One clear trend in the US today is that state and local governments are starving for more tax revenues. Look at the major cities and counties that have gone bankrupt, and pay attention to all the budget cuts being announced. The Presidential contest over Federal taxation is going to be the headline for the next few weeks, but I personally think the country as a whole cannot to continue to function in the manner to which we have grown accustomed without additional taxation at all levels applied to those who can afford it. We’re damaging our educational system and our physical infrastruc
On July 13 Salesforce.com sponsored a seminar on Sales & Business Development at the ATI. ATI’s Aruni Gunasegaram moderated a panel consisting of Adam Berman of TVA Medical, Shelia Burns of Luminex, Jason Mathias of HomeAway, and Randy Potts, recently of Convio.
Much of the discussion focused on the issue of finding the right sales talent for a startup. Here are some of the points raised:
Conversations with a number of entrepreneurs in Austin and Atlanta this week got me focused on the concept of “MVP” – Minimally Viable Product. In this era of lean startups, and particularly those that are mobile apps, this approach is often recommended. “Just get something out the door fast and see if the dogs will eat the dog food.” Then risk your capital, or your investors’ capital, when the dogs give you some proof along with the woof. (Sorry couldn’t help that.)
This has been a week of pitches for one of the businesses I’m involved in, and I’ll be seeing five more in a Capital Factory practice session this afternoon. Whether you’re seeking to recruit a key person, to motivate an employee, to make a sale, or to land an investment, as an entrepreneur you’re always pitching. That has to become your most finely honed skill. The great successes I’ve seen have been the ones where the out-front person could make the pitch under any circumstances and cause good things to happen.
Last week brought a range of experiences including two days at the ATI’s Clean Energy Venture Summit. This event was rich in content and included the expected array of science-based projects but also a surprising amount of discussion about connected devices and their role in energy conservation. Others more focused on energy than I Tweeted a running transcript of the event (#CEVS2011), and I direct your attention there for more information. It was good to see Ben Hill (and
Peter Drucker famously said: “the purpose of a business is to create a customer.” However, in my travels through the investor scene I believe today the emphasis is more on retaining that customer. The era of lean startups and easy 3-day creation of businesses whose sole product is an app is flooding the market with shiny new objects that can capture a customer’s attention. It’s very easy to see why yesterday’s toy can get discarded in favor of today’s, and why apps can easily get displaced to that 20th screen on your iPhone and forgotten. I’m familiar with numerous examples of roaring s
The Wall Street Journal Saturday featured an article on the “high beta” rich – those who own multiple mansions and multiple jets one day, nothing the next, and then may well bounce back to the top. I can name a long list of people in this category, perhaps the most notable being the Ted Turner of a few years back. Turner was “all in” on every iteration of his original television empire, but fortunately his major bets always paid off. He is now well beyond the high beta stage of his life.
We may or may not be the world, but as entrepreneurs we are surely what we can finance.
As I tallied up 2011, I realized that I had reviewed, evaluated, judged, advised, or opined on well over 1000 start-up or early stage deals, and I expect that trend to continue in 2012. This is something I enjoy doing, for many reasons. It’s interesting to see the worldwide patterns that come and go in creative startup minds, and it’s always a particular joy to meet aspirational young entrepreneurs in hot pursuit of their dreams.
You’ve no doubt seen multi-year financial projections prepared by accountants. You get a plethora of spreadsheets showing income statements, cash flows, balance sheets, capex, assumptions, amortizations, tax estimates and all manner of interlinking numbers from sheet to shining sheet. These thorough presentations have their place and are worthy products from anyone training in the accounting profession.