Path to tech not a straight lineMore like LA freeways, filled with start and stops and loops and turns
Began 25 years ago at University of Hawaii.My parents mortified that I was about to pursue a career in hairdressing shipped me off to Hawaii where Mom put me in a convent. Here is a photo of the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. UH wasn’t all just sun and surf. It actually played a significant role on the creation of the Ethernet. Bob Metcalf – co-inventor (David Boggs) of the Ethernet based his masters dissertation at Harvard on the ALOHA network. This computer network invented by a group of professors at the university was later used in the Ethernet cable –based network. But I had no idea this was happening while I was at UH, instead, a series of serendipitous events led me into the rock n roll and business.
I got into the concert business in college booking bands as the head of the recreation for campus life. This led to my working with some of the biggest names in the music industry at the time. Most significant:In an industry that parties as hard back of house as front of house, it pays to be one of the only ones to show up on time and sober every time. One other thing: no task is too trivial. But the music business is not for the feint of heart and certainly not intellectually challenging. You’ve seen one sulking rock star, you’ve seen ‘em all.Another serendipitous turn of events brought me to Atlanta, capital of the New South,
Capital of GeorgiaBirthplace of civil rights leader Martin Luther KingTransportationhub in the old days Known for peanuts, Jimmy Carter and peaches
Also- World HQ for a number of global companies - Delta - Coca Cola - UPS - Home Depot - CNN - NCRAnd Tech + Internet companies - McKesson Health - Dell Secureworks - IBM Internet Security Systems - WebMD - Vitrue/acquired by Oracle 3Q12 for $330Mand also host of the 1996 Olympics.
Moved in 1997 and worked at MSL, global PR/marketingcommunications company with clients across all industries.
What set me on path to tech:Diskettes.It was 1998, we had signed a new content filtering software company that was owned by Landmark Media, what was then the parent company of the Weather Channel. And the assignment was to launch this new product into the marketplace and diskettes were used to load the software onto the user’s PC. The supervisor who was overseeing the media part of the launch had to take a leave of absence and I was the only person available at the time. And the rest as they say is history. Discovered:Propensity to learn new complex concepts and reframe them in ways that made it easy for the layman to understandPart of global launch team - role = prep and launch hi-growth emerging tech companies and their products.
dotcom bubble also brought with it lots of bad ideas and business models. ThePets.com sock puppet - Multimillion super bowl adThe company couldn’t convince pet owners to buy pet supplies online. Raised $82.5 M in an IPO Feb 2000. Shut down 9 months later. WebvanBuilt up of a fleet of trucks, placed a $1.2B order with an engineering firm to build its warehouses without significant revenues to support. -Raised $375 M in an IPO and flamed out in 2001. -Idea before its time. -Resurrected by Amazon several years ago.In Atlanta:RealEstate.com raised $26 M and was poised to be the real estate marketplace for residential and commercial real estate markets. Went through at least 7 site redesigns in 9 months. CEO lived in luxury and reportedly cashed out with $3M but stiffed employees of their last paycheck right before Christmas when the company shut down in Dec 2000. Bright spot – Ebay is still around.Silverpop, my first startup in which we raised $30 M after the bubble burst in 2000 is still thriving. I went on to run marketing for PeopleSoft’s $200 M Southern region and then spent time building marketing + ops for companies in financial transaction processing software + information security. Started iFusion Marketing in 2006 to fill a need among startups who needed assistance with fundraising, business strategy + mktg but weren’t quite ready to bring on a full-time executive. Companies I help:Early stage/pre-betaGrowth stage positioning for a raise I give back through mentoring programs w StartupChicks, FourAthens and startups that I find to be of interest.
Startup Genome 40 startup ecosystems across the globe.Report released in April 2012Singapore ranks 17. FundingIndex = Level of activity + breadth of risk capitalPerformanceIndex = total performance + potential of startupsStrengths:TalentAvailability and breadth of risk capitalOpportunityMindset – resiliency, appetite for risk, vision of foundersNot so different from the startups that I work with in the South.
Common beliefs:Investors bet on the jockey not the horse. (but the idea must be good too)First timers often have to boot strap.Like the music business, only a few make it against huge odds.
No official statistic but anecdotally…Statistics include those from the Valley. So in reality startups located in other parts of the country are closer to the lower end of the spectrum.Serial entrepreneurs get funded more so than 1st timers. With these odds, why entrepreneurship?
Because working at a large company can be a soul-sucking drag.With the exception of folks like Mark Cuban and early stage VCs at Andressen Horowitz, investors in other parts of the country are value based investors. So what creates value for investors? - YOU- More risk taking + having a Big Vision
So how do you make people see your vision.GumptionNo fear of failure Fail early, fail oftenCapacity to pivot or shift your idea, go to market, concept Capacity to listen, process and execute. Be coachable
Ways to build valueLook for patterns of pain in the region (e.g. big data, platform as a service)Scalable Biz Modeldistribution channels thru APIs e.g. Facebook Marketing API, Linkedin API – announced last weekContent plays open API to creation platforms – Bigstock/CafePress/Emma partnershipSalesforce.com [app exchange and now Dreamforce]Barriers- Don’t have to be technology based Patentswere in style back in the 90s but have largely fallen out of favor.-1st mover advantage e.g. Twitter, YouTubeStrong team = brings us to the 2nd misconception
This misconception is a variant of “the grass is always greener” that there is always a more conducive city to start your startup. Since a strong management team is so impt if you are planning on raising funds, talent acquisition is one of the most important activities a founder can undertake. Good idea, well articulated in a pitch can help you attract talent.Don’t restrict yourself to geography
Finding talent or selecting a startup to join is just like dating. Network. Tap friends and your network.
People who want to change the world = great hires
Once you find talent, make them feel valued. They are part of making your vision a reality.
Misnomer: don’t need a co-founder.Starting a startup is sometimes a lonely, gut-wrenching experience. Another person to bounce ideas off of is impt. Advisors, investors, mentors but ultimately having someone in the trenches with you is invaluable.
In music:There would be no U2 without Bono(words) + the Edge (music)No Rolling Stones w/out Mick Jagger(words) + Keith Richards (music)Lady Gagas, Jeff Bezos, are few and far between. Even Jobs has Wozniak.There are investors in the US who won’t invest in a company that has only 1 founder. Techstars, 500 startups, Y-combinator, flashpoint don’t accept companies with only 1 founder.
Some of the most successful startups have multiple foundersZuckerberg had Sandberg (Sandberg is not technically a co-founder but might as well be one)Twitter: Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone, Evan WilliamsNetscape: Marc Andreesen had Larry Clark
Atlanta: Chris Klaus had Tom Noonan – ISS bought by IBM $1bLeland Strange had Bonnie Herron – invested in multiple companies that had multi-million exitsCo-founder doesn’t mean he/she has 50% of the company50/50 is a bad idea49/51 betterFind a co-founder who complements you. skill, personality, etc. Agree on well-defined areas of responsibility (1 person in each area who is accountable for that area.)
Trust within the team is crucial.
And as the Queen of soul says RESPECTCompanies with bickering co-founders can and have gotten their companies taken away from them.
One of the biggest misnomers over there. Which sounds kind of like what Tim Oreilly says
So as in the music industry, how do write that next hit that goes platinum?Fortunately, several books have been written that have become the de facto text books for startups.
Heart of the lean startup Eliminating waste and constant iteration Borrowed from Lean MFGAgile development methodologies and frameworksGithub, Heroku etc are all manifestations of this way of building a company
Heart of the Steve Blank way:Business Model Canvas - 9 panels and a wayto think about your business. Twitter’s BMC as a sampleCreate hypothesis about each panel, test and validateMost impt = customer discovery process
Customer Discovery leads to validation of hypothesis or pivot. You have to “get out of the building” to see if your idea resonates.Good way to turn a mistake into an insight. But it all takes time….Benefit of this method = create potential customersWhy? - people feel bought in - some become supporters of your productWhy do they participate? - Be a part of something new, cool and disruptive
Final thoughts:Have a big vision but develop milestones and execute against those. There is no such thing as an overnight success.
Calif leads in deals and dollars but the Southeast is a fast followerApril 2011- March 2012
Startups, Tech and Rock 'n' Roll
“Startups, Tech & Rock „n‟ Roll” Jacqui Chew, iFusion Marketing Dec 5, 2012Hosted by SG Geek Girls, Gamemaki Amazon Web Services Singapore
ResourcesThis is not meant to be a definitive list of resources. Instead,these are some of the ones that I read/use regularly. Tools Blogs https://www.leanlaunchlab.com/ http://www.avc.com/ http://personapp.spookstudio.com/ http://www.thisisgoingtobebig.com/ http://www.gliffy.com/uses/wireframe-software/ http://mixergy.com/ http://www.balsamiq.com/products/mockups http://www.askthevc.com/wp/ http://sendgrid.com/ http://davidcummings.org/ http://mandrill.com/ http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog/ http://pandodaily.com/ Angel “Water Coolers” http://techcrunch.com/ http://gust.com/ http://searchengineland.com/ https://angel.co/