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Create Value -- Not Just Buzz -- For Your Customers Too many startups neglect the most important goal: determining why someone would want to buy what they're selling.

By Sam Hogg

This story appears in the March 2015 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

REUTERS | Mike Segar

As an active investor in agricultural technology, I hear pitches from startups that have found ways to make crops bigger, stronger and more resistant to pests, usually through some proprietary formula or advanced biotechnology.

I always challenge these folks with a little drill. I tell them there is an item on the table that can do the exact same thing, and I point to my glass of water. I explain that more water can make plants bigger, stronger and more resistant to pests; more fertilizer can, too. But farmers don't use excessive water and fertilizer because of well-known diminishing returns.

This is the point where we begin to have a constructive talk about value, and whether the whiz-bang product being pitched truly has the potential to add it.

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