Michael Zeto of AT&T and former Founder and CEO of Proximus Mobility (sold) kicking things off for Mobility LIVE! Day 2’s keynote!
Day 2 from the Mobility LIVE! conference in Midtown was a full-day affair chock-full of some crazy interesting, provocative speakers. (I was told I should use more “interesting” language to elicit laughs and be more memorable. So for you reading this, you know who you are… you’re welcome.)
Yesterday’s post for Day 1 was much longer than I wanted to type, but it happened, and now I’m afraid of this post because… well, like I said, it’s a full-day rather than the half-day of yesterday. Let’s cut to the chase, that’s all you want to read anyways!
Okay, so here we go — Day 2 Highlights:
Keynote spearheaded by Michael Zeto of AT&T (former CEO of Proximus Mobility — acquired in 2013). Zeto touched on the many strengths of Atlanta as the central hub of the growth and evolution of Mobility.
  • Global data traffic to grow 13x in 2017 from today. That’s an outrageous number, but I’m not arguing
  • Georgia was ranked No. 5 in “app intensity” by the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA). App intensity is the number of app economy jobs compared to the overall jobs in the state
  • Razorfish, the marketing/ digital advertising/ etc. agency, is spearheading the Atlanta Pulse initiative to bring together all the happenings around Atlanta into a common platform. Gone are the days (to come anyways) of searching Facebook for what friends are recommending, Yelp! for restaurants, etc.
  • 38% of 2-year-olds have operated a mobile device; 13-years-old… the average age of the first phone (see Common Sense Media)
David Christopher, CMO of AT&T Mobility, shared some of the Top 5 trends he and the company sees during the keynote.
  • Sees mobility in two lights — Leadership & Innovation and Scale (able to capture opportunity now)
  • Cites Forbes’ 2014 ranking of Atlanta as the number 3 best city for young entrepreneurs (see Forbes)
  • Five main trends: Relationship marketing, video, smarter smartphone, wearables, education
  • For Relationship Marketing, the key is marketing at SCALE! That is, how are organizations reaching consumers on a relevant, personable context?
  • Customers believe word-of-mouth over advertising to the tune of 92%!
  • Use advanced analytics to engage audiences
  • David cited Atlanta-based InsightPool as a key player in Relationship Marketing saying, “Delivering sincerity at scale”
  • Video-wise, content should be available anytime, anywhere. AT&T obviously plays a significant role in this with its large LTE network (and beyond)
  • For wearables, the trouble is getting people to actually want to wear it. David cites 75% of people know of wearables, but only 9% want to wear it
  • Need to blend high tech with high fashion. enter: Atlanta-based Memi – smart jewelry “made for and by women”
  • Smarter smartphones really involves making the smartphone the keystone to everyday life including, but not limited to: the connected home, car, TV, music, health, etc.
  • David talked about FIXD, a startup by several Georgia Tech grads who have introduced a way to plug a dongle to the car’s OBD port that sends data to your smartphone to share information including if you have a warning light — what’s that mean? What’s the impact if you ignore? What’s the potential repair estimate? etc.
  • On the education front, David sees a gap to fill in the next generation of STEM leaders
  • David showcases Great Parents Academy who works hard to develop education apps that are engaging for kids
Jeff Mitchell, Vice President of Sales of AirWatch got some airtime to share a couple tidbits, too.
  • Today, we’re in the “Age of the Customer” — this was a prevalent theme throughout the conference where the Customers (users in most cases) have the power to select on-demand what they want to engage in
  • Shift in focus to “How to win in the age of the Customer?”
  • There’s also a shift from “system of record” to “system of engagement”. For this, look no further than Uber which disrupted one of the oldest, entrenched industries
  • Also, look at how to bring social into the enterprise to engage employees (B2E — Business to Employees)
“Prove It: Mobile Media Drives Measurable Actions” session led by Millennial Media’s VP of Sales, Alia Lamborghini (side note: what an incredible last name…)
  • Panel included: Troy Brown of MSL Group (a PR agency) who is bringing app development (and really acumen) to the agency; Sanarr McLaughlin is the Manager of Interactive Marketing for InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG); Chris Bigda of The Coca-Cola Company over Connections Planning and Investments; Lisa Cantrell of Turner Broadcasting serving as the Director of Digital Strategy and Activations; and Erin Arnett, an Account Director of Yahoo!
  • For Chris, “connections planning” includes the paid/ owned media
  • Lisa must consider the sizeable and highly variable audience to which Turner broadcasts to with channels including CNN, TBS, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, etc.
  • Per Alia, 86% of time spent on mobile is in-app vs. internet (see Forbes)
  • There’s a growing interest and attention in anonymous content. Think: Snapchat (kind of), [Atlanta’s own] Yik Yak, etc.
  • The Coca-Cola Company doesn’t store so much consumer data (except for owned data through programs like Coke Rewards). Instead, the Company partners with other companies for more data (like agencies, McDonald’s, etc.)
  • Mobile marketing is more “finite” by being a lot easier to measure than TV (conversions, impressions, etc.). There’s a better sense of Return on Engagement
  • One area of opportunity is the growing fragmentation of screen sizes including this “phatblet” phenomenon whereby many companies are designing mobile web-responsive sites. However, their digital ads are not properly formatted
“Think Outside the Bricks and Mortar: Understanding How Mobile is Moving Retailers” session led by Mike Neumeier, Principal of the Arketi Group (B2B marketing/ PR agency)
  • Panel included: David Wilkinson, VP of Global Channel Sales for NCR; Jeffrey Smith, the COO of PeterBrooke Chocolatier; David Kaiser of Great American Cookies as a Vice President; and Brooks Robinson, Co-Founder and CEO of Atlanta’s Springbot
  • First, what a SWEET group of panelists! (See what I did there? Well, they said it before me…)
  • For Wilkinson, he’s focused on the omni-channel experience. Mobile is really an evolution of the physical store front
  • Per Wilkinson, the “consumer driving the experience” — not different from the general theme of the conference
  • Jeffrey noted how his company’s many stores were moving towards mobile Point-of-Sale to better engage the Customer right as he/ she walks into the store. In fact, he was touting NCR as his POS of choice with Silver to leverage iPads
  • There’s a shift in the mentality and even the demographic of the employee behind the retailer when utilizing a mobile POS including getting out from behind the counter which used to be a natural barrier that isolated the cashier from the customer
  • 95% of PeterBrooke customers are women on the regular. Irregular probably being around Valentine’s Day or when men get in trouble with their significant others…
  • The demographic for PeterBrooke is also a little older where some consumers still don’t have smartphones. So for the Company, the phone number is key as an identifier (reminds me of WhatsApp)
  • For Kaiser and Great American Cookies, they have 5 different brands (including the cookie cake company we all know and love (okay, me especially), Marble Slab Creamery, etc.)
  • Kaiser and Company are looking at mobile as a means to have a strong online order platform
  • Like PeterBrooke, Great American Cookies is looking at NCR for Silver as their POS of choice. I’m wondering now if this was all a set-up that the two retailers are touting a fellow panel member’s new product… Hmm…
  • The cost and set-up of using a mobile POS is minimal with incredible benefits including the ability to engage the EMPLOYEES through learning management. Also, these POS systems enable better customer experiences by connecting loyalty programs
  • Great American Cookies noticed 60% of visitors a couple years ago to the mobile site also signed up for their loyalty program (that’s a great attach rate…)
  • For Springbot (very cool company that I’ve heard a lot about in the Atlanta startup scene), they can see data for hundreds of stores. They’ve noticed big shifts of mobile traffic from 19 to 28% over the last year
  • Like the earlier panel “Prove It”, Brooks sees a lot of merchants forgetting to mind the message and formats of their email marketing campaigns. If emails aren’t formatted properly for the mobile device, merchants aren’t going to reach customers (who can read that??!)
  • Speed of the site from an infrastructure perspective is a growing critical element… one that even Google’s ranking system takes into account
  • Springbot sends nightly email with recommendations to the customer (the retailer) on improvements — go beyond just dashboards and reports by actually suggesting
  • David Kaiser is a HUGE advocate for a simple box that can aggregate and consolidate data across multiple POS systems. For Great American Cookies’ franchises, they can sit on different POS’s… getting meaningful data can be a challenge
  • A lot of excitement and interest in Apple Pay as well as Apple Passbook as means to not only pay via mobile to engage new, younger audiences, but also the ability to replace merchant-specific apps. Most consumers really don’t want to download and install new apps
  • Merchant-specific apps really have to add a lot of value in order to get engagement
Great. I just wrote another lengthy post… I didn’t even attend the last two session rounds, either. This was more or less an extrapolation of my notes I took. Very interesting insights, and I’ll need a few days (probably a week for next week’s blog post since I just wrote two this week for this) to digest and share my own personal thoughts.
Overall, really great event, and I’m excited it’s mobilizing Atlanta’s influential companies to gather and share. I attended the event for some additional inspiration in addition to satiate my technological interest. I’m looking forward to the event’s growth next year with perhaps some additional, event-friendly venues (you should use local startup Gather to help, Metro Atlanta Chamber!) as well as integrating some more startup companies — mostly early-stage as the there were a number of advanced startups present. Adding in some foreign companies (beyond Georgian borders) will be good, too.
Also, event somewhat aside, it’s evident Atlanta is indeed sitting on the cutting edge and as a central hub for the mobile (r-)evolution. It’s exciting to hear all the stats beyond shown up on the projectors for all the great things Atlanta is being known for as well as the growth of the industry and the opportunities that abound for this great city. Heck, just look around at all the recruiting companies in attendance. Also, shout out to my under grad alma mater The Georgia Institute of Technology for getting all sorts of recognition and a source for a lot of the innovation happening in mobile. You could really see and hear and really witness how Georgia Tech is a major catalyst for the ecosystem. It’s all great news for not just Atlanta and the state of Georgia, but also for the country and the world.
To next year’s Mobility LIVE! conference! See you there.
Mobility LIVE! put on by the Metro Atlanta Chamber is in its second year September 23-24. The conference calls Atlanta home with some of the most influential enterprises (especially, less on startups) around the mobile [r]evolution

So this was a cool little surprise that I learned about a month ago that there was going to be this conference called Mobility LIVE! in Atlanta hosted by the good people of the Metro Atlanta Chamber. The conference runs for two days bringing together some of the most influential companies together to share their thoughts on mobile technology, and how they’re companies are “mobilizing” to both capture the opportunity and address it.

Mobile’s obviously not new, and it was touted as the greatest inflection points since the invention (or coming about) of the internet.
Day 1 was really just a half-day, and I sat in on a couple sessions as well as the “after-party” at Opera. (What an interesting place Opera is when the lights are actually on and the place isn’t full of… characters.)
So here are some random collection of thoughts and observations from Day 1:

Business Transformed Session starring Brett Cooper (CEO of BlueFletch Mobile (a mobile development company)) who moderated the panel, Jaspal Sagoo (CTO of the CDC), Margaret Martin(CEO of Merlin Mobility, Inc.), Matt Jones (GM of Mobile at Home Depot), and Anthony Gallippi(Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of BitPay)
  • From Jaspal, the opportunity in mobile lies in “speed to science”. That is, the ability to empower epidemiologists in the field to quickly analyze data. The CDC, as many people are aware of the Ebola outbreak in Africa are hearing about, must deal with lots of issues around analysis and the speed to which they can understand pandemics. The U.S. is obviously incredibly structured with robust communication lines. In Africa, these are luxuries nowhere to be found.
  • From Margaret, Merlin Mobility sees her company’s endeavor into Augmented Reality as a key piece in the future to empower largely two functions: sales and training. From a sales perspective, contractors or merchants can super-impose images of potential products and how they fit thereby enabling faster, more effective sales opportunities. Very interesting to see how they’re also working with companies in the entertainment industry (like amusement parks) to engage customers in situations like long queues.
  • I got a chance to catch up with Margaret later in the day, and she didn’t mention “marketing” explicitly, but she does see marketing as a function of sales, just much earlier in the funnel.
  • Per Matt, Home Depot sees mobile as an additive experience/ tool for consumers in the stores. For many retailers, mobile means “showrooming” and lost sales. For Matt, he sees mobile as a way to empower customers who walk into Home Depot’s 2,000 stores as means to search for products, validate products, and ultimately, make a buying decision.
  • Anthony (“Tony”) of BitPay sees mobile as a very young, nascent world in payments. Many payment processing startups and companies are built on credit cards which was largely structured 50, 60, 70 years ago. The world is changing to embrace more digital currencies where open structures will dictate real regulation versus the highly lobbied regulations of today’s financial institutions.
  • There’s a feeling of excitement and apprehension to Apple Pay – Apple’s solution/ foray into mobile payments announced during Apple’s recent Worldwide Developer Conference. The general feeling is that Apple has a way of creating markets and creating inflection points where previous companies may have struggled to get significant handholds. However, there’s still lingering effects of Apple duds including Apple Maps that reminds these Execs that not everything Apple touches will turn to gold.
  • Tony sees Apple Pay as a great enabler for larges swathes of the market to start embracing their mobile phones as means for payment. He likes to look at emerging markets in this respect as in many emerging markets, most people don’t have bank accounts. Bank accounts are for the wealthy. However, everyone has a cell phone, and for many citizens in emerging markets, payments can include the exchange of minutes.
  • Mitigating against the risk of Amazon or other ecommerce sites, Home Depot cites its competitive advantages as actually BEING those 2,000 stores. It gives Home Depot incredible reach and localism where they may branch into more delivery options beyond just the “ship-to-store-for-free”. Instead, they may start exploring “ship-to-consignee” from its stores. That is, each one of its stores may be mini-distribution centers. Now, imagine how great that would be for its network of professionals and contractors – who account for 33% of Home Depot’s business – that may need delivery of goods same-day.
  • Talk of drones? Meh. It’s cool, but there are some heavy regulations on that. And besides, delivering a book is cool, but delivering a “bumper” would be bit taller (higher?) task.
  • Margaret sees a growing desire for hands-free applications including leveraging augmented (and virtual) reality technologies. Things like wearables including Google’s Glass are just the tip of the iceberg now.
  • Tony sees the next great wave of opportunities in globalization/ global commerce. The challenge for this today is transactions (payments) across borders. With digital currencies like Bitcoins, those challenges can be greatly addressed.

Hack-Back Invitational Finalist presentations… for the last 30 days, teams create hacks (technology solutions) to address problems for three major social enterprises home-based in Atlanta – American Cancer Society, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and Points of Light.

  • For the American Cancer Society, it looked like the major problem points/ opportunities they tasked teams to do was utilizing technology to connect the community of the Cancer Survivors Network (CSN). That could include opportunities connect those undergoing treatment, those who have undergone treatment, survivors, etc.
  • The Boys and Girls Clubs of America looked to showcase the positive effects of clubs as part of its programs for prospects, members, and those affiliated with the members (including family members, friends, etc.). Hacks were largely built around club discovery and showcasing those who have stories from their experiences and how they’ve leveraged those experiences into their present.
  • The Points of Light organization seemed to want to address areas including getting involved via volunteer opportunities and creating greater awareness of the organization’s efforts.
  • Great to see so many hackers on the finalist teams with what seemed like other non-entrepreneurial backgrounds. Some teams were formed from their work colleagues who just wanted to work together to help solve these problems for great organizations.
  • One of the Magentic teams showed off its cool augmented reality hack as a way to raise awareness of the Points of Light historical landmarks. That is, if you were in D.C., for example, you could hover your phone (with the app) over a point of reference such as a landmark, and get a super-imposed image of a famous figure to share his/ her historical achievement. Their vision was to also sell “coins” so you could really learn more about different landmarks and the like without having to actually travel. The proceeds from selling these coins would go to Points of Light.

Other interesting things included the Tino Mantella (CEO of the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG)) speaking after the Hack-Back presentations about the outstanding demand for engineers and programmers here in the state of Georgia.

  • Many CIOs are citing 6 months to fill some programming needs.
  • With the Governor of Georgia, TAG is working to implement ‘Code & Programming’ courses for credit in all high schools àgo beyond the 100 out of 400 high school programs who actually have advanced placement (AP) courses for programming today

Overall, the conference has been positive, and it’s great to see a lot of large, established companies come together to share their visions on the mobile front. The conference hasn’t been without its hiccups (mostly technical, ironically enough), but it’s in its 2nd year, and looks promising for future set-ups. Though, I’m a little disappointed there aren’t more sessions specifically about startups and innovation as well as even a tour of Tech Square so close by. Either way, I’m excited for some great speakers and panels tomorrow. Hopefully, I’ll continue to make some great networking connections, and get some interesting inspiration for what’s coming Tomorrow.
What are your thoughts on any of the findings above? What questions do you have or would you ask any of these companies?
I read a lot. Not books, but I read a lot of articles and blog posts and the like. When I do, I try to diversify a bit of what I read, but inevitably, I tend to read those that are more or less related to entrepreneurship, leadership, psychology, etc. Naturally, they tend to sound very similar to one another in some way, and I doubt mine is too different – except, sprinkle in some of my anecdotes and writing style.
So recently, I read a post about a corporate suit-turned-chef – “Fulfillment & Restoration Of The Soul”. But it tasted similar (see what I did there?) to other “pursue your passion” posts with a couple interesting points but one that really stood out. That is, the ending left me with a very, very interesting thought. So much so that I can’t get over it, and I have to write about it now – several hours after I read it but far before the Wednesday this post will eventually be published on.

“Maybe the trick is to make your passion a hobby first and see if you’re finding peace in it.” – simple, right?
A bit of an oversight on my part because whenever I wrote about passion-pursuits and the like, I always felt that it was superfluous to say, “it’s a hobby” or that you’re “living it”, when that’s not the case always. It really SHOULD be explicitly said. At least, that’s how I view it.
The way I’m interpreting this enlightening, yet maybe not so profound (?), piece of advice is simple… is your passion even something you can do as a hobby? Is it something you can find yourself doing repeatedly? Are you actually happy doing it repeatedly? Again, probably not so profound for you, but it’s interesting because as much as I think I know some subjects, it’s great to look at “familiar” things from another perspective and learn about it that way.
Okay, so you’re probably thinking, “Daryl, what the fudge are you talking about?” (Yes, those exact words.) Bear with me. I think the writer here is telling the readers to really try this “passion” that they feel they have. Sometimes, passions are really great interests, but not something you truly want to pursue.
Kind of like these winter melon pastries I get from the Philippines. When I get a couple packs, I freaking love them and will devour them in minutes. However, when I get a big bag of them, after a few packs, I’m disinterested.
It could even be something as simple as you love doing it, but you don’t want it to become your life. You don’t want that passion to creep into a business where now you live and breathe it, and then it ceases to be your passion.
If you really, really love doing analyses and cutting big data, and you think big data is your passion or social media marketing or technology are what drive you, make it a point to integrate elements of those in your life everyday. How’s that feel? Still excited? Are you finding yourself not that interested in new techs, new apps because you think you’ve seen them all? Then maybe technology in the marketing space isn’t where you should pursue an entrepreneurial endeavor.
Pursuing your passion via some entrepreneurial endeavor is great. It’s fantastic! Though, when you intertwine that “personal life” into your “business life” so it all just becomes “life”, maybe it’s not cracked up to be the right move for you after all. To figure that out, as the writer puts it, “make your passion a hobby first and see if you’re finding peace in it.”
Silly profound.
Just checking out what’s under the hood (image source: http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/media/jpg/gedney/med/KY0344.jpg)
So I’ve mentioned powerful systems like Salesforce in the past many times, but truth be told, I had never actually stepped foot in the Salesforce platform. However, when it comes to a CRM, it’s the go-to system. Heck, many of the DC Companies (David Cummings’/ David Cummings-backed) are built with Salesforce in mind – Rivalry for leaderboards and sales coaching [of record], SalesLoft for prospecting, etc.
When I speak to startups these days about Biz Dev roles, curiously, many tout the need for Salesforce experience. This has always been a… well, “curious” thing to me, but I get it. I was once in the Management Consulting world, and I know someone with SAP experience can get up and running much faster than someone without. However, Salesforce isn’t as ridiculous as SAP. Or at least, so I thought. I mean, again, I had never experienced it. My logic was rooted more or less in the many articles, talks, and even YouTube videos I had seen of Salesforce. I always questioned why Salesforce was a “needed skill” rather than a “nice to have”.
Yesterday, I took the first half of my day and spent it at Atlanta Tech Village to “play” in one of my friend’s company’s instances to learn more about Salesforce. I can’t keep preaching about it without having some experience, right? Okay, here are some take-aways.
  • The foundation of Salesforce is built on Leads, Accounts, Opportunities, and Contacts. In fact, check out a quick intro via Rivalry’s blog—“Leads, Accounts, Opportunities, and Contacts in Salesforce: The Basics”.
  • Re-packaged and glorified spreadsheets and Outlook in one. That is to say, when you play with Salesforce, you can quickly see how Salesforce grew so fast because it really is Excel and Outlook repackaged. In the end, many sales people started with cruder products earlier and Salesforce’s structure, the reminders, etc. were familiar already.
  • It’s massive, but also not so. Salesforce reminds me a lot of web templates you can get off the internet (think: ThemeForest). That is, you buy a template, and you get a ton of great features, CSS files, JavaScript, etc. However, you will likely scrap most of it anyways, and focus on a few core pieces relevant to you.
  • You can see its earlier “Big Platform” cloud beginnings. Marc Benioff (Salesforce’s Founder) is a former Oracle Exec. When you click around Salesforce, you can see very similar UI/ UX as some of the other big platform players like Oracle and SAP. Not originally Oracle, but I see similarities with Oracle’s Agile PLM, SAP eSourcing, etc. (full disclosure: I played with these systems three years ago).
  • Salesforce’s power is its core + all the third-party apps. Salesforce is #winning and killing it by being simple, and also the system that holds the data. At the end of the day, it’s hugely simple in concept, and what makes it powerful is integration to other powerful apps through its App Exchange like Rivalry, SalesLoft, Tinder Box, ToutApp, etc.
  • Salesforce is still cumbersome. The opportunity is automating/ mechanizing it. I love tools like those mentioned above, but especially Voxa. Everything Salesforce does, I was doing already in my own setup with spreadsheets. I could make it more powerful with notifications and the like, but really, that’s all it was. As I did Biz Dev for Body Boss and others, the biggest pain in the rear, and ultimately what makes Salesforce powerful is the data that is inputted. From this standpoint, every CRM is still annoying… until you can automate logging events like contact history, adding leads/ contacts, etc. That’s where tools like Voxa which can automatically log your activities and even detect human language to schedule follow-ups that much more powerful. You get around the biggest pain!
  • There are better tools, but they integrate to Salesforce, too. You really don’t need much time in Salesforce to see where it could improve. However, like I said in the bullets before, there are tools that are better and can MAKE Salesforce better. For example, as a pipeline tool, I’m visual guy, and I don’t see Salesforce’s Opportunities list as a great tool. It really just looks like a list. PipeDrive, however, is a much better, visually-oriented tool to manage your pipeline. Luckily, it, too, can integrate to Salesforce.

Obviously the above didn’t just come out of three hours, and okay, maybe I’m not an expert. Some of these were notions I had coming into the learning sessions, but were reinforced. Can’t say anything was dispelled other than Salesforce is really, really easy. I know during my three hours I didn’t play with every module, and maybe one day, I’ll get that opportunity in MY OWN instance. Or, maybe I’ll be a part of simplifying Salesforce into another CRM startup. (Okay, that made me laugh because there are several others that do a decent job.)

At the end of the day (or morning, rather), Salesforce IS powerful. It’s powerful because it’s simplified the structure of customer relationship (seems very sales focused, but not necessarily account management focused, but maybe that’s just the instance I was using) and enabled others to pick up the slack via the App Exchange. They’re really the big platform that profits, but also gives others including startups a chance to build businesses, too, off them. It’s a great ecosystem.
Salesforce is one of those simple tools that doesn’t need to be a “MUST HAVE SKILL” for a sales role. It’s simple enough that anyone can get started very quickly in the matter of hours. At least for me, I’ve seen the beast, and it’s really just a tiny rabbit with a big shadow. It’s not daunting, and I’m glad I got to spend a few hours in a Salesforce user’s shoes. 
Blend in just enough for better positioning… (Image source: http://tinyurl.com/ohhqkoa)
There are ton of MBA vs. Startup articles out there, and no doubt there are those who have very passionate (if not myopic) views on the subject. Like every other research paper, it’s catered to our views. I was even told recently in an interview at a startup that an MBA is largely looked down on in startups. So my view? MBAs suck! No, wait, MBAs are great! No wait…
Does it really matter? Maybe. My view is really that at the end of the day, we make do with what we’ve got. I’ve got that little piece of paper with “Master of Business Administration” and my name on it. I’ve also founded a startup and worked with several others. So maybe I have one of those amazing perspectives cuz I’ve been on both sides.
At the end of the day, the MBA was a great experience. Learning all these different subjects like Finance, Accounting, Marketing, etc. isn’t going to be the real value of the MBA. Instead, it’s really about the connections. So if you’re like me trying to really solve the aches and pains vis-a-vis B2B technology, it’s great to know I have friends and business school connections at companies of all sizes across the world. Essentially, I have some great prospects to ask questions or test out ideas.
At the end of an MBA program, you’ve got a great foundation of all the major business functions. What’s that mean? Well, for one, you know how to talk the talk, walk the walk, you can blend in with the rest of the corporate suits. That then enables you, as an entrepreneur, chameleon-like powers to be able to blend in with potential customers! When we think about customers and how to really sell or even build a product for them, it’s all about empathy and credibility.
You can get some empathy points with a corporate client when you know how companies really work. How does pushing that button or pulling that lever in marketing affect operations at the warehouse? How does inventory play in accounting? Big corporations drive the world even though small companies really employee the lion’s share of the workforce. (Think how big companies lobby and influence government policies. If small companies worked together…) With that, education is still highly valued in big corporations meaning that little sheet of paper gets you in the door as an employee or as a vendor.
Building a startup is like getting the theory behind the practice. Except, you’re also getting the practical lessons. In business school, I learned all these marketing terms, all these little financial models, but when we were building Body Boss, we organically built out the marketing mechanisms. We learned and adapted our sales strategies that was otherwise just talked about in case studies. With Body Boss, we built our own pipeline tracker and indeed, our own crude CRM. We weren’t just handed SalesForce at a major company to run with it. We now understand why we tracked various marketing and sales activities and why and how we employed drip marketing. You give us a powerful technology like SalesForce or PipeDrive, and that just becomes an accelerator for us. We’ve lived and learned from the bottom of theory, and we’ve lived the practice. 

With an MBA as an entrepreneur, I feel that much more Ninja-like

I went into Emory’s Goizueta Business Schoolto help augment my otherwise entrepreneurial/ freestyle consulting style with some structured approach. I have no interest in really sticking to one of those extremes of being wholly freestyle and entrepreneurial or highly structured. Instead, I’m trying to adapt a style between the two that fits me. Startups, as they get more successful, are startups for only so long before they feel the pressure of implementing some structure. Facebookis NOT a startup anymore, but credit to them for enabling a culture that still feels entrepreneurial. Other large corporations like IBM, GE, etc. were once startups, too. However, those corporate policies, operations, etc. are adaptations over time to sustain growth and support existing customers. With an MBA and some corporate experience behind you, you get to leverage some structure to the entrepreneurial spirit to get the best of both worlds.

I’ve seen plenty of people who have MBAs, and they’re wallowing in the pits of large corporations. I’ve seen MBAs be highly successful in startups. Does it all really matter? Nah. Instead, all about the mindset of the individuals and their drive. If you can leverage your background in a way to better understand the world and your market, your employees, your community… you can position yourself to succeed. If anything, I think that’s what any opportunity presents you with – positioning. Be it startups, an MBA, a techno-blog write-up, an introduction into a company, or an interview. How will you use your background to succeed? That’s how I view it.

How do you think education (and level of) plays a role in your job? What do you think you have in terms of [“requisite”] experience to be entrepreneurial?