Sunday, January 27, 2019

[NEWS] 2019 Triangle Tweeners List Announced--Features Restaurant Furniture Plus

Posted By: George Deeb - 1/27/2019

For the last few years, Scot Wingo , the serial successful entrepreneur in the Raleigh-Durham area who founded Channel Advisor and Spif...

For the last few years, Scot Wingo, the serial successful entrepreneur in the Raleigh-Durham area who founded Channel Advisor and Spiffy, has been keeping his finger on the pulse of all the great startup activity taking place in the growing Triangle-area startup community.  He maintains an annual list of "Triangle Tweeners" that are growing startups with revenues between $1MM and $80MM that are "off to the races" and the local Triangle-area ecosystem should support.  The word "tweeners" means the listed companies are in between early seed-stage startups that have not yet achieved their proof-of-concept, and later stage businesses that have grown beyond venture capital stage and into private equity stage.

Scot published the 2019 Triangle Tweeners List last week.  So, if you are curious which companies to keep an eye on, in terms of future potential investment returns in the Triangle area, this is your go-to list of up-and-comers.

And, as a pleasant surprise, Red Rocket's portfolio company, Restaurant Furniture Plus has made this year's list and was honored at the first annual Triangle Tweeners Awards event last week (see George Deeb accepting this award on behalf of the Restaurant Furniture Plus team in the photo below).

No pressure now, Scot!!  We'll do our best not to let you and the local community down.  Thanks Scot for all the effort you put into maintaining your annual Triangle Tweeners list.  It is a tremendous service to the local community, and helps investors and executives outside the region know all the great startup activity that is happening in town.

For future posts, please follow us on Twitter at: @RedRocketVC.  And, be sure to follow Scot Wingo at @scotwingo for future years' updates to his annual Triangle Tweeners list.

Friday, January 25, 2019

[VIDEO] George Deeb Discusses Business Coaches and Mentors on ASBN

Posted By: George Deeb - 1/25/2019

I was recently interviewed by the  Atlanta Small Business Network  (ASBN), an online "television network" serving the small bu...

I was recently interviewed by the Atlanta Small Business Network (ASBN), an online "television network" serving the small business community, about business coaches and mentors, and how they can help your business.  I thought this video turned out great, and I wanted to share it all with you, to help you determine if engaging a business coach (like Red Rocket) is right for you.  I hope you like!!

The embedded video player didn't give me the option to change the size of this video.  But, if you want to see a bigger version, simply click the expand size button in the player above, or feel free to watch it on the ASBN website.

Thanks again to Jim Fitzpatrick and the ASBN team for having me on the show.  I look forward to our next interview together.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Lesson #307: Marketing Wisdom from Seth Godin

Posted By: George Deeb - 1/23/2019

I recently attended the annual Internet Summit in Raleigh and had the pleasure of hearing their keynote speaker,  Seth Godin , share his...

I recently attended the annual Internet Summit in Raleigh and had the pleasure of hearing their keynote speaker, Seth Godin, share his marketing wisdom with the hundreds of eager listeners in attendance.  If you don't know Seth, he is an entrepreneur (founded Squidoo and Yoyodyne), blogger, best-selling author of 18 books and a member of the Marketing Hall of Fame.  So, when it comes to marketing, you can rest assured Seth knows what he is talking about and you need to listen.

His presentation at the Internet Summit was more of a Q&A format with the audience.  So, it was a little random in terms of the topics discussed.  But, there were some juicy nuggets worth sharing with all of you.  Here were the highlights, paraphrased as best as I could remember it.


You want to be building a business that people are talking about at the water cooler; a business that offers the customer "status" for being associated with it and "satisfaction" for solving a real pain point.  He gave the example of people taking out their mobile phones, opening their Uber app for the first time and telling the person next to them to "watch this", as the app summons a car on demand.  The more people that are positively talking about your product, the more free word-of-mouth marketing support you will get.


The mistake that many companies make is trying to be all things to all people, going after as large a mass audience as possible with their marketing message.  Seth thinks that is a huge mistake, especially for early-stage businesses. You need to focus on one niche, smallest-viable audience and "own it".  Serve it better than all others in that space, while "shunning the non-believers".  And, make sure you are preaching your gospel to the right audience, where your message will most resonate.  Seth gave the example of an English speaking comedian would have little success telling jokes to a room full of Italian speaking attendees that wouldn't understand the jokes.


The best way to close a sale is to create trust.  And trust is often a major hurdle in low-trust industries.  Seth gave an example of him personally hiring an HVAC firm to repair his home, having to decides between dozens of options, unclear on who is the best at their trade.  He didn't care that a vendor may have had a higher price, when he saw the names and phone numbers of all his nearby neighbors (that he trusted), listed is references for the business.  That is all he needed to see; if his neighbors were happy with the service, there are high odds he will also be happy with the service.  So, you want to give great service, to get all your customers singing your praises, and serving as references for others.


Most sales processes create "tension" for the buyer.  Maybe your product will create work for them, or is a risky proposition for their business, or will make them look bad to their boss, or whatever.  And, the bigger the company is, the more tension there will be, with many more decision makers involved in the process and higher levels of bureaucracy.  You need to remove that tension right from the beginning.  You need to share insights and case studies that will calm them, and instill confidence in them that they are making the right decision to move forward with you, despite all the potential perceived hurdles.


Many companies have their marketing teams managed separately from their sales teams, oftentimes pointing fingers at each other when things go wrong, or when there is work to be done.  Seth believes this is a huge mistake.  Marketing and sales needs to be managed together in one department, as they truly feed each other as one well-oiled machine that feeds and learns from each other.


The quality of your team is everything, and you want to hire the best team possible.  Which isn't always easy in a tight job market like today.   Seth gave the example of Intel empowering their employees to hire every smart person they met while doing business with other companies, with the message "you are hired with a 10% raise over your current salary" on the spot--no need to interview, no need to worry about compensation, we love you that much.  Seth also gave the example of him putting a $40,000 full page recruiting ad in the New York Times, where people thought he was crazy.  But, the ad stood out from the clutter of normal job postings, was talked about in the media, and attracted tons of great talent that made the investment entirely worth it.  So, think out of the box in your hiring methods.


In most marketing departments, the team believe they can measure and optimize their direct response marketing activities, but they can't and don't measure their branding activities. Seth believes that all efforts inside the marketing department need to be measured and optimized, including branding.  So, refuse to believe branding is unmeasurable, and create the right metrics to ensure your branding efforts are hitting your desired targets.  In today's digitally-centric marketing world, everything can be measured and optimized.

Hopefully, you agree there were some great insights here that can be applied to all of your businesses.  Thanks to the Internet Summit and to Seth Godin for your inspiration to me in writing this post.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

It's Time to Rethink the Corporate Pyramid

Posted By: George Deeb - 1/10/2019

I have long thought movie stars and sports heroes were drastically overpaid in comparison to their contributions to society. For example...

I have long thought movie stars and sports heroes were drastically overpaid in comparison to their contributions to society. For example, teachers are teaching future generations of kids, and get paid pennies in comparison. And, even well paid doctors, saving lives, are paid a small fraction of what an NBA star gets paid to simply play the game of basketball.

In the last decade, these inequalities are starting to be seen in corporate workplace, as well, with ever rising CEO pay and mid-level jobs under siege due to outsourcing and technology automation. I think we need to rethink the traditional pyramid shaped organizational structure to “right size” the work completed vs. compensation paid equation.

Read the rest of this post in Entrepreneur, which I guest authored this week.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

[PODCAST] George Deeb Presents Startup Sales Strategies on Best Selling Podcast

Posted By: George Deeb - 1/09/2019

This week, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Vince Beese, a B2B sales expert at Sales@Scale  who produces their Best Selling Pod...

This week, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Vince Beese, a B2B sales expert at Sales@Scale who produces their Best Selling Podcast, ripe with sales learnings for businesses.  You can listen to our discussion about sales strategies for startups at this link.  Thanks, Vince, for including me in your podcast.  I had a ton of fun.

For future posts, follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.  And, follow Vince at @VinceBeese.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Lesson #306: Startup Ecosystems Accelerate Success--Why Bigtincan Relocated from Australia to the U.S.

Posted By: George Deeb - 1/04/2019

I was recently introduced to David Keane , CEO at Bigtincan , an AI-powered sales enablement platform founded in 2012 and now publicly t...

I was recently introduced to David Keane, CEO at Bigtincan, an AI-powered sales enablement platform founded in 2012 and now publicly trading on the Australian Securities Exchange with a $60MM market capitalization.  I learned his story on how he relocated his business from Australia to Boston to give his business a higher likelihood of scaling revenues and startup success.  Since relocating the business to Boston in 2013, the company has seen consistent annual growth in excess of 45% per year (with sales of $13 million in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2018).  In my interview with David, he shared many of the key differences between the U.S. and Australia startup ecosystems, that I thought was worth sharing with all of you.  And, I think this serves as a great case study of how the health of the startup ecosystem you work in, can help or hurt your success.



After listing Bigtincan on the Australian Stock Exchange, we realized to continue to grow the organization, we needed to expand outside of our current market. As the biggest global economy, the United States was the obvious choice in order to create more opportunities across the world and be part of the open economy. Without the capital, the market or the customers we needed to succeed in Australia, you reach a plateau where you cannot grow anymore unless you expand to a new market, which is what drove Bigtincan to move outside of Australia. We also wanted to expand our customer base globally, especially within the United States, and having that in-market presence was increasingly important to build these relationships. 


The Australian startup ecosystem exists, but it is not as established as the United States. Australia is a developed country with English speaking people and great education along with good government programs that support entrepreneurs and startups. Without Google, Apple and Amazon to compete for resources with, so many startups have the luxury to regularly employ PhD-level graduates with data science experience.  However, despite the sun, beach and a strong talent pool, there is no significant source of venture capital and the overall business ecosystem is not as prolific or mature. 


When determining where to put down roots for Bigtincan, Boston felt a lot more established than San Francisco or even somewhere like Austin, Texas where the business landscape is still very young. The Eastern seaboard still remains a business hub with a heavy industrial focus as opposed to the pure software technology and social network-based companies of the Silicon Valley. Boston itself has decades of experience in both hardware and software and the infrastructure like Internet and fiberoptic to support continued growth. Boston also offers numerous support agencies like public relations firms, capital management groups and marketing agencies that can help companies in the area get started.

Another challenge with Silicon Valley is that the talent market is highly competitive. With new companies and opportunities constantly springing up, you often watch employees leave for next big thing whether it’s a Facebook, Uber or Google. Boston has been churning out superior business and technology hires for decades with a number of the top colleges and universities residing within, or just outside, the city limits. This gives us a huge opportunity to source young, smart employees where they are already residing. A successful enterprise cannot be built alone, overnight – you need to have long term partners and talent to help build great companies.


When moving from Australia to the United States, you realize pretty quickly the cultural differences between the two countries – and even within the US – which yield varying approaches to business and the global market. In the US you have the big guys like Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple dominating the tech market, making it harder and harder to stand out if you have something special.

Today's organizations need to think globally and build a more diverse base than enterprises have before. For Bigtincan, Australia was a good place to start, but the entry into the US market has really allowed us to grow. During this process, you quickly realize the cultural differences in another country. Not only did that present a challenge but learning the nuances of the different regions in the United States (Southern hospitality vs. laid-back Californian-style) did take some getting used to. This ultimately helped us establish what locations made sense to house the various teams – sales, marketing, engineers – and determine the location of our U.S. headquarters.


No doubt moving Bigtincan from Australia to the United States was the right thing to do for us. It was a wonderful experience to go through and enabled Bigtincan to be successful. Since 2013 the company has seen consistent 45 percent year-over-year growth, which would not have been possible if we had not moved into a bigger market. So many smaller companies and startups don't make it because they neglect to fight in the big markets, where there are more opportunities.

The only way to determine whether an organization fails or succeeds is to have two feet in right from the beginning. Our goal was not just to move to the United States, but truly become a U.S. company - to act and feel like a U.S. based startup. Now that 98% of our revenue now comes from U.S. customers, we truly believe we attained our initial goal.



So, the morale of the story here; if you find yourself operating in a city or country that does not have a robust startup ecosystem that can help propel your business to new heights, maybe it is time to consider moving your business to a better location.  Whether that is from a foreign country to the U.S. (or vice versa), or from a smaller U.S. startup market to a bigger U.S. startup market, there are plenty of learnings in this Bigtincan case study that proves where you locate your business really does matter.  Thanks David for all your insights here, it was great learning your story.

For future posts, please follow me on Twitter at: @georgedeeb.

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