The second last day of the elevate61 tour saw the participants travel all over Manhattan for their seminars. Today, the focus was on the fundamentals of building an international business in New York, the team met with founders and senior employees of former startups who had been in a similar position. The day ended with drinks and nibbles at favourite Aussie cafe Bluestone Lane, where the wider Advance community in New York were able to meet and mingle with the participants.
8:45am: Building a NY startup as Australian Founder. Tania Yuki, Founder & CEO Shareablee
Tania Yuki (Founder) – Dave (CTO) – Shareablee
- Been in the US for 10 years now – came out here for a 3-6 month project initially
- Started Shareablee 4 years ago – thought it would be “social media / technology something”
- What helped me get started: good thing about US in business is that you figure out whether they want to buy something from you very quickly – this helped me with determining whether an idea is crap or not. This means you can get deals done really quickly
- Market, needs, competitors can be a little different here, including pitches
- People here are good at taking meetings – setting stuff up really quickly – if someone is really interested, they’ll move it forward (pilot, test, etc).
- I was floored at how open people were to take meetings (investors, customers, etc). Because there is so much competition here, people are more willing to meet with you – they don’t want to miss out on something that could be good
- Cultural differences – I found it difficult at first where you come in and say I think I have some good ideas, etc. Something in AUS culture that is “that’s alright” / “that’s not bad” – whereas the US will amp it up. No one wants an “alright” product.
- Shareablee’s analytics SaaS platform is placing data at the core of great marketing: audience intelligence, actionable creative insights, cross platform measurement and benchmarking – collect, analyse and store a census of over 100,00 brands, publishers, public figures daily since Jan 2013
- Global partnership with comScore enabling clients from over 15 countries
- Never give a product away for free – that’s a trap (I did that in the first year) – If you give it away for free, then they don’t have skin in the game, expectation is higher, etc
- Early on we did ‘pilot to pay’ – 100% conversion rate
- Got clients by calling them up, meetings, etc. tap as many ppl as you can that will meet with you. We signed a distribution agt with cox who helped sell the product.
- Pitching to VPs of marketing – approach: “we’re not expensive but we’re not cheap”.
- Social media managers on average post 30-40 pieces of content a week: initially worried that social media managers think this product will be a job replacement but actually anything that helps them with their role, they will love.
- Working to get meetings with China – WeChat, Weebao, etc.
- Currently, 60 people – and growing locally. Asia pacific is really important – with two clients in Australia. But also looking to get Snapchat and companies here.
- First meeting with no branding in the US: the trick is to get out there. It is a small industry, so you can’t lie. Taking 10+ meetings per week. Need to build credibility early. Need to have a high velocity of meetings in the early stage as much as possible – to play everyone off each other (there are lots of competitors here – not like AUS). “Healthy paranoia” about missing out.
- When you run a tech cox, you walk into the office on Monday morning and you get stuff thrown at you. So every Sunday afternoon, I write a list of three things that I must to do during that week regardless of what happens during the week.
11am: Founder Mixer and Panel. TriNet + Simplifeye, Andium, Spring Moves
- Focus on startups looking to scale up and build growth
- You have to pitch a revenue model. They want to see that you have traction. Software is divided into segments: Enterprise (Larger, sale cycle can take a year, very expensive); SMB (smaller, 2 day sale cycle, cheaper).
- Why NYC? You need talented sales people. Your development team can be in LA, UK, etc but you need local talent for sales. There is a larger sales talent pool in NYC.
- Use conferences as a way to showcase your business, make connections.
- Funding is the hardest part of my job but hiring good talent is a close second.
- A strategic corporate partnership can be helpful with generating sales. Referrals are key.
- Adviser equity: 0.25% to 0.10%: make sure they have specific deliverables!
- No one doubts you can get to $1,000,000 but where is the billion dollar company?
- Very important to have a good lawyer from the start.
- Your influencers should be your fans and push out your product/service for you – influencers are great sales drivers
- Find distribution/sales channel that is repeatable.
- Have to have an inside sales team.
- The secret is a diverse revenue base.
- There is an art to figure out what someone will pay for vs cost of acquisition
- Be profitable on your channels
- Look at other things that are being sold into your customer base – you don’t want to be the most expensive bill but you don’t want to be the cheapest.
- Customer support: Figure out the level of training and onboarding it takes to use your product. Support is not revenue generating part of the business – figure out how much you need.
- As your pricing model evolved, treat your first 200 customers like kings. Grandfather the first 200 customers.
- Fund raising: Hustle!! Tap every friend and connection we had – spent a lot time doing it. I
- Even if they’re not the right fit, if they like you, they will introduce you to the right person.
- It gets easier overtime – as long as you put the effort/work hustle in the beginning.
- “Angel Path”: love international founders – Zack can introduce our participants to them.
3pm: All things Communications as a Startup. Siobhan Aalders, Head of Global Communications, Shutterstock
Siobhan: worked in UK and Brussels, always B2B, in the US for 10 years, in agencies & worked for myself, worked with Shutterstock
Gemma: in US for 9 years, tech PR, agencies, worked on IBM, moved to social digital media practice at Oligivy, 2 years at a startup, back to agency business (McCann) – Microsoft, Loreal accounts.
Why good branding matters:
1. Your company name and logo matter – important to have a brand that are impactful & stand out, colour of logos are also important. If it not obvious in your name about what your company does, then need to have a budget to be able to explain the origin story. Can have problems if you haven’t done the research at the beginning, including translation in foreign languages. Where the content is global, then use ‘global’ English (i.e. American); but local events/content, then use British English. Be aware of language/slang/vocab – use an “American” spell check (if it is not used in the US, then it won’t come up – e.g. bespoke – use tailored instead)
2. Who is your target audience? It amazes me how you can do one thing and reaches so many people – but you need to be dogged about breaking through that barrier. Online world is very littered with businesses, for businesses like online retail, it can help to have a real life store for people to experience the product (activation) – and having it for a short period of time. For B2B brand, it’s not something we have done particularly successfully – not a very effective use of our budget. Customer dinners, conferences – people like to go that and find that they value it (smaller group with more control) (makes it seem exclusive).
- Be a branded house, not a house of brands (e.g. Microsoft), apple (there are no brands outside Apple, only products).
- Intel case study: silicon chip – there are many chip manufacturers who are more profitable than intel, but uses branding (Intel inside) - really pushed this and it’s a brand that manufactures silicon chips that most people will know.
- Newsjacking: It happens. Bigger pool of journalists here and not every story may be the same. Always use embargos, US uses press wire all the time.
- If you don’t have an inhouse comms/marketing/social media person, ask someone in the team.
- Marketing vs Comms: Even if you have marketing experience, doesn’t mean you know news. Use Linkedin, Twitter, then blog.
- PR can be risky strategy if it is standalone strategy – PR: use it when you are already success in the local market.
- Trade press should be your friends – they feed into the big publications (who want to see you have some presence there). Those journalists tend to move to the bigger publications and may take you with them. Gives you creditability. Don’t forget about the bloggers – these people are subject matter experts.
- Research who the right people are as influencers (e.g. to publish something about your company) - establish value exchange – it is valuable but be careful.
6pm: Cheers & Chill Networking Drinks
Sausage rolls, cheese boards, wine, and more!