Archive for the ‘entrepreneur’ Tag

Some great advice from the venture capital world…

I spent the Thanksgiving holiday with my brothers in North Carolina.  I headed down a few days early so I could take a break from my most recent product launch and do some food shopping (I was the chef this year).

During my trip, I was able to meet some venture capitalists to talk about my future ambitions in the startup work.  I am in the process of changing my career direction, so I couldn’t wait to discuss my ideas with these individuals.

Here is some of the great advice I got:

  1. Begin at a startup, end as an investor – Since the venture capital world is very closed and selective, the best way to become a VC is to join a venture-backed startup, find some success (obviously, this is the hardest part), and do some investing yourself.  That way, you can bring real-world experience to a firm as a partner.
  2. Focus on a sector – It is difficult to be “all things to all people”, so you should find a niche and be the best you can at it.  Personally, I am not sure what my niche will be, but I have a few ideas…
  3. Product experience helps, but it isn’t necessary – Since I am by no means an engineer or a coder, this thought was particularly helpful for me.  For example, someone with operations or biz dev expertise can be just as valuable as a CTO.
  4. Revenue is king – I asked one VC which he prefers in a business he’s investing in… a great product with a large audience, but without a defined business model, or a smaller product with a strong revenue model.  The VC said he would invest in the latter.  I think I’d have to agree, but some other very smart investors I respect a great deal may disagree.

I can’t wait to act on some of this advice soon…

Can Enterprise Software Be Social?

A few days ago, a fairly prominent entrepreneur named Jeff Dachis (he founded interactive ad agency Razorfish) is “creating an industry leading strategic consulting practice and an enterprise class Social Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) suite.” Other new outlets have called this a “social network for corporation”. Here are a few articles about the announcement:

Silicon Alley Insider

Austin Ventures Press Release

Based on this quote from the Austin Ventures press release, it looks like Dachis is building a service to help business collaborate internally on projects, as opposed to our focus on helping executives collaborate externally.

I believe there is enormous opportunity in helping companies devise and implement a strategy to engage their constituents in a meaningful dialog throughout the enterprise. As companies begin to see the benefits of utilizing “social” technology to engage their customers, employees, suppliers, shareholders, and communities in an active and transparent dialog, they will need a trusted partner to help them navigate the opportunities, and an integrated set of scalable, robust, and secure enterprise class tools to implement them. We are here to provide both expertise and implementation.

Related to this announcement, there has been some discussion in the blogging community as to the question “can an enterprise use social applications”?

One discussion I thought that had a great deal of insight was from Fred Wilson, a leading Web 2.0 venture capitalist. He contends that social media and enterprise applications are inherently misaligned, due to security issues and the inherently protective nature of businesses over their “secret sauce”. However, the comments on Fred’s blog have countered some of his argument. Here is one of my favorite comments, as to the difference between traditional social media and enterprise social applications:

I think that the fundamental difference between social applications and enterprise application is that social applications are, at their core, about self expression, whereas enterprise applications are about process automation.

Enterprise applications may borrow elements of social apps to facilitate collaboration (still a big enterprise opportunity) and ease of use (always a winner), but fundamentally self-expression is not a goal for the enterprise.

As much as I admire Fred, I would disagree with his points here. Self-expression is not the core goal of social media. Social media works because people find value in sharing with one another.

The community experience can serve enterprises as much as individuals. Brand managers, payroll administrators, and HR reps all over the globe are essential doing the same tasks, building the same reports, and facing the same challenges on a day-to-day basis. An external enterprise community would give those people the ability to share work, exchange idea, and collaborate on large projects at little or no cost.

Imagine if we could all share the work we created with one other? Why would you ever create a new market analysis report, if you had the template from your “buddy”? That would give us all more time to catch up on our dozens of unread Facebook messages…

P.S. – I know there are security and privacy issues here. How do I suggest we overcome them? I’m not sure… but I do know that someone will, and I look forward to that day.