This article originally appeared on Forbes HERE From a venture capitalist’s point of view, there are no “trick” questions. However, certain questions can be tricky for an entrepreneur to answer. Below are five common questions an entrepreneur will encounter when seeking venture funding. These questions, which manifest themselves in numerous forms, all share a common underlying objective: to divine your motivations, expectations and desires. Handled appropriately, these questions provide investors a window into an entrepreneurs’ soul, which minimizes the chances of a future misalignment.
What American tech company is the coolest? A subjective, yet important question. The rest of the country may be in a recession, but hiring within the tech community remains highly competitive. Talented employees look for a number of tangible and intangible factors when deciding among multiple employment offers, including a company's cool factor. As such, a reputation as a cool company is a competitive advantage to be cultivated and coveted. With that in mind, Forbes readers have an opportunity to help crown America's Coolest Tech Company via a new crowdsource polling widget, created by Ranker, a Rincon Venture Partners' portfolio company.
Business Plans are dead. Most sophisticated investors ignore them, focusing their attention on an entrepreneur's pitch and presentation materials, financial forecast and executive summary. As noted in Entrepreneurs Shouldn't Pitch Their Ideas To Venture Capitalists, most sophisticated investors place their bets on people rather than opportunities. As such, the primary goal of your executive summary is to open the door to an in-person meeting.
Note: This is an installment in the Iconic Advice series. Other installments include: Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, Mark Cuban, Richard Branson, Walt Disney, Mark Zuckerberg and Michael Dell. Make no mistake, successful entertainers are entrepreneurs. They must compete with tens of thousands of other performers who are all pursuing the same customer dollars. At the outset of their careers, they are forced to market themselves with little to no budget and differentiate their product so that they gain adequate attention without alienating too many potential customers. It is too easy to say that an artist’s success is simply a matter of luck. Although a handful of performers achieve their goals soon after launching their careers, for most, preparation meeting opportunity is what leads to their success. In fact, many of the same precepts which lead to a startup’s success are also precursors to a performer’s stardom. You do not have to enjoy (or even respect) the music, costumes and outlandish behavior of pop-culture divas to learn from their entrepreneurial tenacity and drive.
Rapidly and repeatedly hiring star employees is a competitive advantage. Although this is a core competency that must be honed over time, there is a cadre of SaaS hiring tools that the world’s leading tech companies deploy to their advantage. No matter how rapidly a startup is growing, it can never afford to sacrifice employee quality as a means of achieving its hiring goals. A hiring mistake early in a startup’s life can be expensive, especially when opportunity costs are considered. The loss in productivity involved in transitioning a struggling employee out an organization, coupled with the time required to conduct a subsequent job search, can cripple a small company’s ability to achieve its strategic objectives.
This article originally appeared on TechCrunch HERE. Successful Olympic athletes share a number of common qualities with entrepreneurs; including boundless energy, uncompromising tenacity and a willingness to innovate. Such innovations include new training routines, inventive diets, and novel gameplay tactics. Entrepreneurs are well served to pay particular attention to two of the most innovative Olympic athletes: Dick Fosbury and David Berkoff, the former of which I discuss in the following 2-minute video.
This article originally appeared on Forbes HERE. As part of UC Santa Barbara’s Distinguished Lecture Series, serial entrepreneur, CEO Coach and Author Lex Sisney shared a preview of his newly released book, Organizational Physics: The Science of Growing a Business. As Co-Founder and CEO of Commission Junction, Lex grew the company from two employees to become the de facto leader in the world of affiliate marketing, beating Google in the process. To this day, Commission Junction remains the dominant player despite Google's significant investment of time, money and resources. Lex's new book, Organizational Physics, is compelling, as it applies the fundamental laws of physics to the world of business. By viewing companies through this prism, one can diagnose organizational problems and identify corresponding solutions, irrespective of a company's size, the markets it serves or even the personalities of its senior executives - which makes the book a powerful toolkit for business leaders. By applying the laws of physics to organizations, the author helps the reader, “understand how your business and team really work… (and) get at the underlying causes of what’s making them fail or succeed.”
This article originally appeared on Forbes HERE. I always enjoy a great guerilla marketing story, such as TestFlight’s use of T-shirts and Tacos to gain Steve Jobs’ attention at Apple’s 2011 developers’ conference. Thus, I was inspired when I heard about the impact collaboration-in-the-cloud innovator Central Desktop made at the April 2012 San Francisco ad:tech conference. Rather than hire the clichéd booth babes (which I have always found to be more than a bit sleazy), the company secured the services of a cigar-smoking, bearded angel with an exaggerated New York accent. By adhering to the following guerilla marketing precepts, Central Desktop’s scruffy angel not only grabbed the attention of the show’s 8,900 attendees, he also effectively conveyed the company’s unique value prop.
This article originally appeared on Forbes HERE. Serial entrepreneur, venture investor and startup accelerator pioneer Brad Feld has notoriously mocked traditional marketing throughout his career. Rejecting the paint-by-numbers approach to corporate communications deployed by most marketing executives, Brad has embraced unconventional guerilla marketing tactics to help establish his venture capital firm, Foundry Group, as a thought leader in early-stage tech investing. “…companies should… focus on building amazing products. If you have amazing products, the marketing of those products is trivial. If you have $hitty products, the marketing is impossible. Instead of focusing on marketing as an activity… integrate it into (your) products.” Brad Feld, Managing Director, Foundry Group
Coull Offers Advertisers Video Skimlinks This article originally appeared on Forbes HERE. As noted in YouTubers Come Of Age - Google Scores A Solid Return On Its Video Development Fund, many YouTube personalities are sensitive to the nature of the ads associated with their content. Some reject pre-roll ads because they increase the viewer abandonment rate. Others shun translucent run-of-site Google ads, because they are distracting and monetize at extremely low rates. In addition, a number of advertisers have invested significant resources into creating libraries of video content which effectively communicate brand and product attributes but are incapable of eliciting a particular action, such as: clicking to a landing page, completing a lead form, or initiating a purchase. Fortunately, several startups have devised tools which make it possible for content creators to maintain the entertainment integrity of their videos while embedding relevant calls-to-action. Such solutions combine the power of a video’s capacity to inform with a direct response ad’s ability to facilitate a desired action.