Tag Archives: Network

How Do You Expand Internationally? Five Suggestions

Situation: An early-stage software company is expanding internationally, both offering services to international companies from their Silicon Valley base, and building a presence overseas. What land mines should they avoid? How do you expand internationally?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Be more strategic than opportunistic. Europe is very interested in start-ups. Investigate potential locations thoroughly. For example, Luxembourg and Spain are not the most reliable markets or locations for basing a business.
  • There are already good networks in Europe that you can plug into so that you don’t have to build everything yourself.
    • There is a European organization called Open Coffee Club that attracts high tech and social media start-ups. You might consider either partnering with them or buying into their network.
  • You can set up a corporation in Cyprus to leverage tax advantages and build a network covering Europe.
    • To have geographic reach across Europe, you probably want two locations in Europe and one in Russia. Look at Ireland and Romania.
    • Many Russian oligarchs have their investments in Cyprus and may provide a source of investment funds.
  • Investigate the European Investment Fund and their sub-funds like the JEREMIE Holding Fund. This is a large government-funded investment pool focused on technology, innovation and start-ups.
  • Foreign companies are attracted to the US because we have the right ecosystem for technology development. However, a bridge strategy for European companies who want access to US funding is tricky. The key issue is visas which have limited duration and may be difficult to renew. Also, immigration frowns on foreign business people who visit the US too frequently.
    • Have you considered helping start-ups build through their early stages – reducing risk of early failure – before helping them come to the US?

 

How Do You Join a Not-for-Profit Board? Seven Thoughts

Situation: A CEO wants to build network of highly placed contacts. One method that she is considering is joining a not-for-profit Board. What are good organizations? Is it reasonable to expect a quid pro quo? How do you join a not-for-profit Board?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Do your homework. Find out what the most influential Boards are in your community. For example, the Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce is very active and includes in its membership many very well connected people.
  • Influential groups and boards will vary by community. In Silicon Valley, the Silicon Valley Association of Start-up Entrepreneurs (SVASE) is a good organization to consider. This and other Angel groups know small companies that need help. Others include the Sand Hill Angels and the Asian-American Multi-Technology Association. In other communities Chambers of Commerce or similar organizations are the movers and shakers.
  • Don’t count out Rotary, Lions, and similar organizations. All these organizations are struggling to recruit new members and some have movers and shakers.
  • Rather than thinking about the meetings, volunteer to join a committee. For example, volunteer to join the Finance Committee. Once the members get to know you, you may be invited to join the Board.
  • Raise money for an organization, this will bring invitations to join the Boards of other organizations.
  • Follow your passions in selecting an organization, you will be more enthusiastic.
  • It is reasonable to expect a quid pro quo? Yes, if you make a significant contribution and demonstrate your competence.

How Do Small Companies Outsource Infrastructure? Eight Ideas

Situation: Start-ups and early-stage enterprises are typically both resource and talent constrained. The CEO of a start-up asks how others successfully outsourced infrastructure cost effectively and when they were early-stage so that they could focus on critical success factors and improve their opportunity to succeed. How do small companies outsource infrastructure?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • In the early stages of company development, outsource everything possible and focus our efforts only on the key functions.
  • In order to focus on the most important things first, decide what must be accomplished and when. Set priorities, establish key milestones and create a timeline to measure achievement. Celebrate your successes!
  • Identify the most important strategic foci within your business model and outsource everything else.
    • For example, use outside data centers instead of developing these yourself.
    • With the increase in Cloud-based options, early stage companies can do without the IT infrastructure that they used to need. Just be careful to safeguard your intellectual property!
  • Attend relevant meetings and functions to learn about existing and available capabilities. Look for local networking opportunities relevant to your market.
  • Incubator sites have developed in a number of high tech centers. These are designed to cover infrastructure needs at a reasonable cost so that founders can focus on product and service development.
  • Hire a virtual assistant – you can find these locally using a Google search.
  • Take advantage of lower cost labor and enlist younger, less experienced labor to manage databases and clean records.
  • Set up a wiki for information. This exchange is free and you can tailor it to your needs. It is permission-based; you can find it at pbwiki.com.

How Do You Build Market Awareness on a Small Budget? Seven Ideas

Situation: A small technology company has a handful of major customers. They are very good at what they do and want to expand and diversify their customer base. The challenge is that they don’t have the funds for large-scale marketing.  As an additional twist, for now they prefer to stay under the radar of their largest competitors.  How do you build market awareness on a small budget?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Start with the basics. Define your market niche and build from there.  Create a beachhead in this niche and generate strong testimonials from your current customers.  Segue to tradeshows and broader marketing opportunities as you build marketing strength.
  • You already have several marquis clients. Look for opportunities in other divisions within these client companies. The work that you have done for existing divisions makes you credible.
  • Network with your current clients to develop other opportunities. They won’t want to help their competitors; however, if you can improve what they receive from their other vendors they may provide introductions for you.
  • As a small company, focus on a single market where you have strength and credibility.  You don’t want to spread yourselves too thin.
  • Find a good customer and solve their problem well. Create an evangelist who will tell others about you.
  • Look for speaker opportunities at high visibility events within your market niche.
  • Consider webinars, these are inexpensive and if you promote them to decisions makers in your target niche you can quickly build credibility.

How Do You Transition from Product to Business Development? Three Thoughts

Interview with Trevor Shanski, Founder, eWORDofMOUTH, Inc.

Situation: A company with a new lead generation solution is ahead of the curve for their market segment, and ready to transition from a product development focus to a full-scale business development focus. This means developing new capabilities on a limited budget. How have you made the transition from product development to business development?

Advice from Trevor Shanski:

  • The reality of early stage companies is that they live on scarce resources. Founders and early executives have to be able to work for lean base salaries during the learning curve. They will be individuals who have selective characteristics.
    • They will be able to accept conservative salaries near-term, as well as during financial bumps in the road. Their focus will be growing the company’s value and their incentive will be having a material stake in the company.
    • They will have limited outside demands on their time and attention so that they can work long hours.
    • They will appreciate the challenge of heavily performance-based compensation, with the potential to win big if they can deliver.
    • They will have a network of connections and relationships upon whom they can call to gain early business traction.
  • Characteristics for successful early stage executives include the ability to work intimately with the founding team. Early stage companies are idea and capability incubators where things change quickly. Players must be able to get the job done with little support.
  • It is critical to have a clearly defined set of expectations for the first few months as you bring on new executives. Early foci will include:
    • Immersion in understanding the product capability and possibilities.
    • Sitting down with a white board and openly looking at fresh thoughts for how the market should be approached. Founders frequently suffer from tunnel vision after a long period of development and need a fresh outside perspective on the market and messaging. What partnerships could accelerate market development? What knowledgeable experts should be leveraged to build awareness? What potential is out there that the founders are not seeing?
    • After these factors are defined, the next step is to develop an action plan and milestones to guide plan execution, plus a budget and alternatives under different resource scenarios.
    • Once the plan is in place, the focus will be to gain early feedback on the company’s product and capabilities, and then iterate quickly to find the right message to target significant segments of the market.
  • The focus of early stage companies has to be on quickly developing plans, and then executing.

You can contact Trevor Shanski at tshanski@ewordofmouth.com

Key Words: Product, Business, Development, Limited, Budget, Transition, Resource, Scarce, Incentive, Focus, Compensation, Performance, Network, Expectations, Action Plan, Execution

Why Do You Need Uberinfluencers? Four Factors

Interview with Skip Brand, CEO, Martini Media Network

Situation: Thanks to the rise of social media, the 10-20 million individuals who were the influencers with the most purchasing power have increased to 70 million. Within the influencer group, there is a sub group deemed “uberinfluencers” who have the most influence. How do marketers reach the uberinfluencers and why are they so important?

Advice from Skip Brand:

  • Uberinfluencers increasingly spend more time online, are twice as likely to make a purchase, and spend three times as much per acquisition when they do purchase. Also, they always share new product experiences with friends and family via different social media (Facebook, Twitter, Blog’s, etc). For the first time, consumers control a brand’s reputation and are able to set the brand’s tone and image. This is why marketers need to focus more dollars to get in front of this audience.
    • Uberinfluencers spend more time online than the general US population. They are brand savvy, digital savvy and socially networked.
    • They have diverse and specific interests and leverage the Internet extensively to connect with their passion areas. Niche sites appeal to this audience because of the specificity and existence of community. If you better understand where these people spend their time at work and play –you are better positioned to leverage their influence.
  • The company that wants to reach and leverage these uberinfluencers needs to be scalable, exciting and relevant.
    • For this audience, small is beautiful and also scalable. Let’s use the example of golf, a passion for many uberinfluencers. Your site should feature the highest quality courses and equipment if you want to reach 50% or more of this target audience. It must be easy to navigate, provide enough information to make them feel comfortable about product selection, and have a social component to help them broadcast your message.
    • Uberinfluencers spend time on sites that are exciting, engaging and which have a single share of voice. This means one focused ad per page instead of multiple ads.
    • Particularly in a recessionary market the site must work diligently to maintain relevance by continually enhancing site content to provide a fresh experience with every visit.
    • Marketers should put uberinfluencers at the center of their media buy and strategy.
  • To attract and leverage this audience you must maintain a maniacal focus. Reach out to them using social networking tools, which find uberinfluencers where they work and play on the web. Let’s illustrate this with an example.
    • Let’s say that your uberinfluencer is a digital media executive. You will find them on social networking sites because they are living what they are doing. Put the right message in front of them. If they buy they will spend more, but it’s even better if they tell 10 friends about you.
  • Once you start figuring out the keys that attract uberinfluencers, they will start telling each other about you and news of your product will spread across the web, in turn maximizing your revenue!

You can contact Skip Brand at skip.brand@martini-corp.com

Key Words: Strategy, Sales, Marketing, Uberinfluencer, Social, Network, Media, Purchase, Opinion, Influence, Online, Work, Play, Hobby, Niche, Scalable, Exciting, Relevant, Focus, Viral

What Is Changing The Game in Network Security?

Interview with Philippe Courtot, CEO, Qualys

Situation: Companies experiencing security breaches and data theft are regularly in the headlines. Those launching these attacks are increasingly well organized and very creative. What is changing the game in network security and how can you respond?

Advice from Philippe Courtot:

  • The movements from enterprise software to Software as a Service (SaaS), and from mainframes to PCs to mobile devices increase the challenges of protecting enterprise environments. Therefore, a cohesive technology platform is imperative.
  • Companies are sensitive to the possibility of attack at any time. There are three principal attack vectors: breach through web applications, breach through email and browsers, and breach by device. Between PCs, iPhones and Android devices, the PC is the most closely linked to the corporate intranet while often the most vulnerable because users are lax about updating their systems and applications.
  • Attackers often target a company executive or high level administrative assistant to access the user’s profile and passwords.  In one type of attack called spear fishing, the attacker creates emails tailored to the person targeted appearing to come from a colleague or friend. When the target clicks on the email, a small piece of code is inserted in the computer, which can give control to the attacker. Another way to gain control of a computer is through physical access. An attacker can learn about a pending vacation via Facebook or twitter, providing an opportunity for home invasion. Once the attacker has access to the computer, they can plant a control program on the system. When the user returns, the attackers can make fast, brief forays inserting additional code or taking data from the enterprise network. They may use the information themselves, or sell it to others.

Given these new realities, how does a company prevent attack?

  • First, the company must thoroughly analyze and understand their vulnerabilities which are all potential entry points for an attacker. Once vulnerabilities are mapped, work on a schedule to remediate them.
  • Second, you must educate all users about the threats. This is especially critical for any personnel who have access to secure company data.
  • Third, invest in and build additional defenses to shield all remaining vulnerabilities. Make sure that employees are drilled on the defenses and that they are used. One growing trend is the use of two factor authentication, requiring employees to carry token generation devices with them to use in addition to their password. These tokens can be delivered by smart phone.

You can contact Philippe Courtot at pcourtot@qualys.com

Key Words:  Network, Security, Breach, Data, Theft, Response, Mainframe, PC, Mobile, Enterprise, Environment, Criminal, Government, Attack, Vector, Social Network, Email, Browser, Web, Application, Device, Spear Fishing, Executive, Assistant, Profile, Password, Vulnerability, Educate, Defense, ID

What are Best Practices to Open New Markets? Five Thought Starters

Interview with Greg Curhan, CEO, Clickworker, Inc.

Situation: Clickworker was founded and has gained nice traction in Europe. Focusing first on Silicon Valley, they want to expand into the US. This means identifying companies that could use their service, as well as appropriate contacts within those companies. What are best practices to open new markets for a product or service?

Advice:

  • Start with a set of profiles of possible customers and contacts.
    • If you have a history of success, look for companies in similar industries, and with similar profiles as your current customers. Build a set of profiles of customer companies, and use these profiles against the lists that you develop to identify and prioritize prospects.
  • Develop a list of who’s in your addressable market and narrow this list to prospects.
    • Work with your staff and systematically review past jobs and companies that you’ve been associated with, including vendors and suppliers. Identify a list of possible target customers, and use LinkedIn, Link Silicon Valley and other social networking sites to confirm and develop your contact list.
    • Also work with companies that develop and update databases of local companies including contact lists, web sites, telephone numbers, revenue data and SIC codes. For example, Rich’s Business Information develops searchable lists of companies Northern and Southern California. Dunn and Bradstreet and others also sell searchable lists of companies and positions.
    • Subscribe to the locally published Business Journals in your target markets. These Journals generate Books of Lists of local companies and contact information.
    • Network with those you know and ask who they know. This is more effective once you’ve developed a set of profiles, so that you can clearly characterize what kinds of companies you seek.
  • This is an initial set of ideas. What has worked for you as you opened new markets?

You can contact Greg Curhan at greg.curhan@clickworker.com

Key Words: Customer, Profile, Contacts, Suspects, Prospects, LinkedIn, LinkSV, Social Networking, Rich’s, D&B, Business Journal, Network