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Showing posts from February, 2016

Brainstorming In A Group >> Brainstorming Alone

One of the fun experiences since joining SalesWise is having truly collaborative, open brainstorming sessions. We’re an early-stage startup, and we’re working on ways to grow faster and become even more valuable to our customers. So, we’re experimenting and opening the floor for discussions. It’s been nice given my last several years has been relatively isolated.
What’s stood out in these sessions: Though led by leadership with several highly successful prior ventures, the leaders are open to new ideas and not following some previous template. This venture is new – new industry, product, team, times. We’re approaching fresh and eager to learn.Everyone wears different hats. We have folks specializing in design, backend, frontend, product management, marketing, sales, etc. Then, we have different backgrounds that shape our views vis-à-vis risk, startup and corporate experience, etc. It all comes together to bring balance.Everyone is eager and excited about what we’re building coming in …

Two Entrepreneurs Working With Two Devs (Part 2): The Big Consideration of Early Partners

Continuing last Thursday’s post on two entrepreneurs working with two inexperienced developers early on… The devs are experienced programmers, but just as important, they’re inexperienced in early-stage startups.
The problem for entrepreneurs isn’t finding early partners… it’s finding the right partners. Finding partners (of any functional resource) who will fight it out in an early-stage startup to get to product-market fit and beyond is tough.
The entrepreneurs in the presented cases should manage expectations of the dev partners as soon as possible – set expectations the road ahead will be long and tough.
In both cases above, the devs will not work full-time, and they want equity as a discount to cash. The problem is that early-stage startups need iterations to launch, learn, build, and repeat – most will struggle to find meaningful traction before product-market fit which could take 18 months. As that happens, passion and patience will be tested on both sides – the entrepreneur…

Two Entrepreneurs Working With Two Devs (Part 1): Equity and Experience

I’ve talked with a couple entrepreneurs recently who are struggling with early partners. I’ll break this post into two parts – 1) this post describing the opportunities of equity and experience, and 2) the follow-up post next Tuesday regarding the traps of early partners with minimal startup experience. But first, the setting: Entrepreneur A hired a developer early on to build an alpha product with a promise to pay for services renders in a couple months. Post-work, they’ve parted ways, and the entrepreneur wants to pay off the developer and retain all code. The dev, however, wants some ownership of the company and code.Entrepreneur B is highly successful in a services business, and now wants to build a product addressing a pain in the current business. The entrepreneur planned to work with a developer to build the product as a test before any mass market approach. The entrepreneur wants to pay for the consulting services with no equity share, while the dev wants share for mass market…

Execution Is What Makes an Entrepreneur

I was speaking with a friend about what he’d seen in venture capital on what makes an entrepreneur. We talked about how entrepreneurship is about execution – “ideas are nothing if they remain as ideas”, except, there’s a wrinkle here.
Thinking about several others who have “started” an idea or launched an app, I don’t qualify them as entrepreneurs yet. Heck, I started Dee Duper in Dec 2014, but did nothing to sell it once it launched.
Many have grand technology ideas and can hire others to build them. Once built and launched, are these owners also entrepreneurs? Not immediately, no. They’ve launched something and they’ve funded it, but I wouldn’t qualify them as entrepreneurs yet. 
So what makes a true entrepreneur? There’s a myriad of actions and decisions that may qualify them, but I’m going simple to say, “Sustained execution”.
Just because I golf a few times a year doesn’t make me a golfer. If someone runs twice in a month, I wouldn’t qualify him as a runner. He goes on runs, …

I Hated Writing and Reading Till I Shifted the Context

Ever since Postmortem of a Failed Startup, people are asking me: Have you always wanted to write a book?Why did you write the book?You must read a lot, too. What do you like reading? Most people assume I’ve always loved writing. Truth be told, for my first 28 years of life, I hated writing, and I hated reading. Both were forced upon me in school, and I had little interest in what I read and wrote.

So why do I write so much now? How did I get into reading? Am I more mature and appreciative of literature? Yes, but really, it all comes down to context. I now read and write based on things that interest me.
Another analogy: a new friend from dinner last night said she used to hate eating tofu. It tasted terrible. However, she started restricting her diet, and she needed to explore more food options. One of those options was exploring cooking with tofu. She learned recipes that sounded like they would be good, and through experimenting, she now loves tofu.
Okay, let me add that what also…

Finding Balance in Entrepreneurship and Life (Everything)

A friend recently shared with me that to be successful and maintain some form of sanity, entrepreneurs should pick three of: work, sleep, family, fitness, or friends. My friend was referencing what Randi Zuckerberg said in an Entrepreneur.com interview. Randi shared how she balanced being a wife and mother of two, entrepreneur, speaker, TV producer, author, and even singer. 
My friend shared this concept of picking three after reading my book. She referenced how the book went into detail about the practicality of entrepreneurship including how team dynamics play a critical role.
Indeed at Body Boss, each of us cofounders had very different risk tolerances and life circumstances. The intricacies of our personal lives affected our financial needs which affected full-time vs. part-time work on Body Boss. That would then affect our speed to iterate on the product as well as sell. All of this had cyclical and amplifying effects on each other. Again, failure isn’t caused by a singular eve…

No More Consulting For Me – I’ve Joined A High-Growth Startup!

This year has started off with a BANG, so I’m continuing this trend by announcing that I’ve excitedly accepted a position at Atlanta-based startup SalesWise!


Many thoughts running through my head… speaking of which, I’m officially the Head of Sales and Marketing… for a truly amazing company. Let me rewind, and explain how this opportunity came to fruition… For the last several years since Body Boss, I’ve consulted for several businesses (startups to $1B+ companies) doing business development, web and app development, product management, supply chain, and more. I didn’t have a clear idea of what my Next Great Move was going to be, but used consulting to network, learn, practice, and be inspired.
In October last year, with one of my consulting clients, I got to view a demo of new technology from an accomplished CEO and his cofounding CTO. I experienced an impressive product that, with fine-tuning, had great potential. That demo was of SalesWise. The company was early-stage, and I remembe…

Creativity is Everywhere You’re Not Used To Thinking

I’m surprised by how many people believe creativity is reserved to the arts or perhaps marketing. In reality, there’s so much more creativity happening in the everyday whether that be in writing, in coding, or in sales.
When I do code, I love how there are so many ways to accomplish a task. It’s up to me how I implement that code and find a solution. Some ways are more elegant than others. Sometimes, it’s about creatively hacking a solution so you can survive the week. So yes, developers/ engineers are a creative bunch.
Sales is one of those areas where I love to see creativity, too. I remember hearing a story of how a sales professional finally got in front of a VP he’d been chasing for a while by literally sending the VP his shoe. The message was about walking in “his shoes”. Or a story how to get someone to read a cold email by bidding on a pair of shoes and an apartment.
There’s a lot of creativity happening around us. Creativity is just finding a solution to a problem in some u…