I had a great conversation with a first timer after today’s Bootstrapper Breakfast in Sunnyvale. He was a serious entrepreneur who had been bootstrapping for two years and he said, “Real recognizes real, this is the first entrepreneur Meetup I’ve been to where I have been able to talk about my challenges and get practical advice. Also, the other entrepreneurs weren’t just pitching, they were trying to help.”
Are you struggling with how to do B2B customer interviews?
Join us Thu-Jan-29-2015 in Sunnyvale for From Customer Interviews to Enterprise Sales Workshop
We did something different for Thanksgiving 2014: we held a Bootstrapper’s Potluck and hosted a dinner for a dozen people or so with our family. It was a chance for my sons to meet some real entrepreneurs and give folks who were new to the area or far from family a nice Thanksgiving. We supplied the turkey and some sides and folks brought many flavors of pie, miso soup, raw vegetables, wine, hors d’oeuvres, jambalaya, sausage and cheddar fondue, and rice. There was enough left over that everyone was able to leave with one or two meals (or a pie) for the weekend, such is the miracle of a potluck.
The following is a guest post by Max Murphy, a mechanical engineering student who is interested in the implications of 3D printing or positive manufacturing for mechanical design, its synergies with animation, and potential for fostering new opportunities for entrepreneurs. Max is an intern at DreamWorks and returns to his sophomore year in college this fall.
3D Printing: Past, Present, and Future
I attended a great talk by Chris Yonge on “3D Printing: Past, Present, and Future” on Monday August 18 at Sandbox Suites in Sunnyvale that was sponsored by the Silicon Valley Startup: Idea to IPO group. It was a fantastic presentation that communicated a practical understanding of several different types of 3D printing processes with videos that highlighted the theory of operation for each type of printer. Chris also offered a list of useful open source tools for mechanical design, animation, and 3D printing that is available at http://www.studiocruz.com/downloads/studio-cruz-open-source-guide-20130115.pdf
Here is Chris’ bio from the talk (links added):
Chris Yonge is qualified as an architect and a product designer who founded StudioCruz. He has been involved in 3D design and production for twenty years. He holds a number of published patents, the latest being for VariCruz a mechanically-linked continuously variable gear, and uses 3D printing in metal and plastics as part of the development process. Chris is a lecturer at the University of California, Santa Cruz School of Engineering.
Unfortunately a recording was not made of the talk but here are two others he has done that are quite good.
3D Printing Is Fostering Four Quiet Revolutions
Yonge outlines “four quiet revolutions” that 3D printing or positive manufacturing will likely bring about:
- How we make: Machine shop equipment was traditionally subtractive: grinding, cutting, drilling based on linear or rotary motion.
- How we design: Three-dimensional printing is enabling us to go from a three-dimensional model in my mind to recording it and communicating and editing it on a computer and then making it.
- How we communicate: One of the oldest cave drawings known condenses three dimensions plus time (and related emotions) into a flat two dimensional drawing. Our ability to communicate was unchanged for 149 centuries until motion pictures added time, 3D computer models allowed for a third dimension, and now we can make what we visualize with 3D printing.
- How we finance: Open source recipes are going unlock a tremendous amount of creativity. Kickstarter models will enable many new products and companies to be launched via crowdsourcing.
Animation & 3D Printing Add New Dimensions to Creativity
A video with synchronized slides of one his Santa Cruz Engineering lectures is available at
Chris Yonge has a YouTube Channel with more than 50 videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/chrisyonge/videos
Related Blog Posts
- Paul Spaan Offers 3D Printing Show and Tell at Fri-May-24 Bootstrapper Breakfast
- Audio from Paul Spaan’s Briefing on 3D Printing
- 3D Printing, a quick guide to how to get started
- Pictures From Inside 3D Printing Conference
Ilya Semin, founder of Datanyze, joins us at the Palo Alto Bootstrapper Breakfast 7:30am on Fri-Sep-5-2014 at Hobees in Palo Alto. Ilya will share what he learned bootstrapping Datanyze to $1M+ ARR and 9 employees. DataNyze provides competitive intelligence for Web analytics, Widgets, CDN, DNS, and related firms. It can answer questions like “Who are my competitor’s biggest customers?” and “Which customers are evaluating one of my competitors?”
Where: Hobees, 4224 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA
When: 7:30am to 9am Friday, September 5, 2014
Cost: is $5 in advance and $10 at the door plus the cost of your breakfast, tax, and tip.
Limited Seating please register in advance.
More On Ilya Semin and DataNyze
- August 26, 2014 John Koetsier in VentureBeat: “Google of Sales and Marketing Raises $2M”
Knowing who uses your competitors’ products can be a huge competitive advantage. Knowing when potential customers start a trial of your competitor’s product could be a lifesaver. Datanyze trawls the web for scraps and pieces of code that reveal what software-as-a-service products companies are using on their website, announced today that it has raised a $2 million seed round from investors such as IDG Ventures, Google Ventures, and Mark Cuban. And that it’s been growing at the astonishing rate of 25 percent per month all this year.
- January 20, 2014 John Koetsier profiles Datanyze for VentureBeat in “This Startup Tells You When Companies Try Your Competitor’s Software”
A tiny San Mateo startup that has taken no angel money, no venture capital, and no outside funding of any kind is growing at the torrid rate of 25 percent per month and luring away key employees from hot growing companies like KISSmetrics.
- Ilya Semin on the Value of the Great Demo Workshop
I gave a talk on “How to Give a Great Demo” in April at the Co-Founders Club and met Elijah Angote, founder of “The Best Notary” who arranged for me to speak at the Rotary Club of San Bruno today. So I have him to thank and the audience knew who to blame. I really enjoyed the talk and felt very at home with the group. Here is the audio for the core of the talk (I have cut intro and and about ten minutes of Q&A)
Or download from http://traffic.libsyn.com/skmurphy/ThoughtLeadership140806c.mp3
Here is a handout from the talk.
A Briefing for San Bruno Rotary, Aug-6-2014 by Sean Murphy, SKMurphy, Inc.
- What is thought leadership?
- Why will it bring you more business?
- How do you get started?
Thought Leadership: Discern the important events and trends at work in the present, predict their likely effects, and offer perspective and actionable advice in time to have an impact.
Thought Leadership In Action
- Advise prospects and customers on how to overcome their most pressing problems
- Customers bring you their hard problems, prospects ask you for insight on options
How Does It Bring You More Business?
- A reputation for expertise means that you get called first
- You can compete on more than price: expertise acts as a differentiator
- Encourages current customers to bring you new challenges
- May lead to new opportunities and even new offerings for emerging needs
Key Practices for Thought Leadership
- Careful observation, questions, networking
- Writing and speaking to build influence
Build a Communication Strategy
- Identify audience / Understand their needs / Position your message / Promote
- Measure success: website traffic, mailing list size, inquiries, customers
Execute: Your 90-day Plan Should Address:
- What other people say about you
- What you say
- What you write
- Getting found when people are looking
Topics You Can Always Talk About
- Change: what’s waxing and waning
- Significance of recent events
- Checklists to identify or resolve problems
“The future is an abstraction, all change is happening now.”
You can only take action in the present.
“I have gradually come to appreciate that the really important predictions are about the present. What is happening right now, and what is its significance?”
What Is The Current Situation / What Is Significant About it?
- Before you can make predictions you have to understand what’s happened.
- The easiest predictions are based on the “acorns” already planted in the present
Checklists: Develop A Coachable Perspective
- Teach customers and prospect to diagnose problems from symptoms
- Teach prevention and self-service so that they call you for high value problems
Thought Leadership Brings Business
- You get called first
- Compete on more than price
- New opportunities
- New offerings
About SKMurphy, Inc.: We help you find leads and close deals
- Mastermind Groups
- Workshops: Great Demo! Oct 15-16 in San Jose
- Contact: email@example.com / 408-252-9676 / skype skmurphy
Bootstrappers Breakfast www.bootstrapperbreakfast.com
- Serious roundtable conversations about growing a business based on internal cashflow: join other entrepreneurs who eat problems for breakfast.
- Silicon Valley http://www.meetup.com/Bootstrappers-Breakfast-SV/
- San Francisco http://www.meetup.com/Bootstrappers-Breakfast-San-Francisco/
If you are looking or a speaker for your Silicon Valley business group please contact us. I enjoy giving highly interactive presentations to groups of 12 to 40 people. I am happy to talk to larger groups but I prefer where there are opportunities for real audience participation. I also do a number of interactive webinars and workshops for groups who are not based in Silicon Valley so if that’s of interest please feel free to contact me as well.
The first Friday in July falls on the 4th so we are going to hold our “First Friday Palo Alto Bootstrapper Breakfast” at 8am at Hobees. We are meeting on July 4 (we have done it twice in the last 7 years) but we are pushing the start time back to 8am if you want to sleep in. I got a short email from Miles Kehoe of New Idea Engineering who asked “I am signed up but is Hobee’s OPEN on the 4th? A lot of people call that a “holiday.” Of course most of those are people we do NOT call “entrepreneurs” I suspect.” I replied that I had gotten a call from Jose Valencia, the general manager for Palo Alto, asking me to confirm that we wanted the back room since they would be open on July 4 for breakfast. I told him we were coming.
This is a chance to check us out if you are normally tied up in the morning and still live tine for picnics and barbecues and fireworks in the afternoon and evening. Two topics we may explore are managing the “work/work” balance between a “day job” or other “keeping the lights on” work and launching your startup and managing the transition from day job or freelancing and working full time on your startup.
If you live in or near Midland Michigan, consider stopping by the MidMichigan Innovation Center at 2007 Austin Street, Midland, MI on Wed-Aug-13 at 8:30am in for the kickoff of the Midland Michigan Bootstrapper Breakfast. Chris Moultrup, Program Director at the MidMichigan Innovation Center was inspired by Travis Johnson‘s success with a Bootstrapper Breakfast in downtown Detroit and has volunteered to moderate breakfasts in Midland.
Matt Oscamou, the founder of Frontier Bites, talked about lessons learned getting a food startup off the ground at the April 15 Bootstrapper Breakfast in Sunnyvale. Here is a short recording of his introduction, the benefits the Bootstrapper Breakfast® has offered him, and how he came to bootstrap Frontier Bites with his brother and persevere after his brother passed away in a rafting accident.
A transcript of his introduction is available at Matt Oscamou talks about founding Frontier Bites, recap from April 15, 2014
Matt Oscamou: I have a food company in Silicon Valley, bucking the tech trend. I was over at Red Rock Coffee working in the downstairs area and I saw “Bootstrappers Breakfast” on the calendar so I figure I would try to find out what that was. This was right when I was getting going. It’s been a helpful group ot bounce some ideas off of. My attendance has been relatively sporadic based on the needs of the business. It’s been good.
I started the Bootstrapper Breakfasts in Sunnyvale in October of 2006. I was fed up with attending events where the only focus was on how to raise money from investors and where aspiring entrepreneurs would talk about what they would do once they raised money but not what they were doing to move their startup forward now.
One of the things that surprised me in the first year was that people would come for a variety of reasons. Some would attend regularly, others would come only once and a large fraction would attend when they had issues that they wanted to discuss. I thought Matt captured that neatly in his intro.
“Not everyone who is worth knowing is famous.
Not everyone who is famous is worth knowing.
You meet your community of practice,
those who can help you see the adjacent possible,
in line waiting for the famous.”
Sean Murphy (inspired by Elia Freedman’s “Accidental Meetings“)
The conversations I had with individual entrepreneurs were the best part people of the Startup Conference 2014. 2,000 entrepreneurs, VCs, and met in Redwood City on, May 14, 2014. I talked to a number of folks and had several conversations that were far better than any of the presentations I sat through.
I came away with a couple of thoughts on networking.
- Focus first on understanding the other person’s situation and what they are trying to accomplish. This enables you to share useful and directly relevant information and to ask for insight and assistance that they are more likely to be able to offer.
- Trust develops over time: smiling helps, listening closely can require effort in a crowd but by giving someone your clear attention you encourage them to have a serious conversation.
- Make a note to jog your memory of the conversation. I often use either a their business card or a 3×5 card, use your smartphone or tablet if that’s easier.
- You can only make connections if you first listen carefully and understand their story.
- If you meet someone at an event don’t skip talking to them if you have the opportunity. Serendipity is always at work but is only possible if you make the effort to have a conversation. It’s hard to predict where things will lead.
- If you intend to talk to a speaker rehearse what you want to say and get to the point in 15-20 seconds. Exchange cards if you want to follow up. Especially if there is a line get to the point and limit yourself to 30-60 seconds. If a minute leaves you with the strong impression that they would like to talk more go back to the end of the line and let others have a chance to talk briefly before engaging in an extended conversation.
“All great work is preparing yourself for the accident to happen.”
Sean Murphy is honored to speak at Linked CXO Forum on Tuesday, May 27th, 2014 at Haworth Showroom in San Francisco, California. Linked CXO provides networking for senior executives – “Bosses Need Professional Development, Too.”
“Lean” provides a scientific approach for creating a product and developing new businesses. Teams can build products or services to meet the needs of early customers by adopting a combination of customer development, business-hypothesis-driven experimentation and iterative product releases.
Tuesday, May 27th, 2014
11:30am-1:30pm, San Francisco, California
- Why more and more companies are using Lean
- What is Lean; What it is Not
- Rules of thumb for successful lean innovation
- Get out of your BatCave
- Use an initial product (MVP) as a probe to explore the market
- When and how to pivot
Speaker: Sean Murphy, CEO of SKMurphy, Inc., offers customer development services for technology entrepreneurs. SKMurphy’s focus is on early customers and early revenue for startups. Sean is an early and active member of the Lean Startup group and has been a workshop presenter and mentor at Lean Startup Conferences. SKMurphy’s clients have offerings in electronic design automation, artificial intelligence, web-enabled collaboration, proteomics, text analytics, legal services automation, and medical services workflow. Sean holds a BS in Mathematical Sciences and an MS in Engineering-Economic Systems (Management Science) from Stanford University.
Come share ideas, form teams, and launch startups. … Come join us for weekend-long, hands-on experience where you will learn what it takes to launch a startup, meet others with the same shared passion for entrepreneurship, and maybe even create a new business! Sean Murphy is excited to be a mentor at the event.
June 6-8 in San Francisco, CA
Use promo code SFB2B10
During this Startup Weekend, entrepreneurs will be empowered to pitch, build teams and transform their B2B based ideas into Minimum Viable Products (MVPs).
Update Sat-May-17 from Sean Murphy: I am grateful to Scott Sambucci of SalesQualia for recommending me as a mentor and glad that I was able to suggest that Emily Tucker of TaroWorks and Liz Fraley of Single Sourcing Solutions take part as mentors.
Tristan Kromer offers a great workshop on taking your big idea and break it into a series of small steps to test.
Your MVP Sucks! – How to crush your dreams and embrace reality
- Monday, May 5, 2014 from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM (PDT) more info
- Tuesday, May 20, 2014 from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM (PDT) more info
You should attend if:
- Have an understanding of lean but are looking for a deep dive;
- You do not currently have Product / Market Fit;
- Keep running experiments but either aren’t making progress or can’t tell if you’re making progress.
I had a great time at the Cofounder Club last night. Dea Wilson, founder of Lifograph and organizer for the Meetup, invited me to talk about “Giving a Killer Demo.” We had a lively discussion upstairs at Procopio: starting with some introductions and then short demos by the attendees, then I gave a formal recap of the Great Demo methodology and how to apply it.
The key to a Great Demo is to “Do the Last Thing First” and get to the point immediately about the critical results that your software will deliver to the prospect. This is counter to many entrepreneur’s inclination to build up to a big finish after 15 or 30 minutes or longer.
But by starting with a illustration of the key deliverable and then demonstrating in as few steps as possible how to achieve this result, you ensure that senior decision makers are still in the room when you get to the “Ta Da!” They can ask questions about other capabilities that they are interested in or start a conversation about how they can get started.
The second most important element of a Great Demo is appropriate preparation and a specific and detailed understanding of your prospect’s situation:
- Job Title and Industry: this provides a context for understanding how they are measured, likely objectives, and what examples or illustrations may be relevant.
- Critical Business Issue: What is the major problem he/she has?
- Reasons: Why is it a problem or what is the problem due to?
- Specific Capabilities: What capabilities are needed to address the problem?
- Delta: What is the value associated with making the change?
- Date: Is there a customer critical date or event that needs to be met?
If you are selling software to businesses, consider attending one of the two Great Demo! workshops we have scheduled in 2014 in San Jose
May 21&22, 2014 “Great Demo!” San Jose, CA
October 15&16, 2014 “Great Demo!” San Jose, CA
Recently, I attended the silicon valley robot block party. Like a mini-makers faire, it was a lot of fun. Folks were there with business robotics, home robotics, toy and entertainment robotics, and homemade robotic products by hobbyists and students.
Some of the robots showcased.
Early this year, I interviewed the organizer of the event, Andra Keay, about the opportunities and challenges she sees in the robotic community. She is an Managing Director at Silicon Valley Robotics, and Co Founder at Robot Garden
More coverage of the Silicon Valley Robotic Block Party
Whether you are a software startup or a consultant you have to convince prospects that you have the expertise to solve their problems by what you say, what you write, and what others say about you. This three hour workshop will outline a mix of proven marketing techniques for generating leads for your business. Attendees will select one or two that best fit their style, present them in a roundtable discussion format for refinement, and leave with a ninety-day action plan for incorporating them into their business.
When/Where: March 25, 2014 9am-12:30pm in Sunnyvale, CA
Cost: $90 includes lunch
We wanted to let all of you know that IEEE-CNSV has a new benefit for its members. You have a chance to join and participate in a formal Mastermind (Peer Support) Group. This group is much different from our regular meetings. We will meet for a fixed set of four weeks about every other week starting on April 3, 2014. Group members will make a commitment to come to all of these four meetings, and to keep what is discussed in confidence. So, that means the members really get to know each other, and work on what is keeping their businesses from higher levels of success.
- DATES: Thursdays in April & May — April 3, April 17, May 1 and May 15 of 2014
- TIME: 4-6pm
- LOCATION: Hobee’s at 800 W Ahwanee Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94085 (just off Mathilda Ave at 101)
- COST: Free, but agree to purchase something from the restaurant, so they will reserve this room for us. This set of four meetings would normally cost $200, so this is a real bargain.
WHAT MIGHT BE DISCUSSED IN A MASTERMIND MEETING?
Mastermind meetings allow you do share ideas as to what areas you are considering for the growth of your business, or your business and life balance. You will get feedback from your peers on how to resolve the concerns.
Areas that could be discussed:
- Business Plans for 2014
- How to get more business
- ow to handle the stress of too much business at one time
- How to get out from under Brokers
- How to keep up with changing technologies
- Whatever concerns or challenges you might be having
The video from my “What is Lean–Lean Innovation 101” talk is up:
Here is the description for the talk
“Lean” provides a scientific approach for creating a product and developing new businesses. Teams can iteratively building products or services to meet the needs of early customers by adopting a combination of customer development, business-hypothesis-driven experimentation and iterative product releases. This talk covers:
- Why more and more companies are using Lean
- What is Lean, what it is not
- Key concepts
- Get Out Of Your BatCave
- Use an initial product (MVP) as a probe to explore the market
- When and how to pivot
- Rules of thumb for successful lean innovation
I am helping to moderate a panel 7pm Mon-Mar-3 at IEEE-CNSV on “Innovation: Work and Life of the Engineer in Japan and Silicon Valley” The event takes place at Agilent Technologies, Inc. in the Aristotle Room, Bldg. 5 located at 5301 Stevens Creek Blvd., Santa Clara, CA 95051. There is no charge to attend and the event is open to the public.
The event is organized by Takahide Inoue, the Global Outreach Director for the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society at UC Berkeley.
The panel members are:
- Takashi Yoshimori, Toshiba Semiconductor
- Laura Smoliar, Independent Consultant, Signal Lake Venture Capital
- Tom Coughlin, IEEE Region Six Director-Elect, CNSV member and Independent Consultant
- Kim Parnell, Past Chair, IEEE Santa Clara Valley Section, CNSV member and Independent Consultant
- Brian Berg, Past Chair, IEEE Santa Clara Valley Section, CNSV member and Independent Consultant
Here are some of the questions I hope the panel is able to address:
- What are innovation lessons from Silicon Valley?
- How does Silicon Valley do so many innovations?
- What are innovation lessons from Japan?
- How do Japanese engineers sustain their interest in a topic to achieve mastery instead of moving on to the “new hot thing” or next “bright shiny object?”
- What makes an innovative culture? What can other areas do to create an innovative culture?
- In Silicon Valley, we tend to celebrate the individual over the group. For Silicon Valley engineers how do you give back to your community?
- The Japanese say that “the nail that sticks up gets hammered down.” For Japanese engineers, how do you disagree constructively with your peers to foster innovation?
- What advice do you have for engineers for finding an idea that can inspire them to work on for several years before it becomes a reality?
- How do you see the work of the engineer changing in the next five to ten years?
I hope you can join us tomorrow night. Here are some background material on Silicon Valley’s innovation culture you may find relevant.
- Soul of New Machine by Tracy Kidder
- Regional Advantage by AnnaLee Saxenian (and her follow up “The New Argonauts, Regional Advantage in the Global Economy“)
- Accidental Empires by Robert Cringely
- Understanding Silicon Valley: Anatomy of an Entrepreneurial Region (Martin Kenney, ed.) in particular the “”Silicon Valley Came to Be” chapter by Timothy Sturgeon that offers the key insight that Silicon Valley is at least 100 years old if you date it–correctly, I believe–from the founding of Federal Telegraph in 1909.
Here are five related blog posts about Silicon Valley it’s entrepreneurial culture
- In “Steve Blank on the Secret History of Silicon Valley” I suggest, based on Sturgeon’s analysis, that while World War 2 activities contributed significantly to the growth of Silicon Valley it’s founding can be dated to Federal Telegraph in 1909 (as noted by California Historical marker 836).
- Finding Silicon Valley in Two Passages from E. B. White’s Here Is New York
- Federated Entrepreneurship
- Federated Entrepreneurship: Evangelizing Entrepreneurship
- Federated Entrepreneurship: Play Your Own Game
Finally Tom Wolfe wrote “The Tinkering’s of Robert Noyce” about the founding and early culture at Fairchild and Intel for Esquire in December of 1983 and updated it for Forbes ASAP fourteen years later as “Robert Noyce and his Congregation.” (Aug-25-1997).
The text of California Historical Marker 836:
PIONEER ELECTRONICS RESEARCH LABORATORY – This is the original site of the laboratory and factory of Federal Telegraph Company, founded in 1909 by Cyril F. Elwell. Here, Dr. Lee de Forest, inventor of the three-element radio vacuum tube, devised the first vacuum tube amplifier and oscillator in 1911-13. Worldwide developments based on this research led to modern radio communication, television, and the electronics age…California Registered Historical Landmark No. 836..Plaque placed by the State Department of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with the City of Palo Alto and the Palo Alto Historical Association, May 2, 1970
Let’s face it, finding customers can be quite a challenge. In this interactive workshop, we will cover a variety of proven marketing techniques for growing your business: attendees will select one or two that fit their style and develop a plan to implement them in their business in the next 90 days.
- Speaking – small groups, large groups, conferences, …
- Writing – blogging, newsletters, articles, …
- What Other People Say About You – referrals, testimonials, case studies, …
- Getting Found When and Where Prospects are Looking: adwords, Craigslist, trade shows, SEO/SEM, …
March 25, 2014 9am-12:30pm
$90 includes lunch
“This workshop provided great material to bounce off of. SKMurphy created a fertile space for me to think about my business and plan a concrete step forward. Thank you.” Paul Konasewich, President at Connect Leadership