12 Unique Biz Publications Every Entrepreneur Should Read

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

What’s one “off the beaten track” biz publication more entrepreneurs should read and why?

1. OkDork.com 

 Firas KittanehSerial entrepreneur Noah Kagan gives us all an inside look into how he grows his businesses and optimizes his life in okdork.com. He publishes infrequently so you’ll always have time to read his next blog post. I find one of the best ways to grow is through peer leadership and advice from a fellow entrepreneur always feels more relatable and actionable.

– Firas KittanehAmerisleep 

 

2. Search Engine Watch 

Tim ChavesI’d recommend giving Search Engine Watch a look. Inbound marketing has a lot of potential for anyentrepreneur, so I don’t think you can be completely ignorant about issues around search engine optimization.

– Tim ChavesZipBooks 

 

3. CB Insights

Doreen BlochCB Insights is a company that focuses on venture capital research, and their daily newsletters provide some of the best business content that I regularly read. The writing is irreverent, mostly focused on startups and entrepreneurs, and very timely to themes in technology and fundraising. CB Insights is one of the best and most entertaining ways to stay on top of business news.

– Doreen BlochPoshly Inc. 

 

4. Stratechery.com 

sean ogleI enjoy reading Ben Thompson’s Stratechery.com. He has a really interesting look at strategy and business, especially as it pertains to technology. He covers a lot of wide-ranging topics, but most of them highlight what is happening in social media and with brands like Google, Facebook and Amazon. He always has a good take and is able to break down complex ideas and explain them simply.

– Sean OgleLocation Rebel 

 

5. Bulldog Reporter 

Sharam Fouladgar-MercerThough much of Bulldog Reporter’s content is geared toward public relations and communications professionals, there are a ton of articles that are universally useful to entrepreneurs of all types. For example, Bulldog recently published a piece on how to get the most out of your exhibitor booth at an event or industry-specific conference.

– Sharam Fouladgar-MercerAirPR 

 

6. The Mogul Mom 

Cynthia JohnsonI love The Mogul Mom because it’s for all mom entrepreneurs and covers everything from both worlds. Her articles cover all types of topics, like social media, productivity, product development as well as work-life balance and issues that impact female entrepreneurs.

– Cynthia JohnsonIpseity Media 

 

7. OnStartups 

Andrew O'ConnorOnStartups was started by serial entrepreneur Dharmesh Shah, the founder of Hubspot and Pyramid Digital Solutions. There is extensive content from Shah and guest writers as well as an online Q&A community where software entrepreneurs can engage with others about startups, business management, technical issues and more.

– Andrew O’ConnorAmerican Addiction Centers 

 

8. Wait But Why

Mark KrassnerTim Urban publishes an incredible blog called, Wait But Why, which takes deep dives on topics that range from relationships to space travel. Once in a while, Tim talks about business and entrepreneurship, but I think the real benefit to his blog is seeing how he thinks. Tim takes incredibly complex topics and makes them easy to understand, a skill more people in business would benefit from cultivating.

– Mark KrassnerExpectful 

 

9. The Kiplinger Letters 

Eric MathewsWe need unbiased, accurate business and economic forecasts. For over 90 years both executives and entrepreneurs have quietly used The Kiplinger Letters (not magazine) for such a weekly digest. The Kiplinger Letter consistently provides accurate forecasts of industries, businesses, companies and technologies poised for rapid growth — before the crowd “wakes up.”

– Eric MathewsStart Co. 

 

10. Success 

Brittany HodakAlthough it’s not exactly “off the beaten path,” Success isn’t traditionally considered a business publication. However, it’s the most inspiring magazine I read each month. I read it cover to cover and listen to the executive interviews that accompany each issue. I recommend it to every entrepreneur looking to further his or her company.

– Brittany HodakZinePak 

 

11. Mars Dorian 

Drew HendricksMars Dorian is a blog that mainly focuses on marketing tips that tell you why your business card needs an overhaul, how to get a following on your blog quickly, and how to improve your branding efforts. It’s practical, usable advice.

– Drew HendricksButtercup 

 

12. Duct Tape Marketing 

Peter DaisymeI like Duct Tape Marketing because it is a blog that focuses on developing an online presence beyond just social media. It also includes numerous tips on how to create online videos as well as leverage various tools to generate results-oriented content.

– Peter DaisymeDue Invoicing 

3 Tips for Nailing Your Startup Pitch and Getting Funded

Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of startup pitches – the good, the bad, and the ugly. There are a million different ways to piece together an effective pitch, but the following are consistent feedback points that I always coach entrepreneurs on when helping prepare them for fundraising. Here are my top three tips for nailing your pitch every single time.

1.) Establish a target for your startup pitch.

Verge

Before you present your startup onstage, introduce yourself at a networking event, or arrive at your potential investor meeting, you need to do a little backward planning to ensure you make the most out of your pitch. Ask yourself – what is my number one desired outcome? What do I want to happen after I deliver my pitch? Regardless of where you’re pitching or who’s hearing your pitch, having the desired outcome – or a target – in mind will help you remember why you’re pitching and zero in on what you came to achieve.

As you’re thinking about your target, specificity is key. There’s a big difference between a target of meeting key contacts and a target of securing three meetings with three investors in the e-commerce industry within the next week. The latter is much more specific and thus, much more effective. To ensure your target is specific, you can use the SMART goals acronym.

S – Specific. Can you define your target using clear, precise language?

M – Measurable. Can you measure the impact of your target in quantifiable criteria?

A – Agreed Upon. Is the rest of your team on board with this target? Does it make sense based on your quarterly and yearly objectives?  

R – Realistic. Is your target reasonable, given your startup’s current traction?

T – Time-Bound. Have you set a time constraint to help hold yourself accountable?

Follow these guidelines and you’ll have a specific, clear target that will keep your pitch on the right path towards success.

2.) Hook your audience of venture capitalists or angel investors.

Verge

There’s a reason clickbait articles get so many clicks, and it’s not rocket science – it’s a hook. Whether you’re writing an article for Buzzfeed or you’re up on stage delivering your pitch, you have one chance and one chance only to grab your audience’s attention, and you do so with a catchy, juicy, irresistible hook.

How do you know if your audience will take the bait? Here are a few key elements of a good hook that you can incorporate into your own pitch.

Effective hooks are…

  • Genuine. Your hook should be catchy, but make sure it’s honest. If you don’t have the numbers you currently want or a highly-emotional story to open with, that’s alright. Find an angle that accurately reflects your startup and go from there. Authenticity is appealing, no matter how it’s delivered.
  • Emotional. Attention – please read the following disclaimer: not all hooks have to be emotional, however, some of the best ones often are. If your startup solves a problem that could be considered more personal for the consumer, rather than professional, consider using an emotionally-charged hook to capture your audience’s attention.
  • Direct. The opening lines of your pitch are not a good place to beat around the bush. Be direct. Don’t waste time introducing yourself and over-explaining your background (at least in the beginning), get started and hook your audience by jumping right into the action.
  • Creative. Some of the catchiest hooks use an out-of-the-box format to break the norm and jar their audience’s perspective. You can do this by asking your audience a question, telling a narrative, using a fun fact or statistic or using second person narration to put your audience (“you”) in your customer’s shoes.

The key to a successful hook is to break the norm. By interrupting your audience’s everyday thought patterns and challenging their assumptions of what a pitch might be, you’ll be able to not only hook their attention, but keep them hanging on your every last word.

3.) Don’t just talk about startup traction, show it.

Verge

Now that you’ve hooked your audience’s attention, your next job is to continue building excitement around your startup. It’s this stage in the pitch where a lot of startups fail, because they simply tell the audience who they are, what they do, and where they’re headed. The best entrepreneurs know, however, that in order to truly get investors on board, they must show how they’re changing the industry and making an impact.

So, how do you show traction in your pitch? There are a few different ways.

  • Social proof. Use testimonials or positive customer feedback to show how you’ve made an impact.
  • Authority. Demonstrate authority in your field by highlighting media attention, certifications, and/or other recognizable awards and achievements.
  • Numbers. Investors want to know every detail about every number in your records before they’ll invest. A few good numbers you might want to highlight in your pitch:
    • Market Size and Value
    • Revenue Projections
    • Profit Projections
    • Funding and Budget Allocations
    • Current Customer/User Base

You don’t have to incorporate all three of these elements—social proof, authority, and numbers — into your pitch in order to be effective. A solid approach is to pick your top three most impactful traction points to highlight in your pitch, and focus on those. A quality over quantity approach is always more memorable when it comes to demonstrating value.

Keep these tips in mind as you’re crafting and practicing delivering your pitch. Get clear on your target, craft a juicy hook, and demonstrate traction to set yourself apart from your competition and deliver a memorable, investment-worthy pitch.

You can apply this method to any field, including open source projects.

Check out one of my favorite pitches of all time on our startup pitch resources page. http://vergehq.com/pitch/

The Differences Between Silent Partners and Investors

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

How is a silent partner different from an investor and when should you consider one vs. an investor?

 

1. An Investor Helps Directly With Operations 

Angela McCroryAn investor is someone who not only invests in a company but also plays a role in the daily operations and management decisions. A silent partner usually invests a large sum of money but prefers not to be involved in the daily operations. If you are looking for advice and help, you want an investor. If you need a cash infusion to grow, but already have a plan outlined, go for a silent partner.

– Angela McCroryRukkus 

 

2. A Silent Partner Adds Funding While Minimizing Feedback 

Hongwei LiuActive investors want (and expect) to be helpful. Silent partners want to invest in your company but trust in existing management and active investors to make the decisions. A company should take silent partners if the goal is to add funding while minimizing feedback. Active investors should be sought after to lead funding as they provide valuable insight to help you get to the next milestone.
– Hongwei Liumappedin 

 

3. The “Silent” Partner Comes With Ups and Downs 

Kenneth CucchiaMy initial investor was silent (usually pre-seed/seed). As a 22-year-old kid with a fat check, I was happy as could be. I would have done some things differently knowing what I know today, but that’s the beauty of entrepreneurship. It’s the game that never ends and there’s no rule book. My advice now would be to get an initial investor who can guide you instead of letting you think you know it all.

– Kenneth CucchiaDeals4Meals.com 

 

4. The Difference Is Trust 

Tyler HanwayA silent partner trusts you because of past experiences together and provides money to grow the business. He or she is not involved in the day-to-day operations and the relationship is less formal compared to investors. Although it may be easier to find investors, if you are able to find a silent partner in the early stages of your business, you’ll be able to spend more time building the company.

– Tyler HanwayConsumer Brands, LLC 

 

5. Truly Silent Partners Are Basically Investors 

Brennan WhiteSilent partners are basically investors with founder-level upside. Even investors are expected to help with advice, introductions, hiring, etc. If your partner is truly silent, the financial contribution has to be massive to make sense. Especially in today’s investing climate, it’s easy to find more traditional investors.

– Brennan WhiteCortex 

 

6. Silent Partners Have Limited Liability 

Nicolas GremionSilent partners may have a say in the overall operations of the business, but generally stay out of the daily affairs. One benefit is potentially being less liable in the event of legal actions. Silent partners can take a limited-liability partnership in the company. As such, they may have more influence on the overall business than an investor, while still being protected in case of a lawsuit.

– Nicolas GremionFree-eBooks.net

 

7. A Silent Partner Is Less Involved 

john ramptonA silent partner really isn’t a partner at all except to provide some money to fuel the startup’s growth. The silence can be nice to a certain degree, but I’ve always found it more helpful to have an investor that provides advice, counsel, contacts and more — or even, in some situations, rolls up their sleeves and pitches in. Going it alone can be scary and take even longer.

– John RamptonDuecom 

 

8. Their Role Depends Entirely on Your Agreements 

David MainieroThe distinction between taking on “outside” investors and starting with or bringing on “inside” (silent) partners entirely depends on how you’ve constructed your operating agreements or equity structure. You need to consider the role of your capital providers and what role you want them to play. Do you need their networks? Just their money? Their advice?

– David MainieroInGenius Prep 

 

9. Silent Partners Don’t Have as Much Control as Investors Do 

Vishal ShahSilent partners hold an equity position (just like angel investors) but do not have substantial control over the business any more than the founders do, as they hold the same class of common shares. It makes the most sense to have silent partners if you are only looking for capital infusion in exchange for equity, but do not wish to give up control of your business.

– Vishal ShahNoPaperForms 

 

10. The Difference Is in the Return 

Nicole MunozA silent partner is taking a risk investing with you, and they’ll usually expect a bigger return on their investment. On the flip side, an investor is someone who gives you money and relies completely on you to generate the return. There are key differences in the way the SEC classifies silent partners and investors, so do your research before you decide which route to take.

– Nicole MunozStart Ranking Now 

 

11. Silent Partners Don’t Exist Unless They Are Family 

Andre ChandraSilent partners are never silent, and rightfully so — it’s their money! The closest to a silent partner are family members, who may still love you no matter what happens to the money, but even this can vary from family to family. Rather than becoming a silent partner, I would much prefer a loan.

– Andre ChandraI Print N Mail 

 

12. A Silent Partner Is a Passive Participant 

Alfredo AtanacioA silent partner is an appropriate alternative when you’re not looking for someone to actively contribute to your business, share responsibilities or share in the company’s profits. You may want to seek out an investor if you are looking for more involvement in your company. Legally, bringing in an investor is complicated, so you need to be clear that it’s the right source of financing for you.

– Alfredo AtanacioUassist.ME 

 

13. Consider a Loan Before a Silent Partner 

Justin BlanchardInvestors typically bring value in addition to cash. Silent partners don’t contribute more than money — or they don’t unless they think you’re not maximizing the value of their investment. Silent partners may not stay silent. A loan gives you the cash infusion without risk of interference unless you default. Which you choose depends on your business’ needs, but talk to a lawyer regardless.

– Justin BlanchardServerMania Inc. 

How to Create a Life of Greatness with Lewis Howes

I could barely contain my enthusiasm as I walked into the well-furnished penthouse overlooking the Hollywood hills. But my excitement was justifiable. I was about to have a one of the most real conversations of my life with an ex-pro athlete who turned his life around to become serial entrepreneur, speaker, and author.

Lewis Howes on GreatnessLewis Howes has the ability to connect with anybody. His hit podcast The School of Greatness gets a million downloads a month and is consistently ranked in the Top 100 on itunes overall, and even the Top 5 in the Health and Fitness category. As we took a seat in his home office, Lewis slid an advance copy of his new book across the table to me. I’ve since underlined his book, also named The School of Greatness, dozens of times over and dogeared it front to back —a sign of a book containing true greatness.

Maybe it’s because I’m a frequent listener to The School of Greatness podcast, or maybe it’s Howes’s sheer charisma and ability to connect, but our conversation that afternoon went deeper than I had anticipated. I sat there for nearly an hour, entranced in conversation and surrounded by hundreds of his personal collection of books. I recognize most of the authors—former guests of of his show—including billionaire business leaders, best-selling authors, and professional athletes. With only the room of best-selling paperback as our audience, we dove in…

lewis-howes-greatness

In this interview, Lewis and I talk about some interesting topics like growing profitable businesses online, writing best-selling books, and performance psychology. But my favorite part of this interview is when we get personal and real about some of the challenge of building a life of greatness while building a business.

You’re going to love this…

Listen to Lewis Howes on Greatness:

Selected Links from the Interview:

Show Notes:

  • On starting his first company while living on his sister’s couch [3:40]
  • How to take action and stay motivated [5:15]
  • What to do when you don’t see eye-to-eye with your business partner (and insight into selling your company) [8:05]
  • How to use Periscope to make money and grow your audience [9:00]
  • Creating a unique and differentiated podcast [11:32]
  • How to prepare for any big event with Lewis’s “grounding” technique [13:05]
  • Why you should have a business coach [15:03]
  • What qualities to look for in a good business coach [16:15]
  • The important role of emotions in business [18:10]
  • Dealing with breakups and other emotional trauma while growing your business [21:35]
  • How to feel deeply and remain open to the world [23:00]
  • The journey to writing a best-selling book [26:00]
  • Why it’s important to write a book [31:20]
  • Lewis Howes’s new book The School of Greatness (plus how to get your free copy) [33:00]
  • What does the Greatness mean, and how can we achieve it? [34:15]

More About Lewis Howes:

People Mentioned:

You may also like these interviews:

Did you like this podcast?

What is your motivating force? What’s your purpose and inspiration? Drop a comment below and let us know what you learned from the interview with Lewis Howes.

The first 10 comments will get a free copy of Lewis Howes’s new book, The School of Greatness. PLUS we’ll include you on a private Verge-only call with Lewis, so you can learn from from Lewis live and ask him YOUR questions about greatness.

And hey, I’m feeling generous. Even if you’re not one of the first 10 people to comment, but you still comment within the first week of this post, I’ll hook you up with access to the call if you go out and buy your own copy of the The School of Greatness (just email your receipt to matt [at] VergeHQ [dot] com) Yes, that’s my direct line.

While you’re at it, I would LOVE to know what you thought about this podcast-eque format. It’s something we’re playing with here at Verge and we have some pretty killer interviews lined up. But maybe you prefer a different format. Maybe you prefer a different type of guest. Let me know!

 

Diversity in the Triangle – a list of women and minority entrepreneurs

As our community continues to grow, more and more women and minority entrepreneurs are launching, leading, and growing amazing companies. Take Tatiana Birgisson of Mati Energy Tea, she went out and crushed the Google for Entrepreneurs Demo Day and Anil Chawla, the founder of Archive Social, took home the $100K from Steve Case’s Rise of The Rest tour. These are just two of the many great examples of awesome people we have right here in the triangle.

With the help from folks like Derrick Minor and Ellie Gamache of American Underground (much thanks!), I started to comprise a list of females and minorities in the entrepreneur scene along with business resources / mentor-ship available to both females and minorities

Woman led companies, entrepreneurs and investors in the Triangle:

Food and Beverage:

Slingshot Coffee Company
Mati Energy Tea
Raleigh Raw
Videri Chocolate Factory
Raleigh Brewing
Simply B Gluten Free
Gadabout Food
Bombshell Brewing
AC Restaurants (Ashley Christensen)
Fiction Kitchen
The Cupcake Shoppe
ORO Restaurant
Bida Manda
Pie Bird
CocoaCinamon
Toast
Cast Iron Group (The Cookery/ Dashi)
Scratch
Monuts
SweetPea Bakery
YAWP bars
Escazu Chocolate
Garland
Centro
Nighthouse Kitchen & Bakery
Yellow Dog Bread Co.
Empress Room
C. Grace
BitterSweet
Sweets By Alexandria

Clothing / Retail:

Vital Plan
Edge of Urge
Scout and Molly’s
Vestique
Raleigh Denim
Deco
High Cotton
Nora & Nicky’s
Moon & Lola
Gather
Martian Creations
DesignBox
Lyf Shoes
Impress Coffee
Stitch
Lisa Stewart Designs
Kenda Kist Designs
Vert&Vogue
Dear Hearts
Clique Publique
UVO Luxury
Ramble Supply Company
Arrow + Sage
Textile Scents
PrecisiBand

Tech/BioTech:

Papilia
Hostel Rocket
Orate
KonnectBand
Sprout Pharmaceuticals
Imangi Studios
TechCXO
AcceleForce
Wiser Systems
FreeBooksy
ArtHive Online
Shoeboxed
Albright Digital
Akili Software
MedPro Rx
Remedy Health
GEMA
Axial Exchange
Thrive 47
Task Torch
Clave BIOdesign
Mlinzi Vaccines
Intelligent Campus Solutions
Nine Oak Media
PointSource

Marketing / Professional Services:

Brooks Bell
Mottis
Greenroom Communications
One Woman Shop
TJA Accountant
The Paystub People
WunderBar Translations
MMI Public Relations
Crossroads PR & Marketing
Sepi Engineering
Anagard
Carolyn Scott Photography
Mulkey Engineering
Phreckles Photography
Simply Photography
Esther Campi (Campi & Co)
HeskethOak City Labs
Abby Nardo Photography
BWPW Photography
Glenwood Agency

Other:

Innovate Raleigh
Leadership Exchange
Headbands for Hope
Redress Raleigh
Activate Good
Umstead Hotel & Spa
NC Theatre
Visual Art Exchange
SparkCon
SOAR Triangle
e51 Community
Raleigh Arts Collective
Nicole Wicker Consulting
Change The Triangle
Artspace
CAM
Shannon Andrews Consulting
CED
Art of Cool Project
HEAT Studios
Turn Me Loose
Scentsuosity
Live Work Play

Women doing awesome things and involved in the scene:

Mayor Nancy McFarlane
Christina Motley
Delisa Alexander
Noreen Allen
Sheryll Waddell
Heather Allen
Jan Davis
Jennifer Meeks
Carter Worthy
Liz Tracy
Allyson Sutton
Samantha Attard
Molly Demarest
Ellie Gamache
Jennifer Stanigar
Jes Averhart
Laura Baverman
Melissa Kennedy
Amy Huffman
Lizzy Hazeltine
Reagan Reynolds
Dana Calder
Jessica Mitsch
Cicely Mitchell
Kelly Sexton

Minority Led companies, entrepreneurs and investors:

Food and Beverage:

J Anthony’s BBQ Sauce
Lonerider Brewing
Eschelon Experiences
Nickelpoint Brewing
Bida Manda

Clothing / Retail:

Bevello
Martian Creations
Nyla Elise

Tech/BioTech:

VoteBash
Global Data Consortium
Tootdeck
Archive Social
Feedstyle
Swaggr
PredictifyMe
Spectraforce
PixBit
LeoForce
SecureBase
Vybee
BioPharma Advisors
Singh Development
Remedy Health
ELXR Health
Global Market Resources
Maintec Technologies

Marketing / Professional Services:

ThreePost
Sepi Engineering

Other:

RESQD
Parks Hospitality

Resources:

Office Hours – HQRaleigh, American Underground, The Startup Factory, Groundworks Labs, and many more local organizations widely publicize that they hold free office hours with local professionals. To my knowledge, no one has ever been turned down based on gender or race.

Structured programming – Organizations like CED, SCORE, and Entredot have structured programs to help small (and established) businesses get off the ground. Most of their programming is free, but some events and programs do have a small cost.

Soar Triangle – Backed by Google, the yearlong program offers tailor-made mentoring and investment opportunities for four female-led startups. Soartriangle.com

Black Girls Code – Based out of American Underground @Main, BGC focuses on girls aged 7-17 in hopes to help fuel the passion for a STEM focused career path. http://www.blackgirlscode.com/

E51 Coffee Connections – Peer mentoring groups, which are part of the new Entrepreneurial Ecosystem powered by women. Contact HQRaleigh.com for more info.

Derrick Minor’s email – The most comprehensive entrepreneur and startup focused event list delivered right to your inbox every few weeks. To sign up visit derrickslist.com

American Underground has launched an initiative to have its membership be comprised of at least 50% females and minorities. To back this up they’ve hosted events and organizations such as Black Girls Code, partnered with CODE2040 to launch an Entrepreneur in Residence program to support minority led firms and launched Soar Triangle to close the funding gap for female led firms.

Of course I couldn’t possibly cover everyone and every resource. If I’ve missed something, please feel free to either comment on the blog or email me will@vergestartups.com

8 Universal Qualities of Great Pitch Decks

“Send me your deck.”

Early entrepreneurs hear this a lot. And it’s because a pitch deck is a great way for an investor or potential customer to quickly size up your company. 

So, don’t leave this important communications piece to chance. We interviewed eight experienced entrepreneurs to get their perspective on the important aspects of an effective pitch deck.

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

What’s one lesser known thing you can include in a pitch deck that will really wow a VC?

1. Revenue

Danny BoiceWe very deliberately set out to have a solid revenue story for investors from day one. I know this sounds like common sense, but it’s unfortunately quite rare. I can’t believe how many investors we’ve pitched to who couldn’t believe that we had revenue our first month in business.

– Danny BoiceTrustify

2. A Personal Connection

Kristopher JonesDo research on the personal background of the person(s) you are sharing a deck with, and find one or more things in common to create a lasting personal connection. Maybe you went to the same college or high school. Maybe you are both Philadelphia Eagles fans (that would make three of us) or both attended Burning Man. A genuine personal connection can impress a VC and set the tone for discussion.

– Kristopher JonesLSEO.com

3. Synergies With Their Current Investments

Daniele GallardoI found that it is really important to understand the portfolio of your VC or strategic partner. Browsing the companies that they funded in the past gives you an understanding of what is important to them. If the companies are in the realm of what you do, it is often very simple to find synergies that the VC would really love to see in your deck. Do the homework for them, and show them!

– Daniele Gallardo, Actasys

4. Lessons Learned

jared-brownTelling VCs that you’ve made mistakes and sharing what you’ve learned from them will definitely make you stand out from the other startups that might be pretending to be perfect. You’ll show them that you’re adaptable, resilient and perceptive — all qualities they’re looking for in a potential investment. Then show how the lessons added to the value of your product or expanded your market reach.

– Jared BrownHubstaff

5. People Who Believe in You and How to Contact Them

dave-nevogtIf you already have influencers and advisors on board, show VCs who the three or four most important ones are and how to best get in contact with them. Having established entrepreneurs and businesspeople who will sing your praises to potential investors is an important signal of credibility, and in some cases, it can sway a VC that’s potentially interested but still needs some reassurance.

– Dave NevogtHubstaff.com

6. Video

Miles JenningsVideo and imagery are what attracts attention most from any audience you are trying to speak to, even an audience of VCs. Include a short video in your pitch that shows who you really are as a company, what you have accomplished and what your goals are. The video will make your story more tangible and will give a VC an inside look at your company and what you have to offer.

– Miles JenningsRecruiter.com

7. Thorough Financials

Jason LaAs an active investor in early stage companies, I review pitch decks every week, and I would be impressed by a thorough discussion of key metrics beyond mere sales projections. This should include compound annual growth rate, customer acquisition cost and return on equity as well as a timeline of the cost to achieve specific milestones. Thorough financials demonstrate solid business acumen.

– Jason La, Merchant Service Group, LLC

8. Future Vision of the Industry

Mike SeimanInclude the vision of the future of your industry. Too many people get caught up in the numbers and forget to tell a story. VCs want to know the bigger picture – where your company and your industry is going. In the end, marketing and finance decks aren’t that different. Both tell VCs a story and focus on getting them to invest in that vision.

– Mike SeimanCPXi

How to Steal the Best Digital Marketing Ideas

Eric Clapton MasteryEric Clapton became a guitar god by first practicing riffs created by blues guitar legend Robert Johnson. Clapton developed his own style as he listened to other artists, played with new bands, and found the guitar licks that he grew to love.

Becoming a master of digital marketing is no different.

But first, you’ve got to get the right stuff into your brain (Clapton wouldn’t have become Clapton if he’d imitated amateurs). If you want to master digital marketing idea generation, you have to first get comfortable with borrowing things that work elsewhere.

Use this 20-minute daily practice to steal the best digital marketing ideas for your start up or growing company.

Become a magnet for digital marketing strategy ideas.

Set aside 20 minutes a day. Go ahead and block it out on your calendar so you commit to it. Then use the time as follows:

First 5 minutes: Choose the 10 best growth articles of the day.

Skim through the 3 best marketing ideas bubbling up on the internet that day. You can subscribe to company emails that you like to find fresh digital marketing ideas. But I like to use Q&A and user-submission tools to help me identify what’s worth reading and what isn’t. I highly recommend:

During this first 5 minutes, you should simply identify the 5-10 most compelling articles. Identify these by finding the submissions that have the most upvotes, comments, or keywords in the title that indicate the article might be particularly relevant to your business.

Pro Tip: You can do this process even more quickly by hold shift while you click each tab. This will open the article in a new tab without changing windows and allow you to complete this first part of discovery quickly.

Second 5 minutes: Identify the best digital marketing ideas.

Is it worth reading every word of every article that catches your attention online? (hint: probably not)

digital marketing ideas

Get in the habit of good skimming technique by taking the 5-10 articles identified in your first 5 minutes of discovery and forcing yourself to review the article in 30 seconds or less. Do this by reading through the headlines and subheads, bolded words, and key phrases (which generally appear in the first and last sentences of paragraphs).

Your goal here should be to find the best 3 articles for you to dig into and really comprehend. These should be articles that challenge you to think in a new way or learn something new.

Third 5 minutes: Dig in.

Now that you’ve figured out where the gold is hidden, it’s time to put on your headlamp and headlamp. Because, we’re going mining!

In each of your final three digital marketing ideas, look for explicit tactics that are tied to measurable outcomes. As you identify clear tactics, jot some notes on how you might apply those same marketing tactics to your business. Here’s an example of a digital marketing concept:

“Add a live chat function on product pages”

Keep it brief, but descriptive. If necessary, add a couple of extra thoughts on how you could make this marketing idea work for your business. We’ll need that for the final step.

Final 5 minutes: Build out one digital marketing idea.

You should have about 7-10 concepts from three articles at this point. Now it’s time to identify and dig in once again.

Rank your marketing concepts by potential impact to your business or ease of implementation, depending on your current work capacity. Write a number to the left of each concept statement indicating which should be top priority (number 1).

Then, take your number one idea and bullet out a few more notes on that concept:

  • What existing campaign or marketing strength would this concept leverage?
  • Given your existing marketing strategies, what kind of impact could you expect to your key metrics? Write these down as rough goals.
  • How quickly could you expect to implement? Jot down what you think might be a good goal.

Save these notes to review at the end of each week. This is an important step for getting your marketing ideas implemented

Make your digital marketing idea your own.

Using this 20-minute daily practice with allow you to see enough digital marketing ideas to come up with your own ideas. By giving yourself some time between initial idea generation and review at the end of each week, you’ll give your subconscious the space it needs to gestate.

By making this a daily habit, your brain will begin to see patterns in digital marketing ideas. This discipline will help you steal and implement the best ideas, and give our business the biggest opportunities by making them your own.

BONUS: How to Get the Best Marketing Ideas before they hit the Internet

Pssst… here’s a little secret that the best entrepreneurs and marketers don’t want you to know…

The very best marketing ideas are usually shared at industry conferences months before the case studies get shared publically on the internet. This gives you time to capture the market and refine before others start stealing the same marketing ideas.

Join the MBO Digital Marketing Conference and Ideate Like a Boss

Verge HQ teamed up with one of the Midwest’s best digital marketing conferences, MBO. We’re hosting our pitch night this Wednesday, April 29th. We’ll have a panel of marketing tech thought leaders, as well as some of the most innovative software companies presenting their tech and marketing.

But just for you, you can attend the entire MBO conference and get more than $60 off your registration with the code VERGE15.

Register now >>

MBO Indy

 

 

 

It’s no secret that Indianapolis is a leader in Marketing and Tech. I hope you’ll join us!

 

From Open Waters to Red Oceans: T.A. McCann’s Adventure as a Successful Sailor and Entrepreneur

T.A. McCann is one of the few people on the planet who can claim astronomical success in not one but two areas; in his case, sailing AND entrepreneurship. But are they that different? I sat down with the tech company founder and America’s Cup winner about both bouncing back from failure and tips for achieving success.

Watch the full interview with T.A. McCann here:

Adventures in Entrepreneurship and Sailing with T.A. McCann

sailing and entrepreneurshipMcCann got the entrepreneurial bug around the tender age of 12 when he started a lawn care business: “The feeling of independence and being able to control my own destiny has always been important to me.” Perhaps that’s why, after graduating from Purdue (which is still going strong when it comes to shaping entrepreneurs!) and becoming a mechanical engineer, he quit to pursue the freedom of the open waters. An accomplished professional sailor, he won the America’s Cup in 1992.

What do Sailing and Entrepreneurship Have in Common?

Quite a lot, in fact! In his blog post on the subject, McCann observes that the skill, engineering excellence and perseverance shown by Larry Ellison and his victorious Oracle Team USA are “all things that go into a building a successful startup.” From finding a competitive advantage to working under a deadline, watch McCann draw all the parallels →

“If you’re only achieving at 20%, the goal is too hard. If you’re achieving at 100%, then the goal is too easy.”

-T.A. McCann, Sailor / Entrepreneur / Investor

Resetting the Goal Posts.

TA MccannMcCann’s sailing career was not without some setbacks. When competing in the Whitbread Round the World Race (now called the Volvo Ocean Race), his team was closing in on victory when suddenly, the mast fell down. Bitterly disappointed, almost everyone on the team wanted to quit. But in the three days it took to get back to land, a transformation from despair to hope took place: “We tried to find what we could salvage. Could we still win the last leg? Could we actually complete the race?” After resetting the goal posts, the team did in fact win the last leg handily and achieved a lot of reset goals.

“We just showed up at the wrong time.”

Not every entrepreneurial venture was a success, either. McCann returned to the tech world from sailing in the late 90s – in the midst of the dot-com bubble – with a startup called Helpshare: “It was a reasonably good idea, and we had built the company properly, but right when we were planning to go raise money, the crash happened.”

The Case For Corporate Experience.

ta-mccann-americas-cupThe loss was devastating, and McCann ended up joining Microsoft. During his three years there, he financially and emotionally recharged while still innovating and learning skills on the scale of a large company, “things that are different than what you need to learn for a startup,” like how to build software for hundreds of millions of customers in 123 languages. Eventually, a venture capitalist McCann had worked with through the product he had built for Microsoft Exchange invited him to become an entrepreneur-in-residence.

Entering a Red Ocean.

In 2008, McCann launched Gist amid several competitors already in the content discovery space. It started with the goal bringing users relevant news but evolved, using integrations with Google’s and Twitter’s APIs, into a social address book: “If I have all of my contacts in one place, and the system can give me news both about them and by them, then I can use to better understand them, and by understanding them I can build better relationships with them.” Through consistent customer feedback, Gist evolved into a relationship manager and caught RIM’s eye, which acquired the company in 2011.

The Importance of Building Relationships.

rival iq ta mccannWhen I asked him for advice he would give to entrepreneurs, McCann underscored the importance of building relationships for recruiting, reaching thought leaders, courting investors, and finding customers: “The stronger a relationship is, the more likely someone is going to do something for you or recommend you or your product to somebody else.” His most recent tech venture, Rival IQ (which we use at Verge, and I highly recommend), can help you learn how to best build relationships with customers through data-driven marketing. McCann also shared his 5-3-2 Rule for building relationships on social media. Watch him explain the strategy →

Want to learn even more from T.A. McCann?

Join 1,000 founders, investors, and builders at this year’s Innovation Showcase in July! A limited number of Early-Bird tickets are available for the full conference with more than 70 fundable companies. Reserve your spot here →

Raw notes/timestamps:  show

Why did Jay Baer move to build his business in Bloomington, Indiana?

I lived there for three years of my life. But I was still surprised when I heard that Jay moved his wife and kids more than 1,600 miles to make their home in Bloomington, Indiana.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Bloomington. I mean, I started and sold my first real business in B-town. It’s just that you don’t run into many people who relocate their lives to what you might call a “college town,” and then not do business with the university. Best-selling author and marketing keynote speaker, Jay Baer recently explained his reasoning for moving to Bloomington, Indiana. Watch this candid story, shared at The Speak Easy co-working space  in Indianapolis:

In case you don’t have a relational database pulled up in another tab, let’s break it down in case you’re considering “B-town” for your business.

Pros of Bloomington, Indiana for Business:

  • jay baer bloomington indianaSave your capital for building your company. You sure as heck won’t need it to find a great place to live. In Bloomington, you can live and eat well, while keeping cash in the bank for your next full-time hire.
  • There’s literally a talent factory producing tech talent through the IU Informatics and Computing program as well as business brains pumped through the #1-ranked public school for entrepreneurship, The Johnson Center.
  • There’s a community of other people building businesses in Bloomington. Whether you visit startup accelerator, SproutBox, or an event at Verge Bloomington, you’ll find an energy unlike anything you’ll find on the coasts.

Cons of Bloomington, Indiana for Business:

  • It’s a college town, so there is a certain amount of transience. It could be more difficult to get local clients, if that’s your thing.
  • You have a smaller pool to test your product. Whether you have a new service, widget, or app, you have around 100,000 people in the town to use as your testing ground.
  • There’s less access to capital, if you don’t know where to look. While there are startup accelerators like SproutBox, who have helped build several successful companies (with a few wins, already), there just aren’t as many angels or VCs as you’d find in a metro area. That said, many investors travel to Bloomington regularly for business, visits to IU campus, and national conferences like The Combine.

Speaking of The Combine, I hope I’ll see you there this weekend. Yep. I’m going going, back back to B-town.

And I’m pretty stoked about it. With a few hundred people registered and keynote presenters like Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales (and serial entrepreneur, Jay Baer!), Bloomington is going to be a blast this Thurs-Sat. Use the code “INDYVERGE2014” and get 25% off when you register. So, if you haven’t already, get yours now!

So, what has your experience been with doing business in a college town? Is Bloomington an anomaly?