Why Early-Stage Investors Should be Pumping Up Their Startups with Data

Why early-stage investors should be pumping up their startups with data

Jeb Stone posted some great insights on Venture Beat about why startups should be competing on data and how their investors can help.

What if VCs provided centralized analytics and data management resources as part of their investment in startups? Giving startups the tools and resources they need to compete on analytics would give investment firms and their startups a huge competitive advantage. Startups would grow revenue faster, reducing their level of technology debt, and giving them access to specialized skillsets typically available only to better-funded players. Investors would see a significantly enhanced probability of return.

Check it out. It’s well worth the read.

 

[Top image credit: Zurijeta/Shutterstock]

 

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Get Results by Listening with Intent

listen with intent

Leadership expert Art Petty shares some tips on listening with intent. “Listening with intent isn’t a technique, it’s a personal value backed by behaviors that cause us to shift from the movie about ourselves running in our own minds to focusing on the movie or picture being created by another.” When we understand the needs and motivations of others, we are in a much better position to meet those needs.

Petty notes that:

  • Great negotiators…strive to understand issues, goals and aspirations, which are often hiding out of sight behind positions.
  • The best salespeople…sell by…seeing the world and challenges and needs from our frame of reference.
  • Great strategists listen to customers and markets…[looking] for emerging patterns and [striving] to make sense of those patterns…They adapt their firms and products and services to fit the patterns…
  • … the best leaders strive to tune-in to their employees, particularly as it relates to professional development.

Bottom Line: You cannot get what you want if you cannot give someone what they want. And you can’t give someone what they want if you don’t know what that is. So listen.

Image: Michal Marcol / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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Decentralized vs Centralized Analytics Function – I Never Thought About It

Jeb Stone (the smartest guy I know) makes some great points in his most recent post - Centralized vs Decentralized Analytics: All You Need To Know. I'm a firm believer in the value of analytics. But I never really thought about whether the function should be centralized or not. Who wouldn't want to have their own dedicated analyst? But Jeb makes a great point about how this is a bad arrangement from a career progression perspective and the resulting impact that has on the analyst's tenure. He writes:

From an organizational cost perspective, here’s perhaps the biggest argument against a decentralized Analytics organization: In a decentralized organization, there is no tangible career path for most analysts...

...Without a career path, your analysts are highly incented to learn in-demand technology on your dime — whether or not your organization has a need for it — and then jump ship to an employer who will compensate them for that skill. Perhaps even more to the point: rock-star analysts will avoid employers with a decentralized Analytics function, because they know it’ll take them longer to come up to speed and that there is likely no performance incentive program specific to their accomplishments.

...After my second year in my first “big” job, I remember thinking: “Man, I didn’t know anything a year ago.” At the end of my fourth year, I remember thinking: “It really takes two years to get an analyst up to full competence.” I’ve frequently seen an argument that decentralized analysts have a deeper knowledge of their specific line of business. I can’t give a lot of credence to that argument, specifically because line-of-business analysts are likely to leave the job around the time they become fully competent, leaving the line of business to backfill with a novice.

I've seen this exact thing happen multiple times. All the decentralized analytics guys I've worked with have left in under 2 years. The guys in the centralized analytics group (at the same company no less) are all still there, still learning new skills, and still adding increasing value to the business.

As a business development and product management guy, I can attest that having access to analytics guys that really understand the business is a huge asset and makes it much easier for me to create successful partnerships and products.

Header Image: jscreationzs / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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The 29 Most Important Words for Leaders

Terry Starbucker shares  great tips on leadership and communications. Here he share’s the 29 most important words for leaders.

The 7 most important words:
“I don’t know, but I’ll find out.”

The 6 most important words:
“I admit I made a mistake.”

The 5 most important words:
“You did a great job!”

The 4 most important words:
“What do you think?”

The 3 most important words:
“If you please …”

The 2 most important words:
“Thank you.”

The 1 most important word:
“We.”

The 1 least important word:
“I.”

 

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Eric Guilleminault Launches Off the Grid Fitness, a Green Gym

Off the Grid FitnessI love entrepreneurs and start-ups. I workout regularly to stay fit. And I try to go green whenever possible. That’s why I think my friend Eric’s new venture is so cool. Eric has started the first “green” gym in Arizona – Off the Grid Fitness. Located in Scottsdale, AZ, Eric has created something truly unique that makes a difference in both health and the environment.

Here’s how Eric describes his business:

At Off The Grid Fitness, being “green” means producing energy as well as conserving it. Our exercise equipment converts the energy you produce, your “sweat-equity,” into energy that can be returned to the grid. Other exercise equipment is self-powered, with muscle power replacing power from the grid.

Cool features include:

  • Ellipticals and exercise bikes that produce electricity when used that can be returned to the power grid
  • Self-powered treadmills that require no electricity to run
  • Bamboo floors in the group exercise room because bamboo trees grow back faster than any other kind of tree
  • Recycled rubber flooring in the workout area
  • Recycled workout equipment
  • Compact fluorescent lights which are more energy efficient than traditional fluorescent lights
  • A water fountain that shows how many plastic bottles you have saved by refilling your water bottle, instead of using disposable ones

Besides just creating a cool business, he’s done a great job creating buzz for it. Check out this list:

I met Eric Guilleminault when he was responsible for acquiring new members for MyPoints.com. Eric is a smart guy. He has an MBA from Thunderbird. He’s also a former college basketball player and personal fitness trainer/instructor. He even did a stint as a business process consultant. He knows the in’s and out’s of running and marketing a business, as well as the fitness aspect. I’m sure Off the Grid Fitness is going to be a huge success for Eric.

If you’re in Scottsdale, AZ you should check out Off the Grid Fitness.

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Don’t Suck At Meetings

I’m usually not a fan of infographics. They’re overused and typically not that good. But this one from Sales Crunch regarding meetings was an unexpected find on Pinterest. I recommend checking it out for Business Development and Product Management professionals.

The take-aways for me were:

  • Respect the value of attendees’ time – a single meeting can literally eat up thousands of dollars
  • Stick to 30 minutes or less – anything more and people rapidly lose attention
  • Don’t do all the talking, engage your attendees – the more people participate, the more attention they’ll pay
  • Limit your presentation to 20 slides or less – anything more takes too much time to produce and reduces the likelihood of people reading it during the follow-up process

Don't Suck At Meetings

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Customer Acquisition Done Right – B&N

I received the following e-mail on Friday from Barnes & Noble regarding their purchase of Borders’ customer list, why they bought it, what information it contains, how they planned to use it, how it impacts the customer, and how the customer can control the use of this information. I think this is an excellent example of transparency and allowing the customer to control the relationship. It makes me feel good about doing business with Barnes & Noble. Regardless of whether or not B&N was legally required to do this, they did it right.

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Avoid Spec Sheet Envy

Why did Apple go with a 3.5″ display when most newer Android devices are moving to 4″ screens? Here’s one explanation from blogger Dustin Curtis:

I have realized another huge downside of larger screens: when holding the phone with one hand, I can’t reach the other side of the screen with my thumb.

Touching the upper right corner of the screen on the Galaxy S II using one hand, with its 4.27-inch screen, while you’re walking down the street looking at Google Maps, is extremely difficult and frustrating. I pulled out my iPhone 4 to do a quick test, and it turns out that when you hold the iPhone in your left hand and articulate your thumb, you can reach almost exactly to the other side of the screen. This means it’s easy to touch any area of the screen while holding the phone in one hand, with your thumb. It is almost impossible to do this on the Galaxy S II.

This makes perfect sense and fits in with how Steve Jobs did things. And it also shows how brilliant Apple is when it comes to designing products.

LESSON: When creating products, don’t give in to spec sheet envy when you know the right answer is something different.

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It’s Usually Not a “Communications” Problem

When people aren’t sure what’s wrong, they often refer to it as a “communications problem.” But this is seldom the real problem.

The next time someone lays a “communication” issue on you, try this:

“That sounds interesting. Help me out. Describe specifically what you see happening and why it’s a problem.”

This should get the discussion going and help drill down to the real issue. This is helpful both internally and when working externally with partners.

source: All Things Workplace

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Avoiding Traps in New Product Development

Great post on The Software Maven that should help all product managers. A nice application of how to use the scientific method and some common logical fallacies to avoid.

When you’re gathering data to validate your market or product, pay attention to the following:

  • Confirmation Bias – Are you asking questions to find the truth or to prove yourself right?
  • Appeals to Authority – “Are you listening to experts instead of your customers?”
  • Misaligned Motivations – “Do you have an emotional connection that is clouding your vision?”
  • Overconfidence – “Are you…completely sure you know all the answers?”
  • Familiarity – “Are you digging to find the real needs that you wouldn’t hear about otherwise?”

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