Archive for November, 2012

Quotes for Entrepreneurs–November 2012

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

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“People chase investors, but your best investor is the first real customer. And your customers are also your best salesmen.”
Saras Sarasvathy

h/t Tor Gronsund (@tor)

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“Lawyers ask questions to which they already know the answers.
Scientists ask questions to which they don’t know the answers
Philosophers ask questions which don’t have answers.
Engineers provide answers.”
Kevin Murphy

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“Originality is being different from oneself, not others.”
Philip Larkin

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“To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
Alfred Tennyson “Ulysses”

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“Never despair, but if you do, work on in despair.”
Edmund Burke

This may actually be Publius Terentius Afer, the Latin poet Terence. I cannot find a definitive citation for either but I really like the quote.

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“Little by little, one travels far”
J.R.R. Tolkien

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“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing;”
Theodore Roosevelt

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“Intelligence recognizes what has happened.
Genius recognizes what will happen.”
John Ciardi

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“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”
Pablo Picasso

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“As a rule of thumb if prospects cannot pay you then you cannot accurately assess product market fit.”
Sean Murphy

See also Product-Market Fit is a Fraction Not a Bit

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“Insight is a shift in boundaries.”
Neil Larson

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“What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner.”
Sidonie Gabrielle Colette

Used as opening quote for Thanksgiving 2012 post.

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“Caution is the eldest child of wisdom.”
Victor Hugo

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“We are in truth, more than half what we are by imitation. The great point is to choose good models and to study them with care.”
Lord Chesterfield

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“Hurry inhibits empathy and appreciative inquiry: both are critical for an entrepreneur to understand a prospect’s needs.”
Sean Murphy

twitter length version of this sentence from “Eric Berne: Hurry Neglects The Present Moment and Environment

I think hurry also inhibits empathy and an entrepreneur’s ability to engage in appreciative inquiry, both of which are critical to forming a deep understanding of a prospect’s situation and needs.

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“The moment a little boy is concerned with which is a jay and which is a sparrow, he can no longer see the birds or hear them sing.”
Eric Berne

From Chapter 16 (“Autonomy”) of “Games People Play.” Part of a longer excerpt used as the opening quote for “Eric Berne: A Little Boy Sees And Hears Birds With Delight.

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“A scientist’s aim in a discussion with his colleagues is not to persuade, but to clarify.”
Leo Szilard

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2012 Checklist for End of Year Planning

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Promotion

This is the season to think about next year – time to gather up what has worked in the past year and what new things to experiment with in the coming year. 2013 offers a very big opportunity to improve or tweak your business.

One way I try to figure out what holes need to be filled is by tracking the following things:

  • Size of mailing list
  • Number of website visitors
  • Number of new articles added to the website
  • Number of request for demos
  • Number of events held or attended
  • Number of press releases
  • Keywords
  • Top and new referrals streams (partners, websites, …)
  • New information sources

My promotion plan includes:

  • Email blast
  • Mail
  • Advertising (adwords, banners, print)
  • Website improvements
    • Website SEO
    • New information sources to target
  • Press releases
  • Conferences
  • Memberships
  • Speaking engagements
  • Video
  • Partners
    • New to target
    • Press releases

Eric Berne: Hurry Neglects The Present Moment and Environment

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

Another story from Chapter 16 (“Autonomy”) of “Games People Play” by Eric Berne offers another perspective on how to cultivate awareness:

[...] the person who is aware, and who will not hurry because he is living in the present moment with the environment which is here: the sky and the trees as well as the feeling of motion. To hurry is to neglect that environment and to be conscious only of something that is still out of sight down the road, or of mere obstacles, or solely of oneself.

A Chinese man started to get into a local subway train, when his Caucasian companion pointed out that they could save twenty minutes by taking an express, which they did. When they got off at Central Park, the Chinese man sat down on a bench, much to his friend’s surprise. “Well,” explained the former, “since we saved twenty minutes, we can afford to sit here that long and enjoy our surroundings.”

The aware person is alive because he knows how he feels, where he is and when it is. He knows that after he dies the trees will still be there, but he will not be there to look at them again, so he wants to see them now with as much poignancy as possible.

If an entrepreneur never daydreamed or planned ahead they would be uncreative and ineffective.  So there is value in losing track of your surroundings and focusing on something that is out of sight down the road (either as a possibility or a likely eventuality).

But there is a real risk of dividing your life into an early period of 100% dedication to work and a later period  where you enjoy the fruits of your success. I think this leads to corner cutting and fantasies of telling people how you really feel once you have enough money.

I like Robert Louis Stevenson’s model of “travelling hopefully” as a metaphor for mindful awareness.

Here are two quotes from Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1888 essay “El Dorado.” The first is from the opening paragraph and second from the closing paragraph:

To be truly happy is a question of how we begin and not of how we end, of what we want and not of what we have.

To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labour.


Update Tue-Nov-27-2012: A better title for this post is probably “Eric Berne: Hurry Inhibits Awareness.” Berne makes a distinction between hurry and flow (without calling it flow) in an example from the same chapter:

Less common is the “natural driver,” the man to whom driving a car is a congenial science and art. As he makes his way swiftly and skillfully through the traffic, he is at one with his vehicle. He, too, is oblivious of his surroundings except as they offer scope for the craftsmanship which is its own reward, but he is very much aware of himself and the machine which he controls so well, and to that extent he is alive.

I think hurry also inhibits empathy and an entrepreneur’s ability to engage in appreciative inquiry, both of which are critical to forming a deep understanding of a prospect’s situation and needs.

Related blog posts:

Eric Berne: A Little Boy Sees And Hears Birds With Delight

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Rules of Thumb, skmurphy

In Chapter 16 (“Autonomy”) of “Games People Play” author Eric Berne offers a story about awareness that I think is a cautionary tale for entrepreneurs and those seeking to contribute to their “education” (bold added):

A little boy sees and hears birds with delight.

Then his “good father” comes along and feels he should “share” the experience and help his son “develop.” He says: “That’s a jay, and this is a sparrow.”

The moment the little boy is concerned with which is a jay and which is a sparrow, he can no longer see the birds or hear them sing. He has to see and hear them the way that his father wants him to.

Father has good reasons on his side, since few people can afford to go through life listening to the birds sing, and the sooner the little boy starts his “education” the better. Maybe he will be an ornithologist when he grows up.

A few people, however, can still see and hear in the old way. But most of the members of the human race have lost the capacity to be painters, poets, or musicians, and are not left the option of seeing and hearing directly even if they can afford to; they must get it secondhand.

The recovery of this ability is called “awareness.”

It’s hard to appreciate a thing directly at the same time you are trying to classify or categorize it. At the same time naming something allows you to write and speak about it, and terminology or domain specific vocabulary can allow you to communicate more exactly. But premature labeling and categorizing can inhibit your direct understanding of it.

Worse, using the labels doesn’t guarantee you really know what they mean. Until you have had “chills run down your spine” or felt the “brass taste of fear in your mouth” they are just expressions.

Entrepreneurs need to cultivate the habit of direct observation and thoughtful reflection, a desire to characterize a situation prematurely can get in the way of a fundamental understanding and ultimately awareness.

Thanksgiving 2012

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in skmurphy

“What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner.”
Sidonie Gabrielle Colette

It’s mid-day on Thanksgiving and I have taken a break before dinner is served to review the list of  what I am thankful for.

  • Health: I have lost 50 pounds in the last year. It’s “a good start” on what I will need to do to be able to explore the year 2040 on foot–I would like to remain conscious, curious, and capable for another three decades.
  • Family: Too few entrepreneurs realize the wisdom of J. S. Bryan’s advice:  “Many men can make a fortune but very few can build a family.” While my health enables everything else my wife and children sustain me.
  • Friends: I have been more systematic about reconnecting with old friends and rewarded with candid insights that can only come from folks who have known me for a while, they have both the perspective and the willingness to share.
  • Opportunity: I have been very fortunate to continue my collaborations with Peter Cohan, Mark Duncan, Terry Frazier, Steve HoganAnthony Scampavia, John Smith, Dorai Thodla, and Pete Tormey,  I have started new projects with Scott Sambucci and Michal Domanski that I find energizing and believe will form the basis for long term collaboration.  I am grateful to those who have opened doors for me in the last year: Eric Ries invited me to speak at the Lean Startup Conference; Minesh Amin allowed me to attend the Python conference; Tristan Kromer invited me to mentor at the San Jose Startup Weekend; Lisa Solomon invited me to present at an MBA in Design Strategy course at the California College of the Arts.

A roundup of prior Thanksgiving Day posts.

“The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.”
John E. Southard

Start Black Friday 2012 at Red Rock Coffee With a Bootstrapper Breakfast

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in skmurphy

Join us Friday 9am for a Bootstrapper Breakfast in Mountain View at Red Rock Coffee.  A Bootstrapper Breakfast allows you to

Compare notes with entrepreneurs who eat problems for breakfast.
  • Take part in a serious roundtable conversation among bootstrapping entrepreneurs
  • Compare notes and exchange ideas
  • Learn from others’ mistakes
  • Find potential business partners and co-founders

With three work weeks left in 2012 it’s time to assess: lessons learned in 2012, key objectives to accomplish before the end of the year, and  plans for 2013.

RSVP and join us at the Bootstrapper Breakfast at Red Rock if you are in town.

A little bit about Black Friday from Wikipedia:

Black Friday is the Friday following Thanksgiving Day in the United States (the fourth Thursday of November), often regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. In recent years, most major retailers have opened extremely early and offered promotional sales to kick off the holiday shopping season, similar to Boxing Day sales in many Commonwealth nations. Black Friday is not a holiday, but California and some other states observe “The Day After Thanksgiving” as a holiday for state government employees, sometimes in lieu of another federal holiday such as Columbus Day. Many non-retail employees and schools have both Thanksgiving and the day after off, followed by a weekend, thereby increasing the number of potential shoppers.

Engineering Your Sales Process Workshop on February 8, 2013

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Events, Sales

All companies, even those that take a lean approach, face these problems in B2B sales:

  • You can’t get potential customers to call back
  • They won’t make a decision
  • They seem to like a ever-ending beta, but they will not buy
  • Your deals stall

This interactive workshop will help you learn from these problems by using conscious planning and experimentation. Traditional sales training stresses “every no moves you closer to a yes.” Our approach to engineering your sales process says instead, “What looks like noise is often actually data.” Designing and debugging a repeatable sales process is key to a sustainable business, and we’ll address how to diagnose common problems to determine likely root causes. You will leave with a scientific approach to understanding your customers’ needs and their buying process so that you can scale your business in harmony with it.

Early Bird $99

Regular $129

Register Engineering Your Sales Process

Where: Silicon Valley, CA

ABOUT THE SPEAKERS:

Sean Murphy, CEO of SKMurphy, Inc. has taken an entrepreneurial approach to life since he could drive. He has served as an advisor to dozens of startups, helping them explore risk-reducing business options and build a scalable, repeatable sales process. SKMurphy, Inc. focuses on early customers and early revenue for software startups, helping engineers to understand business development. Their clients have offerings in electronic design automation, artificial intelligence, web-enabled collaboration, proteomics, text analytics, legal services automation, and medical services workflow.

Scott Sambucci is the Chief Sales Geek at SalesQualia, a company dedicated to improving sales performance. With more than 10 years in Silicon Valley and 15 years in sales, management, and entrepreneurial roles in the software and data industries, Scott merges the attributes of a successful salesperson and entrepreneur, putting his experience to work for SalesQualia clients every day. He’s lectured at numerous universities across the world, presented at TEDxHultBusinessSchool in San Francisco, and recently published “Startup Selling: How to sell if you really, really have to and don’t know how.”

Preliminary Results From Research On Managing Creative Projects

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Consulting Business, skmurphy

If you manage a firm that provides creative, design, or professional services you have to balance making a profit with investing in your team. If you are  struggling to increase project profitability you may be interested in preliminary results from an ongoing research effort that has identified key questions that can help you manage and deliver creative projects at a profit.

The true measure for project profitability factors in not only your costs and revenue but also your need to

  • improve current capabilities,
  • develop new capabilities,
  • establish new relationships,
  • and acquire new domain knowledge.

I am collaborating with Michal Domanski on interviews with creative service firm managers to understand how they address these challenges. Our focus has been on the questions that they have found most useful to manage creative projects for improved customer value and increased profitability. We have summarized our findings to date in an ebook entitled “Value, Profit, and Creativity: Questions That Help You Manage And Deliver Profitable Projects.

The ebook outlines a simple process to

  • improve the accuracy of your estimates,
  • deploy your team more effectively,
  • eliminate sources of error and inefficiency,
  • and identify opportunities that successful projects have now enabled.

Download your ebook here: http://teamwork.mdomans.com/book/

If you manage a firm that delivers creative or design projects and would like to take part in a brief interview please contact me to take part in the ongoing research.

Impatience For Success Works Against Learning

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 4 Finding your Niche, 5 Scaling Up Stage, Consulting Business, skmurphy

Q:  We’ve sculpted our product in a niche that was  a subset of the larger target audience. But it is not a niche product–and our investors agree–it’s aimed at the the middle of the bell curve. We feel impatient with our progress and are considering a significant investment in a traditional PR firm; we hope this will dynamite our whole effort with a big splash.

Most successful products start out in a niche and move to a sequence of larger/adjacent niches. Some examples:

  • Facebook started at Harvard and moved to the Ivys before conquering the world.
  • Google is rolling out their high bandwidth fiber solution in Kansas City not nationwide.
  • Proctor and Gamble launches most new consumer products in a test market to learn more before scaling up.

This is normally because

  • your offering will provides more value to a small subset of the total population it may ultimately appeal to.
  • there may be to be ecosystem or supporting vendors/applications in place to really be useful
  • social proof and word of mouth are easier to establish in a niche and a new product lacks both, which retards its acceptance among pragmatics, early majority, late majority, and laggards.

I would be careful not confuse the demand curve you seem to be promising your investors with the current market you can readily access, and the subset of prospects who are willing to abandon their current solution to embrace yours.

Traditional PR involved actual relationships between the PR agency and journalists, analysts, and other opinion makers. The traditional PR professional would ask a number of tough questions of the client as a proxy for the journalists et al to improve the story before the client told it to anyone else. The PR professional had a reputation to maintain with the writers (who were few because they were associated with an expensive printing press or radio/TV station) and was careful to vet the story for “newsworthiness.”

With the rise of new media and dramatically lower costs of publication/distribution for text, audio, and video these relationships have changed. But it’s still important to cultivate relationships with writers, analysts, and other opinion makers whether you do so directly or with the help of an agency.

One of the better books on the changes that the Internet brought to media and marketing is The Cluetrain Manifesto which is available on-line at http://www.cluetrain.com/book/index.html

Most of the teams we work with are targeting niche markets (at least initially) where it’s more effective to take part in ongoing conversations in a few communities focused on the need, problem, or technology. There are very few true overnight successes and banking on a big bang launch over the steady accumulation of customer case studies and endorsements (both formally in your own messaging and informally through “word of mouth” in communities with a natural interest in your offering) seems shortsighted. At a minimum you should have a Plan B for what you will do if the “launch” fails in third party media–it should not be to go out of business.

If you cannot think of two of three alternatives to a “big bang” launch that spread the same budget and effort over a longer period of time that allows for experimentation and iteration–and therefore more learning–you should probably think harder.

As the Kamikaze pilot instructor said to his class, “I want you to watch carefully because I am only going to do this once.” It’s hard to learn from a big bang launch.

The goal of a marketing interaction isn’t to close the sale, any more than the goal of a first date is to get married. No, the opportunity is to move forward, to earn attention and trust and curiosity and conversation.

Seth Godin in “Free Coffee, Next Exit

Prepare Your “Getting Started” Plan Before A Prospect Asks For It

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Rules of Thumb, skmurphy

You have to be able to weather rejection when you are introducing a new product. It’s hard. What can be harder is being unprepared the first time a prospect says “This sounds great! How do we get started?”

I can remember working with a team that had gone to many prospecting meetings that had ended with some variation of “you seem like very nice guys but we don’t have the problem you have outlined and don’t know anyone who does.” Until one day, as we had already started to pack up after showing the “Questions, Comments, Suggestions” slide at the end of the deck we heard “we have been looking for help on this, what’s the best way to get started?”

There was a long silence and finally the CEO said, “We are not sure, no one has ever said that before.”

Although his statement was correct it proved to be hard to maintain the prospect’s interest in working with us. Ever since then I always make sure to have at least one slide on “Getting Started” or “Next Steps” and to rehearse the likely questions a prospect will have about implementation.

Averting Stalled Sales Opportunities Webinar

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Sales

Finish LineAre you tired of working hard on a sales opportunity only to find an unexpected issue that stalls the sales process?

You are not alone!

Having an effective sales planning process, sharing insight across the internal team and enabling great demos, greatly improves sales productivity and use of resources. Learn how to make this happen and greatly improve your sales results, including:

  • Reducing “no decisions”
  • Avoid having to go back two steps
  • Improving sales process inefficiencies
  • Work on better opportunities
  • Use your resources more effectively

In this webinar, Averting Stalled Sales Opportunities, Ron Snyder and Peter Cohan show you the key steps to forestall a stalled sales process.

Topics covered:

  • The Challenge causing stalled sales
  • Elements of a Successful Plan
  • Guiding the Sales Process- using the Plan
  • Coordinating Activities, including Demos
  • A Sample Plan

Sign up for the webinar here and receive your copy of the article: “How to Write a Strategic Account Plan.”  Select the date that is most convenient for you;

  • November 29 at 12:00 noon Pacific time
  • December 10 at 12:00 noon Pacific time

Ron Snyder, of Breakthrough, Inc. and Plan 2 Win Software, has trained thousands of salespeople and managers on sales effectiveness, territory and account planning. Prior to that, he was a top ranked sales salesperson at Hewlett-Packard and a manager in the field sales force and a marketing manager.

Peter Cohan is the founder and principal of The Second Derivative, focused on helping software organizations improve their sales and marketing results – primarily through improving organizations’ demonstrations.

Sean Murphy, the moderator, is CEO at SKMurphy providing customer development services for high-tech companies. SKMurphy focus is on early customers and early revenue.

Please feel free to contact us for more information.
Ron Snyder
Plan2Win Software
rsnyder@Plan2WinSoftware.com

Peter Cohan
The Second Derivative
PCohan@SecondDerivative.com

Sean Murphy Joins Fluxicon Advisory Board

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in skmurphy

Fluxicon, an innovative software startup offering tools for business process mining, today announced Sean Murphy has joined their advisory board. Mr. Murphy is CEO of SKMurphy, Inc. a strategic advisory firm based in Silicon Valley that specializes in market creation and new technology product introduction. Fluxicon plans to leverage Murphy’s expertise for business and customer development.

“I am delighted that Sean Murphy has agreed to join our advisory board. Sean brings a pragmatic approach to developing customer and partner relationships, he has already demonstrated an ability to act as an extension of our team as issues arise, and I value his collaborative approach,” said Anne Rozinat, co-founder at Fluxicon.

“I was excited when Anne asked me to join Fluxicon’s advisory board,” said Mr. Murphy. “Fluxicon turns traditional Business Process Management (BPM) on its head by providing process mining to analyze important business problems based on data from operational IT systems. Fluxicon’s ability to create an accurate process model from existing transaction records allows executives to focus on key challenges and their root causes. This means that process improvement teams are no longer limited to an “ideal world view” or to working from anecdotes about process failures. Instead, they are armed with detailed information and can now immediately focus on addressing the key issues in workshops and interviews. Process mining is a critical enabling technology as business processes are increasingly computer-mediated: Fluxicon provides real-time insight into both internal and inter-company processes and relationships.”

About Fluxicon

Fluxicon provides process mining software and services. Their process mining software Disco generates visual and actionable insight about your process from raw data in just a couple of minutes. Current clients include banks, such as the Rabobank, the City of Lausanne, several Consumer Electronics manufacturers, and multi-national companies.

Great Demo! Workshop on March 6 & 7, 2013

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Demos, Events, Sales

Create and Deliver Surprisingly Compelling Software Demonstrations
“Do The Last Thing First” — the recipe for a Great Demo!

This is an interactive workshop with Peter Cohan geared especially for you who demonstrate B-to-B software to your customer and channels. Bring a copy of your demo and be prepared to present it — we’ll help you turn it into a surprisingly compelling demo. More information

Core Seminar & Advanced Topics
March 6 & 7, 2013
Cost: $930 (Before Feb 4: $895)
Register Great Demo

Where: Moorpark Hotel, 4241 Moorpark Ave, San Jose CA 95129
For out of town attendees: The Moorpark is located 400 feet from the Saratoga Ave exit on Hwy 280, about 7 miles from San Jose Airport and 35 miles from San Francisco Airport Hotels Near Great Demo! Workshop

“I am confident that with the insights gained from your workshop we will land more customers in fewer iterations.”
Lav Pachuri, CEO, Xleron Inc.

“Peter Cohan’s Great Demo method really works. It helped us win DEMOgod, and it has allowed us to explain our offering much more clearly to prospects.”
Chaim Indig, CEO, Phreesia
(See “DEMOgod Winner Phreesia Praises Peter Cohan Training“)

More information on the workshop

ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Peter Cohan, Principal at The Second Derivative
Community Web Site:  http://greatdemo.blogspot.com/

Peter Cohan is the founder and principal of The Second Derivative, focused on helping software organizations improve their sales and marketing results – primarily through improving organizations’ demonstrations.

The bulk of his experience is with complex, enterprise software and strategic systems sold to varied audiences in a range of vertical markets.  He has enjoyed roles in technical and product marketing, marketing management, sales and sales management, and senior management.

In 2003, he authored Great Demo!, a book that provides methods to create and execute compelling demonstrations.  The 2nd edition of Great Demo! was published March, 2005.

In July 2004, he enabled and began moderating DemoGurus®, a community web exchange dedicated to helping sales and marketing teams improve their software demonstrations, which was subsequently transitioned to the Great Demo! LinkedIn Group in 2010-2011.

Before The Second Derivative, Peter founded the Discovery Tools® business unit at Symyx Technologies, Inc., where he grew the business from an empty spreadsheet into a $30 million per year operation.  Prior to Symyx, Peter served in marketing, sales, and management positions at MDL Information Systems, a leading provider of scientific information management software.  Peter currently serves on the Board of Directors for Collaborative Drug Discovery, Inc., is an advisor to NewallStreet, Inc. and a mentor to StartX, the Stanford University start-up accelerator.  He holds a degree in chemistry.

Peter has experience as an individual contributor, manager and senior management in marketing, sales, and business development.  He has also been, and continues to be, a customer.

Day 1 Agenda:

  • 8:15 AM Breakfast & Registration
  • 8:30 AM Workshop begins
  • Noon Lunch
  • 1 PM Workshop Continues
  • 5 PM Wrap up

Day 2 Agenda:

  • 8:15 AM Breakfast & Registration
  • 8:30 AM Workshop begins on Advanced Topics
  • 12:30pm Wrap up

Seating is Limited

For more information: Theresa 408-252-9676 events@skmurphy.com

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