One of the newest companies to join our recognizable industry leadership portfolio is Variable Technologies. CEO, George Yu introduces the incredibly accurate Bluetooth 4.0 color sensor he created. Take a look, and be amazed!
Write2Market is proud to announce that two of our clients have received honors from the International Book Awards this year! They are:
1) Russell E. Holcombe, Winner in the Personal Finance category for You Should Only Have To Get Rich Once.
Russell is President of Holcombe Financial, Inc., a financial planning and investment management company specializing in helping clients with $2+ million of investable assets.
2) Scott Weiss, Finalist in the Business: Management and Leadership Category for DARE: Accepting The Challenge Of Trusting Leadership.
Scott is President and CEO of Speakeasy, a company that specializes in communication development and communication consulting services for business leaders.
In case you haven’t heard of the marketing magicians at redpepper, let us tell you: they’re great. And super creative. And really, really prolific when it comes to recruiting customers with hot marketing campaigns. Another cool thing about redpepper is that they create their own marketing tool innovations in-house, in what they call “The Lab.”
One of their recent works of marketing art called Facedeals has received a fair amount of accolades (and a whole ‘lotta press on CNN to boot, too) with good reason, we think. Facedeals is a face-recognition customer loyalty platform that sends deal offers straight to a customer’s smartphone when they cross the threshold of one of their chosen businesses. The inner (net)workings of Facedeals are rather elegant: when a camera installed at a business snaps a photo of a patron’s face, the Facedeals system uses that photo to locate a customer’s profile, which is based on his or her Facebook profile details and product “likes.” So, say Timmy Timson walks into Freddy Fredrick’s Hot Dog stand. The camera recognizes Timmy, the system looks up his profile, and sees that he likes Jenny J.’s Ju-Juice, Freddy’s Five-Pound Footlong, and onion rings. Facedeals will immediately send him a promotional offer based on what he likes at that restaurant.
As we’re sure you can imagine, such powerful and personal technology is bound to show up consumer privacy advocates’ radar, as highlighted in another CNN article. Rest assured, though, as Facedeals requires each customer’s permission to use profile information in its operations. So, in essence, any customer who decides to use Facedeals gets to play a (somewhat) democratic role in the sales process. A win for technology, and for the industry leaders at redpepper? We think so.
by: Drew Welsh
Here’s a proper example of industry leadership in action, from the experts at iUS Technologies: Max Park and Scott Zajkowski have now had the honor of two feature articles in as many months in popular energy publications. This month, their article Making the Smart Grid Smart Again, which appears in the May-June ’13 issue of Electric Energy Magazine, explains in clear detail the ways utility providers can maximize the potential across their smart power grids (Physics pun totally intended).
Top TV producers are like everyone else: they tend to book the names they are comfortable with. For fast-growing tech companies intent on industry leadership, it takes creative positioning. Our team used an opportunistic take on Microsoft to land former ATDC-start up Izenda on Varney & Co., the top-rated program on FOX BUSINESS. CEO Sanjay Bhatia was coached on tough questions. How well would you do if Stuart grilled YOU like this?
by: Lisa Calhoun
Use these must-have conversation starters to attract and interest private equity and VC investors:
For a start-up seeking capital it’s all about perception. There are LOTS of great business ideas out there, and investors see all too many of them. In fact, investors complain that the maturity of SAAS and cloud apps has made everyone and their brother Bubba think they’re an entrepreneur—and so today’s private equity and VC people are bombarded like never before by a slew of fascinating, technically diverse, and hard to decipher concepts.
Yet one thing remains clear: the one thing investors are looking for is a better than average expectation of being able to sell your company for a better than average price. To believe that, they have to be convinced your business concept is sound in three key ways:
- Technically—it can be executed, and you have the capability, technology is mature enough, and the IP involved is ownable.
- Financially—the business can be scaled from the kind of running start they can help you achieve. For example, some businesses need a million—some need hundreds of millions—to get the scale they need to be significant.
- Managerially—the business has the right people in place, or within reach, to be able to optimize and scale the technology.
Since most investors are generalists, they rely on a multi-stage learning process that includes several orbits around your business to help them gain the perspective they need to make an investment decision. As you tell your story, realizing which phase of this courtship process you are in makes a big difference in the kind of depth and perspective you share—just like any courtship. If you are being courted by numerous investors—as all hot start-ups are—then being able to serve information rapidly becomes a challenge. Having your industry leadership platform in shareable formats really helps.
Most start-ups find the following basic toolkit of communications material to be a strong foundation from which to start. As an industry leadership and publicity consultancy engaged with numerous scaling tech companies both pre- and post-investment, let us at Write2Market know if you need some help or pointers on this stuff.
- Basic web site. Your web site should focus on doing one thing in the early stage—telling a compelling story. Want to learn more about how to do this well? Read STORY WARS by Jonah Sachs or MADE TO STICK by Chip and Dan Heath. Or attend one of Write2Market’s ANGEL TO ACQUISITION publicity seminars in Atlanta. Your web site should:
- Tell your story at a mythic, 50,000-ft level. What are you changing in the world, and why does it matter? What is your motivation?
- Provide a way to “join your cause” or mission (sign up for updates, early releases, betas, etc.).
- Provide some founder bios.
- Showcase your voice and vision.
- Showcase any press about your company.
- As you attend events or pitches, mention them on your company web site
Your web site does NOT have to tell how you do it, how much it costs, or where you are in your development.
- Elevator pitch. You need a tag line and a once-sentence “concept statement” about what you do. This is what you’ll mention all the time. Lots of times, you’ll meet investors in person, briefly. You want to be able to shake their hand, look them in the eye, and say it with complete poise. Here are some I like right now. The key thing is these short sentences don’t tell it all—they invite the next question—the question from the investor. Because of that, they open the door.
- George Yu, Variable Tech. “We are creating the world’s first sensor platform. What iPhone did for Apps, Node does for sensor applications.”
- Jared Heyman, CrowdMed. “Harnessing the power of crowd wisdom to diagnose disease.”
- Sean Cook, ShopVisible, “Evolving the ecommerce ecosystem—faster.”
- Rob Frohwein, Kabbage, “Easy cash for online sellers.”
- Pitch deck. Your deck is your standard calling card. It should cover, at the very least:
- Your vision. Why is what you are doing important?
- Market size. How big is this market now? How big is it in 10 years? Who are the major players? What kind of growth should investors expect?
- Why is what you are doing unique and likely to be the “hot property” of this industry in a few years? Why is your approach a game changer?
- Why should we believe this team, your team, can do it? At least gloss over the successes and acumen of your core team or any planned team members you will add once funded.
- What are your key financials? What does the sales pipeline look like?
- If you have current partnerships of note, or customers of note, mention it. This helps with your credibility.
- What is your exit strategy? So, if you do all that you say you are going to do, what then? Paint some high level likely exit opportunities. Mention as many exits as you can that are “like you” so that investors realize your start-up is part of a trend or maturing movement, not a one-off. Investors are pack animals, and by that, I don’t mean donkeys–I mean high level alpha predators with expensive appetites. They chase down fat herds of caribou, not measly mouthfuls of cavias. Make sure they see your technology is the proud lead buck of the biggest caribou herd this prairie has ever seen.
- How much money do you need, and what will you do with it? It’s interesting how many start-ups don’t leave a closing slide that makes it easy for interested investors to follow up right away. Share all your information, including your phone number.
- Detailed financials. After seeing your pitch deck, and perhaps after reviewing your web site, an interested investor will often ask for a meeting. If all goes well in that, you’ll have to send over detailed financials at some point (after NDAs and other niceties). These financials change quite a bit as your company grows and matures, but keep an investor-friendly (simplified) spreadsheet of financials and projected financials on-hand so it’s easy to share.
- AngelList listing. AngelList allows start-ups to have a presence in the larger world of investors and fellow start ups. It even has a decent job board to help you build your team with people who know and love the start-up pace. You’ll want to connect to everyone you know on AngelList, post your pitch, and your elevator speech.
- LinkedIn company page. LinkedIn is the current water cooler for business. Use the LinkedIn company page to build out your company’s story. Post updates about where you are pitching (like SEVC, Venture Atlanta, Southland, etc.), what you’re working on this week, and what the company is excited about achieving.
Want more? Read this blog post on telling your story from Write2Market with investors’ perspectives.
By Lisa Calhoun
Last week in Scottsdale, I stepped off the stage to lots of applause for my panel. I had just finished moderating the Closing General Session of the World Retail Alliance. My panel’s presentation had ranged from augmented reality to retail positioning systems, from facial recognition systems to associate intelligence support props — so when the audience and the CEOs on our panel said thank you for a “great job moderating” I felt really good. They came across as the brilliant leaders they are. But it wasn’t an accident.
This keynote panel experience made me realize I could share some tips to help my fellow moderators achieve the same kind of results. Here are some of my go-to tactics for moderating an engaging keynote conversation—it’s a process anyone who wants to can master.
- Hold the initial “Panel Introduction & Issue Discussion” a few weeks out. I organized a video conference with my panelists about three weeks before our event. We used this time to outline topics and areas of expertise. I was also using our scheduled group conversation to unearth conflicts among my panelists that could make for spirited debate—or blow up my session. I sent a wrap up email to all panelists after that conversation with the topics and areas of expertise. That also served as some of my prep notes.
- Warm up the panel on-site. The evening before our event, most of our panel was able to accept an invitation to go to dinner together. Most of the panel had not met before. This opportunity to relax together and get to know each other as human beings built a rapport that was obvious on stage.
- Check in with the conference organizer. I and my panelists arrived for the closing general session understandably late in the conference. My first order of business was to check in with the conference meeting planner and get early feedback on what areas and topics the conference was “light” on. That way, the content from our panel could put a finishing “bow” on any unaddressed issues surfacing during the conference. Touching base with the conference organizer also helped with technicalities—she gave me a glowing introduction to the light and sound panel crew so I could make sure my people looked terrific.
- Go over the graphics. With the light and sound people, I double checked the graphics that would be used for our session. In fact, there were quite a few changes we needed to make—and I made sure that happened.
- Work the audience before the panel. I arrived about 30 minutes before our session, during the coffee break. I walked around, breaking into small conversational groups, to introduce myself as the moderator of the Closing General Session. I asked for questions. I got commitments from people to participate. I smiled and thanked everyone for coming—before they showed up.
- Prebrief your panel right before going on stage. Before we went on stage, we had a moment when we could mingle in the audience. I asked my panel to go out and meet at least 2 people before they walked up on stage. Having the panel welcome audience members starts to create that personal connection that can free people to really open up and share outstanding information.
If you’re set to moderate soon, I hope these steps help you. Please let me know if you have any secrets for outstanding panel moderation so we can add to this list!
Scott’s leadership dare is simple: be yourself, be genuine, and tell the truth, and your business will always do right by your customers.
W2M client redpepper launched a new concept from their innovation lab. Called Facedeals, it marries a simple digital camera, facial recognition, and Facebook. People can opt it to have their face “recognized” at participating locations. From the first time we pitched it, people responded to this story. It took off from Tech Crunch, and has been featured on CNN (here) and 60 Minutes.
Tuesday, the closing keynote for the World Retail Alliance was a problem-solver planel of retail industry experts. Lisa Calhoun, CEO of Write2Market, moderated an action-oriented panel during the World Alliance closings that answered enthusiastic questions from a highly engaged global audience that included attendees from Ghiardelli, Home Depot, PetSmart, BP and Hallmark. The keynoters were Sean Cook, CEO of ShopVisible, Florian Vollmer, Principal and Senior VP of Design with InReality, Eric Hoeltzclaw of LadderingWorks, Jennifer Kwaitkowski of Plough and Hearth, and Dave McMullen, CEO of FACEDEALS and Partner at redpepper.
Scott Zajkowski, smart grid extraordinaire of iUS Tech, received some nice press with a featured article in Vol. 4 Iss. 9 of GlobalRenewableNews. In his writing, he describes the benefits of distributed power generation methods (think renewables like solar and wind energy) that are growing rapidly as part of the smart grid transition. Interested in delving deeper into Scott’s insights? Read his article in full here.