The tour is now in full swing, and the participants are showing no signs of slowing. Day four was one the busiest and jam packed yet, and the eleven companies are getting a real taste of what it's like to be immersed in the innovation capital of the US. The key takeaways from the seminars today were extremely interesting, and beneficial to the companies digital strategies. 

8:15am: Arrive at Galvanize to check in, get coffee and introduction to the day. 

9am: The Future of Technology. Matt Henshall, Head of Things, Thoughtworks

10am: Knowing your Market and Customer. Kirsty Traill, VP Customer Support, Hootsuite

  • The alignment of business to customers needs to be at every touchpoint in their digital journey
  • Disruption driven by three facets of technology; “social”, “real-time”, and "mobile"
  • Driven by digital natives; the tipping point was 2011
  • 60% of people who complain on twitter expect a response within an hour
  • On average, 13+ departments within an enterprise can be using social and digital forums, yet customers only see one brand. It's important that engagement is aligned and managed.
  • Traditional business structure rely on process and silos; a social organisation is aligned around the customer as they will talk about or to you on social and this can play out in front of an audience of millions, so it's vital that all employees need to be the eyes and ears on social.
  • Social customer service reduces costs (less inbound support calls), increases revenue (proactive engagement) and increases customer satisfaction (better customer journey) when it's done well.
  • Be clear on who you are targeting, as characteristics will differ. Business expenditure, economic census, IRS data and buyer data – this segmentation is vital.  NZ has 4 million people and Japan has 4 million surfers alone; a lack of targeted engagement will waste dollars and marketing expenditure. 
  • Most companies have at least 3 personas, and all must be relative to your business.
  • Hootsuite create cards they give to people who join the company and play persona bingo and also map personas to the customer journey both social and other. Baseline the journey map and then conduct customer interviews to determine that the true moments of truth have been identified.

11am: Product. Testing, launching and scaling products | Learnings and best practices from a big digital company that could be applied to start ups. Barney Pierce, Global Head of Google Performance Media Solutions  

  • There are 4 stages to this process. 
  • Stage 1: Understanding the market and business requirements. This is all about knowing the customer (their pain and issues) and the metrics that matter to your business. Get direct customer feedback, use surveys, analyse CRM data.  Metrics for product development – revenue, breadth, depth, churn, competitive benchmarking, usability and customer product satisfaction
  • Stage 2: Product development is based on the market requirements document. You must have vision, strategy and roadmap to get a product requirements document.
  • Stage 3: Bringing a product to market – develop the Go To Market plan (so you know where you went wrong), have an experiment stage (evaluate the proof of concept and defines the product), an alpha release (test it does what it should), beta release (ensure product-market fit) then launch and re-iterate (launch to general availability).  Have a set of launch criteria and what the potential launch blockers are.  Make sure you have quality criteria – client testing, timelines, price points. Launch fast and iterate but don’t sacrifice quality - it's important to make 'quality' a part of the product teams KPI’s.
  • Stage 4: Scaling – focus on simplicity while catering for the advanced (UI simple with a drop box for advanced features), tight product feedback loop, rapidly solve for needs of each key segment, build an effective launch management process, dashpoards and alerts to stay on top of KPI’s.

11:30am: Aussie Founder Session. Nick Crocker Product Strategy & Operations - Under Armour | Peter Grant CEO & Founder,

  • Coming to the US is like going from the college league to the majors – the quality of people is extremely high – you go from being best in class in Australia to being virtually noone here.
  • You need to be specific. Have a 30 second pitch, deck and link – most founders here are sharp and on it.
  • If you are going to be playing in the NBA, you need to be training and playing in the NBA so if you want to compete and make it here, you need to be here. It's especially important to be here before others are, to make a consolidated effort to be here on the ground and explore your market-product fit.
  • US investors and market don’t care about Australian traction as there is enough opportunity in the US – if you want to be here you need to be on the ground.
  • Raising money in the US; it’s about association and referrals. You need to think through 1 or multiple investors and the strategic value that comes with this. Spend 110% of time spent on raising capita! The whole team can ride these waves, so there can be a big emotional impact as well.
  • Self-awareness is the number one founder skill.

12:10pm: Less Sales: More Solutions. Rachael Neumann, Strategic Advisor: Board Member - Launch Vic

The lessons:

1.  How to respond to a major incumbent in the market:

  • Differentiate – find and exploit pain points of customer and then deliver on it (service really matters in the US)
  • Avoid hand to hand combat – find a niche and win or identify underserved market gaps
  • Don’t let them see you coming – don’t call competitors out, don’t talk them down and act as if not interested in their space

2.  You have no brand equity

  • Borrow reputation – forge key partnerships and leverage brand to find win-win co-selling opportunities
  • Thought leadership – write white papers, give away insights and be the leader – content marketing works.
  • Find the multipliers – greatest exposure via the least investment, activate and leverage references / case studies / promoters.

3.  Product / Market fit

  • One size does not fit all – understand needs and wants and let that inform but not drive decisions (customers don’t always know what they want) and be aware of local biases towards processes like payment

4.  Bias towards local players

  • Act the part – hire a local team, get involved in the community and play up local aspects “speak the language”

5.  It's an antiquated industry

  • Change the paradigm
  • Teach old dogs new tricks
  • In data we trust


  • Do it if your product and service is truly differentiated
  • Australians are not as buttoned up and polished as US founders on what the product is, what it does and why this matters – go to pitch competitions, practice and focus on differentiation
  • Make sure you are compliant for the industry you are in
  • You need to be able to calculate a return on your buyers investment – revenue generation, cost reduction, customer retention and efficiency of the business these metrics matter 99% of the time – a data driven vision of the future state

Enterprise entry tips

  • 1. Know your competition and how you are different (use perceived weaknesses as strengths, eg, small size = agility), 2. Know your buyer (multi-buyer decision making process, use metrics and personalise benefits), 3. Start as high up the value chain you can go (generate interest there, selling high means selling outcomes), 4. Land a marquee client (at a loss if you need to) and leverage it for referrals and case studies
  • Create a customer centric pitch, become a thought leader, create partnerships with vendors who are already in the market and always, always, always stay connected to the customer (best source of insight into your product and service and early customers co-develop with you)
  • A little secret … customer experience is everything – loyal customers: stay longer (2 times longer), spend more (3.2 time more) and tell friends (will tell at least 5 customers)
  • Networking – be specific in your ask, never waste an opportunity (research shows people love being helpful – creates a sense of worth and feel-good factor).  End a conversation by asking for introductions to other who may be able to help based on the conversation.
  • Expect not every promise for an introduction will be delivered on.

1:15pm: Business Process: Creating efficiences with new technology

So you’ve launched and need to compete with an incumbent here are some tools to help you be super-efficient and automated from day one and drive competitive advantage

  • Go to market tools
  • Price right early – mapping sales complexity drives pricing to determine what is profitable
  • Data – mining existing data – CRM won/lost data review, enrich with LinkedIn data, identify patterns for both won and lost – identify what success looks like.  What you are looking for is replicable commonalities – identify scalable customer profiles.
  • Tools to scale outbound in the testing cycle
  • Use profiles to generate leads from LinkedIn – (use and – this will get you to email addresses
  • Half machine / half human – automation to scale sales.  For outbound teams there are tools to send personal emails at scale: and
  • New role that has emerged is the sales development representative – metrics – number of appointments booked, opportunities accepted by the sales team and some compensation related to the close of the opportunity
  • Sales is very metrics driven in the US.
  • You need to remember there is a scale and quality trade-off in automation and scale tools.

3:15pm: Establishing your startup in the US. Brett Adam Managing Director, Zendesk | Emil Davityan, Co-Founder, Bluedot Innovation | Simon Turner, Co-Founder, Myagi | Stacy Chapman, Co-Founder, Swoop Talent.

5:30pm: Cheers & Chill Networking Drinks