UpWest Labs Demo Day Spring 2013

Congrats to all the startups graduating from UpWest Labs’ latest class!

It’s hard to pick a favorite out of this bunch as all five had solid ideas and strong, motivated teams. No doubt they will all get funding to continue to prove out their ideas.

Two that stood out to me were Ondigo and Qlika. Ondigo with automated CRM for sole proprietors and small businesses and Qlika with a tool to manage and optimize millions of ‘micro’ market local campaigns across all digital media. Check them out – I would love to hear what you think.

For more on all the companies, check out TechCrunch’s coverage: UpWest Labs’ Fourth Batch Looks To Go Big By Taking The B2B Approach

Qlika logo  Ondigo logo

Bring on the Disruption

Sometimes incumbents are so entrenched and incentivized by the status quo that the only way a better offering is going to get to consumers is by throwing a big ball of disruption into the marketplace.

Two examples highlighted in recent articles are Uber and Aereo. Are their solutions perfect?  No. Are their solutions bringing a more customer-focused approach to stale industries? Yes. Are their solutions breaking laws? Debatable. Should those laws be updated to clearly allow innovative approaches that bring better services to Americans? Yes. Would there ever even be a discussion about updating those laws if startups like these didn’t force the issue? No way. And that in itself makes their efforts worthwhile.

Godspeed disruption.

Uber, Lyft, SideCar, And The So-Called Safety Problem

“…But Uber’s got something that regular taxi or limo services don’t have. So do SideCar and Lyft. They have an identity system that connects a driver to a ride. They have rating systems to help determine which drivers are doing a good job, and which aren’t.  They have feedback systems through which unhappy passengers can report something that went wrong. And, in the case of a crime, they have time, date, and ride logs so they can quickly identify perpetrators. Which means, if you were a criminal and somehow got through the pre-vetting process for any of these new services, you’d have to be an absolute idiot to commit a crime while on the job…”

Spreading Disruption, Shaking Up Cable TV

“…It’s as if the mirror cracked and you can see these changes are starting to happen all over the place,” Mr. Diller said. “Programming over the Internet is going to happen, and cable is only now waking up to the fact that everybody hates them. I think we’re on the side of the angels…”

Three Tips for Successful Networking at an Event

That guy at a networking event

For many people, the word “networking” brings up images of this guy (left). It’s no wonder so many people have negative connotations about networking. After all, no one wants to be ‘that guy’.

The good news is that collecting business cards and spamming people (both written and verbally) with why you’re so great is not actually networking. In fact, if you try to network like this, you’ll quickly find that not only does it not work, it’ll have the opposite effect and turn people away.

So then what is networking? In its simplest sense, I like to define it as actively looking for ways you can provide value to others with similar interests.

Why network?

  1. It’s the #1 way to identify and secure business & career opportunities.
  2. The strength of weak ties: the more “weak” ties in your network the wider the variety of opportunities you’ll be exposed to. This topic could be its own blog post. If you’re interested in more check out Reid Hoffman’s post or the original research paper.
  3. Your network goes with you throughout your career.

Making your networking productive is as simple as following these three steps:

Three tips for successful networking:

  • Know your objective.
  • Proactively engage…then listen.
  • Follow-thru

1. Know Your Objective
“Alice came to a fork in the road. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked. ‘Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire Cat. ‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the Cat, ‘it doesn’t matter’.”  

Without focusing your networking efforts, you’ll end up very busy, but frustrated at a perceived lack of progress. If you’re going to spend time attending events, you should spend a little time beforehand understanding why. What is it you need? Are you looking for business clients? Job leads? Potential employees? Advice?

These (and more) are all valid reasons for networking. But decide before the event which objectives you’re targeting. Going in blind and ‘seeing what happens’ leaves you open to missing what you really needed. Objectives don’t need to take a lot of time. For example, something as simple as “speak to at least 2 people I can follow-up with regarding career advice” is enough. Remember, you don’t need to meet everyone at an event to make it a ‘success’ – simply meeting your personal objectives makes it a success for you.

2. Proactively engage…then listen
If you feel uncomfortable at events, realize you’re far from the only one who feels that way. Getting started can be as simple as breaking the ice. Yes, I know that’s usually easier said than done, but one of the benefits of an event like MarketingCamp is that everyone is there for the same purpose. No one’s going to care or remember how a conversation was started, only that they enjoyed the conversation. So smile and say hello. Or get really fancy with “May I join you?” or “What brings you to MarketingCamp?”. And don’t hesitate to ask questions in the sessions at MarketingCamp. It’s a great way to generate follow-up conversations with the speaker or other attendees afterward.

Once you’re in the conversation, the most important thing to remember is to LISTEN. There’s no better way to find out how you can help someone than to ask questions and listen. But you have to really listen. Planning what you’re going to say next about yourself while smiling and nodding doesn’t count. Remember, networking is about actively looking for ways you can provide value to others. Make it about them and you’ll find that the opportunities to speak about yourself will come up naturally.

3. Follow-up
The most important part of networking, and unfortunately the most neglected, is to follow-up. Follow-up doesn’t need to take much time. In many cases, simply mentioning that it was nice to speak with them and offering a follow-up discussion is enough. If appropriate, let them know you’re open to assisting them in the future and to feel free to contact you. If they gave you advice, let them know what you did with that advice. If you offered to help them in some way, be sure to do so.

A final note on follow-up. Many people, myself included, use LinkedIn to maintain their network. It’s a wonderful tool when used appropriately. I don’t recommend using the generic LinkedIn invite text. Take a couple minutes and write something personal to remind the recipient where you met, what you discussed, and why you’d like to stay connected. It’s not only a helpful reminder to the recipient, it also shows a little thought.

What are some networking tips you’ve found useful? I’d love to hear them. Let me know in the comments.

MarketingCamp San Francisco is around the corner!

We’re super excited about MarketingCamp San Francisco on March 30th! There’s still time to get in on the fun if you haven’t yet registered. Just don’t wait too long. We’re filling quickly and expect to be completely sold out soon.

For those who have signed up, here are a few things to consider:

  • Your opportunity to become a thought leader
  • Join the conversation
  • Benefits of sponsoring MarketingCampSF

Want to become a thought leader in your niche?

The best way to gain exposure to hundreds of people who could benefit from your expertise is to propose a session topic for MarketingCampSF.

Propose a Topic: The deadline for proposing session topics is March 18th, but voting starts on March 4th, so getting it in sooner will increase your chances of having it selected. Propose your topic now! More than 20 topics have been proposed so far, but we need more to make MarketingCampSF a success.

For ideas on sessions, you can view sessions from our last camp – MarketingCamp Silicon Valley.

If you don’t feel comfortable speaking in front of a crowd, maybe you know another expert who does. Feel free to send this to a colleague.

Let’s make MarketingCamp SF the best event ever!

Join the conversation!

Did you know we’re providing different marketing content that you might find valuable on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, & Google+? Different social networks = different topics.

Plus, we’re happy to announce the kickoff of our weekly blog! Every Monday we’ll have a new blog post for you on a marketing topic. Check out our first blog post by Marketing Hero, Paul Wcislo.

Sponsor MarketingCamp SF!  Here are 3 great reasons why:

  1. Brand exposure to a focused target group of 350+ of the most innovative, progressive thought leaders in the San Francisco Marketing community.
  2. High visibility and connections to business influencers and decision makers:  Your company’s prospective partners and customers!
  3. Educational opportunity for your employees to learn the latest in marketing tips, tricks & tools.

Click here to become a sponsor! (Packages start at $500)

For more information on MarketingCampSF, go to http://marketingcampsf.org

For information about the MarketingCamp organization follow us on LinkedIn

Keeping up with the Joneses in Silicon Valley

Everyone seems to want in on the ‘build a new HQ’ bandwagon. Is it time to buy a Silicon Valley construction company?

Samsung:

New Samsung HQ in San Jose

New Samsung HQ in San Jose

Google:

New Googleplex

New Googleplex

Nvidia:

NVIDIA's new HQ

NVIDIA’s new HQ

Facebook:

Facebook's new HQ

Facebook’s new HQ

and of course…”One Ring to Bring Them All And In The Darkness Bind Them

Apple's spaceship HQ

Apple’s new HQ