Building Informal Entrepreneurial Networks Kirk R. Hill Founder of the Maine Entrepreneurs Network
Watcha talking about Willis? <ul><li>Who Am I? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Background </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Experience </li...
Who Am I? <ul><li>Maine native – grew up in L/A </li></ul><ul><li>Attended MIT from 1990 – 1994 </li></ul><ul><li>Started ...
What is an Entrepreneur? <ul><li>Adventures of an Incurable Optimist </li></ul><ul><li>My Way or the Highway </li></ul><ul...
Challenges for Entrepreneurs <ul><li>Find resources: time, people, money </li></ul><ul><li>Making critical business decisi...
What’s In Common Here? <ul><li>Finding a needle in a haystack </li></ul><ul><li>Putting toothpaste back into the tube </li...
Entrepreneurs Collaborating <ul><li>The Solution … </li></ul><ul><li>Provide an informal forum in which entrepreneurs can ...
Why? <ul><li>Wanted to collaborate with like-minded entrepreneurs </li></ul><ul><li>Needed to find entrepreneurial experti...
How the Group Started <ul><li>Created the LinkedIn group in July 2008 which grew to over 50 members in the first month </l...
Format of the Monthly Meetings <ul><li>Starts with ½ hour (or so) of networking </li></ul><ul><li>Quick introduction of gr...
Previous Topics of Discussion <ul><li>Differences between sales, marketing, and branding </li></ul><ul><li>Revenue models ...
Between the Meetings <ul><li>Lively discussion boards at LinkedIn </li></ul><ul><li>Promotion of additional events of inte...
Summary <ul><li>Entrepreneurs are a rare breed </li></ul><ul><li>Face many challenges </li></ul><ul><li>Informal forums te...
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EDCM Presentation

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Presentation given on June 19, 2009 at the EDCM event.

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  • Maine native Grew up in Auburn also known as L/A Graduated from Auburn public high school in 1990. Went to MIT from 1990 – 1994 earned a Bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering Stayed in Boston for about a decade Started first company Quai, Inc. – computer consulting company Started several other companies
  • Example: Just to give an example, oftentimes my wife and I end the day with me rambling on about all of the business ideas that I have while she is desperately trying to get to sleep and in the next morning I frequently am anxiously awaiting for her to just barely open her eyes so that I can barrage her with the million ideas that I have had since I woke up.
  • Entrepreneurs are a rare breed of people that take special care and feeding due to the personality traits that make them successful entrepreneurs. Because of that informal forums tend to work better for Entrepreneurs than formal forums because in informal forums, Entrepreneurs can feel free to participate in the discussion and feel more like they are brainstorming with peers than being told what to do. However, it is important that these informal forums have strong leadership and moderation so that no one Entrepreneur takes over and alienates the rest. Finally existing social media tools play a very important role in keeping the group alive and active between face to face events. In particular LinkedIn is a great resource for sharing professional information and for disseminating information about events that are of interest to Entrepreneurs.
  • EDCM Presentation

    1. 1. Building Informal Entrepreneurial Networks Kirk R. Hill Founder of the Maine Entrepreneurs Network
    2. 2. Watcha talking about Willis? <ul><li>Who Am I? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Background </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Experience </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What defines an Entrepreneur? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Personality traits </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Challenges </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How to foster collaboration amongst Entrepreneurs? </li></ul><ul><li>Questions and Answers </li></ul>
    3. 3. Who Am I? <ul><li>Maine native – grew up in L/A </li></ul><ul><li>Attended MIT from 1990 – 1994 </li></ul><ul><li>Started first company within a year </li></ul><ul><li>Started several other companies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Real estate investment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Self defense training and seminar </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Auto repair shop </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Boston based startup </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Business incubation company </li></ul></ul>
    4. 4. What is an Entrepreneur? <ul><li>Adventures of an Incurable Optimist </li></ul><ul><li>My Way or the Highway </li></ul><ul><li>Let’s Head to the Races </li></ul><ul><li>Never give up. Never surrender. </li></ul><ul><li>Try, Try Again </li></ul><ul><li>Acts like just drank 10 cups of coffee </li></ul>
    5. 5. Challenges for Entrepreneurs <ul><li>Find resources: time, people, money </li></ul><ul><li>Making critical business decisions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Products and/or services </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Revenue model </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Compensation models </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Company structure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Financing strategy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Angel/VC funding </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Bootstrap </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Marketing strategy </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. What’s In Common Here? <ul><li>Finding a needle in a haystack </li></ul><ul><li>Putting toothpaste back into the tube </li></ul><ul><li>Herding cats </li></ul><ul><li>Licking your elbow </li></ul><ul><li>Cutting down the mightiest tree …with a herring </li></ul><ul><li>These are all easier than </li></ul><ul><li>Getting a group of entrepreneurs to participate in a formal forum </li></ul>
    7. 7. Entrepreneurs Collaborating <ul><li>The Solution … </li></ul><ul><li>Provide an informal forum in which entrepreneurs can discuss common issues, share ideas, and brainstorm solutions </li></ul><ul><li>Maine Entrepreneurs LinkedIn Group </li></ul>
    8. 8. Why? <ul><li>Wanted to collaborate with like-minded entrepreneurs </li></ul><ul><li>Needed to find entrepreneurial expertise in Maine </li></ul><ul><li>Looking for business partners </li></ul><ul><li>No similar group existed </li></ul><ul><li>Because I could </li></ul>
    9. 9. How the Group Started <ul><li>Created the LinkedIn group in July 2008 which grew to over 50 members in the first month </li></ul><ul><li>First face-to-face in August 2008, 12 people came to the first meeting </li></ul><ul><li>Monthly meetings ever since with attendance increasing to 40 – 60 people </li></ul><ul><li>LinkedIn Group has over 650 people </li></ul>
    10. 10. Format of the Monthly Meetings <ul><li>Starts with ½ hour (or so) of networking </li></ul><ul><li>Quick introduction of group </li></ul><ul><li>15 – 30 second elevator pitches </li></ul><ul><li>Few words about the discussion topic </li></ul><ul><li>Moderated group discussion </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Keep alpha type personalities in check </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Make sure everyone gets heard </li></ul></ul>
    11. 11. Previous Topics of Discussion <ul><li>Differences between sales, marketing, and branding </li></ul><ul><li>Revenue models – used mCaddie </li></ul><ul><li>Pitching potential investors </li></ul><ul><li>Marketing a product – used a specific product for the discussion </li></ul><ul><li>Identifying and mitigating risk </li></ul><ul><li>Creating a Board of Advisors </li></ul>
    12. 12. Between the Meetings <ul><li>Lively discussion boards at LinkedIn </li></ul><ul><li>Promotion of additional events of interest to the group </li></ul><ul><li>Meet with other entrepreneurs </li></ul><ul><li>Promote the group at every chance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Twitter </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Networking events </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Business contacts </li></ul></ul>
    13. 13. Summary <ul><li>Entrepreneurs are a rare breed </li></ul><ul><li>Face many challenges </li></ul><ul><li>Informal forums tend to work better than formal forums </li></ul><ul><li>Strong moderation to keep alpha personalities in check </li></ul><ul><li>Existing social media tools play important role </li></ul>

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