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Showing posts from May, 2016

Finance of Startups: For Dummies (Part 12 – Planet Fitness S-1)

May 27, Planet Fitness, Inc. filed their S-1 for a public offering of 10,000,000 shares. The company has been listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol “PLNT” with a recent stock price of $17.85 (May 26, 2016). 
I thought this would be an interesting S-1 to pore over as I haven’t reviewed an S-1 in a while and my interest in all things fitness-related. In fact, I have some aspirations to own a gym one day (my own, not a franchise).  
Let’s dig in… “An emerging growth company” as part of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012In addition to the “Planet Fitness’ trademark, the company owns rights to “No Lunks”, “No Gymtimidation”, Judgement Free Zone”, etc.Standard membership is $10 per month includes free fitness instruction to everyone from staff trainers; $19.99 PF Black Card is available for system-wide store access + access to special amenities (i.e. tanning equipment, massage beds, other)1,171 total stores with typical stores ringing in at ~20K sq. ft. – 1…

Sales Team and Sales Reps Engagement to Drive Results: Take-Aways from TAG Panel

I attended a Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) event for sales leadership a couple weeks ago about “How Dynamic Sales Orgs. Drive Results”. The panel included: Jon Birdsong (CEO, WideAngle)Mary Ford (Director of Sales Operations and Strategy, Dell SecureWorks)Ryan Radding (AVP, Salesforce)Eric Mercado (VP of Business Development, Force Marketing)Kyle Tothill (Partner and Managing Director, eHire) The majority of the discussion revolved around engaging sales teams either in mentoring and coaching or via direct incentives. Here are a few take-aways:
There’s a spectrum of engagement and performance that ranges from (low to high): Resistant, Reluctant, Existent, Compliant, Committed, and Compelled. Mitigate (or remove) reps in the first three groups while promoting and sharing practices of the high performance reps who exhibit innovation and leadership.Drive engagement in these areas: Connection (connect individuals together to form the team), Support (mentoring and coaching), Reward…

Limitations Have Exposed Me to Creative Solutions (With Microsoft Tools)

I get a lot of laughs when people see how I use Microsoft Office program in non-traditional ways such as PowerPoint for photo-editing and Excel for messaging (vs. Word).
Over the last several years, I’ve appreciated how to utilize my resources as best I can. When running full-time in a boot-strapped startup, spending money is for necessities. However, the market doesn’t care if you don’t have the money for things like Photoshop -- they want results. So I’ve learned to make-do with what tools at my disposal. It’s forced me to be creative and incredibly curious.
For example, PowerPoint is actually quite good at doing light photo editing. I always used PowerPoint before for presentations and slide decks, but can be used easily for formatting pictures and creating black and white images, graphics with emphasis, tutorials and getting started guides, etc.
Excel has become a fascinating messaging tool for me, not Microsoft Word. With Excel, I create different iterations of value props, ema…

Getting Buy-In From the Actual Users of Your Product, Not Just the Buyers

I had lunch with a friend who was lamenting the challenges of selling to execs and then selling into the lower-level users of his startup’s SaaS product.
His startup is gaining momentum after some initial hurdles, but the area he sees with the most need of improvement is around lower-level buy-in from the organization. Getting leadership to buy into the vision and benefits is, for the most part, easy. (Rare is it when a startup comes to the table with a “bad” idea.)
Once the message comes down from the execs to the mid-level managers and those under them, that’s where friction builds. This isn’t a surprise as these are the users on-the-ground who are typically working hard to implement all the other initiatives the execs have thrust upon them.
Especially in a product that is iteratively (even if many times) better than an incumbent, the challenge is usurping the established process and the known benefits and risks. Not knowing the unknown risk is one of the greatest challenges for …

6 Reflections On The Journey Behind Blog Posts 101-200

So last Thursday, I wrote my 200th post – most popular posts since hitting 100. It’s taken a little while to get here, but has sped up considerably after posting twice weekly since last year. 
We tend to reflect at the end of the year or after some big event that’s transpired. For me, that was hitting 200 posts, so I’ll take a moment to share six reflections over the past year (100 posts). Wrapped up a considerable amount of consulting projects including an iOS app project, product management, new website build, sales and biz dev process development.Wrote a book about startup and entrepreneurship focusing on lessons from failure – Postmortem of a Failed Startup: Lessons for Success (getting great reviews and feedback).The goal of consulting was to find my Next Great Move, and it successfully led me to a full-time role with an early-stage startup (SalesWise) – “No More Consulting For Me – I’ve Joined A High-Growth Startup!”Learning a lot with SalesWise including all the tools available. …

I’ve Turned 200!

… 200 posts, that is. Since this time last year (just about), I’ve published twice weekly to hit the 200-post mark in much faster span than my first 100. I have to say that 200 posts really doesn’t seem like much, but it really is.
Each post (with the exception of maybe two) has taken a couple rounds of editing and some thought process to author. It’s a good bit of work, especially now as I’ve taken on the full-time gig at SalesWise wearing lots of different hats from sales to marketing to customer support to website build.
So reflecting on my last 100 posts, here are the most popular posts: Is Your Customer’s Hair on Fire? – Key point: entrepreneurs and startups should solve a REAL pain-point.Kenneth Cole Started a Film Company… Just Kidding. Sort Of. – Key point: Persistence and creativity can be “all” it takes to build something special.Finance of Startups: For Dummies (Part 10 – Match Group, Inc. S-1) – Key point: Online dating is highly lucrative. (Maybe I should give it another…

Take A Step Back For A Moment If You Want Clarity

I re-read an article back from 2013 “7 Guidelines for Startups in the Crunch” from LinkedIn. The article is about entrepreneurs and startups on a “foggy island” where revenue is trickling in, and they’re at a precipice of either folding, pivoting, or otherwise.
The first tenet of the article was “Be an athlete, not a robot”. That is, it’s easy to continue working day in, day out, hour after hour, like a robot, but that’s not necessarily conducive for successive. Athletes, on the other hand, know that to operate at peak performance, they must take time to exercise, eat well, rest, and recover.
This guideline comes coincidentally after speaking to a friend about the importance of taking time to rest and step back to assess directions. My friend has been burying herself in her craft for years, and only until recently has found time to step away, look around, and gain clarity on her direction. It’s been refreshing and eye-opening.
Reminding me of my own experiences (and perhaps recently…

Grounding Into Your Why

I was recently interviewed for a documentary about an entrepreneur I wrote about last year. I was asked what I saw in the entrepreneur and the entrepreneur was asked what I brought to the table, especially when we first met.
The entrepreneur cited how early on, she consistently pitched what her app was about, and found little traction. After she and I met, we talked about sharing more of her story. Since then, she’s been featured in numerous magazines, radio interviews, free invites to technology conferences, and meeting all sorts of powerful, influential figures.
What my friend didn’t see initially was the opportunity to share her WHY and her PURPOSE. Her app was all about helping others. Her very powerful, hit-home story could coalesce the masses, if shared.
What I advised was really bits and pieces from my learnings from Joey Reiman of BrightHouse on purpose and Simon Sinek’s TED Talk on “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” — specifically, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy wh…

Book Review: Think Like A Freak

I finally finished Think Like A Freak by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, the authors behind Freakonimics. The book brings to light stories and examples where unconventional thinking solved problems and motivated change. My key take-aways/ favorite stories: Not-for-profit org, Smile Train, routinely sent out mailers asking for donations (typical charity outreach) till for one campaign, they gave mail receivers an option to donate and opt-out of mailing forever or donate and continue receiving the mailers. Surprisingly, many recipients appreciated the ability to opt-out, and chose to receive periodic updates AND donated. Meanwhile, many who opted out did donate, and Smile Train saved money on never having to send mass mailers to those individuals again.Zappos offers $2000 to any new hire to quit and never be have the ability to be hired again. This gives Zappos the ability to weed out those who would not fit into Zappos’ customer service culture. Meanwhile, a bad hire could cost the co…