Archive for March, 2006

Podcast Interview with John Rodenrys of Leading Ventures

I had an opportunity to do a Podcast with John Rodenrys, Senior Managing Director, Leading Ventures; an Angel investment company focusing on early stage technologies. John talks about the company, their investment strategy, what they look for, what entrepreneurs should know about approaching them and what turns them off. He also discusses some recent investments.

Leading Ventures is filling a much needed void in the early stage investment community as many traditional Angel investors are acting more like the VC firms in terms of what they look for and their overall funding process. Being active for a little more than a year, they have already invested in six companies.

So, if you have a few minutes, give a listen to John and find out more.

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Did You Save That Business Plan From Web 1.0?

If you were one of the unlucky entrepreneurs who hoped to get on the bandwagon during Internet Bubble 1.0, but just didn’t get the funding you needed, it may be time to re-look at it to see if it makes sense to take it out of the ashes. It seems that there are a number investors who are talking about how there were some good ideas back then, but fell into the chasm of not enough bandwidth, concerns about security, or fear about using a credit card over the net.

Well, since these problems have been addressed, it might make sense to update your plan, bring it into the Web 2.0 environment, and shop it around again.

The February issue of Wired Magazine had an article on Allen Morgan of Mayfield Fund where he talks about his looking back at promising plans that were just not possible back in 1999/2000 for the reasons mentioned. The same for comments by Mike Boich of Interwest Ventures during a recent Podtech.net Podcast where he characterized the re-look at “taking a Mulligan” on some past plans.

I am sure there are a number of quality plans around Southern California that fell into this category. I am not sure whether there are a lot of entrepreneurs who are willing to subject themselves to the process again. For those stalwart individuals who are, this may be the opportunity you have been waiting for!

Podcasts, Moving from Listening to Creating

This is not going to be a post on equipment, recording, editing or syndicating. There are quite a few good books on the subject, and, if you have an IT staff, they can probably set you up faster than I can explain what you need and you go and purchase the needed items. Suffice it to say, that you probably have most of what you need in whatever computer you already have.

This is about answering the question, Why should I bother Podcasting? The simple answer is that it is an easy way to have another communication vehicle to talk with your customers, employees, suppliers and anyone else you want to understand about your company and what you are trying to accomplish. What’s more you allow your constituents to hear your tone, inflection, emphasis on topics and you can actually laugh instead of using 🙂 or lol or other emoticons.

You know how it is with the written word. Most of us try to remember and follow all the rules: write at an 8th grade level, keep it short, be on point, etc. When you’re done, you read it and it sounds good to you. Others read it and think you are mad, or upset, confused, unclear, terse, and other adjectives that describe a feeling that you were absolutely trying to avoid.

You have all experienced this with email. You’ve heard people describing it as terse. I am sure that each and every reader has at least one experience where what they wrote in an email was misinterpreted or misunderstood. If you thought you might be misunderstood and needed to communicate with one person, you would probably try and talk live or, at least leave a voice message. But what if you wanted to talk to a group and have them listen when they had the time?

Customers, employees, suppliers, the press or others love to hear from the top dog. Every day CNBC has segments where they get to talk to leaders in the news. However, CNBC will not call you that frequently and if they do, they control the conversation. You want to have your constituents hear your voice while you control the content, tone, and conversation? Podcasting is a solution.

What’s more, it doesn’t have to be one way. Like with Blogs, you want to start a conversation and find out what customers want. How many of you start your business planning by asking your marketing department what’s keeping your customers up at night? What pains are they experiencing that you can help solve? How do they feel about your products and services?

I have talked with a number of leaders of technology companies that have trouble with their products being adopted. They have all the traditional elements covered: Advertising, Marketing Communications, Webinars, Seminars, Customer Education, well versed Sales teams, but still they are not making enough headway.

What if you, as the leader, had a regular mechanism where customers could hear you talk about how you use the solution, how it saves you time, money or makes your life easier. They hear you interviewing peer equivalents talking about their experiences. They hear you answer voice mails or emails, and hear you address others concerns.

They don’t have to login at a special time, or be sitting in one place listening to what’s going on. They can download it and listen to you talk while they are walking on a treadmill, shopping, riding in the car or sitting on an airplane.

So, why should you create a Podcast? Because you can and you are smart enough to realize that any opportunity to communicate with your customers and employees is time well spent. The other thing to think about is Podcasting is relatively new. Get started now and you are probably ahead of your competition and you know how great it is to be ahead of them!

Interview With Kristian Rauhala, CEO H2O Audio

Last month I posted a blog about Kristain and H2O Audio as a result of his presenting his company at the San Diego chapter of the MIT Enterprise Forum. The other day, I had an opportunity to spend 20 minutes talking with Kristian about his company, its history and his plans for the future. It is posted at http://socalbuzz.podbus.com/H2OAudio.mp3.

I hope you have a few minutes to listen to it. I have been impressed with Kristian, the passion he has for his business and how he and his team have channeled their passion for extreme sports and their desire to listen to music of their choice at the same time.

Blogs, Moving from Reader to Writer

Last October, Chief Executive Magazine published an article titled, Why CEOs Shouldn’t Blog. The reasons listed included your being too busy running your company, you either can’t or don’t like to type, or anything you write can be used against you. I couldn’t disagree with this more.

What the article provides is a number of excuses that you can use to justify not publishing a blog. I don’t think that any business leader needs an excuse. Publishing a blog is a choice not a necessity.

Everyone is busy. As for typing, publishing a blog does not require speed typing skills. It is another form of communication; so how do you create other written communications? Whatever it is, you can use the same approach for a blog. What you lose by not blogging is the ability to communicate directly with your constituency.

If you believe that you are well prepared to talk about your company or have customers that tell you after listening to a presentation how much better they understand what you’re doing, then a blog provides an opportunity to have a continual conversation with them.

We all need better communication with our customers. I was talking with a client yesterday who is looking at introducing a new service and thought he should survey his customers. Now ordinarily I am in favor of reaching out to customers. However, I reminded him that a survey is a single event. What he needs is a constant dialogue and a blog is one mechanism to provide it.

Along with being a great communication tool, I thought it would be a hassle to get a blog up and running. In fact it is just the opposite. There are a number of tools that allow for the creation, publication, and distributing blogs. Just putting “Blogging tools” in Google brings up a million and a half hits. I happen to use WordPress; others include eBlogger, Typepad, or Movable Type and lots of others. WordPress and eBlogger, Typepad and Moveable both have free trials. So, cost should be no obstacle to getting started.

They all have an interface to get you up and running quickly. Like a lot of other technologies, the best thing is to not over think it and get started! Like me, you’ll probably find out getting started is much easier than continually updating. But, if your experience is anything like mine, you’ll quickly understand to benefits and then begin telling everyone you know.

What’s stopping you?


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March 2006
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