Having a good network is one of the most important things for any business development person. You should always be one degree from every company that you need to get in front of.
One thing you need to make sure you don’t do is abuse your network. This can be anything from making a blind introduction without both sides opting-in to asking someone for something that is imposing or awkward. I’m guilty of doing it here and there and when someone calls you out about it, it makes you feel like garbage.
If you abuse your network too many times your network strength weakens and then you can’t be effective at your job.
Here is my latest Forbes piece: http://onforb.es/YI9DWG
Let me know your thoughts!
A few weeks ago I wrote a post on Forbes about two companies from Israel that are leading the pack in the content marketing (or ad sense for content) space. I’ve just added one of these companies to my blog posts. In each post you’ll see content below that you may like from around the web.
At the same time, I’m spending $5-10 a month to promote my blog through the Taboola network. Alex’s Tech Thoughts blog posts will be seen across the web and I’ll be paying 5-7 cents per click.
I’ve stated before that I’m not writing to make money. So adding Taboola is not a way for me to monetize this site. I’m actually in the midst of an experiment to see if I can break even from spending money to promote the content on my blog (through Taboola) and receive money from linking people off my site to content they may like.
Let’s see how it goes!
I get many inbound questions about first time BD jobs. The questions range from salary to if one should take the job or not.
The most important thing one should know about first time BD jobs is that if you are (or are going to be) the person responsible for closing deals and scaling the business, you need to either reject the offer (if you haven’t started yet) or quit your job (if you are currently that person). I honestly don’t care about how much you believe in the company. There is a 99% chance you will fail at your job.
The problem here is that without someone showing you the ropes, you will make mistakes. Sure, there will be some wins, but for the most part it will be trial by error. In the startup world and with a company that depends on partnerships, you can’t make elementary mistakes. They will kill you. You may even be dead without knowing it.
To combat this, in your first BD job you need a boss who will help you avoid these mistakes. I always tell people that if there are two first-time BD offers on the table: one from a startup where you are the chief of deals and the other where you work with someone who has done it before. You need to choose the one where you will work for the person who knows what they are doing. Even if it is less money. This is single-handedly the most important thing you can do to start your career off right.
I’ve learned the hard way, when attempting to do a product partnership with another company (i.e. wanting them to integrate your offering) it is best to avoid people in business development roles. Business development can be great in many aspects, but in this area they will slow you down.
What I like to do is map out what an integration would look like. Who is needed to make the integration happen? It is usually a combo of product and engineering folks. If you have a strong offering that directly helps your prospective partner, you will go from zero to integration much faster by going directly through them.
Bottom line: In terms of product integrations, it’s a lot better for the product/engineering team to recommend something to the business side of company than the other way around.
In April I taught my first online Skillshare class: Make Deals That Matter: Biz Dev and Partnerships for Startups. I had 349 students sign up and the feedback was very solid.
The Skillshare team informed me that going forward the class would not be tied to a date, rather it would be “always on.” So I’ve closed out my first class and have added the class again with the “always on” in mind. I’m putting all the content up and will periodically update it with notes and thoughts.
I’ve included the link here: http://skl.sh/10bNMny.
Feel free to send it to family, friends, or colleagues interested in biz dev or partnerships at startups.
If you didn’t see the news yesterday, Dwolla raised a new round of capital, $16.5M led by Silicon Valley venture fund, Andreessen Horowitz. It’s an exciting time to work at Dwolla and it’s great to finally share the news with everyone.
It’s been a year since I joined Dwolla and every day is an amazing challenge. Building a payment network from scratch is no easy task and I’m happy I get to work with such great people at Dwolla. The rest of 2013 is going to be a rollercoaster and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Here is a roundup of the press from yesterday:
Des Moines Register: Dwolla raises $16.5 million, will open Silicon Valley office
Business Insider: This 18-Slide Pitch Just Landed Payment Startup Dwolla $16.5 Million
Silicon Prairie News: Dwolla raises $16.5MM Round Led by Andreessen Horowitz
Mobile Payment’s Today: Dwolla raises $16.5 million in Series C funding
WSJ/Dow Jones Venture Wire: Taking on Visa, Dwolla Raises $16.5 million to Make Digital Payments Affordable
Financial Times: Silicon Prairie Attracts Silicon Valley Investors
Iowa Press Citizen: Dwolla raises $16.5 million, will open Silicon Valley office
AP (Des Moines bureau/Register): Iowa-based Dwolla raises more than $16 million
Albert Wenger’s Blog, Continuations: Dwolla gets a check (to do away with checks)
Scott Weiss’s Blog: How would you start a PayPal or rebuild Visa today?
Upward and onward.
Making a career out of being a VC is not an easy job. You need to score good returns for LP’s (limited partners). If you don’t, you will have difficulty raising a new fund.
So, making a career out of VC is tough. However, in the first few years it’s difficult to tell if your fund will do well. Not impossible, but hard. It’s very easy for VC’s to seem like they are doing well (i.e. companies you invest in continue to raise additional capital at higher valuations), but without the liquidity necessary to return to investors.
Bottom line: VC is not for the faint of heart. While it might look like a great job (and you may get away with being mediocre at it for a few years), you should be aware that it is very tough to make a career out of it.
Tell me if you’ve heard this story before. ‘Founder(s) builds startup and cashes out for big bucks. Works for big company for a bit and then goes on to build next startup. Raises ton of money, builds infrastructure in terms of company and support in expectation of huge success for second company. Product is built and there is no demand or product is wrong. Founder fails at second startup.’
I feel like I hear a variation of this story time and time again.
Why do repeat entrepreneurs all think that the second or third startup is going to be different? Why do they forget that they need to build something people/businesses/clients want/need before putting together the other pieces?
Someone please answer this.
Let me know your thoughts!
I have always been fascinated by writing and tech press. It’s one of the reasons I started this blog and enjoy contributing to Forbes.
One thing I have noticed is the way some blogs attribute writers in tweets while others don’t. Since Twitter came out a few years ago, there is no denying that they are one of the top methods of distributing content. When a tech blog or content outlet tweets a post, they can either attribute the writer in the tweet by at-mentioning them or not. I think the ones who do are very smart.
From what I can tell, TechCrunch was the first, if not one of the first, to attribute writers in tweets. The logic makes sense. The brand is well known and TC also wants their writers and contributors to reap the benefits of getting new followers and building their writing brand via TechCrunch. This is a win for everyone involved. The blog or creator of content gets quality writing, the writer contributes or writes good content and gets recognized for it, and the readers know who the writer is and can follow them directly from the tweet.
I’m not going to call anyone else out by name, but I think other outlets should follow this model. I don’t see any downside.
As a startup, the only way to tell if anyone truly cares is if you disappear. You don’t need to disappear for long, but if your service or product is unavailable for a period of time and users or clients get upset or complain, then you know they care.
Think about Twitter. When it used to go down for a few hours (it doesn’t really do that anymore) people would freak the f out. People really care about Twitter.
So when building a business or thinking about the company you work for, make sure you are working on something that people, clients, etc would care about if it would disappear. This is another way to think about building something people want/love.
This past week I read this piece from Jason Calacanis called Speculation, Investigation & Hacktivism. It got me thinking that there is truly a benefit for someone to build a crowd-sourcing investigations platform.
I think, to start, the product/company should stay away from ongoing investigations. I think the beachhead is cold cases. If you start with cold cases and can solve a few, then maybe you can take on more recent cases.
Watching Reddit and 4chan work this past week may look to some as something that led to very little. Maybe even hurt. But I look at what unfolded, and think that instead of saying there is no benefit here, that someone can make it better. Remember, we are only in the first or second inning of social media and smartphones available in events like the one in Boston. I think, if done right, there can be a huge benefit and helpfulness that comes from crowd-sourcing investigations (ie it would be structured and not a free-for-all).
So… anyone working on this yet?
I use many different tools on a daily basis in my role in Biz Dev and Partnerships at Dwolla.
Here are 4 of my favorite tools that make me better at my job.
1) Rapportive: This is an awesome plug-in for gmail. It lets you see all your social media accounts and connect through them for the person you are emailing. I’ve also used it to figure out if I’m emailing the right person (as it syncs up on the right side when you enter an email).
2) Falcon: This is similar to Rapportive but works for Hacker News, Twitter, Github and a few others. It’s very useful to find out who people on these potentially anonymous sites are, by discovering their other online accounts.
3) Yesware: This is another plug-in for Gmail that allows you to see who opened your emails and what they clicked on. This is super helpful when sending out cold emails, following up on deals, etc. I’ve started to pay for it so I have unlimited access (the free version only tracks 100 emails a month).
4) Job Change Notifier: This is a daily email alert. The email summarizes which of my contacts on LinkedIn have changed jobs and where they are now. As you can imagine this can be very useful.
What tools do you recommend?
Every week there seems to be a new drama happening in the startup space. I remember seeing someone post an article (someone please find it so I can link!) that said something along the lines of.. .making movies, music, and other hollywood pieces used to be all about the arts. Then the hollywood space evolved and celebrity and gossip came in. This diluted the arts and it’s now a big facet of making movies, music, etc.
The same is happening for startups. Gossip, drama, celebrity is infiltrating the startup space. From tech blogs gossiping to reality tv shows about startups- it is happening. But hard work is still happening. Real companies are being built. You just needs to dig through the noise.
In terms of the actual drama and gossip, just don’t bother. Don’t comment on FB or Twitter. Do your best to ignore it. Stay focused on doing good things and hopefully you won’t get too distracted by the noise.