Monday, December 30, 2013

How to Start a Business in 8 Key Steps

Posted By: George Deeb - 12/30/2013

For those of you who have not already started a business, or are trying to figure out how best to start your business, this post will help y...

For those of you who have not already started a business, or are trying to figure out how best to start your business, this post will help you learn the 8 key steps of the process.

STEP 1. DETERMINE IDEA

You can't start a business without a good idea. Your idea needs to build a real-world solution to a real-world problem, preferably in a sizable market. And, in all cases, do what you love, as it is important you have a passion about your startup, to get through the good times and the bad.

Read the rest of this post on Forbes, which I guest authored this week.

For future posts, please follow me at:  www.twitter.com/georgedeeb.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Lesson #161: Create an "Everyone Sells" Culture

Posted By: George Deeb - 12/23/2013

The common fault in the thinking of many entrepreneurs is that revenues will only be driven by the sales team, and the sales team alone.  Th...

The common fault in the thinking of many entrepreneurs is that revenues will only be driven by the sales team, and the sales team alone.  They put a lot of energy into hiring the best salespeople they can afford, training them up on their product or service, and them letting them loose and hoping for the best.  The problem with that thinking is salespeople are only one part of the equation.

Oftentimes, an startup with 1-5 salespeople may have 10-50 employees, which means that your salesteam only represents around 10% of your entire staff.  Wouldn't it be better to come up with an "everyone sells" mentality within your company, to get 100% of your staff helping you with your sales and marketing efforts?  And, in the process, get 90% more people helping you drive revenues!!

I am not suggesting that the other 90% need to drop everything they are doing, and not focus on their core role.  What I am saying is: all 100% of your staff have friends, families, colleagues from former employers, school mates, and other connections that are often very accessible by the employee's social media followings on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or elsewhere.  So, help educate your entire staff on your products and services, and give them the tools and messaging they will need to help spread the word with their connections.

So, a good marketing plan for a startup is to tap into the best resources possible, especially free low-hanging fruit, like the personal relationships of your staff.  The fact a company message comes from a trusted friend, will increase the odds it will be seen or acted upon.  And, this not only means tapping into those friends alone, but their extended networks with socially viral "refer a friend" campaign efforts.  So, whether it is via social media, or personal phone calls, or whatever the medium, the key is to get all your staff thinking about sales opportunities for your business.  And, once a lead is identified, then the sourcing employee can hand it off to the salesteam to close and service from there, so it does not become a distraction to them in their normal job.

And, most startup employees are smart enough to know that the security of thier next paycheck arriving on time is directly correlated to the revenues of the business coming in.  So, in addition to the natural drive for a startup employee to want to help the team succeed, there are personal reasons in the form of income and job security, as well.  But, worth mentioning, this needs to be a proactive and fully-communicated plan right from the beginning of your organization.  You don't want this request to be interpretted as a time to panic, or get employees looking for the door.  So, keep it as positive/early as you can in your lifecycle, and not timed around bad news.

The last point here is to make sure you are celebrating your successes here, company-wide in your weekly meetings.  Call out key employees who helped to drive a new sale.  Or, financially reward them with a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant or store.  Or, create "employee of the month" programs with the framed picture of the staff member on the wall.  Or, create a 10%-revenue share for all sales sourced by employees, as an additional economic incentive for them.  All of this kind of stuff matters, both to the employee wanting to feel appreciated, and to the company who is trying to stimulate a certain behavior or sales culture within the company.

So, tap into the full 100% of your staff in helping your company with its sales and marketing efforts, in a way that does not distract them from their core role.  And, celebrate and reward them for their successes here.

For future posts, please follow me at: www.twitter.com/georgedeeb.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

[NEWS] Nominations Now Open for the 2014 @Techweek 100

Posted By: George Deeb - 12/19/2013

In case you want to nominate any key individuals in Chicago, New York or Los Angeles for the 2014 Techweek 100 lists in each of those cities...

In case you want to nominate any key individuals in Chicago, New York or Los Angeles for the 2014 Techweek 100 lists in each of those cities, nominations are now officially open.

Here is the link to make your nominations:  http://techweek.com/techweek100/

If you feel Red Rocket, or our blog, has helped your business in any way this year, we would appreciate your nominating one of our partners for the Chicago list.

For future posts, please follow us at:  www.twitter.com/RedRocketVC.



Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Is Entrepreneurship Learned, or Wired Into Your DNA?

Posted By: George Deeb - 12/18/2013

The age-old question of whether or not good entrepreneurs are born that way, or if such entrepreneurial skill sets can be learned continues ...

The age-old question of whether or not good entrepreneurs are born that way, or if such entrepreneurial skill sets can be learned continues to be a debated topic. Is it fair to say some people are just not born to be leaders? Or can you really build yourself a great founder?  Let’s try tackling the answer to this question by defining which skill sets make for a good entrepreneur, and whether or not they can be taught.

Read the rest of this post on The Next Web, which I guest authored this week.

For future posts, please follow me at:  www.twitter.com/georgedeeb.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Avoid the "Death Zone" of Venture Capital

Posted By: George Deeb - 12/17/2013

Do you have revenues of $5-$10MM and profits under $3MM a year?  Are you a company looking to raise outside capital for the first time?  If ...

Do you have revenues of $5-$10MM and profits under $3MM a year?  Are you a company looking to raise outside capital for the first time?  If you answered yes to both of the preceeding questions, you are about to enter what I call "The Death Zone" for venture capital.  And, as the name suggests, "The Death Zone", much like its namesake in oxygen-starved environments north of 26,000 feet in elevation, can make for a suffocating experience when trying to raise capital.
Read the rest of this post on Forbes, which I guest authored this week.

For future posts, please follow me at:  www.twitter.com/georgedeeb.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Top Digital Trends for 2014

Posted By: George Deeb - 12/11/2013

The other day, my colleagues at Ensemble , the digital services alliance, were doing our planning for next year.  We were discussing the key...

The other day, my colleagues at Ensemble, the digital services alliance, were doing our planning for next year.  We were discussing the key trends we were each seeing in the market, for our various digital skillsets.  I figured it would be useful to share those key trends with all of you, to help you with your business or marketing planning for the year.

Read the rest of this post on Forbes, which I guest authored this week.

For future posts, please follow me at: www.twitter.com/georgedeeb.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Red Rocket's "Best Startups of 2013"

Posted By: George Deeb - 12/10/2013

Red Rocket gets introduced to a couple hundred startups each year, in the normal course of doing business, or via our involvement with FireS...

Red Rocket gets introduced to a couple hundred startups each year, in the normal course of doing business, or via our involvement with FireStarter Fund, TechStars, Techweek, VentureShot, Founder Institute or other startup groups or events.  We wanted to honor the best of these startups that we met, or got reacquainted with, in 2013, in Red Rocket's 2nd annual "Best Startups of the Year".  This list is not intended to be an all-encompassing best startups list, as there are many additional great startups that we are not personally exposed to each year.  And, this list is not intended to be only for businesses that launched in 2013, it is open to startups of any age, that they or their advisors had some personal interaction with us in the last 12 months.  The business simply needed to have a good idea, good team or good traction, that caught our attention.  Congrats to you all!!

THE BEST STARTUPS OF 2013 (in alphabetical order):

AppGravity (CEO Christopher Jereb)--B2C Android app search engine

AudioMack (CEO Dave Macli)--B2C music discovery site

Belly (CEO Logan LaHive)--B2B and B2C loyalty rewards program

Blitsy (CEO Ross Peterson)--B2C arts and crafts e-commerce site

Brad's Deals (CEO Brad Wilson)--B2C curated deals & coupons site

BrightTag (CEO Mike Sands)--B2B tag management and analytics

Catalyze.io (CEO Travis Good)--B2B HIPAA compliant data platform for healthcare

Distractify (CEO Yakun Hu)--B2C humor entertainment site

Food Genius (CEO Justin Massa)--B2B big data for the food/restaurant industry

Freebie (CEO Ben Rosenfield)--B2B and B2C social influencer rewards app 

G2Crowd (CEO Godard Abel)--B2B business software reviews site

JumpRope (CEO Peter Braxton)--B2B and B2C pay to skip lines at key venues

Nexercise (CEO Benjamin Young)--B2C app to gamify and track exercising 

MarkITx (CEO Frank Muscarello)--B2B exchange marketplace for enterprise technology

Pangea (CEO Rahier Rahman)--B2C international money transfer mobile platform

Pathful (CEO Campbell Macdonald)--B2B website/marketing analytics to drive conversions

Premier Guitar (CEO Peter Sprague)--B2C publisher/portal for guitar/music enthusiasts

PrettyQuick (CEO Coco Meers)--B2C salon and spa booking engine

Project Fixup (CEO Sarah Press)--B2C dating/matchmaking service

Reserve Bar (President Lindsay Held)--B2C liquor/spirits e-commerce site

Savvo Digital Sommelier (CEO Joseph Sheahan)--B2B wine recommendations kiosk in store aisles

SceneTap (CEO Cole Harper)--B2C real-time bar crowd analytics app (know before you go)

Simple Relevance (CEO Erik Severinghaus)--B2B personalized email marketing platform

Smart Gardener (CEO Carl Alguire)--B2C personalized garden planner and e-commerce

Shapsheet (CEO Brad Weisberg)--B2B mobile insurance claims

Sqord (CEO Coleman Greene)--B2C gamified wearable technology to help kids exercise


TradingView (COO Stan Bokov)--B2C stock charts and financial social network

Vipeline (CEO Andrew Bosin)--B2B video based user reviews platform

Y Charts (CEO Shawn Carpenter)--B2B financial charts terminal and big data for securities 

And, don't forget to check out last year's winners, many of whom continue to be doing great things.

Congratulations to you all!!  Keep up the good work.  

For future posts, please follow us at: www.twitter.com/redrocketvc


Friday, December 6, 2013

Business Lessons from NBC's "The Sound of Music Live"

Posted By: George Deeb - 12/06/2013

Last night was NBC's live production of "The Sound of Music", one of my favorite musicals.  I thought there were a couple inte...

Last night was NBC's live production of "The Sound of Music", one of my favorite musicals.  I thought there were a couple interesting business lessons worth sharing.

1.  When there is already a "Rolls Royce" quality product out there with the same name (e.g., the beloved film starring Julie Andrews), make sure you don't set yourself up to fail, before you even start.  The Twittersphere was more focused on comparing the live production to the film, that they completely lost focus that this version was based on the original Broadway show, not the film, and how hard it was to pull off a high quality live production (which this was).

2.  When you aggressively market your new product for weeks leading up to launch, including a brand-name star like Carrie Underwood, you better make sure you deliver in the execution, as the expectations will be really high.  The reality last night was Carrie is a great singer and did the songs justice.  But, she is not a trained actress, especially compared to the well-trained other cast members, and her acting, when not singing, fell short for many.  This hurt the social buzz, right from the start.

3.  Kudos to Walmart, for tying their advertising directly in the theme of the show, including a "few of their favorite things" themed ad spots, including a music track from the show.

4.  Kudos to DiGiorno Pizza.  I was following the Twitter chatter for most of the night, assessing fan reaction.  And, about half way through the show, I started to see repeated posts from DiGiorno which basically piggy-backed on the #TheSoundOfMusicLive hashtag which was trending all night.  They used funny Sound of Music related tweets, like "You are 16, going on 17, and I assume you'd like a pizza for your birthday".  Want to get your brand out there?  Hijack a top trending hashtag for your own needs, in a smart and relevant way.

5.  And, of course, Twitter, tightened its stronghold on controlling the social conversations around live television, with the Twittersphere on fire last night.  I bet Julie Andrews never thought she would be trending all night!!  But, for all the wrong reasons for Carrie Underwood.

I really enjoyed the show, and appreciated it for what it was:  good family TV watching.  Kudos to NBC for taking the risk with creative programming.  Kudos to the cast, for a job well done.

For future posts, please follow me at: www.twitter.com/georgedeeb.  If you enjoyed this post, please click the social sharing buttons, to share with your social networks.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

How to Model a 10x Return for Investors--The Bare Minimum to Get Their Attention

Posted By: George Deeb - 12/03/2013

Most entrepreneurs simply approach venture capitalists asking for money “hat in hand”, without educating the investor on how the investor wi...

Most entrepreneurs simply approach venture capitalists asking for money “hat in hand”, without educating the investor on how the investor will acheive their desired 10x return on their investment, which is what most startup investors need to see from your startup in order to break through the clutter of 1,000 other startups that approach them every year.  Below will help you learn how to build that bridge to a 10x return for your target investors, and hopefully, will increase your odds of being funded.

Read the rest of this post on Forbes, which I guest authored this week.

For future posts, please follow me at: www.twitter.com/georgedeeb.

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