Resource Nights: Positioning and Messaging

This recap of the Business Plan Practicum (Resource Nights) course at UW features three tips all entrepreneurs need to know from Ambika Singh, CEO of Armoire.Each week you can read a recap of the previous Entrepreneurship Resource Nights (Business Plan Practicum) session. This past week, instructor John Zagula (founder, Ignition Capital) led a class focused on positioning and messaging in relation to running a startup with special guests Kaitlyn Witman of Rainfactory, Dani May of TomboyXNancy Xiao of MasonJohn O’Rourke of Microsoft, and Zach Huntting of Crown Social. Reminder: You can watch the recording for this session right now.


“Marketing starts with “who is the customer?” not ‘what do we have to sell?’” – Peter Drucker

“What really decides consumers to buy or not to buy is the content of your advertising, not its form.” – David Ogilvy

“Marketing takes a day to learn. Unfortunately, it takes a lifetime to master.” – Philip Kotler


This week we covered my favorite topic: positioning. I was really impressed with the thinking and work the class put into positioning XYZs and 123s. Guest panelists Kaitlyn Witman of Rainfactory, Dani May of TomboyXNancy Xiao of MasonJohn O’Rourke of Microsoft, and Zach Huntting of Crown Social were tremendously helpful.

You can skip ahead to watch the panel at 38:00 in this recording.

Don’t forget: less is more, simple is better, and a narrow focus is preferable for the positioning of your offering! Save the big lofty stuff for your ABCs and vision. Also, don’t forget, the XYZs are for you to help you figure out your true argument.

Messaging is the external translation of this logic to your customers in communications. One last thing we didn’t cover was another shorthand I like. It is called MUST. It is a litmus test for the effectiveness of your messaging. It goes like this: your messaging should:

  • M – matter/be relevant
  • U – be unique
  • S – be sustainable/believable
  • T – be tangible/drive to concrete action


Resource Nights (ENTRE 440/540 Business Plan Practicum) are each Tuesday through March 10, 2020 from 6 to 7:50 pm in PACCAR Hall 192 (Shansby Auditorium). Can’t make it in person? Lectures will be recorded and the links posted to our website weekly. View the Resource Night schedule for links and complete listing of topics and guest speakers.


Tuesday, March 3 at 6:00 pm in PACCAR Hall, Shansby Auditorium (room 192)

In this session, students will compete in the annual class pitch contest and need to have a short elevator pitch ready. The course will also feature guest speakers Tom Furphy, founder/CEO of Replenium, Adrian Smith, partner at Ignition Partners, Laurel M. Buckner, managing director at WestRiver Group, Ishani Gujral, product lead at Madrona Venture Labs, and Mo Afshar, CEO at  @Pipe17.

Reminder, you can drop-in or catch the recording of this weekly course.


The 21 finalist teams for the 2020 Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge were just announced.

An announcement of the finalists for the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge will happen Tuesday, March 3.

Meanwhile, preparations are underway for the Dempsey Startup Competition.

Dempsey Startup Competition Info Session
Friday, March 6 from 12 to 1 pm
Herbold Innovation Lab (Dempsey Hall 211)

Students who are interested in or planning to enter the Dempsey Startup Competition can attend this info session to learn about the structure of the competition, what to expect and how to prepare. The info session will be hosted by Sarah Studer, Dempsey Startup Competition manager. Lunch will be provided!

RSVP Link:

Dempsey Startup Competition Webinar
Wednesday, March 11 at 4:30 pm

The Dempsey Startup Competition is open to enrolled student teams in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, British Columbia and Alaska. Tune in to the webinar to learn more about the competition rules and what to expect. Use the chat function in Zoom to ask questions!

Registration Link:

Dempsey Startup Competition Application Party
Tuesday, March 31 from 12:30 to 3 pm
Herbold Innovation Lab (Dempsey Hall 211)

Planning to enter the Dempsey Startup Competition? Come start (or finish!) your application with us! We’ll have snacks, examples of 5-7 page business summaries, laptops and competition managers available to answer your questions. UW Students only.

RSVP Link:

Learn more about the Buerk Center student competitions at

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