Tuesday night marked the beginning of MindShare's 17th year, and we held the annual kickoff meeting at the Verizon Center, with a special pre-Wizards game reception with Ted Leonsis. I felt honored as a newly inducted board member, and I'm excited to be involved.
Ok, before I get started...here is the press release on new members, also highlighting the board members that support the program each year.
And, just because we love the media..thank you Allyson Jacob of ElevationDC, for showing up, leaving your kids with your husband, so you could file this article....and to Tania Anderson of Bisnow for also highlighting the evening in this article. As I met with some of the incoming class, there was a lot of buzz as to what this "MindShare" concept is all about. I heard some folks compare it to a super-secret-handshake club, and some felt like they were "rushing" a fraternity or sorority as they worked the room. One CEO likened it to "CEO school," and he was excited about that, actually, a humble statement for a man, but one who recognizes the value in the learning experience.
So, I asked co-chair and co-founder of the organization April Young, what the organization looks for...
"We look people whose dreams are close enough to reality that they might become companies, and who have something that is loosely called a ‘product' rather than a service. I love the ‘CEO school' comment – I usually describe it as a kind of YPO, except you don’t have to be young, and you do not have to be CEO or founder."
She adds that you need to be a CEO of a company with proprietary technology or be internet focused.
Since I run a services business, I've never been a candidate for MindShare, so I've always kinda watched from the outside. This year I'll be able to participate on the organizing committee, and be able to see even more what it's all about. I can't wait…
I heard many people say what an honor it was to be not only nominated for inclusion, but then accepted and invited into the incoming class.
Everyone was hand-picked to be there, and yet the criteria for being involved is really no more than "be a first-time CEO for an emerging product company who wants to build a scalable company, and will take advantage of the powerful ecosystem that MindShare has to offer." There are (of course), hundreds of CEOs who fit that description in this region, and yet only 60 get in each year.
The intent of MindShare was never to be exclusive, per se, and it has operated in relative stealth mode since it was founded in 1997 by a group of industry visionaries. But it's become exclusive, and that's what makes it powerful. The members there last night saw the value in so many CEOs being together in the same place, with often times, similar issues that might keep them up at night: how to patent-protect your technology, how to raise money, how to build a strong management team, how to scale, how to build a business model that is ahead of its time, etc.
Members also got to rub shoulders with the some key "players" in this market. Gaining access to some of the most influential people in this ecosystem--Mike Lincoln, April Young, Harry Glazer, Gene Reichers, Steve Balisteri (the co-chairs, founders and executive committee members)--can often time take years without a channel like MindShare.
(Photo Courtesy of Anne Lord Photography): Pictured: Board Members Mark Esposito, April Young, Ted Leonsis, Mike Lincoln and Steve Balistreri)
Here's how the model works: CEOs are nominated by other CEO groups, past alumni, board members, and the like. Some self-nominate. The board meets several times to research and identify who will be a part of the incoming class. Invitations are extended and members accept or decline. The expectation is that each year, the class members will show up, engage, and then hopefully "graduate" at year's end.
MindShare holds 8-10 "classes" each year which deal with topics such as the ones outlined above. Experts are brought in to teach and educate in an informal manner, and the members are able to network with their peers before and after. The camaraderie that is developed is invaluable.
Assuming a member's attendance record is strong (they keep track!), he or she will "graduate." Then they become a part of the powerful alumni organization, where it all comes together: they are now part of a 660+ strong group of some of the most powerful leaders and technology CEOs in the region. To make my case, past graduates of MindShare include some household names in this region's technology sector:
- Joe Payne of Eloqua (2012 IPO and acquired by Oracle for $871M);
- Tim O’Shaughnessy of LivingSocial (raised over $180M in 2010);
- Reggie Aggarwal of Cvent (raised $136M in one of the largest Series A rounds on record in 2011);
- Rick Rudman of Vocus (2005 IPO);
- Hemant Kanakia of Torrent Networking Technologies (acquired by Ericsson for $450M);
- Phillip Merrick of webMethods (the most successful first day software IPO ever).
I know I speak for the other committee and board members when I say that MindShare just gets better every year. I've already had the chance to hear Ted Leonsis speak in a private setting, and that sets the bar. I have my pencil sharpened and I'm ready to go to class…here's to the 17th year of MindShare!
-- Elizabeth Shea @eliz2shea
Mark your calendars! Following last year's success, the second annual Day of Foster.ly (D.O.F.) will return to Artisphere in Arlington, Virginia on Saturday, May 4th, 2013.
The event will draw more than 500 members of the region's entrepreneurship community, and D.O.F. will offer multiple panels and experience chats, two expos, a job fair, community driven workshops, a Media Match (where entrepreneurs pitch stories to journalists in a speed dating format), and much more.
SpeakerBox is excited to be involved in the Media Match event again this year. Media Match provides many of the region's best startups and entrepreneurs an opportunity to speak with journalists who might be interested in their story. It works like speed dating is a great opportunity for emerging coming companies to practice their media story. The journalists benefit from a "first look" into up-and-coming companies in the region.
Register today at www.DayOfFosterly.com and you can stay connected with event plans via Foster.ly's Facebook Group and Twitter. Also, make sure to set up your Foster.ly profile if you have not already registered to connect with this extensive and information-packed network.
If you are a member of the media and interested in participating in Media Match, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
When I was in college, I spent one of my summers selling books door-to-door with The Southwestern Company, and set out to make enough money to support my next year in college. I moved to a city outside of Boston with 20 some other crazy kids, learned a script by heart to spout out to the families I met, read Og Mandino's The Greatest Salesman in the World and rode a borrowed bicycle from door-to-door. I was in sales, the best kind there is, where I received a full 40% commission from every book I sold! I ended up miserable, but I made it through. After that summer, I swore to never be in sales again.
So I was intrigued to have the opportunity this week to listen to Dan Pink, bestselling author of five books, including Drive and A Whole New Mind, at the Entrepreneur Organizations' monthly learning program. He has released a new book on the ironic topic of how at its heart, everyone is in sales, and I know that even though I don't have "sales" in my title, I sell every single day, to almost everyone I meet.
Pink has seen positive reviews on all of his books from the likes of Forbes, the LA Times, the Huffington Post, NPR, and numerous other notable outlets. He even sat with Oprah and contributed an article for the Harvard Business Review.
He is currently promoting his new book, To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, and we are fortunate enough to have him in our back yard (he's a local)! The room was packed. I wasn't sure what the expect from his talk, but the gist of the speech was about how in today's world, everyone is selling, each and every day, and understanding what makes people good at it can be very empowering. In fact, if part of your job is to separate someone from "time, resources or money," you are selling!
To share some of the big takeaways I had:
- He began with asking what words or assocations did the audience have with the term "salesperson..." and not surprisingly, most were not positive terms! Sleazy, pushy were at the top of the list, and yet 1 in 9 people in this country hold a position where they are responsible for sales. Chances are, they aren't all bad!
- We live in a world where it's no longer a "buyer beware" mentality, where the seller holds all the cards because he or she is the keeper of information. Now, it's "seller beware" with the buyer often times being armed with more information than ever. So pushy salespeople often times don't get very far...
- The most fascinating part of his talk was the research he provides in his book, about the social science of humans and how some facts are counterintuitive to what we believe about the art of selling. For example, how being introverted isn't a recipe for disaster in sales, but rather a blend of introversion and extroversion is very powerful...folks who scored in the middle were proven again and again to be the most successful selling. And two, how it has been studied that in multiple cases, when a company eliminates commission, revenues go up. Huh! No wonder my 40% commission really wasn't a motivator in the end...
- There were some interesting and useful tips he gave on how to get people's attention when sending an email or other communication, such as using rhymes in a clever way, or alliteration. There have been tests done on the higher memory recall of statements or subject lines in emails that will pull better, just because they rhyme!
- Where we used to live by the sales mantra of "Always Be Closing" (the ABC's of selling!) we now should live by "Attunement, Buoyancy and Clarity." Attunement: being able to empathize, listen, and understand where a person is coming from. Buoyancy: the art of positive self-talk; and Clarity: being able to see a realistic portrait of the situation.
So while I can still recite much of the script I learned in college, and still remember the "bookman song" we sang every morning to get us motivated, I'm glad those days are gone.
--Elizabeth Shea, @eliz2shea
Last week, mobile developers joined forces at the Gannett Conference Center in McLean, VA for the conference portion of MoDevEast – a mobile conference for developers, managers, designers and marketers to gather and talk about everything mobile. The event consisted of pre-conference workshops on Thursday, Nov 29th, a full conference agenda on Friday, Nov 30th, and a hackathon on Dec 1st.
I was lucky enough to be in attendance for a great day of speakers on Friday, but before things kicked off, MoDev and Disruptathon Founder Pete Erickson, along with the backing of the mobile community, announced support for Movember – an initiative to raise awareness and funds for men’s health issues. A lot of the gentlemen in the audience were sporting mustaches to add an extra punch to raise funds for their cause, although many expressed how excited they were that in less than 24 hours November would be over and they could get rid of it! Either way, it was a nice way to kick off the holiday season and the event with the message to give back!
Matt de Ganon, VP of Mobile Products and Operations for Gannett, gave the morning keynote, focusing on how mobile has matured over the past year. He specifically pointed out Hurricane Sandy and the devastation it caused to the NY and NJ areas as proof of how valuable the mobile device has become, pointing to photos of folks who were affected by the aftermath hunting down places to charge their devices and even making homemade chargers powered by bicycles.
Along with this revelation of mobile vitality, he also noted that a huge challenge with the mobile industry has been finding a way to put the pieces together for both users and advertisers, stating that mobile has a beauty and complexity that he doesn’t think we’ve seen before in the technology arena. It’s an opportunity to address a user in multiple ways based on how they’re their own devices and what those users want to achieve. The new question in mobile shouldn’t be how to keep up with tech, but how to mature mobile products so we’re innovating rather than reacting, de Ganon prompted. He said that the mobile-first attitude has not penetrated many companies (Gannett excluded) and that more companies need to make this a priority so they aren’t left behind. How will we mature mobile products so we’re innovating? “Our job is to be smarter than we have been about how we publish and design apps and how we present mobile utility to a customer,” said de Ganon. “We need to understand the vision, what the user needs and wants and develop a strategy that executes on that.”
The day continued with four breakout rooms that included talks ranging from super technical to the basics. But, I stuck around the main stage to avoid getting lost in some of the more technical talks. One panel included developers from App47, BusyConf, Bear Eco, Gannett and Adobe, all of whom favored different development platforms: HTML5, iOs, Windows and Android. Despite their differences, they all agreed the most important advice they can give for app creation is to make sure you know what you want your app to do and why before you even get started.
“Chief Doer” for Savvy Apps, Ken Yarmosh, spoke to the crowd about the impending death of the home screen, saying it will soon be replaced by notifications, widgets and voice and that apps no longer need to be opened to be useful. He called this Home screen 2.0, and predicted it will include:
- Voice – Features like Siri Eyes Free (announced as part as iOS 6) will allow our devices to interact with voice while driving your car. You won’t have to touch the device to access contacts, email, etc.
- Sensors – Web cams will detect hand movements that allow you to access specific apps, while box screen widgets will allow you to access apps with a certain gesture
- Background – the home screen will be everywhere. We will no longer need to unlock our devices to get to a utility or open an app.
- Notifications - Soon things like Google Now will, with permission, crawl your email and send live notifications and info that it thinks you might be interested in (weather, movies, shopping, etc.).
- App interactions – Your primary device will soon become a second screen. For example, you will use the Netflix app on your phone to control your TV.
- Location-based ads – More apps such as Waze will be available, giving you advertisements and deals based on your exact location, i.e. sending an ad to your home screen for the Whole Foods you just drove past.
The next talk was another panel, with speakers from 3Pillar Global
, Gannett, MicroPact
, which focused on product modernization- shifting your product base to meet the needs of mobile customers. Panelists addressed how having a mobile offering can change your value proposition as a business and how often there is no one at a company that has the responsibility, authority and accountability for mobile – but there should be. Also, did you know there are 4.8 billion mobile devices and only 4.2 billion toothbrushes?
Amit Jotwani, Developer Evangelist with Mashery, presented a talk about APIs, outlining the ways you can make your platform a developer magnet. He noted APIs should be treated like a product, and gave some tips, including:
- Be prepared
- Know your developers
- Provide stellar documentation
- Solve the pain
Of course there were many other great sessions along with the ones outlined above, but unfortunately, I couldn’t be everywhere at once. If you’d like more details about who spoke and what the sessions discussed, you can always check out www.modeveast.com. The event’s closing keynote was given by John Schlegal, Founder and CEO of Optime Software, where he divulged his secrets to success, including that experimentation is the key to building a business and that ideas do not need to be original or defensible, only scalable. All in all, if you are a developer, designer, marketer or mobile enthusiast, this was a great event to attend.
Here are a few of the day’s presentations that are available online:
- "DevOps Best Practices for Cross-Platform Mobile Apps", Sanjeev Sharma, Executive IT Specialist at IBM
- "Rapid and Responsive: UX to Prototype with Bootstrap", Josh Jeffryes, Lead of UI Development at The College Board
- “So, You Think You Know App Management”, Chris Schroeder, CEO and Co-Founder, App47
- "Confessions of a Serial Developer: A Phonegap Case Study", Paul Murphy, Founder and Developer at 3Advance.com, Darren Gibney, 3Advance and Jeff Sonderman, Digital Media Fellow at The Poynter Institute
- "Details of a Multi-Platform Notification Strategy", Mark D. Gerl, Director of Mobile Development at POLITICO and Scott Tury, System Architect at AOL
Want to hear about the MoDevEast Hackathon and who won the grand prize? Check out Amit Jotwani’s blog post recapping the action!. Also, MoDev will be hosting the CEA MoDev Hackathon Sponsored by Travel Channel this year at CES in Las Vegas, January 8-11, 2013. Be sure to check it out!
As the spouse of a veteran, I have always felt that the Veteran’s Day holiday is an important time to pay tribute to those who have served our country. Perhaps I’m a bit biased, since I understand the trials and tribulations associated with those who dedicate their time and effort to assuring our freedom and safety, but also the difficulties experienced by members of their families who are left behind to hold down the home front.
I also have a great appreciation for organizations that provide services to our troops, vets and their families, and that is why this year’s Veteran’s Day was so great. This year, I had the privilege of being part of the SpeakerBox team that helped launch Troop ID.
Many of you may be familiar with TroopSwap, the online e-commerce discount site for service members and veterans. Recently, Blake Hall and Matt Thompson (who happen to be retired Army Rangers) have launched a new technology for authenticating veteran and active duty military identities so that they can receive online discounts from vendors
that already provide those discounts in their brick-and-mortar facilities. Several large brands, including Under Armour (NYSE: UA), are launching merchant partnerships with Troop ID in conjunction with the announcement. Troop ID verification can be found on UA's desktop site first, then will expanding to mobile site in the coming weeks. Startup America has also endorsed Troop ID as a best practice for its regions as a means to gate identity for veteran-centric events.
I can attest that this is a much-appreciated technology, especially now that so much of modern commerce takes place online. And, now, soldiers can actually take advantage of these discounts while deployed overseas, as well. In the official release, Troop ID Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Blake Hall described the verification widget as the means to ultimately bridge the long-standing civilian/military divide: "Without a way to verify military credentials, brands are unable to deliver discounts to service members and veterans online. Troop ID solves that problem. On the surface, it looks like we are allowing brands to give service members discounts online, but what we are really doing is letting service members and veterans know that Americans care."
So if you’ll pardon a little bit of chest thumping, we were quite enthusiastic to share the success to date for the launch, which officially took place on Tuesday, November 13. Several local DC media along with national retail publications wrote about the news, which can be found here: Washington Post, Washington Business Journal, InTheCapital, Tech Cocktail. Tech Bisnow, Daily Deal, Internet Retailer, PotomacTech Wire and USMC Life.
And, if you know any active-duty military or veterans, be sure to let them know about this new offering so they can take advantage of it this holiday season!
Deloitte announced the winners of the Fast 500 at events around the country on Tuesday. Lisa Throckmorton and I were invited to the DC event, which was well attended by many of the regional companies that made the North American list. At the dinner, the winning companies learned just how high they ranked, including one incredible local success story that made it into the top ten.
The Technology Fast 500 is an annual program that recognizes the fastest growing companies in North America based on percentage revenue growth over a five-year period. Eligible companies must have operating revenues of at least $50,000 USD or CD in FY 2007 and at least $5M in FY 2011. Qualifying categories include technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences and clean technology industries.
(Lisa Throckmorton, SpeakerBox and Hossein Noshirvani, Motionsoft)
This year, 32 companies in the DC region earned a spot on the list of 500. Of the local winners, more than 50 percent are in the software industry and nearly 20 percent are in communications and networking. The vast majority of this year’s DC winners, about 72 percent, are privately held companies.
And the winners are … drumroll please:
Parature, #454, customer service software and web support
comScore, #436. digital analytics *
ScienceLogic, #414, data center and cloud management
Welocalize, #406, translation services *
WealthEngine, #405, prospect research, modeling and analytics *
RKG | Rimm-Kaufman Group, #403, data-driven online marketing *
AEEC, #400, IT and engineering services *
Contact Solutions, #396, customer service solutions
TEOCO, #391, telecom assurance and analytics *
TeleCommunication Systems, #380, communication systems *
Notable Solutions (NSI), #377, content capture and business automation
Sourcefire, #376, network security solutions *
Cvent, #350, event management software *
Snagajob.com, #337, hourly employment network *
Concept Solutions, #332, management and technology consulting *
Jorge, #331, government contracting
LDiscovery, #323, legal and technology consulting
Eloqua, #312, marketing automation
United Therapeutics Corporation, #285, biotechnology *
K12, #280, online education *
Apprio, #214, government technology solutions
Primatics, #207, enterprise software for financial services *
Motionsoft, #178, member relationship and club management software *
Tenable Network Security, #171, unified security monitoring *
VidSys, #159, physical security information management *
Novavax, #129, clinical-stage biopharmaceutical
Osiris Therapeutics, #72, stem cell therapeutics *
CFN Services, #56, network and application delivery solutions *
Zenoss, #55, IT operations management *
MicroTech, #53, government contracting *
Millennial Media, #25, mobile ad and data platform
Avail-TVN, #6, multi-platform video services
* These companies also made the list in 2011.
Congratulations to all this year’s winners and to Deloitte for a great event. Looking forward to next year.
- Katie Hanusik
A few weeks ago I attended the ITEXPO on behalf of the Cloud Communications Alliance (CCA), and the StartupCamp that the CCA sponsored. The StartupCamp organizer, Larry Lisser, hosted Broadsoft CEO Mike Tessler who gave a keynote address to the packed room.
Larry invited four companies to come and present, who would be subsequently judged, wtih the audience ultimately voting on the comapny that is believed to be most viable.
Each of the four companies was impressive on their own, and were seeking somewhere between $1M and $4-5M in money.
The winner was one of my favorites that presented, so I wasn't surprised! The company, RingDNA is a built-in call detection and and tracking system, that integrates with your system CRM system or database, including Salesforce.com.
Their message is that they help get the right person to the phone, with the right data on any device, right when you need it. They quoted that salespeopple typically spend 24% of a sales call researching and preparing for that call, and thus, RingDNA can help sales tremendously. They closed a $1.1M round in funding in July and are looking to raise another $4-6M now.
--Elizabeth Shea, @eliz2shea
Day 2: Seed Stage Day
Friday was day two of Distilled Intelligence 2.0 (see a recap of day one here), an event where seed stage startups who have raised less than $100K compete in a pitch contest for a grand prize of $35K. We spent the day at Carnegie Library in D.C. hearing presentations from 50 companies that are looking for seed funding and were hand-picked to present their ideas. This post will give you an overview of day two, but if you're interested in a deeper look check out my colleague's live blog here or follow Fortify.vc on Twitter.
The competing companies include:
- Barrel of Jobs
- Doing Good Network
- DOK Solution
- Doodle or Die
- Easy Web Content
- Kapta Systems
- Kissing Swans
- Nouri, Inc.
- Smart College Visit
- The Trip Tribe
- Tutor Assignment
- Ultra Gaming
The 50 companies listed above participated in the speed round, where each had one minute to pitch their company to the judges to possibly move on to the next round. Fortify.vc and the judges are STRICT on the 60 second limit and will hit the gong if the presenter goes over. Expert judges included:
* Raj Bhaskhar, Software Entrepreneur
* Frank Hameed, Entrepreneur and Angel Investor
* Justin McLeod, Founder and CEO of Hinge
* Stephanie Rowe, Founder and CEO of NEXT LLC
* Manpreet Singh, President and COO of Seva Call, Inc.
After lunch, the 20 semi-finalists were announced and invited to give a more in-depth, 3-minute presentation:
- Barrel of Jobs
During the deliberation period, plenty of networking was going on in the exhibit hall and Angie Goff from NBC4 led a fireside chat with Dan'l Lewin, corporate VP for Strategic and Emerging Business Development at Microsoft.
Finalists and Winners
Then, the 10 finalists were revealed:
- Barrel of Jobs
- Doodle or DieGuiaBolso
These 10 finalists went in front of the firing squad with a 4-minute Q&A with the judges who would decide the winners.
But, before Jonathon Perelli announced the big news, the packed house listened to a panel discussion on fundraising in the age of crowds and angels from seasoned investors John Backus, Glen Hellman, and Bill Militello.
AND THE WINNERS ARE:
* Fifth Place: Barrel of Jobs
* Fourth Place: Bookend
* Third Place: Kahnoodle
* Second Place: Aquicore
* FIRST PLACE: Cont3nt.com
After a long, fun two days Distilled Intelligence hosted a great happy hour with plenty of networking and drinks for everyone!
Day 1: Series A Day
Today kicked off the first day of Distilled Intelligence 2.0, an event where startups compete in a series of presentations for the grand prize of $100K. The event took place in Washington D.C. at the Carnegie Library and featured presentations from 50 companies that have raised between $101K - $1M. This blog will give you a very brief synopsis of the day, the competing companies and who made it through each round until the winners were announced. If you’re looking for the long version, please check out my colleague Jonathan Katz’s live account of the event at http://fortify.vc/blog. The competing companies included:
- 410 Labs
- Agent Piggy
- Bookstore Genie
- Camp Easy
- Company Capture
- Cirrus Thinking/Dolly Drive
- Emergent One
- Flex Receipts
- Flexy Keyboard
- Genomic Arts
- Janus Motorcycles
- Micronic Technologies
- One World Youth Project
- Pengo, Inc.
- Person Spot
- Same Grain
- The Social Radio
- Umba Box
- Wealthforge Holdings, Inc.
After registration and opening remarks from Fortify.vc
Founding Partner Jonathan Perelli
(and co-creator of Distilled Intelligence), all 50 companies participated in a speed round, where they each had 60 seconds to convince the panel of judges to keep them around for the semi-final round. Just in case you’ve never had to give a 1-minute speech, its not easy! Expert judges included:
- Michael Cloran, Serial Entrepreneur
- Adam Fazackerley, entrepreneur, General Partner with Fortify.vc, co-founder of Distilled Intelligence and co-founder of Lay-n-Go
- Blake Hall, Founder and CEO of TroopSwap
- Phil Lawson-Shanks, entrepreneur, CTO of Virtacore Systems
While the judges met to determine which 20 companies would make the cut, Mr. Perelli took the stage again to entertain the crowd as moderator of a panel about startup funding. Panelists included Randy Domolky, founding and managing director of Liquid Capital Group, Tom Grossi, director of Apprenda, Lot18, newBrandAnalytics and Poggled and Erik Kimel, founder of Peer2Peer Tutors.
Following the panel, the 20 semi-finalists were announced and here’s who made it through to the 2nd round, which consisted of a more in-depth, 3-minute presentation:
- 410 Labs
- Genomic Arts
- Micronic Technologies
- Umba Box
This time, while judges convened, Zaarly’s Eric Koester and Mixergy’s Andrew Warner took the stage for a fireside chat. For this casual interview, Warner picked Koester’s brain about the difference between Zaarly and Craigslist, investors (like the famous Ashton Kutcher), and what it took to acquire 300,000 users in just 3 months.
Finalists and Winners
Then, the 10 finalists were revealed:
- 410 labs
- Genomic Arts
- Micron Technologies
- Umba Box
These finalists had to endure a 4-minute Q&A with the judges that would decide their fate. And the winners were (drumroll please…):
Toasting the day, happy hour followed the announcement of the winners! Today’s event was a great time with a great group of start-ups, and I’m sad it’s over. But, the good news is there is another day of fun tomorrow! If you didn’t get a ticket, be sure to following Jonathan’s live account of Day 2: Seed Stage Day, that will feature companies who have raised less than $100K.
We like to turn the camera around, so to speak, from time to time and conduct our own interviews with the movers, shakers and influencers in our community.
This Ask the Influencers interview is with Glen Hellman, a notable force in the DC community as well as on a national stage supporting entrepreneurism. He was recently profiled in the Washington Business Journal in Bill Flook's column (requires subscription) with the title: Mr. Cranky: Glen Hellman
SBX: You are an entrepreneur, an executive coach, an angel investor, and a vocal contributor in the DC tech scene. What drives you every day? What do you enjoy the most?
HELLMAN: I love what I do because it has a purpose. I’m an advocate of entrepreneurs, I’m an advocate of DC, and I love real life puzzles or problem solving. Every day I have a new challenge and whether it’s with a client, a portfolio company, or volunteer work, I get to solve puzzles that help entrepreneurs build a better DC business ecosystem.
There’s a Vistage Chair I’ve met, Pat Hyndman. He’s been doing this for 50 years. He’s in his 90s and his mind is a quick, sharp and facile as any 40 year old. That’s because our minds are a muscle and Pat has been giving his mind a strenuous mental work out every time he meets with a client. I’d love to be able to be like Pat Hyndman when I’m 90. I’d love to look back at 50 years of helping great CEOs be better CEOs while keeping myself in the game.
I can’t think of anything else I could do that has this much pay back.
SBX: What do you see for the just-starting out entrepreneur in today's world? Any advice you can share?
HELLMAN: It’s Okay to be smart. It’s not okay to think you have all the answers. Always get opinions, always continue to learn. read, debate, seek peer advice and then don’t get paralyzed by all the different inputs. Use the inputs, be decisive and move forward.
SBX: You believe DC can make its own mark in the technology scene, and that we should be blazing our own trail. How do you think we can do that?
HELLMAN: I think we would be best served if we took advantage of our strengths. We’re a data enriched town…… focus on Big Data. We have some momentum in education technology which is getting big, and healthcare/biotech. Focus on the few industries where we have a competitive advantage and dense centers of excellence.
Let New York focus on Media, and Financial Apps, they have the Subject Matter Experts and Density to do that. Let’s not try to be all things to all people. Let’s not try to take on Silicon Valley on all fronts. Let’s pick a few sectors where we have an advantage and then let’s build up the density and mass required to be excellent.
SBX: You have many opinions on what makes a company great, or "AMAZING" as noted in this blog post. Are there companies locally you've seen be just AMAZING?
HELLMAN: You know there are many of them. That blog just flowed. When I get riled up or passionate about something, I can knock out a blog in 20 minutes. This was a blog with two inspirations. The first one was Dan Berger, CEO of Social Tables. Dan is a brilliant guy. Passionate, knowledgeable, strategic, like most good CEOs. What makes Dan a great CEO is that he’s also a bulldog. He’ll do the ugly stuff, the heavy lifting. He doesn’t understand the word no and he’s not afraid to hear no. It’s like no, is a good thing because it gets him 3 or 4 nos away from a yes.
On the other side, there are a few folks who I’d rather not expose that drive me nuts. They’re all about the trappings of being an entrepreneur and a CEO but unlike Dan, you won’t see them shoveling poop.
-- Elizabeth Shea, @eliz2shea