Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bernard Lunn on the New Economy (excellent commentary)

Some really wonderful thoughts and top-notch commentary on the new Internet methods (aka Web 1.0 & Web 2.0) and how they affect traditional & new businesses in the economy.

Best discussion I've seen yet.

From Bernard Lunn's ReadWriteWeb blog:
Part 1 - Post-Recession Phase Transition (4/27/08)
Part 2 - The Emerging Main Street Web (4/29/08)

- Mitchell Tsai (Harvard '86) - CEO, Spiritual Business Companions : FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Facebook

Monday, April 28, 2008

xxfactor: WOMEN+LEADERSHIP (Stanford, Sat 5/17/08, Free)

Austin Lin posted an update about this on Facebook.
xxfactor WOMEN+LEADERSHIP conference

Keynote Speaker: Trae Vassallo (Stanford MBA 2000) - Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers

WHEN: Saturday, 17 May 2008 (8:00 AM - 6:00 PM)
WHERE: Stanford Graduate School of Business
COST: There is no charge for this event. Meals are included.

REGISTER: Register by 5 May 2008 (5:00 PM) to reserve your place. ...

"This sounds like a great event if you've even considered going to business school and want an excuse to go to Palo Alto May 17th."

- Mitchell Tsai (Harvard '86) - CEO, Spiritual Business Companions : FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Facebook

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Describe your business in 7 words (or less)

UPDATED: Wed 5/7/08 2 PM PT

The scenario I like to give entrepreneurs is
a) You are stuck in elevator with Bill Gates or Melinda Gates, who's in a conversation.
b) Can you give Bill/Melinda your business card with "7 words" on the back, and attract their attention?

What will make Bill/Melinda?
1) Ask you for a 15-sec pitch
2) Then ask you for a 60-sec description
3) ...and for a few minutes off the elevator
4) ...and lunch the next week

Your chances of getting LOTS of FREE ADVICE from people who charge $1,000+/hr....is much better when they don't feel like they have to "do work" in order to help you; e.g.

[in 5 seconds] "My idea is X. Can you help connect me with Person-Y and Organization-Z? No, sorry to bother you."

Practice this 5 second approach at networking events.


The "7 words" may depend on who you're pitching -
Stakeholders, Stockholders, Customers, VCs, Funders, Tech, Media, Bloggers, Possible employees, Possible Business Associates, Family, Public

It's a combination of marketing & technology showing insight into your products & insight into your audience (Customers, Possible Employees, etc...)

In the new Twitter world, pitch your stuff in 140 chars (including someone's Twitter address and some other words), so concise marketing is key.

For techies, perhaps a 15-sec YouTube!

*** Faster Top-down approach to Business Plans: ***

1) 7-words
2) Executive Summary - 1 paragraph
3) 1-Page with Marketing Plan, Tech Overview, Financials, Market Analysis, and anything important.

Oh yeah. I'm going to read the 1 page in 5-10 seconds. Good visual layout. Both your strengths and your WEAKNESSES (I want to know if I and my network are a good fit for your problems...)

...then you can use the traditional 2-10-100+ page business plans. A traditional business plan helps me see that an amateur businessperson can cover the bases. What impresses more is someone who can distill the important DISTINGUISHING features into 1 or 2 pages. If that's present, business plans always change.

Inc 500's study showed that businesses who stick to their business plans actually fail at a FASTER rate!

This exercise is not mine. It's a personal variation of one I learned when first working in Venture Capital in the 1990s.

When you're pitching me (or any VC or possible advisor/mentor), don't make me feel like I'm going to the dentist.

Ideally, I'd like to be very relaxed, and truly interested in what you're saying.

If you've lost me after 15 seconds, it's going to be tough to hear a convoluted 15-min idea.

P.S. It can take months & years to get the 7 words...so don't get discouraged!

- Mitchell Tsai (Harvard '86) - CEO, Spiritual Business Companions : FriendFeed, LinkedIn, Facebook