How to Work The Room 4.0: Getting “Man-Charm”

Editor’s Note: This is the latest installment in Larry Chiang’s series on “What They Don’t Teach You At Stanford Business School.” (He’s turning it into a book.) What could founders do with “Man-Charm,” you ask? Answers Larry: “Founders can use man-to-man charm to grow their good ol’ boy network because every path can be made easier if you’ve charmed a mentor to pave your way — just ask Johnny Drama.” (Yes, Entourage. Larry recommends Episode 26.) A few readers have bristled at Larry’s admitted male-focus, but take no offense ladies, it’s only because most brokers in “the power network” are still men that Larry focuses on charming them — and, we suspect, that he’s better at this anyway. Larry’s earlier posts in this series include: 9 Things Stanford B-School Won’t Teach You; 9 VCs You’re Gonna Want to Avoid; How to Work the Room; How to Work the Room 3.0: Cyber-schmoozing; Hack Your Startup Credit Rating. By the time Larry’s done here, he will have boiled
down a marquee MBA into 12-post crib sheet.

1) Territorialize but don’t Monopolize the limited resource at the
event — the fairer sex. Tease, but do not “hotbox.”

2) Be a Vacation. (I’ve used this one before, but it’s worth repeating.) Humor and a snipett of self deprecating humor go a long way in building charm. Don’t just be a pleasure to work with, be their vacation. I attended a comedy showcase Rapleaf CEO Auren Hoffman, did and it helps him be a vacation for people when he uses humor.

3) Rebrand Yourself.
I’d get nowhere in life if I were Lawrence. But goofy friendly ‘Larry’ is approachable. Larry-licous is over the top but Fergilicious is, cha-chiang!, cash money.

4) Never ask point-blank Yes/No pre-qual questions.
It shows a lack of profiling ability. Don’ts: “So are you a member?” or “Did you study at HBS?”
Dos: “Have I seen you @ similar industry events” or “Did you go to school in the boston area?”

5) DDSS.
The “DD” stands for “dumb it down.” “SS” is “sandbagging for success.” Sandbag your elevator pitch and sell. Again, incorporate humor. My rule of thumb is that I want to make the message on what I do easy enough for a multi-tasking, C-level ‘hitter’ to recite it back to me, even after he’s had 6 vodka tonics. If you can’t do this, your message stinks.

6) No broken branch friends.
Some people you know won’t or can’t introduce you. A broken branch is a person who doesn’t introduce you (ever). I stole this from my side project, where some relationships get in a year and you still don’t know who their friends are.

7) Be a Weed.
Weeds grow and foster entire impromptu communities. Friendship with you is like a gateway drug. Be the one that gets added via Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Orkut, Friendster, MySpace, Ryze. (I say MySpace twice cuz its the biggest.)

8) Work the Room’s Fringes.
a) Wallflowers can be broken branches but could be an “amiable ambush”- another dude looking to charm you.

9) Anoint an Alpha Male. Better than being one, pick out a gamma male, a rising star, and make him alpha. Defer to him when the pack is trying to choose, listen when he’s on a soapbox, let him have first pick and make positive fun of his sandbagging whenever possible.

10) Run the Point.
Point guards don’t score (plus who wants to score
in a room full of dudes). Good point guards pass, meaning they set aside
their own agenda (shy, sausage-ing, turtling) and make intros.

11) Invite People to a Post Party.
Do the math. The event goes from 7pm to 9pm and they had passed apps. Translation: People are still hungry. Get your host, the VIPs and or your crew to a nearby eatery. Key tip: hosts and organizer won’t eat until 30-40 min after event ends. Or be a Larry Chiang and order Chicago Deep Dish from Patxi’s and just hand it out to keep the night going.

12) Encourage fake thinking.
Get a person to think they’re thinking and they love you. Get them to really think and they’ll hate you.
13) Pin-The-Tail-on-the-Donkey. Nothing rallies a crew of men better than an alpha of the night who IDs a donkey. A donkey is party dufus that is borderline malicious. For example, at last fall’s TechCrunch 40, a VC said to me after I ddss duck9, “How dumb, that will never work”. I pointed three fingers up in the air (entrepreneur gang symbol/ signal) and emoted daggers toward ‘donkey’. Fast forward 20 minutes and there’s a full business card stomp, circle
dance. It was native. Next week I post a Yelp review of said donkey’s VC firm and buy $3,000 of inbound links. Sha-zam! Google search result #3 for firm name is my yelp poke in the eye. Donkey-ify for fun and community building.

8 Deadly Promotion Pitfalls, Part 1.

larry2.jpegI’m composing this at my home-away-from-home in sunny Scottsdale, Arizona, where I’ve come to see Superbowl XLII. Consumers are fickle, and what makes promotions effective can be mystifying. So instead of trying to come up with a recipe for how to market well, I’ve taken my 20 years of trying and boiled down the best tips to these 8 Deadly Promotion Pitfalls. (I started with 8 tips, and came up with 16, so Pitfalls Part II will be published in a few weeks.)

Pitfall 1 : throwing the marketing hail mary. If only 30-million-people-would-see-it is a cautionary tale of how not to launch from silicon valley. Be a Tom Brady and throw for 1 to 11 yards at a time, these yield 5-25 after the catch-and-carry.

Pitfall 2
: using what worked in 1999 (and other so called silver bullet case studies/urban myths). Offering $5 for each referral won’t work. In 1999, Paypal bled out over $15 million $10 at a time. Lead generation guys were happy, but what was OK in ’00 won’t fly in ’08. Stop looking for a silver bullet and follow some of the below fundamentals of promotion.

Pitfall 3
: “Umm, no”. We are handing out leaflets at an event. We are building it and they’ll just come. We are putting full color flyers on cars at August Capital’s TechCrunch party. Lets consult the crystal ball: ‘No, no, no, no! Not gonna work.’

Pitfall 4
: Using hot women to promote. This isn’t a pitfall, it works on
many different levels (pun intended).

Pitfall 5
: hiring out and not using a founder to promote. The power of 300. Generals know that a thousand mercenaries are worth 300 committed warriors. In the networked age it’s even more so. I can place a person on a campus and within a year have more sign ups
than a $300,000 campus media campaign at a Barrons-ranked tier 1-5
school. But you have to have a c.a.t. What’s CAT….

Pitfall 6
: Not having a Consumer Advocacy Truth. We picked “interest is for suckers”. And we handed out lollipops to bring the point home. Your truth rises above your silly company (and product!).

Pitfall 7: Praying over promoting. A VC buddie of mine just “sprays and
prays” with his portfolio. We laugh about it privately, but entrepreneurs make similar mistakes when they “dabble promote” vs. systematically marching toward promotion goals.

Do the market-march effectively by…
* Set a promo goal
* Execute plan
* Measure success by tracking
* Reset and tweak goal/plan
Save the praying for Menlo Park Presbyterian

Pitfall 8
: Not having the SSP, or Second stage premium is the premium you give away after the first premium. (Duck9 coincides it with consumer 2nd stage registration.) Ideally, the SSP meshes with the CAT. For example, we give out suckers (or lollipop for my readers in the Orient) for walk-bys in the Green ZONE. Pizza slices to those that submit their cell phone. You get a t-shirt when you re-register online and/or do a pbWiki page. You get a fleece if you achieve a FICO Of 750. The chachkis coincide with the CAT. We at duck9 are gonna trick you into doing something good for yourself.

CONCLUSION; Remember, these pitfalls (and their solutions) took over 20 years to learn. Don’t get demoralized if you can only implement just one. This is tough stuff and we get paid the big bucks NOT to manage, but to promote! Hey, if you get bogged down or log jammed, call me during my office hours.

Presenting at DEMO: 12 Do’s. 5 Don’ts.

Founder Ben Yoskovitz, publishes the terrific Instigatorblog. Ben has shared several posts with us on leadership, funding, and building the ‘perfect company blog’. Today’s pick is on the dreaded topic of public speaking.

Next week Ben will launch his startup Standout Jobs at DEMO 2008. Debuting at such a conference is a big decision for any founder — especially when you have to give your pitch in 6 minutes, on stage, in front of hundreds, like at DEMO. Ben notes that for many founders, “it will be the most important, most stressful, and biggest presentation they’ve ever given in their lives.”

The prospect prompted Ben to write about how to prepare for presentations of all kinds, including team meetings and VC presentations.

Ben’s first piece of advice: Commit to memory 5 phrases you should NEVER utter in a presentation:

* Um…
* Did That Make Sense?
* What Else Can I Show You?
* I Guess That’s It.
… here is why if you need further explanation.

Now you’re ready for Ben’s 12 Tips for How to Improve Your Presentation better. Read More about Presenting at DEMO: 12 Do’s. 5 Don’ts.

My Funding Toolkit

Editor’s Note: Serial founder Aruni Gunasegaram has written for Found|READ about the virtues of ignoring “the experts” (like Michael Porter) and the things no one tells you about VCs. Aruni also wrote about her plans to seek angel funding for her current company, BabbleSoft, which builds Web and mobile software tools for parents. Aruni has now amassed what she calls her funding “tool kit,” and she shares it with us here.
sears-toolkit1.jpgFollowing on my post, Other People’s Money – The Hunt Begins, I thought it might be interesting to share what I will be putting in my Fundraising Toolkit. I plan to raise seed financing from angel investors for Babble Soft, and here’s what I have in my toolkit.
Executive Summary. Thankfully people have moved away from the 35 to 40 page business plans that used to be required when I raised money for my first company. Now it’s easier to get your foot in the door with a 5 to 7 page summary. If they are interested, they will ask for additional information. In a typical Executive Summary you will see sections on:
* The Company
* The Problem
* The Solution (i.e., Your Products)
* The Market (including Competitors)
* The People
* The Numbers (i.e., the Financial Projections). Read More about My Funding Toolkit

What’s wrong with Austin?

iTaggit founder, David Altounian wrote on his blog recently of a question that many startup entrepreneurs have to address.
It’s on the topic of geography and whether it matters, especially when it comes to funding. Or, as David puts it: Can emerging tech ever achieve “location independence”?
David’s company is based in Austin, which isn’t exactly a tech backwater, (Yes, he’s ex-Dell). But it’s still a natural, plaguing, question for him. And since, statistically, most startups are outside the hub of Silicon Valley, this also forms our…

Question of the Day
There has been a recurrent question in discussions that I’ve had recently with potential investors, other web executives, and partners: ‘Does an emerging tech company need to be in the Bay Area to have a chance of success?’?

Read More about What’s wrong with Austin?

9 VCs You’re Gonna Want to Avoid

Editor’s Note: Fundraising is tough. So more and more of you bootstrap as long as you can. But once you get close to $1 million in revenues, VCs will come calling. That’s right: they’ll come to you. Cash flow positive startups remain hard to come by. But you won’t want to talk to all of them, says Found|READ contributor, Larry Chiang. So he offers this list of VC archetypes you’ll definitely want to avoid, just as soon as you hit the $900,000-mark.
1) Mr. Armchair. He’s a Friday afternoon Chairman. He knows exactly what he’d do as board member of facebook, Google, MySpace.,YouTube. Too bad his portfolio company’s don’t get the same enthusiastic coverage.
2) Mr. One-Hit-Wonder. Yes he sold for $200 million (and kept $15 million) so if you wanna hear war stories from the ’90s, take this GSB alum’s money.
3) Mr. Spray-n-Pray. He cites being founding CEO as his Operations experience. (Translation: He was a interim CEO for his last venture firm before company/portfolio implosion and subsequent fund implosion. His fund is a catch-all and he tries to participate in every Sequoia backed deal. Read More about 9 VCs You’re Gonna Want to Avoid

Pitching on a Prayer & a PowerPoint

Editor’s Note: Fund raising is one of the most difficult things a startup founder will do. As a VC, Rich Moran, sees entrepreneurs struggle through this process almost daily. I suspect because it can be an intimidating process — and because funding decisions sometimes seem arbitrary from the point of view of founders — Rich notes that many entrepreneurs he observes take on a “cast-your-fate-to-the-wind mentality” in their pitch meetings. It doesn’t have to be that way, says Rich. He offers some pitch tips below , but first he’s going to share with you what the Pitch Scene — played out hundreds of times a day — looks like from the perspective of the VC.

Sometimes I see them in the parking lot before they come in. I can spy them through my window from an office on Sand Hill Road. It’s a group of three who agreed to meet and they are not sure exactly which building they need to enter but they know they cannot be late. Millions of dollars could be in the balance. Read More about Pitching on a Prayer & a PowerPoint