once a belief has been established in this way, logic and reasoning may be used to support it.“
  1.  Belief is a matter of feeling and emotion rather than of reason.
  2. The truth is not a primary factor in determining belief.
  3. Belief is a personal matter, a fabric of personal experiences.
  4. Belief has also a social component to be accounted for by the need for conformity with one’s fellows and especially with those in authority.
  5. Belief is dependent upon desire—we believe what we want to believe.
  •  Think and do research long enough before writing
  •  Every product has unexplored angles. Look long enough and you will find attributes which are unique
  •  Incorporate „old“ known facts
  •  These include:
    •  Product details
    •  Test
    •  Expert evidence
    •  Testimonials: don’t edit them too much, keep the natural sound
    •  Awards
    •  Sales
    •  Reseller
    •  Patents
    •  Reputation
    •  Speed
    •  Well-known users
    •  Demonstrations
  •  Keep the facts believable even if they aren’t
  •  Dramatize them
  •  Be specific
  •  Give a reason for price cuts

Persuade people to grasp this advantage

  •  picture benefits in the daily lives
  •  how to get it
  •  sum up story
  •  write for the people who are hardest to sell to

Ask for action

„If a salesman neglects to make a good close he can make another call. But a “poor-closing” or a “nonclosing” advertisement makes an ineffective visit to every one of its prospects.“

  • a) go  to your dealer + why + benefits
  • b) „Do-something“: checklists, tests, questionnaires
  • c) Direct response: use hooks, time limit, limited supply, price going up (on exact date), empathize loss / gain, use guarantees

Be specific, keep it simple and easy

When Gatti-Casazza, the famous opera impresario, asked the composer Verdi for advice regarding the duties of an impresario, Verdi told him: “Read most attentively the reports of the box office. These, whether you like it or not, are the only documents which measure success or failure and they admit of no argument and represent not mere opinion but fact. If the public comes, the object is attained; if not—no! The theater is intended to be full and not empty. That’s something you must always remember.”

How long copy should your copy be

Use vivid present tense, singular instead of plural. Make it al- ready happen to him as he reads. Jim Young once said, “To get a man to do a thing, let him see himself doing it.” For example, from an airline advertisement: “You left the East Coast at one o’clock after an excellent lunch. Now, stretched out in a big, cushioned easy chair, you watch cloud patterns shift on the green and gold checker- board of the farmland below.”

These are just a few ideas on how to let look a copy shorter:

  1. Paragraphs—Short. Indented, not flush. Double lead between each. Occasionally centered. Judicious use of italics, caps, bold face, or oversize initials.
  2.  Copy blocks—Not too wide for proper eye range in relation to type size. Vary widths. Graduation of type size; setting the opening paragraphs in a larger size, then dropping to smaller.
  3. Subheads—Frequent and bold enough to break up any too formidable appearance of body matter; but not enough to distract reader from sequential flow of copy story.
  4. Specification matter—Product specifications, or similar technical details, may sometimes be set in smaller type, boxed. They are there for those who want to know them; but they do not interfere with more attractive display of the more highly motivated copy.

As Gilbert K. Chesterton said: “There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person.”

Yet many advertisements virtually say little more than “Hello— Our product is wonderful—Good-by.”

Ask customers why the brought and use this sales angle in your copy

Don’t underestimate subheads

  • after 2 – 4 paragraphs
  • Use questions
  • Plan them from the start

How to get more inquiries

  •  offer something free which is useful
  •  Refer to your freebie specifically, e.g. page 27 will explain …
  •  Feature your freebie
  •  Write about privacy concerns

How to get less

  •   provide qualifying facts: costs, requirements, etc
  •   small charge

Do copy appeals have a sex?

  •   women are harder to sell
  •   men are more concerned about the future and generalities
  •   sell women on the immediate, imminent and specific


Interesting and instructive split-run tests

  •  use appeal to attractiveness to the other sex if possible
  •  busy layouts work better
  •  choice increases the conversion: which of these?
  •  appeal to nostalgic memories
  •  aim for broader appeal

The hard-boiled attitude – and how to acquire it

  •   Each line must contribute toward profit
  •   The sole purpose if advertising is to make profit not getting awards or compliments
  •   Learn what doesn’t work
  •   Your copy should sell alone; try to get as near as possible
  •   Doubt your copy and criticize it hard

Random observations

  •  include both the gain the reader gets from your product and the loss he gets if he doesn’t buy
  •  sometimes high confidence, i.e. expecting people to buy will work
  •  People want to experience good feelings again
  •  Let the reader dream first and then do
  •  Start small
  •  Write a classified ad even if is for your old lamp
  •  „Use words to paint a picture“
  •  Emotions work: love or hate


Pretty awesome book. I can recommend to grab a copy and work through it.