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Author Archive

It’s Not About You

I was working with a client to help him develop a client presentation.  His pitch was “we do this”, “our services provide”, etc.  What was missing was what’s in it for the client.  What are their needs and how was he going to meet them.  So, I asked him how this pitch had worked so far, and he admitted not so great.

Then I asked him, “You’ve been on the buying side, what were your needs?”

“I wanted a reliable provider who would deliver a consistent product on time at the price quoted.  No last-minute changes, delays or excuses.  And if there was a problem, would answer my calls and make it right.”

He quickly realized that his pitch wouldn’t have sold him either.  It was time to change his approach.

It's Not About You

Too often our pitches are simply about what we offer.  Whereas, it is about understanding the client’s needs and conveying how you can help.  Simply pitching a service without first identifying a need is like a putting a “Square peg in a round hole.” Yeah, you might be able to make it fit, but you have to force it.  That’s not how you win new customers.

Instead, ask a few questions –

“What’s your biggest challenge?”

“What’s working and what’s not?”

“How can I help you?”

Once you understand what the client needs, then you offer a solution.  It doesn’t feel like a pitch anymore, now you are helping them out.  And your prospect will see you as a partner, not a salesperson.

Honestly, no one wants to hear you talk about yourself or your company. Your clients are focused on themselves, their needs, and finding someone to offer the best solution. Your job is to figure out how to meet their needs.

Thoughtful, provocative, and probing questioning demonstrates that you are looking to address the client’s needs, not just simply pitch a service to make a sale.

Remember, it’s not about you.

 

It’s Not About You

Mike Doherty

Revolutionizing the Elevator Pitch

Recently, we sat down with Micheal Platania of Powerfully Committed to talk about Elevator Pitches.  We met Michael a few years back at Toastmasters in San Francisco.

Can you offer a brief Elevator Pitch to the new service?

Do you know that uncomfortable feeling when you are giving your Elevator Pitch and you instinctively know that the person is not interested? As the Elevator Pitch doctor, I can make sure that never happens again.

Revolutionizing the Elevator Pitch

So define an elevator pitch for us.

An elevator pitch is simply an opening to a conversation. The goal of an elevator pitch is for the client to say “Tell me more.”

Who needs them?

Everyone who is looking for new business and new clients, and even those looking to expand their business with existing clients (though the exact focus of the pitch would change in those circumstances).

I often tell people the Elevator Pitch is getting the client to go on a Business Blind Date.

Why do we struggle with them?

Because most people don’t understand how to engage on a personal (and emotional) level. In business, we are taught the tips and tricks of elevator pitches – how to put your lifetime of experience into a 30-second resume or one-minute bio, how to explain your accomplishments and successes but this is never what the person you are talking to wants to hear.

I attended an Elevator Pitch workshop last week, and one of the tricks this guy gave was to “speak loud.” Is being loud really what is going to make someone want to know more?

and how do you help?

We revolutionize the elevator pitch by approaching it from a completely different paradigm. Madison Avenue knows that the way to sell a product is to connect with people on an emotional level, and billions are spent to do this through advertising. We approach the elevator pitch the same way – from an emotional level.

It’s scary for a lot of people because talking about emotion is business is not something most people are familiar with. So our clients have to come into this with a certain amount of openness and self-confidence.

What should we avoid in our elevator pitches?

Number one rule – talk less, a lot less. Remember that the point of a pitch is to engage and have a dialogue and if you are doing all the talking there is no room in the conversation for the other person.

Number two rule – it’s not about you and what you have done with your life and your career. My eyes start to glaze over when I hear about sales numbers and quotas and targets. Nobody cares.

In fact, people don’t care what you know, they want to know how much you care.

Does all this take practice?

Yes, it does. I practice walking down the street. I walk past a dry cleaner or pizza place and imagine I am the owner and practice a pitch for them. The is one of the things I was taught by my mentor, Cynthia Malaran who developed the Malaran Method™ for elevator pitches during her time as an advertising professional. Once our clients go through and understand the process they can practice it and tailor it to any situation.

Any parting thoughts?

What is unique and different about this process is that we are less focused on the résumé and more concerned about connecting with your passion and tying that passion to the client’s need, because once we connect your passion to their need, the client is left with one thought on their mind…”Tell Me More!”

And if our readers want to learn more?

The can contact me directly at mplatania@mail.com or through my website powerfullycommitted.com. I am available to work with people in person, via phone or Skype. People who have gone through this process say it not only changes their elevator pitch but changes how they feel about their business and themselves.

Revolutionizing the Elevator Pitch

Mike Doherty
First Determine If There is an Unmet Need

First Determine If There is an Unmet Need

Last evening, I attended a networking dinner with a friend of mine.  We were engaged in a light conversation with a gentleman when out of the blue my friend launched into a pitch about a joint project we were working on.  Very quickly, it became evident that this guy was not a prospect for our services.  My friend threw the ball to me hoping I might try another approach.  I opted to wrap things up instead.  I acknowledged this might not be the solution for the prospect, but asked if he should know of anyone that might find our services helpful to please keep us in mind.

First Determine If There is an Unmet Need

By closing down the pitch, it allowed the third-party a graceful exit.  He didn’t have to say no.  And it gave him an opportunity to be helpful if he should so choose.  I have found that most people genuinely like to be helpful.  They may know someone who might be more suitable for offering and make an introduction.  “You should meet Bob, his company is growing and you might be able to help him…”

In hindsight, what went wrong?  My friend never established if there was an unmet need.  Instead, he pitched a solution.  Did anyone need this solution?  Obviously, not the guy we were chatting up.  This all could have been avoided with a few questions to the prospect.  Before you offer a solution, you must determine what need is not being met, or if there is a gap in satisfaction in the product, good, or service that is being offered in the marketplace.

Ideally, you want to lead the conversation from small talk to what are the prospect’s unmet needs.  Start with a few light probing questions to see where the prospect is at.  How is business?  What are you working on? Based on his willingness to share or not, will determine whether you probe deeper for an unmet need.

If the prospect shares more or self-identifies an unmet need, then you have an opportunity. Does your product or service do something for him that no else can do? Can you do it better than the competition? If you cannot answer these basic questions, then you need to stop what you’re doing and listen until you can.

Once an unmet need has been identified – and you can say yes to above questions, then you make a pitch.

First Determine If There is an Unmet Need

Mike Doherty

How To Find Angel Investors

You know your business concept has all the elements to become a very successful. You just need the money to get things rolling and you are well on your way to becoming an entrepreneurial sensation. But then again, money is hard to come by these days. Even with the recent recovery of the US economy and things looking good in the small business sector, many banks and financing institutions are still wary of approving loans for small business start-ups. If you have exhausted all your options and still come up with nothing, then maybe it’s high time that you learn how to find angel investors.

How To Find Angel Investors

Angel investors, also known as business angels, are people who are willing to shell out the much-needed funds to get a business concept into reality. In almost all cases, a business angel is someone who is wealthy and established individual who has shown great interest in the industry you are wishing to enter. Since an angel investor is willing to risk much money on a business grant concept that has yet to materialize, they require so much from the entrepreneur as well, like convertible debt or ownership equity, in exchange for the funds.

Another thing that must be put into consideration is that angel investors would want a significant portion of control once the company gets off the ground. This is a fact when it comes to angel investing. If you are a business owner who does not want to share the steering wheel of the enterprise, then you better look somewhere else for the funds you need. However, if you welcome the opportunity to learn from an experienced business figure and allow him or her to take the reins from time to time, then angel investing is probably just for you.

If you are decided to have an angel investor fund your enterprise, then here is a short guide on how to find angel investors:

Always start within your area., 150-mile radius to be precise. Call your attorney. Lawyers know who has money. Get in touch with local business clubs and ask the officials to point you in the right direction. Contact your local SBA office and see if the people there know anything of significance. Business colleges and universities are also great spots. You can get a lot of information from teachers and school officials.

Bear in mind that angel investors are not people who would readily and immediately send you checks for your start-up. It is best that you seek out angel investors that are interested or involved in the industry that you desire to join and provide them with a very sound and workable business plan as well as realistic projections to keep expectations from going over the brim.

How To Find Angel Investors

Mike Doherty

You’ve gotta send the CEO

Recently, I was sitting on a panel that was tasked with deciding the recipient of 1 million euro grant to grow their businesses. I was one of five and we all came from an investor business backgrounds. We were provided the respective business plans in advance and each came to the table with our respective questions and concerns. Each company was provided 10 minutes to present the projects followed by a 20 minute Q&A.

One of the companies was represented by the founder/CEO, while the other chose to send the lead project manager of the research team. Neither presentation did. Much to move the needle and offered little beyond the business plan already submitted. Both presentations focused heavily on their respective technologies and were light on the business details of execution.

It was up to us to glean these details through the Q&A.

The CEO was forthright and acknowledged the weaknesses of his financial projections (his plan offered a 10-year projection with a hockey stick recently revenue curve). When pressed, he was confident in the first 24 months but beyond that was anyone’s guess. One of the other evaluators commented, “at least he’s honest….” He did demonstrate a command of the economics of his go to market strategy and provided a convincing argument for his approach. Further, when asked about why he was doing this, he offered a passionate reply that made me want to write him a check myself (OK, I wasn’t really going to write a check for a million euros, but you get my point). Needless to say, he got my vote, as well as, the vote of my fellow evaluators.

The second presentation did not go so well. To be honest, when a company CEO fails to present, the evaluators are already put off.  We were told he was very busy – yeah me too, but I made time to be here. At this point, even the best presentation would be facing an uphill battle to win us over.

As the discussion shifted from technology to execution, the presenter was challenged to justify the business strategy and the underlying financial assumptions.  Clearly, this was beyond her scope as a researcher. She offered that the financial details were produced by another department. The takeaway for the evaluators was that the company had sent the wrong person.

I do not know if in reality that the CEO would have done a better job, maybe it was just a flawed plan. But I do know in the first case, we were able to discuss with the principal our concerns proving him an opportunity to address and assuage them. In the second scenario, the presenter simply raised more concerns than she resolved.

Ultimately, we want to get it directly from the horse’s – and that means the CEO needs to be there. I get that you’re busy and it may not always be feasible to be at every meeting.  But I can tell then your absence is the elephant in the room and will be a challenge to overcome with a PowerPoint, regardless of how good it is.

You’ve gotta send the CEO

Mike Doherty

How Brexit impacts the European Startup Scene

Recently, I had the chance to catch with an old friend, Troy Norcross and chat about startups, Brexit and fundraising.

 

How will Brexit impact the European Startup Scene (since London is such a big startup community)?

Brexit was a pretty big shock to the London startup scene. The initial feeling was that it would impact access to both talent and funding. As we are just now beginning the negotiations, there has not been a noticeable effect.So long as London is a financial center and a center for media, FinTech and AdTech startups will remain because of the access to customers. In my view, the big opportunity is for EU cities like Berlin to capitalize on the shift. Overall, I believe the European Startup Scene will benefit because there will be more capital and resources available to promising EU startups once the UK leaves the EU.

What’s the biggest challenge that European Startup Founders face?

A systemic aversion to risk. Investors don’t like risk. Customers don’t like risk. Potential employees don’t like risk. In order to succeed, startup founders must find the right way to either de-risk their business or to demonstrate their ability to mitigate risk. Investors want to see revenue and traction and a working business model. Customers want to see proven platforms and solutions that others have already proven that they work. Teams want to have confidence that the company won’t just go broke and lay everyone off tomorrow. As a founder, your biggest challenge is the fact that everyone is afraid of risk – and by default – startups are risky.

What’s the role of accelerators and incubators today and going forward?

There are over 300 accelerator and incubator programs in London. And they are dying. There are so many programs that it becomes harder and harder to fill a cohort with quality startups. My feeling is that we will see the accelerator and incubator programs of today fade away. There is another related trend that hints towards the future: Large corporates are shutting down their innovation programs. After 3 years of heavy investment in innovation teams and programs and agencies with little or no returns, big companies are shutting these programs down. The new-new thing is in-house incubators. More and more large corporates are engaging with startups in their sector looking for companies who will ultimately disrupt them. If a large corporate can spot an opportunity early enough they can either buy the startup or they can change their organization to survive the disruption. Also, by putting individual team members of corporates alongside startups there exists an opportunity for cultural change on the company side and invaluable mentoring on the side of the startup. The future of incubators and accelerators is that they become programs within large corporates – and free standing accelerators go away.

What is the best team composition for a startup?

The minimum team for a startup is two co-founders: One commercial and one product/service. In the very early days, it is best to outsource as much of the development and design as you can (beyond what the 2 person team can do themselves). If you hire developers, designers and more too early there will come a time when they have nothing to do. The dev team stops while the marketing team engages and then the marketing team stops while the dev team catches up. It’s only when the product market fit has been validated and the cycle of build-test-learn becomes continuous that you should hire full-time extended teams. One other specific role that should be on your team is a “sector specialist”. If your main USP is the use of big data or AI/ML or genetic manipulation – then you really need to have a dedicated individual on the team to back up your ability to deliver.

What’s the number one problem startups have with their pitch decks?

There are so many problems that I see with pitch decks. The number one problem is that the startup doesn’t use a “Language of value” – Too often they talk about features and user experiences and they fail to successfully communicate the value their business brings to the market and how they extract value from users and customers. BTW – the 2nd biggest problem is that startups try to use the same pitch when speaking to customers and when speaking to investors.

What’s the most exciting startup that you’ve seen recently – and why?

Great question. Sceenic (http://sceenic.co/) is the most exciting startup that I’ve seen lately. The thing that makes me excited is that they are solving a real problem for broadcast television – they are capitalizing on social – they are engaging using video – and they are partnering in a way that gives them access to a large audience. Did I mention they have bootstrapped themselves to get to this point and have a pilot with a major UK broadcaster? The founder is a seasoned startup guy (with one startup under his belt) and knows how to make the company work. He has all the makings for a really good growing business and future exit.

Which market sectors are over-represented by startups?

In the UK it’s all about AdTech and FinTech – But I wouldn’t say that they are over-represented. The sectors that are over-represented are FoodDeliveryTech, EdTech and HR Tech. We just don’t need another food delivery platform. And EdTech and HRTech are interesting markets with real problems – and little or no budget. They are unlikely to be able to build US$100M businesses.

How is fundraising in EU different from raising funds in the US?

There are a couple of key ways: 1) The US investment community is all centrally located. This results in a lot of startups congregating where the money is. And the money then competes for the startups. It’s a vicious cycle that drives up valuations and interest. 2) US Companies are happier to invest in companies who can build an audience and focus on monetization later. EU investors want to see cash flow positive in 18 months and break-even in 36 months. This means that you have to focus on revenue from day 1. 3) In the EU a failed startup in your past is a kiss-of-death. In the US it (can be) a badge of honor. It’s all about a cultural difference between EU and US. The US rewards the one who tries – even if they fail. The EU rewards the few who succeed in spite of everything.

How can corporates best support the European Startup Ecosystem?

Corporates can support the ecosystem through their own accelerator programs (as mentioned above) but they can also do a lot to support European Startups by providing open access to the company and to the teams within the company. Corporates who have quarterly events where any startup can come along and pitch to the various departments and get access to decision makers not to sell – but to get real feedback from decision makers – is hugely valuable. The corporate benefits in that they get a far better understanding of what’s going on in the market at the startup level. And startups get first-hand feedback in a non-selling environment. It’s a few hours every quarter and a small lobby full of 10-20 startups. Huge value.

What is a Startup Business Review?

SER Team helps businesses to increase sales and find new investment. Using the Business Ecosystem Plan (BEP) methodology we can help you clearly define your stakeholder value propositions, business models and go to market strategies. The entire process can be achieved in as little as 9 weeks for a fixed price – and comes with 100% money back guarantee. Whether you are talking to customer, teams, or investors – SER Team will help you with crystal clear communication. Start off with a free review of your pitch or investment deck at

Start off with a free review of your pitch or investment deck at www.startupbusinessreview.co.uk

How Brexit impacts the European Startup Scene

Mike Doherty

Do You Need a Business Plan?

Very early in my career, I sought advice from a seasoned business owner.

“Do I really need a written plan?” I asked impatiently, being inexperienced. He scoffed, “Why spend six months writing a plan? Go start a business NOW!”

That was great advice, exactly what I wanted to hear. So off I went, and despite myself, I was a modest success. But in hindsight, I now realize I could have been spectacular rather than modest.

Do You Need a Business Plan?

If you’re an organized sole-proprietor, I imagine you can do just fine without destroying half a forest to memorialize your every proprietary insight. However, if you plan to seek funding, hire employees or otherwise engage in activities to facilitate growth – you’ll find you really need someplace other than your head as a repository for your entrepreneurial vision.

The need for a formal business plan within small to medium enterprises (SMEs) is often the $64,000 question. If you’re seeking venture capital or other external financings, let’s calls it a $6.4 million pre-money consideration, because without a business plan you are not likely to get your hands on other people’s money.

A Written Business Plan Gives You a 90% Better Chance of Succeeding

Each year businesses of all types fail because the founding parties forgot to do the one thing that raises the probability of having business success exponentially; planning! Do you have enough capital to launch the business and survive until you reach breakeven?  When does breakeven occur?  How many things do you need to sell to achieve it?  What needs to get done and will it be done in-house or outsourced?  These are but a few questions addressed in a well thought out business plan, providing a roadmap for your success.

And while projections are guesstimates, at the very least crunching the numbers will give you a sense of what will it takes to make a viable, sustainable business.

Need Help – drop us a line

Do You Need a Business Plan?

Mike Doherty

When Outcomes Matter

Many of us launched our careers in the “Boom” years.  Talent was in short supply and advancing was a given for motivated individuals.  And then things changed.  Instead of worrying about keeping their top performers happy, companies focused on survival.  Now, there is hiring freezes, and thousands of over-qualified resumes swamp HR departments for any open position.

In this tough economic environment outcomes matter.  Today’s companies focus on the bottom line and expect their executives to bring their best to the table.  Add to this that business is facing changes it has never experienced before.  Navigating these turbulent waters is about leadership.

If you want to succeed, if you want to get ahead – you need to lead the change created by an ever-changing economic environment – outsourcing,  technological developments and the globalization of the marketplace are just a few of the many contributors.  You can adapt to those changes or you will be left behind.

Leadership is about coping with change. Part of the reason it has become so important in recent years is that the competitive landscape has become more aggressive and more volatile. If you want to succeed, if you want to get ahead – you need to lead the change to meet these new needs.

  • Change Leadership – It’s about vision. It’s about empowering people. Leaders recognize the opportunities in the marketplace and led by engaging their people to cultivate a culture of learning, adapting, and leading within their organizations.
  • Emotional Intelligence – As an executive, it is not enough to be smart or simply good at what you do.  As an executive, you need to use and manage your emotions to effectively get the best from your people.
  • Personal Effectiveness – is about establishing goals, identifying values and establishing priorities.

You can go down the change path alone or you can get help along the way.  That is where I come in.  An executive coach is your guide, your mentor.  We hold you accountable and we pick you up when you stumble.  We are in this together.

So, if you are ready to be a better leader, to take it to the next level. If you serious, I am here.

When Outcomes Matter

Mike Doherty

Embracing Change

Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end . . .
–Semisonic

Have you ever stayed at a job too long? Held onto a bad relationship with Mr. Wrong? We, humans, hate change and will even endure some pretty horrific things just to avoid change. And it’s not until you’ve undergone some major change, which you dreaded, that you begin to wonder what took you so long to change? Change doesn’t just happen – you have to have a purpose.

Visualize the Change

Thinking about change, then it is important to have a focus. Why are you looking to change? Many folks that I know that have embraced changes, such as quitting smoking, have done so with a purpose. My friend Margo quit because as she put it “I want to see my grandkids.” Another friend lost weight to fit into the wedding dress of her dreams. If you are working towards a new, healthier you, what is your goal?

Make a brief list of benefits the goal will achieve –

Examples:
• I’d have better health
• I’d have better self-esteem
• Clothes fit better
• I’d live longer
• I’d have more time with my kids

What’s stopping you?

Make a brief list of obstacles that would prevent you from achieving your goal 

Examples:
• I don’t have time to exercise
• I don’t have time to grocery shop for healthy food, take out is easier
• I am too stressed right now.

Now that you listed them, post them somewhere, so you don’t try to use them.

Develop an action plan

You’ve set your goal, now how do you get there? An action plan is a roadmap: it helps us turn our dreams into a reality.

1. Develop a plan – This is what I call “the what” exercise. What action needs to be taken? What resources will you need? What change needs to occur? What are your objectives? Be specific.
2. Reality Check – How does this solution improve your life? How much? How long – permanently or temporarily?
3. Will it work? – What is the probability of success? What are the risks? What happens if the plan fails?
4. Does it fit? Is the change consistent with your lifestyle, is it sustainable? If not, is it still viable?
5. Remember the Consequences – What are the intended consequences? What are some unintended possible consequences? What is the risk/reward outcome?
6. Think of Resources – What does the plan depend on in terms of time, support, equipment or emotional energy? What resources can you tap into?
7. Take it one day at a time – Very often we get overwhelmed when the task seems too big. Break it down into achievable bite sizes. What is your goal for today? That’s all you need to worry about.

Change is tough. Let’s not pretend otherwise. It’s against our nature. And most importantly – there are no magic pills, you won’t lose weight in your sleep and you won’t develop a six pack in less than three minutes a day! But you can make small sustainable choices that will improve your health.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
– Lao-tzu

Embracing Change

Mike Doherty

Startup Business Review

Startup Business Review – helps businesses to increase sales and find new investment. Using the Business Ecosystem Plan (BEP) methodology we can help you clearly define your stakeholder value propositions, business models and go to market strategies. The entire process can be achieved in as little as 9 weeks for a fixed price – and comes with 100% money back guarantee. Whether you are talking to customer, teams, or investors – the SER Team will help you with crystal clear communication.


Recently, we sat down with our good friend and SER Team Troy Norcross to discuss fund raising, Brexit and the European Startup Ecosystem.

How will Brexit impact the European Startup Scene (since London is such a big startup community)?

Brexit was a pretty big shock to the London startup scene. The initial feeling was that it would impact access to both talent and funding. As we are just now beginning the negotiations, there has not been a noticeable effect.So long as London is a financial center and a center for media, FinTech and AdTech start-ups will remain because of the access to customers. In my view, the big opportunity is for EU cities like Berlin to capitalize on the shift. Overall, I believe the European Startup Scene will benefit because there will be more capital and resources available to promising EU startups once the UK leaves the EU.

What’s the biggest challenge that European Startup Founders face?

A systemic aversion to risk. Investors don’t like risk. Customers don’t like risk. Potential employees don’t like risk. In order to succeed, startup founders must find the right way to either de-risk their business or to demonstrate their ability to mitigate risk. Investors want to see revenue and traction and a working business model. Customers want to see proven platforms and solutions that others have already proven that they work. Teams want to have confidence that the company won’t just go broke and lay everyone off tomorrow. As a founder, your biggest challenge is the fact that everyone is afraid of risk – and by default – start-ups are risky.

What’s the role of accelerators and incubators today and going forward?

There are over 300 accelerator and incubator programs in London. And they are dying. There are so many programs that it becomes harder and harder to fill a cohort with quality start-ups. My feeling is that we will see the accelerator and incubator programs of today fade away. There is another related trend that hints towards the future: Large corporates are shutting down their innovation programs. After 3 years of heavy investment in innovation teams and programs and agencies with little or no returns, big companies are shutting these programs down. The new-new thing is in-house incubators. More and more large corporates are engaging with startups in their sector looking for companies who will ultimately disrupt them. If a large corporate can spot an opportunity early enough they can either buy the start-up or they can change their organization to survive the disruption. Also, by putting individual team members of corporates alongside start-ups there exists an opportunity for cultural change on the company side and invaluable mentoring on the side of the startup. The future of incubators and accelerators is that they become programs within large corporates – and free standing accelerators go away.

What is the best team composition for a startup?

The minimum team for a startup is two co-founders: One commercial and one product/service. In the very early days, it is best to outsource as much of the development and design as you can (beyond what the 2 person team can do themselves). If you hire developers, designers and more too early there will come a time when they have nothing to do. The dev team stops while the marketing team engages and then the marketing team stops while the dev team catches up. It’s only when the product market fit has been validated and the cycle of build-test-learn becomes continuous that you should hire full-time extended teams. One other specific role that should be on your team is a “sector specialist”. If your main USP is the use of big data or AI/ML or genetic manipulation – then you really need to have a dedicated individual on the team to back up your ability to deliver.

What’s the number one problem startups have with their pitch decks?

There are so many problems that I see with pitch decks. The number one problem is that the startup doesn’t use a “Language of value” – Too often they talk about features and user experiences and they fail to successfully communicate the value their business brings to the market and how they extract value from users and customers. BTW – the 2nd biggest problem is that startups try to use the same pitch when speaking to customers and when speaking to investors.

What’s the most exciting startup that you’ve seen recently – and why?

Great question. Sceenic (http://sceenic.co/) is the most exciting startup that I’ve seen lately. The thing that makes me excited is that they are solving a real problem for broadcast television – they are capitalizing on social – they are engaging using video – and they are partnering in a way that gives them access to a large audience. Did I mention they have bootstrapped themselves to get to this point and have a pilot with a major UK broadcaster? The founder is a seasoned startup guy (with one startup under his belt) and knows how to make the company work. He has all the makings for a really good growing business and future exit.

Which market sectors are over-represented by start-ups?

In the UK it’s all about AdTech and FinTech – But I wouldn’t say that they are over-represented. The sectors that are over-represented are FoodDeliveryTech, EdTech and HR Tech. We just don’t need another food delivery platform. And EdTech and HRTech are interesting markets with real problems – and little or no budget. They are unlikely to be able to build US$100M businesses.

How is fundraising in EU different from raising funds in the US?

There are a couple of key ways: 1) The US investment community is all centrally located. This results in a lot of start-ups congregating where the money is. And the money then competes for the start-ups. It’s a vicious cycle that drives up valuations and interest. 2) US Companies are happier to invest in companies who can build an audience and focus on monetization later. EU investors want to see cash flow positive in 18 months and break-even in 36 months. This means that you have to focus on revenue from day 1. 3) In the EU a failed startup in your past is a kiss-of-death. In the US it (can be) a badge of honor. It’s all about a cultural difference between EU and US. The US rewards the one who tries – even if they fail. The EU rewards the few who succeed in spite of everything.

How can corporates best support the European Startup Ecosystem?

Corporates can support the ecosystem through their own accelerator programs (as mentioned above) but they can also do a lot to support European Startups by providing open access to the company and to the teams within the company. Corporates who have quarterly events where any startup can come along and pitch to the various departments and get access to decision makers not to sell – but to get real feedback from decision makers – is hugely valuable. The corporate benefits in that they get a far better understanding of what’s going on in the market at the startup level. And startups get first-hand feedback in a non-selling environment. It’s a few hours every quarter and a small lobby full of 10-20 startups. Huge value.


Principal and Founder – Troy Norcross

This is my strategy consulting firm. I have worked in large corporations and 2 of my own startups. I have a technical background in software development and business background including operations, marketing, and sales. I have been CEO of companies and managed shareholders and I have been the chief cook and bottle washer in teams of 3. The diversity of my experiences is what makes me unique. My ability to listen and ask probing questions is what makes me effective.

Check out his LinkedIn profile HERE for more info.

Startup Business Review

Mike Doherty

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