When I step back and ponder this, the CEOs I respect the most are the ones who take responsibility for the actions of their company. Good or bad, successful or not, they don’t shirk any responsibility, blame anyone, or try to make excuses. They just own things, and if they need to be fixed, they fix them.
I’m sitting on a panel tomorrow for Inbox Awesome. Consequently, I’m spending some time today (better late than never ;) to learn how I can make the most of the experience. Here’s what turned up in my research that looked worthwhile:
- Scott Kirsner, a tech journalist and frequent conference panel moderator, published a great list of things that panel moderators and organizers should be doing to ensure great sessions.
- VC Mark Suster wrote a post about how to make the most of a panel as a panelist. Some combination of disagreeing with fellow panelists (occasionally) and not tooting your company’s own horn (too much) seems to be his recipe for success.
- The Hubspot Blog had some content on this topic as well. Here are 10 tips they came up with to help panelists make the most of their panel experience. Big takeaway: Don’t go in cold. Prepare some talking points and be sure to hit as many as you can.
- Toastmasters has some curriculum focused on public relations which I’ve started to work through via my local Toastmasters club here in New York City.
What else should I be doing to make the most of the panel experience? Let me know in the comments.
In the last six weeks we have:
- invalidated our previous business model (email API – a cool idea that I couldn’t figure out how to make into a business)
- validated a huge opportunity in identifying, nurturing, and closing high value passive candidates and began product development to attack that opportunity
- interviewed over 40 recruiters and other knowledgable people in the HR tech space
- built an awesome and relevant startup advisory board consisting of the CTO of one of the biggest ad agencies in the world, an entrepreneur who sold her HR tech startup to Oracle, the founder of a leading sales & marketing analytics company backed by Sequoia, and the COO of the leading marketplace for technical on demand workforces
- found an awesome summer intern (MSCS at Cornell with a focus in machine learning)
- experienced many disappointments!
Despite all of that it still doesn’t feel like we’re moving fast enough.
I’m getting pretty bored of “what to wear to an interview” and “10 things to say in your CV” rubbish (ours isn’t rubbish! – Editor). The average recruitment blog / feed is full of it. When are recruiters going to talk to passives about how to stay in jobs, how to get a promotion, how to cope with exams if I need to requalify?
80% of the market is passive and recruiters insist on boring the 20% who should already know what to wear by now! Interview tips are the junk food of the recruitment feed. (Another blog for another day.)
Please build this app for me. I’ll be your first customer if you do.
Here’s the spec:
- Keeps track of the people I generally care to keep in touch with. Family, friends, or business associates are all fair game.
- Keeps track of people who have explicitly asked me to do a call or meeting regarding startup career advice.
- Monitors my calendar for times where I am traveling (on foot) from one place to another. Or detects when I am walking surface streets.
- When I am walking or traveling between meetings the app will suggest someone to call based on the list of folks compiled in #1 and #2. I can click ‘Call’ to call this person, ‘Next’ to see the next person on the list, or ‘Drop’ if the person shouldn’t be on the list any more.
End result is that I can help more people without making my schedule any busier. And if I just want to walk and not call anyone, that’s fine too :)
Most startups (especially those that want to raise money) these days have advisory boards. They’re usually made up of industry insiders, startup founders and execs, and other impressive sounding folks.
Originally I was resistant to creating a formal advisory board because it would take away cycles from talking to potential customers. Then, like any good entrepreneur, I changed my mind.
Lots of posts have been written on this topic and maybe I should have read some of them! Nonetheless, here’s my thought process for the key decision points I’ve thought through (or am still thinking through).
Why did I decide to form an advisory board for my startup?
first question you must ask for any successful project, venture, etc: “How can I get others involved?” (Cc: @garychou)
— John Gannon (@johnmgannon) May 21, 2014
Forming an advisory board provides a semi structured, low cost, low risk way to get more smart people involved with (and cheering on) your startup. I like that a lot.
Who did you ask to join your startup’s advisory board and why?
I’m asking people to join who check as many of these boxes as possible(in no particular order):
- Domain expertise (industry, technical, or functional)
- Passion for our problem area (the intersection of marketing, recruiting, and technology)
- Strong network in their domain
- Willingness to help with ad hoc things that come up (“Hey, do you know any great salespeople?”) as well as things that might require a deeper dive (“Hey, could you review this board deck and let me know what you think?”)
- Solid human being (In other words, someone I would like to spend time with)
Although many startups use advisory boards as a way to pack in a bunch of ‘name brand’ folks on their pitch deck I’m trying to resist the temptation. Maybe this will come back to bite me but I’d rather get people who are excited to really lean into helping us vs. just letting us put their name on a slide and hoping we don’t bug them. :)
How will you compensate your board of advisors?
Advisors will get a small chunk of equity as I want them to share in any upside that they help the company create. From what I’ve read and experienced myself this is fairly standard procedure.
Besides that, what else will an advisor to your startup get out of this deal?
When all is said and done we’ll have 5-7 advisors who cut across different disciplines and functional areas. I’m sure there is a lot I will learn from them. There’s also a lot they could learn from each other. I’m going to help make sure that cross-pollination happens. Helping them extend their networks is the least I can do.
Feel free to call out any gaping holes in my logic in the Comments :) Next post on this topic will be about how this actually works in practice!
The ‘other’ 1%
Originally posted on A Founder's Notebook:
1. Golden rule of social: 90% of people consume, 10% of people curate, 1% of people create.
2. Rules of engagement: Registered users / installs — 30% will use it each month, 10% will use it each day, 1% will use it concurrently.
3. Fremium conversion: 1% of your signups will pay (normally 1-5%).
4. Expensive is profitable: “50% of our revenue comes from only 11% of our customers” — Ryan Carson, founder Carsonified and Treehouse.
5. Cheap is expensive: Cheap accounts cost more in support (7x).
6. Advertising revenue: Social network CPM ~$1, Times Newspaper ~$10; $1M / year in revenue = 1bn page views (good luck).
7. Email subscriptions: Open rates = 20-40%, click through rates = 1-5%; 1 sale per 3,000 emails.
8. Churn determines SaaS size:…
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