Earlier this week, 1776’s Challenge Cup competition launched right here in D.C. The Challenge Cup is a startup competition, spanning 16 cities around the world, to find the world’s most promising startups in the categories of education, healthcare, energy and city challenges.
The event featured 36 startups that pitched their ideas and innovations to a standing room only crowd and a panel of industry-expert judges. In the first round, each startup had one minute to quickly explain the core of their idea and why it matters. It was amazing how much information could actually be shared in that short amount of time!
The startups shared a broad range innovations, spanning from an app that streamlines the college admission process; to a healthcare company that provides live video calls with a care team so patients don’t need to travel far for a quick clinic visit; to a grass-powered robotic lawn mower.
After the initial pitches, the judges narrowed each category down to just two startups, which then provided a five-minute pitch and participated in a three-minute question and answer round.
After deliberation, the judges decided on the four regional winners (one in each category):
- eduCanon – an interactive video platform that seeks to improve student outcomes in disadvantaged communities by harnessing the potential of technology.
- Dorsata, Inc. – a platform for the creation, distribution and implementation of clinical knowledge
- Ethical Electric – encourages consumers to switch to local, clean energy from wind farms and solar farms
- RideScout – a mobile app that aggregates transportation options
The competition is far from over however, as the 1776 team will travel the world over the next few months to hold additional, local challenge cup competitions. The competition will then culminate in a weeklong festival in May 2014 in D.C. that will bring together the 64 winning startups from around the world for a tournament style competition. The top eight winners will receive an investment from 1776, with the overall winner receiving a $150,000 prize.
Stay tuned to 1776’s website to view the winners from the competitions around the world and to pick your favorites for the main event in May!
Over the years, SpeakerBox has worked with hundreds of startups on their launches, funding announcements, product news, acquisitions and ongoing media relations programs. And we’re often asked what it takes to be successful with media relations for startups. Here’s our quick list.
- Newsworthiness. This is harder than it sounds. Be ready to explain why the media should care about your company. Do you have an experienced and well-known management team? Are you able to announce new funding, a great partnership deal, or a big customer? It’s going to take something more than launching a company or an app to get the attention of most media.
- Expertise. A successful media program requires a thought leader that can provide expert commentary on the industry, not just their product. What are the big trends you’re seeing? Do you have an unusual take on a popular topic?
- Spokesperson. It helps if your expert is willing to be your spokesperson, but those skills aren’t always found in the same person. If your execs aren’t comfortable or willing to do interviews – hire someone to be the face of the company.
- Momentum. Let’s assume you have one great announcement that will generate media interest. What’s next? Before hiring a PR firm, make sure you can identify one or two announcements or story ideas per month to build the media relations pipeline. A PR firm will help you with this, but you’ll see better ROI if you can get them started.
- Budget. No two ways about it; PR firms cost money, but if you’ve got the other four items in this list in place your ROI can be significant. Still, if you’re not ready or able to make the investment in a PR firm, consider using internal resources or hold off until you’re in a better place financially.
What more detail on media relations for startups? Take a look at these resources specifically designed for tech companies needing a DIY media relations program:
Ok, so maybe they aren't deadly, but the crimes below are often committed and will significantly reduce your chances of coverage. We all know that budgets and (more importantly) time are tight in the startup world, but paying too little attention to PR can actually do more harm than good. Trying to avoid the three common sins below should start you on the path to media stardom:
1. Trying to be all things to all people. Clearly define your target market and develop three key messages for each segment that speak directly to them. Some companies will have one target group, and some will have many. If you're in the many camp, take a look first at your top-tier targets before branching out. When you focus on targets that aren't quite right or fall too far down the chain, you dilute the message and get lost in cycles of trying to please everyone. Find the right people, talk directly to them and expand when the time is right and you’ve built a core base of believers.
2. Making a bad first impression. Your website is your identity. Not only does it need to look nice, it needs to clearly and succinctly explain what you do, how you're different and why your product or service matters. And enough with the buzzwords—just use the language your users would use. Also, make sure to include an ‘about us’ section and keep the ‘news section’ updated—reporters really do look there.
3. Thinking that your existence is news. Yes, there are some startups that get placements just for existing. These are usually businesses started by tried and true entrepreneurs whose next moves we’ve all been anxiously anticipating. If you’re like most startups, you’ll need more than just a launch to garner media attention. You’ll need funding, users, sales, monetization plans or real differentiation to spark the interest of a reporter who sees 300 startup launch pitches a day.
Avoiding these pitfalls should help you along the way, but if you're looking for more advice check out our webinar: PR101 for startups.
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
There is a long standing sentiment that DC is dead in August. The networking calendar for the month certainly reflects that. NVTC and Women in Technology's calendars were literally blank. Never fear, the good people that host Tech Breakfast and DC Tech Meetup have made sure that those of us who stay and enjoy a quiet city have a few events to attend - and without the normal traffic, getting to each should be a breeze.
Here's what I have on my radar for the month:
Tech Breakfast (http://www.meetup.com/TechBreakfast)
NOVA Tech Breakfast, 8am, AOL, Dulles, VA
Featured companies: Foundation DB, Rugged.io, Hy.ly, Milestone Pod, SafeMonk
Columbia Tech Breakfast, 8am, Columbia, MD
Companies include: Infoduce, Crowdvance, Urban Delivery, Nettadonna, 1100 Energy
DC Tech Breakfast, Microsoft, Chevy Chase, MD
Companies include: EasyWebContent, SimpleTix, Silica Labs, Trip Tribe, HiQualia
DC Tech Meetup - Summer Drinks Edition
Buffalo Billiards DC
"No big talks or demos. Just a cool venue, cold beers, icy cocktails and you."
They will also use it as a fundraiser for their Fall line-up too.
What did I miss? Where will you be networking this month?
I recently read two great articles on Forbes and I thought I’d share them here.
First there was: What Does a Public Relations Agency Do?
Robert Wynne gives an accurate look at what we do (and don’t do) for our clients. But, he mainly compares public relations activities against advertising activities, which leaves out a lot (at least a lot of what we do here at SpeakerBox). We obviously pride ourselves on our traditional PR skills, but the industry has changed so much in just the seven years I’ve been a part of it that to limit what we do to traditional activities it to undercut our value tremendously.
Traditional PR focuses on engaging with reporters to inform them of a company’s messaging and how they fit into current news trends, ultimately enticing them to write a story that features or mentions the client. The main benefit of this approach is that the general public views these stories more favorably than ads due to the third-party validation that is required for them to be produced.
What we actually do is get in the conversation and look at content, all forms of it. This, of course, includes traditional media placements but has more recently also focused on online content. Online content isn’t limited to articles that run in online publications but extends to include social media sites, blogs, website content and the like. Our programs for clients often include a mix of these things as well as some marketing tactics, such as award submissions and speaking submissions.
Obviously, this all depends on the clients’ needs and wants but I think this flexibility makes “what a public relations agency does” very hard to define in one article. Wynne did pen a follow up based on a number of responses to his original article that discusses the “other activities” that PR firms take on like analyst relations and the like. But, I still feel that it’s not a completely accurate portrayal of what we do to increase awareness for our clients.
Second, and the article I found more interesting is: What PR Agencies Do? Can You Do It Too?
This article by, Cheryl Conner, takes on the difficult decision of whether to take PR in house or hire an agency. She says:
Some companies do great PR with the help of agencies. Some do great public relations in house. If an organization does PR well, it hardly matters whether it was accomplished from within or without. But it matters hugely, either way, that they do the job well. And most every company we speak to and advise, by their own admission, knows they can and should be doing a better job of communicating than they currently do.
The PR process, she asserts starts when (or before) a company even opens its doors. It starts with the name, logo, branding, web copy, etc. All ways of communicating to the public who a company is and what it does.
The entrepreneur’s focus shouldn’t be as much on whether or not to take PR activities in house or not but on how to effectively communicate with the target audience. It should start from the very beginning and really focus on the messages you’re putting out there. This is especially important in the startup community, where budgets are tight and entrepreneurs are often in a rush to get their site started and message out there. It’s crucial to think long term about how your messaging is reflected on your website as that builds the foundation for communications that we’d work with once profits allow you to work with a firm.
For more info on how to get started with the basics of PR check out our PR for Startups 101 webinar and resources. Lisa Throckmorton and Jonathan Perelli discuss how important PR and messaging are in the startup world and provide some advice on getting started in the right way that will set your company up for future success.
I couldn't resist the title - I'm an unabashed big fan of moster ballads. So, I digress early in this blog post, but not really.
This week, we helped launch a good story and I was excited to be a part of it. Mostly because I believe in what they are doing.
This week Zoobean launched.
From the press release:
"Zoobean is the site that makes it easy to find remarkable children’s books that have been recommended and curated by parents. They also announced $500,000 in seed investment led by Kapor Capital.... Zoobean offers a subscription service and direct sales of its well-loved books. Books on Zoobean are cataloged by recommended age, relevant topics, characters’ backgrounds, and other tags that matter to families."
That's the basics, and the rest is a good example of the correlation between story and coverage.
Zoobean was born when husband and wife Co-founders Felix Brandon Lloyd and Jordan Lloyd Bookey were expecting their second child. They went in search of a great children’s book to explain to their 3-year-old son what it would mean to be a big brother. This task turned out to be much more challenging than they expected.
At the time, they could not easily find books that told stories about new experiences and featured a brother and sister and a multiracial family. In stores, books were organized by genre, author, or very broad themes that weren’t really relevant for us,” said Chief Mom Jordan Lloyd Bookey. “We also searched many popular shopping websites, but the information was overwhelming and impersonal. In the end, we were frustrated and empty-handed. The same frustration might have resulted looking for books about bullying and teasing, the death of a pet, or finding e-books featuring Latino characters. Parents and educators rely on remarkable books to help connect children to their worlds and we decided to create Zoobean to address a need that benefits families and helps children imagine and achieve anything.”
Lloyd and Bookey are both former teachers and bring their domain expertise to the venture. Lloyd is a former Washington, D.C. Teacher of the Year for 2000/2001 and most recently built and sold Skill-Life, a financial literacy platform, which is now MoneyIsland. Bookey is the outgoing head of Google’s K-12 Education Outreach. She is also a former teacher and director with a DC-based non-profit supporting improved literacy in low-income neighborhoods.
Good story, right? It has the elements of timeliness with National Children's Book Week, human interest, a strong local hook, and on the technical front - funding was obviously a major angle, as was Jordan as a higher up with Google and Felix having started and sold a financial literacy platform prior to Zoobean.
Even with the wealth of angles, the coverage was still hard fought, with the common wrangling around exclusives and timing. There's still more media to penetrate, specifically in lifestyle/parenting category, who are more interested in stories and contributed content and less so in launches.
We're proud of the initial results: https://www.zoobean.com/news
So, back to monster ballads.
I'm an aunt to two awesome, almost 5-year-olds. They live near San Francisco, so we FaceTime a lot and I LOVE to send them gifts. I try really hard not to send them junk, so I spend hours scouring sites online to find the best of books and toys for them. And while I love thinking about what will make them smile and engage their respective minds, the search part kind of sucks. I cross my fingers that the sites I scour actually have decent authority and I find myself calling my brother to say, "what about this?" and sometimes he knows, but most of the time it's a flip of the coin as to whether what I've found online will be great. Then there is the actually finding it to buy once it's identified. Once I find that list of "top" whatever for 5-year-old boys, I have to go to retail sites to see if it's actually available for purchase. It's pretty time consuming and my schedule is pretty busy, so I find myself doing this research, gut check and purchase cycle at off hours.
Enter Zoobean. They are starting with remarkable children's book and their long-term goal is to expand into children's toys and educational products. Parents, teachers and librarians curate the books on their site, so I don't need to call my brother to ask. They have a subscription service, so I can buy direct from them and for the books that they don't sell, I can click a link versus having to start a second search. I also love that tagging makes sense for most famlies' reality. My nephews have a Jewish and Christian background. Their parents are divorced. Both sets of grandparents and Aunts and Uncles live in different states than they do. They are fraternal and are very different. One of them is bigger than the other and uses that in his favor; the smaller one is aware of this and has always navigated self esteem and how to "compete" with this. In short, they are a typical, not-so-typical family and they love, love, love being read to and are in the process of starting to read themselves. They are my family, and I want the books we/they read to be outstanding. I also want them to see themselves in each wonderful story.
Zoobean is quality, thoughtful and easy in an online world that seems to be based on volume, cheaper, and faster. They've won this Aunt over - given me something to believe in - so it's just a matter of time before the rest of you are experiencing the same, welcome, sigh of relief:)
The last session of the day I sat in on was Startup Marketing: Working with a Lean Budget featuring SpeakerBox’s own Lisa Throckmorton.
Moderated by Paul Sherman with Potomac Tech Wire, the panel also included:
Michele Perry, Founder and President, MPB Strategies
Trevor Lynn, Marketing Manager, Social Tables
Zubair Talib, Co-Founder and CEO, YaSabe
Lets dive into some of the highlights:
- Marketing for a startup vs. an established company differs greatly – and it is not just because of money! Startups often are less likely to take a risk because they have more to lose if it doesn’t pay off. Additionally, a strategic marketing plan does not exist in many cases and there is more of a tradeoff when it comes to campaigns. Startups often have to pick and choose the few things they want to do – and the pressure is on, because they need to do those things right.
- Branding a company in the startup phase vs. focusing on marketing and sales is a balancing act. Companies are often so focused on getting the product to market that they can’t articulate the value proposition well and many times do not have clear messaging on their website. Before the brand can focus on promotion, these items need to be put in place. However, at the same time, developing a brand is very important at the startup stage in order to raise money, get employees and it has been proven that marketing programs work better if there is awareness of the company already.
- When asked about where marketing ends and sales starts, Trevor responded that at Social Tables they don’t have a divide between sales and marketing – they have “smarketing.” Essentially they do all aspects together. They know where all leads are coming from and what tactics are making a difference. Their marketing is very metrics driven and they experiment with all options to see what generates the best results.
Startups are willing to spend money wherever there is positive ROI. Content is an incredibly effective way to get the ball rolling in terms of recognition. Since budgets are limited, marketing money needs to be spent wisely and knowing your audience helps to narrow down on which channels would be most effective. Most importantly - track everything you do. Start with a baseline and continually try to make it better and more effective.
- Finally, when it comes to marketing for startups – resist the urge to boil the ocean. When startups are all over the map, campaigns don’t go over as well and are not successful. Pick a few areas and really focus in on them while measuring and tracking the results. Stay focused and give it time. Results won’t happen over night, it is a process that involves continual testing, so stay focused and make decisions based on practicality rather than desperation.
That’s all from us from MAM summit today! Check out the Twitter stream for more detail on these great sessions.
This week, I responded to a DC Startups - Fierce Conversations Facebook group post that offered this basic notion:
"Entrepreneurs are horrible at pitching. Not pitching the details of their companies so much, but generally pitching who they are to get introductions or sponsorships."
As someone who spends a fair amount of time in the trenches with startups and loves to connect people in my network, I was compelled to respond. The post went on to share some examples of weakness in the wide assundry of asks/pitches that the author regularly receives; all of them very common and ones that I (and SpeakerBox) have expereineced as well.
I felt compelled to respond because in my own bridging of connections, it's not uncommon for me (or for most of us, I imagine) to tell a startup founder who is trying to move the needle with some event of activity: "You should reach out to X" with a quick explanation of why.
What I've failed to do on those same occassions is follow-on with "and here are some things to do or think through before and during your outreach."
So, what's an entreprenuer, who is in the process of building connections to do? As your parents likely counseled "first impressions matter" and with that in mind, here are some tips:
Research the individuals and companies that you are pitching. This could be through their company's Web site or LinkedIn or Facebook and most certainly through the connections you have in common. Beyond understanding why your ask/pitch is relevant to them, you should try to glean as much as you can about their communication style and the best way to contact them. In some instances a little bit of due diligence my result in your mutual contacts suggesting that they bridge the introduction for you or even help deliver your pitch (see below).
Make sure that you hava all of your own details buttoned up as well. Any time an event or sponsorship is on the table, the person or company is going to want to know what is in it for them and for larger companies, the internal champion will likely have to present a business case. Aside from the usual date, time and venue logistics, how many people will be there, what demographic breakdown (types of companies, level of the attendees), who else is sponsoring, what they get for their sponsorship, etc. You may be able to approach a smaller, more scrappy company with an opportunity that is not fully baked yet, but it's going to be a really hard sell, and probably a giant waste of time with larger companies.
If you are approaching them to sponsor an event, understanding some of the basics of their organization can become a big time saver:
- What do they already sponsor? Similar events can work in your favor, but competitive events will not.
- Does what you are asking them to sponsor align with their client targets, business objectives, philanthropic efforts?
- Are they are large, Fortune 500 company? If so, how does the timing of your ask align? Large companies tend to be heavily process ladened when it comes to approving things like sponsorships and if your event in in the next few months, that window will likely be too short.
- Are they a public company? If so, be sensitive to approaching them at the end of a quarter or their fiscal year end. If they provide services to the government, remember that there is a government busy season that consumes these comapnies in the Fall.
When it comes to your actual ask/pitch, it is not disimilar from pitching an investor or the media. You need to be able to present all of the relevant data and make the ask in a way that is thoughtful, personal and compelling. Share your excitement, and share any information or personal connections to them, that will help get them on the same path to entusiasm. It's also ok to ask a person that you have in common to help make the ask for you. In many cases, if you are able to send your intermediary a good pitch, they will be happy to send it (and ideally it increases the chances of it being read). If you feel good about sending it yourself, you could always ask your mutual contact to give a heads up to the person that you are reaching out to that they will be receiving and e-mail or phone call from you.
If you've come to the conclusion that you don't have the right ask for a particular person or their organization, but know that they would be a good resource, you may start by requesting a few minutes of their time to benefit from their expertise and people they may know that might be a better fit for your needs.
In my mind, these are a few of the fundamentals to making a strong ask.
Summing this all up: Do your research, create a thoughful and compelling ask that reflects that research and ask your network for help in bridging these important connections.
A parallel end goal should be building longer-term relationships with the individuals and if you keep that in mind, and go about outreach and relationship building in a way that you, in all likelihood, would want to be apprached as well, you will be on a track towards success.
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