Archive for the ‘ business development ’ Category

Bruce Firestone Interview’s Openera CEO Peter Lalonde

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LOL! Openera @Startupfest in Montreal

Yes we are!

“Hey, do you want to go to Montreal for a couple of days and hang with a bunch of start-ups?”

That was my intro to the idea of the first International Startup Festival in Montreal. We weren’t really sure what to expect, but it definitely seemed like an event a bootstrapping startup should be at, if for no other reason than to connect with other startups and share ideas, pains, and opportunities.

Great Event.

Wow. What a fantastic event! StartupFest certainly didn’t disappoint.

Openera at Startup FestWe had the opportunity to hear from serial entrepreneurs who put us at ease that we’re not alone in this, and yes, startups are hard, but that doesn’t mean we should give up (even if it did seem like they were encouraging us to run away as fast as we can!) We gained incredible insight into the The Lean Startup Model, validating that we’re on the right path, and approaching things the right way. We had the fortuity of learning what VC’s and angels are looking for, and what to do, or not do, when seeking funding.

Here are some highlights of Startup Fest.

Here are our highlights from Startup Fest!

Adam Daw is a Hack! Officially.

Adam Daw - Hacker. Winner.

Openera kicked off our activities at StartupFest with our hacker-in-residence, Adam Daw (@adamdaw), competing at Context.io‘s hackathon at Notman House, and wouldn’t you know you know it – he took first place!

Adam Daw, you are a Hacker! What better way to kick things off for us – congratulations Adam! (enjoy the iPad!)

We knew right away…

…this conference was F*@%!ng Different!

There was certainly no shortage of amazing presentation from some incredible speakers. While Dave McClure ( http://500startups.com) (King of the F-bombs!) may have had entrepreneurs and founders curled up in the fetal position crying for mommy with his in-your-face keynote “Why *NOT* do a Startup” (I especially love the term “Wantrepreneur”), thankfully it wasn’t enough to make us run away screaming. Here are just a handful of presentations we attended that had a huge impact on us, as well as links to the decks on SlideShare where available:

“Startups are hard, but don’t give up”

Sarah Prevette‘s awesome napkin slide presentation “Your first Startup” and Tara Hunt‘s “Lies, Damned Lies, and Startups” (The cake is a lie!) – were sharp, witty, and authentic… Definitely the stuff a bootstrapping startup needed to hear to stay motivated.

“Lean, Mean, Startup Machines”

Ash Maurya‘s “10 Steps to Product/Market Fit“, Dan Martell‘s “Understanding the lean model“, and Ed Roman‘s “Lean Startup Cases” provided invaluable insight into the Lean Startup Model, and helped validate for us that we’re on the right track, and are doing the right things.

“To fund or Not to Fund” and “Exit → This Way”

Jeff Clavier‘s “Startup by numbers“, Stephan Ouaknine‘s “It’s all about shareholder value” gave us a lot to think about with respect to funding, VC’s, and Angels. Anand Agarawala took us along BumpTop’s journey from startup to being acquired by Google last year and gave some great advice in “The Art of the Hustle“, and Jeremy Edberg walked us through “A brief history of Reddit, the first YCombinator success“. Both were inspiring and insightful.

Art of the Elevator pitch

Openera at Schwartz's

StartupFest did a terrific job providing entrepreneurs with various opportunities to pitch their ideas to VC’s, Angels, and potential partners and/or customers. This included, pitching to Grandmothers (your pitch/product should be so easy to understand, even your Grandma “gets it”.), delivering your elevator pitch … in an elevator (literally), and, for a handful of startups, the opportunity to pitch on stage to a full audience.

We couldn’t resist: Openera Pitches SmartCloud in an elevator.

We weren’t planning on pitching at this stage in our development, but who could resist doing an elevator pitch, in an elevator, to a couple of VC’s sitting on couches? It was awesome! The feedback was exactly what we needed to hear. Hearing a VC say:

“You’ve got a great idea, you’re going to make money, but you’re not thinking BIG enough!”

Well, that was pretty inspiring. Message received. Thinking bigger!

Startup Fest was about a lot more than just presentations.

Bowling with Hippos

Bowling with Hippos

Way more than just presentations. People. Smart people. Entrepreneurs willing to build something, take chances and help each other. There was a LOT of fun to be had as well. Besides the Montreal nightlife, cuisine and electric atmosphere on the Main…there was bowling with hippos! Feel free to ask Scott Annan from Network Hippo to clarify!

Huge thanks to Phil Telio and his team for spear-heading this fantastic event. We hope to see this event back in Montreal next year!

What did you learn from StartupFest? Do you think this will become an annual event?

Stop. Watch this video if you run a start-up.

Donna Novitzky, CEO of Big Tent

This is a quick video that sums up the basics of marketing a start-up. The key points:

  1. Don’t hire sales people if you can’t sell your own product or service.
  2. Understand your marketing strategy before blasting marketing messages.
  3. Get your first lead customer references
  4. Partner for mutual benefit

The Monumental Importance of Winning Together

"The Greed Vote"

Greed at the cost of partners is short sighted.

I talk to a lot of people about business development and partnering strategies. I die a bit every time. Well, not every time, just most of the time. It’s depressing the number of conversations I have where it becomes immediately clear that the only goal is to satisfy one goal. Revenue.

Don’t get me wrong, I love revenue. I love it a lot. But, why have such a singular goal that only satisfies one immediate need and carries such a low chance for success? The real goal is to satisfy at least 3 goals: your goal, the partners goal, the joint customers goal. (I could get altruistic and add the communities goal, but that will have to wait for another post.)

I see real people who work for real companies push to partner with another company, and fail to care what is in it for the potential partner. It sounds insane, doesn’t it? It is. So how can real people, working for real companies do that? Pressure.

Pressure is available in different styles and an unlimited quantity. Pick any one: the need for revenue, The boss said to partner with XYZ company. The CEO wants a press release….any reason really. Even the pressure of selfishness. I’m not blind to selfish motivation. We all start there. It’s the ability to quickly move beyond your own selfish motivation and be able to see and articulate the benefits the potential partner will realize that separate the good business developers from the bad.

It’s pressure, selfishness and maybe ignorance that stops most people from doing the right thing for lasting value. It’s simple, yet so complex.

Red Sox World Series Champions

Winning together is better!

Fortunately, it’s those factors that motivate forward thinking companies to work with the Openera team. We understand the pressure, eliminate ignorance and, in doing the right thing, justify the selfishness.

The irony in thinking this way is that it’s easier. Once you identify how your partner wins by working with you…. you’ve won. You can now have meaningful conversations about winning together.

I don’t want to mislead you, working with partners can make reaching your goals much easier, but it’s not easy. Balancing your goals with the goals of your partners is a tricky proposition. There will always be competing priorities and pressures. Successful partnerships take effort and time. The best way I know how to speed up a solid partnership is to win together. In order to win together, you have to bring a partner in on your deal. Establish trust, help the partner win. In doing so, you both win.

Why can’t your stuff just go where it’s suposed to go?

Have you ever found it difficult to find a document someone sent you a while ago? Maybe it was important, you cant remember where you filed it. You can search your computer, your usb drives, your online storage provider, even your mobile phone. Tags make it easier and there are always some plug-ins that promise to make it easier. None of them work very well.

Why can’t your stuff just go where it should be? I use Box.net as my content management system for Openera. My wife and I use Dropbox for my personal stuff. Why can’t the files my co-workers send me go where I store my work stuff and my personal files go where my personal stuff goes?

That is the question I have asked myself lately in the hopes of answering another vexing problem facing just about all content management systems: user adoption. The number 1 reason new IT initiatives fail is lack of user adoption. This is true of just about any new application but amplified for any system that relies on user input (content in the form of data, documents, videos, photos…etc.) like content management (CMS) and customer relationship management systems. (CRM) The systems are only valuable if users contribute, if they don’t the system falls prey to diminishing returns.  The less people contribute, the less people trust the relevance of the content.

To take this question to the next level I began thinking about the reasons these systems fail when adoption fails. It comes down to the way people work. Google is a success because people trust that they can quickly and easily search and find relevant content online. Outside of the SEO world, people don’t really think about putting content “into Google.” Results end up “in Google” by the nature of what people do online, without having to do anything different. Just by writing a blog entry, updating facebook, tweeting a review of a great restaurant, posting pictures to Flickr or videos to YouTube, value is added to Google searches. The same is not true of traditional ECM (Open Text, Documentum, Vignette…) or CRM solutions. ( Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics, Oracle OnDemand, Siebel) Users are asked to change their behaviour. They have to check-in a document, save files to specific locations, or bcc: catch-all email inboxes.

I’ve been a part of the structured and unstructured content management world since 1991. Back then we called it document management, some records management, email management, even knowledge management. The number one challenge was always the same.

User adoption. We always asked users to change the way they worked. We had a killer solution for document management at Interleaf, Open Text, Documentum, Hummingbird and others. But, we asked users to do something different. Don’t email files back and forth. Don’t save documents to shared drives. Check your documents into a document management system and send someone a link to the document. That way we can track who accesses the documents and can provide an audit trail. (Don’t we all love being audited?) It sounded like a great idea, from a technology standpoint it made perfect sense. Less content travelling across the networks led to the better use of bandwidth and resources. Sending links to files instead of the files themselves meant that we could collaborate on the same version of a file. There were so many benefits, why didn’t people just change the way they worked so they could realize all these benefits? I wish I was kidding when I recall my co-workers talking about how stupid people are that email files back and forth and not using our brilliant solution. Well, people aren’t stupid, the technology was great, but it didn’t address user behaviour in the design of the solution.

In short, the preceding challenge is what what I want to focus on as we embark on the development of our solution to this problem. A problem that shouldn’t exist. A problem that should have been solved a decade ago. If computers are so darn smart, why don’t they put my stuff where it’s supposed to go?