Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Great Podcast - Failed Startup

Found this through Ben Kuo's blog: Media Matchmaker: autopsy of a failed startup from the Frank Peters show. Good stuff!

It's worth hearing Betsy and then hearing the investors take on execution (roughly 45 minute mark). Quite a contrast.

We had talked to them when they were getting started. Sounds like its good we didn't end up working with them. Still I think the concept is fantastic if the model can be figured out to make it work.

It's funny to hear Betsy describe it as dating for product placement. Because of our work on eHarmony, we often find matching as a core component of systems. Interesting to hear Betsy say that the technology was not differentiated. Yet while the rest of the people on the podcast talk about some of the things that customers were asking for, there was lots of opportunity to make it differentiated. Maybe we should have talked more. :)

I asked this of them two years ago, but I still don't understand is why they weren't able to manually make matches while they were looking to get larger sales and scale both sides of the business. Scaling a match making business can be challenging since you need critical mass on both sides. But a manual match would be found money/opportunity for both sides. There's not much downside for the customers on each side and would lower resistance. Further you could make payments be a percentage of the deal.

I'm surprise this wasn't part of the model of how they'd get to scale. It's hard work, but very common. I know we discussed this back at the start.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Networking to a Job - Practical Advice

For some reason over the past week, I've been asked by three different people I know about job opportunities that might fit them. Since, I've given them the same advice, I thought it was worth putting in my blog.

I personally believe that the best way to hire, find partners, and find a job is through a network. So the key question is:
How can I leverage my network?
One Page Networking Tool
One of the best things I've seen done by a person doing a search was to provide folks he knew with a one pager that roughly contained:
  • Background - two sentences
  • Job Sought - two sentences
  • Company Characteristics - geography, size, industry, etc.
  • Companies - a list of 25 companies that fit the bill.
The experience was interesting for me. It was an in-person meeting. I read the first three pieces of information and was trying to think of how I could help him.

When I got to the list of companies, the dynamic was completely different. I had 3 contacts I could immediately point him to that would give him the lay of the land at that company and in one case might have an opportunity. I also could then think of a few more people he should talk to and companies he should consider.

I went from being frustrated that I wasn't helping to pretty helpful based on this list.

How do you create the list? Consider using Hoovers if you are targeting larger, established companies. Or look at funding activity if you are considering start-ups.

Likely you'll have a few different types of positions/companies you are targeting. Make a different one pager for each.

Also, likely you'll have a lot more than 25 companies. Don't make the list too long. Make it your top 25 where you think there will be opportunity.

Work Your Network
Once you have your one pager ready, I'd definitely use LinkedIn to see who I can already find. Based on your description, and target companies, chances are you'll be able to reach quite a few people already in those organizations. Most of them will be pretty receptive to someone who is looking to network to "get help on next steps in my career." It's probably better to ask for help that way than to say "help on a job search."

If you are successful reaching into some of your Top 25, take them off the list. And then circulate a request to everyone you know asking if they could help you. Again, LinkedIn has been good for me to remember who I should contact with these kinds of things. Send the one pager once people offer to help or get together to go through the one pager together. Note: it's often best if people dedicate the time to think through the list with you, but you probably want them in front of a computer so they can look up names real-time.

I'm sure other folks have ideas on this topic. If you have thoughts that might be helpful, please leave a comment.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Lunch 2.0 in Santa Monica - And Other Events

I've been remiss in posting to this blog. Very busy on a couple interesting start-ups. More on them in a couple months. In any case, I went by Lunch 2.0 in Santa Monica last Friday. It was way too crowded (250 people in a tiny space). But saw a few folks I hadn't seen in a while and connected with a couple of new people.

I saw that Ben Kuo wrote about it: More networking events

His comment that the turn-out suggested that there likely would be more of these is probably true. But, what's interesting is that the old SoCal events hosted by folks like the Technology Council seem to be struggling for attendees, while you get 250 to a networking only event during the middle of the day. Or maybe it was free lunch?

Other posts on the Lunch 2.0 event:

Lunch 2.0 in Santa Monica - They’re hiring!
Los Angeles had its first Lunch 2.0
Lunch 2.0 Hits LA: 'Hey, We Like Free Sandwiches, Too!'