Narek Vardanyan is a serial entrepreneur, author, and keynote speaker. He is the founder and CEO of Prelaunch.com– a platform that helps companies discover whether there is a market for their product concepts at early stages. Through behavioral data and tested methodology Prelaunch.com helps companies gain vital insights and launch confidently into markets. Narek is the author of the bestselling “Crowdfunding Secrets” book and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg, TEDx. Now, ahead of Ad World 2022, Narek opens up to Eventible about his journey so far, the challenges he has faced along the way, his growth strategy, his biggest objective as a speaker at Ad World 2022, and much more! So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get started!

Interview With Narek Vardanyan, CEO of Prelaunch.com

  • We believe that every entrepreneur has a story to tell. What’s your story behind starting Prelaunch.com?

Prelaunch was inspired by the need for a better way to validate potential products. It’s always gratifying when your hard work pays off, and you achieve a successful outcome. When I started my crowdfunding marketing agency, TCF, and had my first success, everyone asked me what I thought of their ideas. So, I put my master hat on and made bold bets. It’s a great idea, go for it. Do something else since this one is bad.  I’m not sure, but this could work. I used to think that I was a pretty good decision-maker. I would size up a situation, weigh the pros and cons, and then conclude. 

But then I started noticing how often my decisions turned out to be wrong. It seemed like I was making wrong assumptions more often than not. At first, I chalked it up to bad luck. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my problem wasn’t with luck. It was with my decision-making process. I was too reliant on my gut and not enough on data. And believe it or not, the gut is not a good predictor of success. So I started looking for a better method to make decisions. A way that would allow me to take my gut feeling out of the equation and focus on what mattered: the data. Methods like research, surveys, focus groups, or others were too slow, biased, or unreliable. I needed something that would give unbiased and accurate data. 

We tried several different methods, but none seemed to click.  We received hundreds of products and needed a way to identify the most promising ones. Then, we had a lightbulb moment: what if we pre-launched products? Customers would reserve products by putting down small reservation fees. The creators would receive transparent and actual purchase intent-based data. This method worked like a charm. Why? It was based on behavioral activities. With this validation method, our company became one of the top crowdfunding marketing agencies in the world. As we were able to identify the best performing campaigns at the very early stage. At some point, we started providing pre-launching as a service to other creators and companies. 

And as time passed, we realized that practically any business — a startup, small business, or enterprise — could benefit from pre-launching their products. That’s how the Prelaunch.com platform was born. Prelaunch is the first and only platform that allows businesses of any size to validate their products before actually taking it to market. We provide all the tools and resources needed to run a successful validation. It’s been two months since we launched our website, and the response has been overwhelming. We’ve had hundreds of thousands of visitors and hundreds of projects submitted. It’s clear that this is something people need.

Prelaunch is the first and only platform that allows businesses of any size to validate their products before actually taking it to market. We provide all the tools and resources needed to run a successful validation.

Narek Vardanyan, CEO of Prelaunch.com
  • What are the challenges you have been or are constantly facing in your industry today? And how have you overcome them, or what do you hope to do to overcome them in the future?

We’ve all had those moments in the shower where we have an excellent idea for a product or a new way to do something. And often, we think to ourselves, “this is genius; I should make this!”. Everybody is attached to their ideas. But the hard truth is that not all our ‘shower thoughts’ are as great as we think. As any business owner knows, predicting consumer demand is essential for success. After all, if you don’t know what your customers want, how can you hope to sell it to them? Yet, forecasting demand is often easier said than done. 

Current forecasting models are broken. Some companies base their predictions on gut feeling… which is very subjective. Others carry out customer interviews, which are limited in scope. And sometimes, with a new product, you need new customers. There are companies that do fake door testing. But this has its own problems. Such as it is fake, or customers can freak out when they realize they’ve been participating in a test. 

The bottom line is that many businesses are using outdated methods to predict demand. This can lead to severe problems down the road. So how do you know if your idea is actually good? How do you validate it before taking it to market? This is where pre-launching comes in. By pre-launching your product, you can validate it at its earlier stage based on the actual purchase intent. It’s a very transparent process that allows you to track data and understand how customers interact with your product. Not only does it create a more transparent environment, but it also allows everyone to have a clear understanding of what to expect. Customers know that if the product does not make it to the market, they will receive a full refund. When creators receive purchase insights, they can better understand whether or not their product is likely to be successful. Either way, pre-launching is a win-win for everyone involved and an invaluable tool for any business.

If you prelaunch your product, you can validate it at its earlier stage based on the actual purchase intent. It’s a very transparent process that allows you to track data and understand how customers interact with your product.

Narek Vardanyan, CEO of Prelaunch.com
  • Can you share with us any one particular growth strategy or hack that’s always worked for you?

I’m a big believer in the power of interviews. When it comes to business, I have one cardinal rule: learn from the best. Before entering any new market or starting any new venture, I take the time to research who the most successful people in that industry are. Once I have a list of names, I do my best to get interviews with as many of them as possible. 

I find that this is the best way to gain insight into an industry and learn about best practices. After all, there is no point in reinventing the wheel when you can learn from those who have already achieved success or failure, right? By taking the time to interview the top performers in any field, I get a leg up on the competition and increase my chances of finding success.

But when you are a new startup, and nobody really knows who you are, it can be challenging to get your foot in the door. When I was starting out, I had a lot of trouble getting successful company CEOs to agree to sit down for one-hour interviews. So I decided to hack the system. I created a blog and pretended to be a journalist. I then reached out to the CEOs of various companies and told them that I was doing a story on successful entrepreneurs. 

Once they agreed to the interview, I would use that opportunity to ask them about their business practices, what worked for them, and what didn’t. This gave me a wealth of information that I was able to use to grow my own business. This strategy works even now. 

  • How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way you go about business? What trends do you see coming into force after the pandemic? 

With the pandemic causing so much turmoil and the economic future looking increasingly uncertain, we see a new pattern emerge. Companies are unwilling to take risks with their innovation and are sensitive to failure.  

Only a few years ago it was acceptable to experiment with new ideas, expecting 80% of them to fail. Now we are moving towards a model where you need better and more clear strategies to enter the market. But today, companies want to know that their ideas have a chance of success before they commit to them. As a result, we are seeing a rise in new paradigms and strategies that aim to reduce risk and increase clarity. One of those newly emerging paradigms is to validate your hypothesis and the biggest risks as soon as possible. And by validating those hypothesis and risks early on, you’ll save time and money in the long run.

  • What is your biggest objective as a speaker at Ad World 2022?

As a speaker at Ad World 2022, my biggest objective is to help businesses learn about the latest trends in validating their ideas. This will help them always stay ahead of the competition. Within the past 3 years, we’ve prelaunched different campaigns because of which we have already accumulated a lot of valuable data and insights. And now, we want to share this distilled knowledge — failures and experiments — with as many people as possible, so they can benefit from it too. Our team has developed a unique perspective on how businesses can validate their ideas, and we want to share that with as many people as possible. We hope our insights will help businesses save time and money and ultimately find more success. We’re excited to share what we’ve learned, and we hope our experience will help others achieve their goals.

Within the past 3 years, we’ve prelaunched different campaigns because of which we have already accumulated a lot of valuable data and insights. And now, we want to share this distilled knowledge — failures and experiments — with as many people as possible, so they can benefit from it too

Narek Vardanyan, CEO of Prelaunch.com
  • What is your objective as a keynote speaker at Ad World 2022 and what are the important topics that you wish to speak on at the event? What do you hope to take back from the event?

I’m honored and excited to be a keynote speaker at Ad World 2022. Ad World has always been a great source of learning for my team and me. With my speech, I want to make the audience think outside the traditional marketing box. After all, with little creativity, persistence, and precise data, there are endless possibilities for marketing success. 

And lastly, Ad Worlds is an excellent opportunity to network and learn from some of the best minds in the industry. So, I hope to leave the event with not only new skills and knowledge but also with new friends and connections — who I’ll gladly interview later.

  • As a leader, what are the factors, both professional and personal, that drive you? What keeps you going?

As a leader, I’m driven by a few key professional and personal factors. On the professional side, I’m motivated by the desire to create something significant and impactful with my team. I want to build something that can change the lives of millions of people and help them achieve success. Personally, I’m driven by a need for challenge and growth. I thrive on pushing myself to new limits and constantly expanding my skills and knowledge. I also derive a great deal of satisfaction from supporting and developing others. Seeing others grow and succeed is one of my most rewarding leadership aspects.

Ultimately, what keeps me going as a leader is the belief that I can make a real difference in the world. Every day, I wake up with the determination to make a positive impact on those around me. As today 80% of all innovations fail; I hope that what we do with our team is going to change the lives of many. This will help bring meaningful creativity to life and identify the problems at the early stages.

  • What is the next milestone that you’ve set for your company? As an entrepreneur, what’s the one thing you want to share with those who aspire to become an entrepreneur?

Being an entrepreneur is hard. You have to wear a lot of hats, make a lot of decisions, and hustle 24/7. Many people think that entrepreneurship is all about making money. However, the most successful entrepreneurs understand that it’s about much more. At its core, entrepreneurship is about creating value. This can take many forms, from developing a new product or service to improving an existing one. What all successful entrepreneurs have in common is a clear understanding of the problem they are trying to solve.

Clearly identify and understand the problem your product or solution is solving; never try to come up with a problem for the solution you have created. So, if you’re thinking about starting your own business, be sure to ask yourself: what problem am I trying to solve? Once you have a clear answer to this question, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful entrepreneur.

Many people think that entrepreneurship is all about making money. However, the most successful entrepreneurs understand that it’s about much more. At its core, entrepreneurship is about creating value. This can take many forms, from developing a new product or service to improving an existing one. What all successful entrepreneurs have in common is a clear understanding of the problem they are trying to solve.

Narek Vardanyan, CEO of Prelaunch.com

Another valuable piece of advice that all entrepreneurs should heed is to learn and optimize all the metrics for learning. In other words, don’t just focus on growing your revenues. Investors and stakeholders will always push startups to grow their top line, but it’s tough if you don’t understand what you are doing and why. Take the time to learn about your business, customers, and industry. And the best way to learn about your customers is to talk to them directly. However, it’s crucial to remember that everyone has an opinion and that not everyone is equally invested in the success of your product.

So, while it’s important to talk to as many people as possible, you also need to make decisions based on what you see people doing, not just what they say. Understand your numbers and what they mean. Always test and experiment to see what works and what doesn’t. And try to dig deeper into your customers’ behavior, rather than what they are saying. This is where Prelaunch.com platform can be helpful. By observing people’s behavior, you can better understand their actual needs and how your product can best meet them.

  • In your opinion, do digital events give you a similar level of feedback/result vis-à-vis the live versions? What would you say are the biggest pros and cons of both formats? Which do you prefer?  

It really comes down to preference. I personally enjoy physical events because I’m a very social person. But I can see how virtual events appeal more to people who don’t have the time to physically attend an event.

So it depends on what you are looking for.

Physical events are probably your best bet if you’re looking to network and build relationships. But if you’re looking for convenience and comfort, then virtual events are the way to go.

  • This year we are seeing the comeback of many in-person events. What is your take on in-person events? Do you prefer them over hybrid or virtual?

After a year of Zoom calls, Google meetings and virtual events, it’s no surprise that many people want more in-person gatherings. There’s nothing quite like being in the same room as someone, sharing a laugh or a hug. And while virtual events have their own advantages, there’s something special about being able to look someone in the eye and shake their hand. 

For the TCF company, both options are equally acceptable. However, this year we are more oriented toward in-person events. In fact, we’ve just returned from a whirlwind trip to Germany, where our company participated in a big trade show — IFA 2022. It was great to meet so many people from all over the world and have a chance to network with all of them. We’re already looking forward to our next big event, the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

  • Eventible.com is a review platform catering to B2B events. Given how review-driven our lives have become today, do you think reviews will bring in a level of transparency to the events industry? Would you rely on event reviews from other speakers if you had to make a speaking decision?   

Our lives have become increasingly review-driven. We rely on reviews to help us make decisions about where to eat, what products to buy, and where to travel. So it’s no surprise that a similar model is now being applied to the events industry with the launch of Eventible.com. Reviews are extremely important in the events industry as well, because they provide a level of transparency that is essential in making informed decisions. They offer unbiased feedback for B2B, which is crucial in the events industry, reviews are everything. They provide a level of transparency that is essential for making informed decisions about which events to attend.  

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