Last week, Deloitte published its annual list of Technology’s Fast 500, and Elizabeth Shea and I were fortunate enough to be at the D.C. area dinner when the rankings were announced.
The North American Fast 500 celebrates companies of all sizes in the U.S. and Canada that have exhibited remarkable growth. Winners span a variety of sectors, including hardware, software, telecom, semiconductors, life sciences and clean tech.
To qualify for the Technology Fast 500, companies must be headquartered in North America and have a 2008 operating revenue of at least $50,000 and a 2012 operating revenue of at least $5 million.
Deloitte shared these interesting stats about this year’s North American winners:
- Five of the top ten companies are private
- 58 percent of the companies on the list have received venture capital funding
- Software companies represent the majority of this year’s list with 241 companies
- 23 companies have growth of more than 10,000 percent, with the top company on the list exhibiting 208,897 percent growth.
Washington, D.C. had 33 winners on this year’s list, up one from last year’s list. And the local winners are….
BroadSoft, Inc., #438, business and residential VoIP software
Notable Solutions (NSI), #406, secure information collection and output management *
WealthEngine, #402, prospect research, modeling and analytics **
TEOCO, #395, telecom assurance and analytics **
Sourcefire, #392, network security solutions **
Concept Solutions, #387, technology consulting for government **
Message Systems, #366, email, text and cross-channel messaging
K12, , #364, online education **
First Line Tech, #362, emergency response equipment
Cvent, #360, event management software **
Apprio, #342, government technology solutions *
United Therapeutics Corporation, #336, biotechnology **
RKG | Rimm-Kaufman Group, #334, data-driven online marketing **
Primatics, #307, enterprise software for financial services **
Tenable Network Security, #301, cybersecurity technology **
Clarabridge, #300, customer experience management
LDiscovery, #280, legal and technology consulting *
Optoro, Inc., #278, asset recovery
OriGene Technologies, Inc., #269, biotechnology
ArdentMC, #265, technical consulting and program management
Motionsoft, #238, member relationship and club management software **
nexVortex, #215, business grade SIP trunking
Zenoss, #168, IT operations management **
CDYNE Corporation, #158, Web services
RepEquity, #106, online reputation management
CFN Services, #102, network and application delivery solutions **
Novavax, #90, biotechnology *
RainKing Solutions, #80, IT sales intelligence
WeddingWire, Inc., #79, wedding planning
Millennial Media, #73, mobile ad and data platform*
Vubiquity, #53, multiplatform video monetization
Video Blocks, #32, stock video, audio and special effects
Opower, #20, customer engagement for the utility industry
* These companies also made the list in 2012
** These companies made the list in 2012 and 2011
Congratulations to all the winners, especially SpeakerBox client Optoro, ranked 278 on this year’s list.
- Katie Hanusik
I have been attending the Cloud Communications Alliance (CCA) Conference in San Diego for the last two days; the CCA holds quarterly get togethers that always inspire and inform. This time was no different, except that the topic of trolls was on the tips of many tongues..but not for why you think!
One of our guest speakers, Jim Nikolai, attorney for Nikolai and Mersereau, P.A., spoke on a topic not always known to business owners, but had many of the members shaking in their shoes, as if they HAD just seen a few trolls under the Bridge to Coronado here in San Diego.
Full disclosure: I almost skipped the session as I assumed it had little to do with my business, SpeakerBox, since we are a services business that doesn't develop its own IP.
I was so wrong.
It's very relevant to cloud communication service providers (or resellers, software companies, or technology companies for that matter) who deliver cloud services that can fall victim to frivolous, vague lawsuits filed by so called "patent trolls."
Basically, in a nutshell, entire companies have been formed that file patents to create a muddy water between what is generally accepted business practice or technology usage, and what is intellectual IP. Then these companies go to work: they file patent infringement suits on the unsuspecting small business owner or entrepreneur, and they are within their legal right.
Before you go running to the Patent and Trademark Office to guard everything you develop or own, know that legislation is finally (after many years) in our scope of vision to guard against this, but it's not there yet. Vermont placed the initial stake in the ground by passing legislation recently that can help deter these trolls through severe ramifications if determined to be a troll, but it's not reached the 49 other states or the Feds attention yet.
So it's good for any entrepreneur, startup, or even established business who delivers technology services to know they could be at risk.
What is the characteristic of a patent troll? Why the disparaging name? According to Jim, the factors in common:
- Generate no R&D
- Don't "practice" their patents
- Don't help with technology transfer
- Acquire patents soley to extract payments from helpless owners
- Are invulnerable to counterclaims for patent infringement
So here's how it really works. The trolls sit and wait until new technologies are adopted, often times for products the original patent was never meant to deliver, and then they file a patent and go after the users of that technology. They tend to go after lots of small infringers, because they can usually extract $3K-$5K out of lots of these small companies, knowing they won't have the resources to really fight it in court. According to Jim, the average cost to fight a patent suit is easily over $90,000, and most businesses will just pay to make it go away. And the trolls collect millions of dollars.
The intent is not there to infringe on a patent, but often times it just happens if the patent is written in a certain way.
According to Jim's presentation, for example, one company, Innovatio IP, acquired thirty-plus patents, and then sent thousands of letters demanding payments of $2500 to $3000 to hotels, coffee shops and restaurants. What one thing did they all have in common that apparently infringed on the "vague" patent filed by Innovate IP Ventures?
Offering free Wi-Fi to their customers.
The frustration mounts as they continue to emerge unscathed. For all I know, they could have been stopped, but I haven't found any reports that this practice has even begun to cease.
Lawsuits brought by patent trolls made up 61% of all patent cases in 2012, according to the Santa Clara University School of Law.
The Washington Post recently wrote an article about patent trolls, their origin, and how the patent troll crisis is really a software patent crisis.
Since this is the end of a long day, I will encourage you to come back the next few days when I will share Jim's counsel on what to do to protect yourself, and defend. Off to BroadSoft Connections!
Author's Note: this will be the first of a few posts this week covering topics from the CCA or from BroadSoft Connections, so if you want to follow along: the CCA is holding a photo essay contest this week in honor of some of our new members and the BroadSoft Connections Conference taking place immediately following. You can see some of the pictures that will be posted on the Facebook page, and while you're there, LIKE us and follow us to you can hear more about what's going on with the CCA!
--Elizabeth Shea @eliz2shea
Jill Schlesinger, on a favorite vacation spot in Venice. Jill claims she works so she can travel!
I had the opportunity to (virtually) meet Jill Schlesinger, a business analyst reporter based in New York who is working on a program in DC with local news station WNEW, 99.1. She is looking for entrepreneurs to interview for short 1-minute segments on what it is like as a business owner, entrepreneur, CEO, and I asked her to turn the camera back to her, so we could learn more about this incredibly accomplished woman.
ABOUT JILL: Jill Schlesinger, CFP®, is the Emmy-nominated, Business Analyst for CBS News. Jill appears on CBS radio and television stations nationwide covering the economy, markets, investing and anything else with a dollar sign. She translates complicated business and economic news into understandable, relatable topics for everyday viewers and listeners. Jill is also the host of the nationally syndicated radio show, “Jill on Money”, which airs over 80 markets. Jill also writes the nationally syndicated column “Retire Smart” for Tribune Media Services.
So here we "Ask the Influencer!"
SBX: You have had a successful career as a broadcast journalist, business owner, columnist and financial advisor/expert. You are an Emmy-nominated business analyst working closely with CBS news affiliates, and have your own syndicated national column alongside hosting a nationally syndicated radio show, “Jill on Money." How on earth do you fit all this in to a normal day?
My mother likes to tell people that I was always a highly organized kid. As a result I was able to juggle school, sports and lots of activities. That ability has served me well throughout my life. Without being able to organize my time, it would be impossible to make it work. It also helps that everything I do enhances everything else. I can talk about markets and the economy on television and radio from the perspective of the viewer/listener, because I talk to those people every week on my syndicated radio show and through my column.
SBX: While you live and work in New York, your work is heard across the nation. We came in touch because you are currently working on an initiative to bring interesting stories about local business entrepreneurs to the Washington, DC market via CBS talk news radio station WNEW (99.1). What does your focus on business and financial reporting have to do with local small business owners here in DC?
Every day, I provide WNEW with morning drive business updates, so when the News Director asked whether I might be interested in creating small business segments for the station, I jumped at the opportunity. As a former small business owner and an advisor to many small business clients in my previous life as a financial advisor, I am always interested to hear people’s stories. In other words, I am voyeur!
SBX: Tell us a little more about WNEW. What makes it a unique station in this local market?
CBS Radio determined that the broader Washington DC market was large enough to justify a second all-news station. WNEW launched in January 2012 with a great on-air and editorial staff, attempting to provide a more news-focused product, with less anchor commentary and more local stories. I love being involved with a start-up…the small business owner DNA never leaves the body!
SBX: If companies or business owners are interesting in approaching you with a story idea, what is the best way to do so? And even better, what should they NOT do?
Small business owners should send me a BRIEF, one paragraph version of their elevator speeches via e-mail (SchlesingerJ@CBSNews.com). As quickly as possible, I want to know what the business does and what is the one thing about the business owner’s story that is interesting.
SBX: What is one of the more interesting stories you've heard from the CEOs you are interviewing?
Every story is interesting in its own right. From the tech guy who now makes pens, to the banker turned baker. I am generally more intrigued by how small business owners come back from bad times than how they do when all is well.
SBX: What else can you tell me about Jill Schlesinger that we wouldn't learn about online? What do you do in your free time, if you ever find yourself with that luxury?
For someone who has such a public life, I relish private, QUIET time with my overworked spouse. We are big bicyclers and theater-goers, but just as happy binge-watching whatever series is on the DVR at any given time. And by the way, I work so I can travel!
--- Elizabeth Shea, @eliz2shea
I have been involved the capital chapter of the Entrepreneur Organization (EO|DC) for a little over a year now, and one of the more exciting programs I've seen them lead is an awards program recognizing student entrepreneurs: Global Student Entepreneur Award Program (GSEA).
ASK THE INFLUENCER: We asked the EO|DC Board Member for Emerging Programs who is in charge of the DC regional GSEA event this year, Michael Goldstein, to share his perspective on the program. Also founder of SwitchPitch, Micheal is a big believer in entrepreneurs, particularly in the DC region, and believes this is a great year for the DC community since this is the first time DC will host the regional competition as well as hosting the global awards for finalists, attracting young entrepreneurs from all over the world!
The global organization of EO has hosted this program for over ten years, where student entrepreneurs have a chance to compete through local, regional or virtual competitions all over the world to win their shot at going head to head against the best student entrepreneurs at the Global Finals.
This year's regional competition will be held in Washington, DC at Atlantic Media's HQ at the Watergate on September 16th, with a deadline for students to submit applications by September 2nd. If you know of a student, or are a student entrepreneur, don't wait! Pass along this flyer, spread the word. Make sure to get your application in by registering here.
The Global Awards, also held in DC for the first time, will award a US$10,000 cash prize, plus tens of thousands in business products and services donated by EO members, including Web services, printing, PR, consulting and more, to the global winner. Last year's global winner was Chelsea Sloan, University of Utah student and founder of Uptown Cheapskate, a teen/young adult fashion exchange franchise.
Here's a little more perspective from Michael Goldstein:
SBX: Can you share an example of an amazing entrepreneur that really caught your eye?
Michael: I've been involved with GSEA for three years. I am continually amazed at the quality of students and how much they've accomplished as undergrads. To give a comparison - when I was in school at Boston University, I sold cinder blocks to students to raise their beds. I thought the logistics and distribution were fairly sophisticated.
At the most recent GSEA competition, a nuclear physics undergrad developed a smartphone attachment that replaces the Geiger Counter to detect radio active nuclear material - now that's sophisticated!
Most of the GSEA businesses are closer to cinder blocks than Geiger Counters - an air filter ecommerce business with subscription delivery; edible bug farm with restaurant clients; a breathalyzer attachment for smartphones. The commonality is they are all very talented entrepreneurs combining an education with growing a business.
SBX: The global awards are in DC this year! There is a terrific ecosystem for entrepreneurs here locally, how can people get involved?
Michael: EO|DC members can volunteer to judge the event - a very rewarding experience! Undergrads with revenue-generating businesses should apply to the DC regional competition by Sept. 2 at www.gseadc.org.
SBX: Tell me a little bit about the upcoming regional competition. How many entrepreneurs do you expect to participate?
Michael: We have six slots for entrepreneurs at the competition. Judges come from the entrepreneurial community and provide great feedback and networking opportunities for the participants. Also, the entire EO membership is invited to attend and network with the student entrepreneurs.
SBX: How do students get more information if they want to participate?
Michael: Check out the website www.gseadc.org and register!
--Elizabeth Shea, @eliz2shea
Jen Sterling, President of EO|DC, in Cancun, Mexico, demonstrating she can work anywhere.
In June, Jen Sterling, President of RedThinking, took over as President of our chapter of a global organization, the Entrepreneur Organization (EO). EO is a global organization dedicated to the enhancement of the entrepreneur, in their personal and business lives. The organization supports 9,500+ business owners in 131 chapters and 40 countries, and all members need to be owners of a business as opposed to a hired CEO. Founded in 1987 by a group of young entrepreneurs, EO enables small and large business owners to learn from each other, leading to greater business success and an enriched personal life.
The DC chapter (EO|DC) is one of the larger chapters in the United States, and is unlike other organizations in which I've personally been involved, in that it boasts learning events alongside events that are geared to be "once in a lifetime experiences," such as hearing from such notable leaders as Mark Cuban and Kevin Plank, and taking a trek up the Himalayas.
I had the chance to interview Jen on what she is planning for this fiscal year during her term, and am looking forward to yet another stimulating and thought provoking year!
Congratulations, Jen, and thanks for spending time with the Sounding Board!
SBX: Your term will run through next June, what are some highlights of what you hope to accomplish?
My number one goal is the reengage our current membership to truly benefit from all that EO has to offer. We will do this across the board by providing great learning opportunities, once-in-a-lifetime activities and access, new members to infuse the chapter with excitement, and better communication on all fronts. We also plan on throwing a kick-a$$ party in April for the entire entrepreneurial community in the Washington, DC region. It is not to be missed!
You are a busy entrepreneur in your own right, running your own branding firm. How do you fit it all in?
I don't think about it. The minute I stop to analyze how I do it (or if I am even doing it well) I will drop all of the balls I am trying to juggle!
What do you believe entrepreneurs can get out of being a part of EO|DC?
The biggest benefit of EO is having a large group of peers who "get you." No longer am I a lone wolf, misunderstood by my neighbors, friends, family, and staff. Here are people who have the same entrepreneurial affliction. The understand the way I think and the things that keep me up at night. I believe them when they are talking me off the ledge. And in turn I am there to do the same for them.
What do you do in your spare time? What do you really enjoy?
Entrepreneurs do not understand the meaning of the term "spare time." :) If I am not running my business or serving on one of several boards, then I am attending events to learn and grow or helping my daughter run her non-profit, Let's Help Kids. She may be 9 but she is a whip-cracking boss. We run 2 major fundraising events a year with numerous activities and presentations in between. It is never dull.
Tell us how entrepreneurs can get involved in the organization. Any advice for how to really engage?
In addition to the basics of just attending the events and learning from the wide array of speakers we bring in, I cannot encourage the members enough to tap into their fellow members. I have learned amazing things sitting down over a beer or a meal with the other entrepreneurs that I have met in both the local chapter and beyond. 9,500 peers who can help me to avoid the potholes they hit on their journey and who inspire me to reach beyond any goal I have ever set for myself.
--Elizabeth Shea, @eliz2shea
Last week was the fifth "class" for the exclusive MindShare organization for the 2013 year. What is MindShare? Launched in 1997, MindShare handpicks 50 to 60 CEOs every year from the area’s hottest emerging growth companies to come together in a private, intimate setting. Its mission is to help CEOs build long-term, sustainable companies by creating opportunities for growth, building a sense of community, and fostering teamwork in a collegial environment.
In other words, it's an amazing group of new entrepreneurs who come together to learn, engage and network.
Each "class" features a different speaker or panel of experts, with topics including: raising capital, hiring the best talent, sales, marketing, and finance among others. CEOs who attend at least five of the eight sessions will "graduate," and join the 600+ alumni from the organization that continue to foster discussions and provide support for one another.
The topic last week was "Meet the Press" and I was asked to moderate a panel of top reporters to hear more about how best to engage the media. We owe a debt of gratitude to the three folks that battled Tysons traffic to present to the group:
From left: Reporters Bill Flook, Karin Caifa and Megan Hughes
Karin Caifa, CNN Newsource (Twitter: @karincaifaCNN)
Bill Flook, Technology Reporter, Washington Business Journal (Twitter: @TechFlashWBJ)
Megan Hughes, Washington Correspondent, Bloomberg TV (Twitter: @HughesNews)
I received feedback that it was one of the most informative sessions yet! The reporters were candid and shared their feedback on how best to work with them individually, as well as how things have changed in the media landscape. Some key takeaways to share with you:
A day in the life: Each speaker talked about their individual day, the volume of incoming pitches (40 before even starting one's day!), emails and calls, and how they are always (basically) on deadline. The "news cycle" has changed, in that gone are the days where there is a hard "deadline" other than getting stories out as soon as they are ready. It is a time of immediacy, and it puts a lot of pressure on reporters to be "on" 24/7. At the end of the day, it shed a light on the fact that there is very little "down time" in their day, and thus, they will have little time to read your pitch if it doesn't grab them immediately.
What about the embargo?: All three panelists disclosed that they still honor the almighty embargo, and in fact, often times appreciate the opportunity to really prepare a story, particularly when there are visuals, or opportunities to get additional interviews or footage before running a story. It's basically a great way to make sure all the media outlets are given the same latitude, and levels the playing field. They did point out not all outlets or reporters respect the embargo, so if you have news you really need to withhold until a specific time or date, be sure to ask.
Sources for stories: When asked about how reporters get their sources, they were all quick to clarify that it's actually NOT that often that a story is "born" because a PR person reached out to them with a ready-made article. In fact, it rarely happens. Most stories happen because the reporter is paying attention to trends, the news, and has the "journalistic hunger" that you might expect from an investigative person. Too many companies think the reporter is just waiting to take a story already developed for them, and that's just not the case. But what you CAN do to be an effective source, is to present ideas on topics you pay attention to, or share where you have developed a certain level of expertise, and how that can help them. Be sure to relate it to the beat that they cover, so it is a story they can consider investigating.
The role of the PR person: There was a healthy discussion about the role of PR people or internal marketing folks pitching stories versus the CEO reaching out specifically. Bill Flook suggested that he'd rather hear from a CEO all day long before a boilerplate pitch from a PR person. At the end of the day, the reporter wants the relationship with the CEO, and wants to hear the story straight from them. Not all CEOs are willing to make that call, but if they do, Bill implied that the reporters will respond if they want to understand the company better. It doesn't mean there isn't still a role for the PR person in message development, finding the right reporters, etc. But I loved that he specifically suggested to the CEOs in the room to send him a personal note, introduce themselves, and nurture a relationship.
Less is more: The more consise, targeted, and brief a pitch is, the better the chance a company will get the reporter's attention. Long backdrops of information about a company before getting to the point rarely get through. Save the "information overload" for the conversation (assuming you get there) and be brief, even in your subject line, and hit the point hard.
Social media channels: The hands down "social media channel" winner in reaching and engaging with reporters was Twitter...it's not only a great place for story ideas, but it's also a real-time channel for communication about your company if you happen to be on the reporter's radar screen. Karin went on to talk about how she's more likely to pay attention if you start following her, and will most likely follow you back if there seems to be an angle that could be useful down the line. Don't abuse Twitter, but don't ignore the power it has for connections.
There were many, many compelling points made, but these were the highlights that struck me the most. After the session was over, the line to meet and greet them was longer than I've ever seen, which is always the sign of a great panel discussion. I'm hoping to "pitch" them on coming back next year for a repeat performance for the 18th Mindshare class of members!
--- Elizabeth Shea @eliz2shea
The annual greeting of some of the hottest companies to make a mark in Northern Virginia happened this week where the nominated companies waited with baited breath to see who would take home the prize. Companies from all over the region were nominated to secure and elusive prize as one of the "hottest" companies to be recognized. The event has been a not-to-be-missed event for many years, at the home of NVTC's president Bobbie Kilberg.
The nominations were in a couple of months ago, and everyone came together to see who be awarded the grand prizes. The nominees are all worthy of finalist status, and we are excited for everyone who made the cut. But like any awards ceremony, someone has to win, so congratulations to the 2013 winners!
Hottest Bootstrap (sponsored by Chase and JP Morgan)
- Altruista Health **Winner**
- B-Line Medical
- Spear Inc.
- Unleashed Technologies LLC
Hottest Buzz (sponsored by Welz & Weisel Communications)
- Deltek Inc.
- Metalogix Software
- Parature Inc.
- Virtustream **Winner**
Hottest Company Culture (sponsored by Altamira Technologies Corporation)
- Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®
- CoStar Group
- Excella Consulting Inc. **Winner**
Hottest Emerging Government Contractor (sponsored by Transformation Systems Inc.)
- Octo Consulting Group **Winner**
- Sevatec Inc.
- Three Wire Systems
- Zantech IT Services Inc.
Hottest Exit (sponsored by BB&T Capital Markets | Windsor Group)
- Deltek Inc.
- Digital Sandbox Inc.
- Eloqua **Winner**
- GeoEye **Winner**
Hottest Friend of the Entrepreneur (sponsored by Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®)
- Steve Balistreri
- Carl Grant **Winner**
- Dan Mindus
- Evan Burfield and Donna Harris
Hottest Management Team (sponsored by AH&T Insurance)
-DMI- Salient Federal Solutions Inc.
- Vubiquity **Winner**
Hottest Startup (sponsored by Wells Fargo)
- Allied Soft LLC
- Spear Inc.
- Troop ID
- Zoomdata **Winner**
Hottest Venture Capital Deal (sponsored by First Virginia Community Bank)
- Optoro Inc.
- Sonatype **Winner**
By the way, this would not be an event without the underwriting and the sponsorship from our friends and family in this entreprenurial ecosystem...thanks to the sponsors:
Smoking Hot Sponsors – BDO USA LLP; Cooley LLP
Steaming Hot Sponsors – Ballston BID; Comcast Business Class; Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP; HP; Principal Financial Group; United Bank; VirginiaDBA; Windstream Hosted Solutions
Tropical Attire Contest Sponsor – Pierce Capital Partners
Drink Cup Sponsor – RagingWire Data Centers
Media Partners – SmartCEO; Washington Technology
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 email@example.com.
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