It’s amazing how fast the world moves with us, without us and in front of us. Sometimes the speed causes us to become so reactive to everything that we rarely end up making an impact on the direction its taking us.
In my limited experience, I can feel how in business this challenge can become magnified. Those of us at early stage companies are often trying to manage from 30k feet and the ground level. The rise and fall from these altitudes can make you find a lack of priority and it consequently leads to reacting to an inbox or client fire. I can only imagine a fighter pilot rising and falling and maneuvering has to be so conscious of the few move they want to make long before having the ability execute.
At times I have felt myself pulled into this reactive mode. I have no idea if this will work, but currently I am hypothesizing on a strategy. I am going to focus on a 3-3-3.
This may seem light weight to people, and I am not referring to getting email correspondence or calls done. I am referring to things that move things forward. By limiting my focus to these things I can be deliberate about what is the most important to shape the direction of the day, week or month.
For many leaders and managers it seems, we suffer from trying to control so much of everything that we never are able to focus on the small most important things.
I’ll report back on my progress. If you have any other suggestions I would love to hear them.
Angel investors are amazing people….They take their hard earned money and foolishly give us crazy folks a chance to get a plane off the ground. I can’t tell you how much I respect this money and confidence.
One of the challenges with passive angel investors (people who are investing, but not full time or are not fully engaged) is getting their attention or keeping them up to speed on what is happening at the company.
We initially put some snazzy newsletters together and sent these out to our folks on a monthly basis. We received good feedback, but it was a bit time consuming and I had no idea if 75% of the folks really read it.
The last year I decided to try a different format - Video Updates. Its a simple under 7 min video that goes through the highlights. Your personality comes through and you can really explain good, bad and confusing things that would get lost in text context. Never underestimate the power of seeing you in person. It’s like using a hostages name with the hostage taker - its harder to hate you for setting their money on fire if they know who you are.
My correspondence includes a written update via email, but the format is as follows:
Subject - We’re making you money everyday (joke, but not really)
MAJOR NEED, CALL TO ACTION, OR ANNOUNCEMENT IN BOLD
Video Link - with password to Vimeo (my preferred)
Basic headline and bullet points for written correspondence.
Here is the key - I can see how many times the Video was viewed. It gives me at least a barometer for about how many of our investors watched. Remember, these people made some money, so they probably get a lot of emails, hence they don’t want to read a book.
Why is your investors being informed so important?
Happy working my friends.
As I see new media and consumer content being shared, I reflect back to some past experiences and think of how I would have tried to leveraged this new world….
During my tour of duty (2003-2006) at Woods Industries (now Coleman Cable) I was charged as a Product Manager to design, manufacture and market a new outdoor lighting line in the US. We had a phenomenal team of people working at the company, but relative to the big dogs in consumer products, not real research and innovation budget.
Our market research and customer feedback loops were thorough, but slow and didn’t enable us to gain in-field insights in a meaningful way. We felt the focus group results we would garner didn’t validate or refute major assumptions and the focus groups were to slow and solicited.
Through our work with many exceptional companies, I have witnessed how myself and other consumers are sharing their experiences with products and services. Specifically, the media, both photos and videos can provide a snapshot into how we use the products we buy in our daily lives.
I thought back to the landscape lighting days and how I could design a campaign that would help me learn about our customers experience.
My research question…
Is our product and it’s parts used in the field as we have designed it and instructed it to be used?
Test: In each product box, I would leave a card that asked our customer to share their newly installed lights on Instagram or Twitter with #moonrays (our brand) and enter to win a giftcard to a retailer…
What we would gain:
I cannot predict the outcome, but I can assure you that this would have been marketing GOLD on many fronts. I can envision walking into our weekly product meetings and sharing these customer experiences so we could stop guessing….
I encourage my marketing counterparts to consider the burning questions they have about their customers and the experience those customers have with their products before launching a promotional campaign. What can you set up in your campaign design that will lead to more than promotion, but valuable learning for product improvement, innovation, better customer experience and more engaging messaging.
And…it’s more fun this way because the C Suite can get it!
Gnip sees the world as opportunities not problems
Social Big Data is a vast intertwined set of companies, uses and craziness. Per Foundry Group’s (a backer of Gnip) theme ‘Glue’, the Gnip team does just that for many of the publishers and consumers of the data. Glue can be pretty indiscriminate and Gnip follows this characteristic. This conference had companies that are fringe if not direct competitors, partners and customers. The glue that Gnip provided was a forum for thoughtful discussion and collaboration that was nonthreatening and valuable. We owe a special thanks to Brad Bokal on the Gnip team for enabling us to be there. Sometimes its that openness and opportunity that can propel a company like ours to greater momentum.
What I heard….
Brad Feld is taller than I thought
I really really love early stage technology business, which means I have read and listened to everything Brad Feld has said or wrote 30 times (not an exaggeration). While he and I had corresponded casually about Startup Ecosystems, we had never met in person. So this is my big chance right? Well, it’s funny…what I really wanted to talk about was running and travel because that is something we have in common (I am on state #7 of my quest a race in every state). What I did was ask some obvious and boring question about our companies funding path. Since I have feel like I know him having read everything, I probably could have given his answer to me myself. What I meant to say (if you read this Brad) was. I am going to be solving problems for, hopefully, a very long time. You seem like an extremely committed and thoughtful investor. I think we would probably have some fun and challenging discussions if we ever worked together. I hope I have the opportunity to bring a company to you for an investment sometime, I would enjoy that.
Thanks to everyone at and involved with BigBoulder. I would be very bullish on Gnip and their team. Good work.