May 13, 2014

The Highly Effective "Dear CEO, Please connect me to the appropriate person" Cold Email

Extract from a Mixergy Masterclass titled "How to use cold emails to make sales – with Bryan Kreuzberger" (emphasis mine):

..how do you find the decision maker and get them to hear you out?

Use the Waterfall Technique 

Go directly to the top.

When Bryan wanted to pitch Best Buy, he wrote separate emails to the director of marketing, the VP of marketing, the CMO, and the CEO. “I know the CEO of Best Buy isn’t the right person for me to talk to,” says Bryan. “But I can put together an email that is crafted from [their] perspective. They’ll just delegate it. And now [the person the CEO delegates to] has to take my meeting.”

Bryan says this technique uses the company’s hierarchy to your advantage. The request is coming down from the CEO to the manager, much like water flows down a waterfall. And if the CEO asks an employee to do something, they have to do it. In the case of Best Buy, the VP of marketing emailed Bryan back, asking him to present to six executives, who he says he never could’ve found on his own.  

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.

May 05, 2014

"Customers speak the truth through their wallets"

From a Mixergy Masterclass with Mike Michalowicz on how to specialize, fire bad customers and systematize your B2B business.
“If you have more than four or five competitors, [your offering is] way too broad,” says Mike. “You can be a heart surgeon or you can be a general practitioner.

...Let your customers decide on your specialty . “I believe people speak the truth through their wallets,” says Mike. “What I care about is the ones who spend and buy from you repeatedly, the ones that generate the most revenue and pay the quickest and show you through their actions that they truly value you.” Once you’ve identified those customers, get inside their heads. “You need to understand their market as best as you can, perhaps even better than they understand their own industry, and then cater to it.”  

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.

April 27, 2014

To the Employee: 8 Things Your Boss Wants To Tell You

Extracts from a
blog post by AnnMaria of The Julia Group (emphasis mine).
1. Show up when you are supposed to show up. ...The point is that if I say I will be in Fort Totten, North Dakota at 10 a.m. on April 10th, if you come into the office at that time, you should find me there. Reliable competence is worth more than unreliable brilliance. I can make promises to a customer based on reliable competence and know that those promises will be kept. ...
4. Don’t just do the bare minimum! Most jobs offer a great opportunity for people to LEARN and unlike college, they actually pay you to do it. What a deal! At The Julia Group, you can learn how to do everything from complex statistical calculations to use the video editing software. Specifics may vary from one job to the next, but the more you learn, the more valuable you are to us and the better it is for your future. Don’t just do only what you are specifically asked and then sit on your hands. Suggest something! Ask questions! Explore! There are a ton of resources for learning about your job – an internal wiki, the internet, books. There is no excuse for anyone ever to be just sitting around doing nothing.

...8... there is a point beyond which it is not worth the pain in the ass of putting up with you.

If you take all of these 8 points to heart and mend your ways, before you know it, you will be the boss and God will prove he has a sense of humor by giving you employees exactly like you were.

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.

April 23, 2014

Financials 101 for Startups - Revenue Growth Vs Profitability

Came across this old post by US-based venture capitalist Mark Suster on the topic via a recent guest post by Amit Sharma in NextBigWhat. Uses comparative examples to help understand Gross Margin / Net Revenues, Price/Revenue Growth, Cash Flow vs P&L Profitability, etc. Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.

April 08, 2014

"There are No Failed Entrepreneurs. Only Failed Wanta-preneurs."

Mukund Mohan of Microsoft Ventures has a wow blog post on why illustrated with a couple of examples of startups from the firm's accelerator:
For every two of these entrepreneurs, there are 100′s I know whose story did not end up with funding. It ended with a company that closed, or a marriage that fell apart and a kid that had to go to a tier 2 college, because they had spent a lot of their life’s savings in their startup. To them as well, I say “you tried, and did not succeed, but you did not fail”. Those who “failed” are the ones who did not try at all. The ones who failed are the ones in a safe job, 9-5 assignments who keep telling me “they want to start a company some day”.

I think we should have entrepreneurs that succeeded and those that did not succeed. I liken it to giving the gold for the successful ones and silver to the unsuccessful ones. The ones watching on the sidelines and commenting are the ones that “failed”.
Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.

April 01, 2014

External environmental challenges faced by startups in India

Entrepreneurs like Sanjiv Bikhchandani of Naukri, Murugavel Janakiraman of Matrimony, the Bansals of Flipkart;  VSS Mani  of Justdial, etc. deserve massive admiration. What they have achieved is more like conquering Everest. Good to know that once they have climbed the peak, thee environment also helps protect "their" turf. From a blog post by Dev Khare of Lightspeed Ventures (emphasis mine):

Many of India's successful startups have navigated a maze of challenges, creating leading brands and sustaining for long periods of time.  Correspondingly, it is much harder in India, relative to the US/Europe, for competition to unseat leading brands.
...Startups need large markets (Rs 2500cr+ or $500 million+) to get large and succeed.  This is hard to find in India, perhaps due to early consumer demand, unorganized markets, regional differences or foreign substitutes.  For example, digital advertising is a roughly $400 million annual business here, with mobile at 10% of that. To access and maintain growth, almost every new startup here needs to increase their focus on creating and evangelizing their category versus just focusing on their own startup's growth.

Some examples of overcoming this challenge include:
  • spending large amounts of capital to create a category (eg ecommerce, OTA, wireless telecom).
  • expanding into adjacent markets (eg Info Edge, which expanded from jobs into matrimonials, real-estate, education etc.).
  • building or piloting in India and transplanting to the US (eg Zoho)
  • aggregating several emerging markets outside India, perhaps before proceeding to Western Europe and the US (eg InMobi, iFlex, Subex).
  • attacking a large spend base (eg Micromax for hardware, Cafe Coffee Day for coffee/tea/snacks, BillDesk for bill payment).
...Many brands in India are created from execution reliability at scale rather than product differentiation.  Brands  in India are disproportionately more valuable as they represent a trusted provider of products or services - think about the enduring value of the Tata brand in multiple unrelated categories.  As one consequence, I believe more startups should think about brand-building here in India relative to if they were in the US

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.

March 31, 2014

Why You will Never Ever Hire a "B Player" Again

Was wowed by this powerful quote I'd heard yesterday: "You are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with." (It's attributed to Jim Rohn.)

It seemed to be much more powerful than the famous Silicon Valley mantra of "A Players hire A Players; B Players hire C Players."

Since for most working professionals (and especially so for entrepreneurs) almost all the 5 people (that we spend the most time with) are likely to be co-workers, why would we ever hire a "B Player" again?

Arun Natarajan is the Founder & CEO of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of data and analysis on private company transactions, valuations and financials in India. Click Here to learn about Venture Intelligence products that help entrepreneurs Reach Out to Investors, Research Competition, Learn from Experienced Entrepreneurs and Interact with Peers. Includes the Free Deal Digest Weekly Newsletter: India's First & Most Exhaustive Transactions Newsletter.