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
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.
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.
Yonge outlines “four quiet revolutions” that 3D printing or positive manufacturing will likely bring about:
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
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.
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.
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
How Does It Bring You More Business?
Key Practices for Thought Leadership
Build a Communication Strategy
Execute: Your 90-day Plan Should Address:
Topics You Can Always Talk About
“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?
Checklists: Develop A Coachable Perspective
Thought Leadership Brings Business
About SKMurphy, Inc.: We help you find leads and close deals
Bootstrappers Breakfast www.bootstrapperbreakfast.com
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.
“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
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).
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
You should attend if:
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:
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.
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:
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:
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:
Here are some of the questions I hope the panel is able to address:
I hope you can join us tomorrow night. Here are some background material on Silicon Valley’s innovation culture you may find relevant.
Here are five related blog posts about Silicon Valley it’s entrepreneurial culture
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.
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
Semifore , Inc. was founded in 2006 by Richard Weber based on his system design experience at several startups and some larger systems firms. All of them struggled with the need for tools and methods to keep the hardware architecture in sync with software architecture and to ensure that the development and customer documentation was up to date. He developed an application that worked from a common specification to generate high level hardware description language specifications, software source code, and human readable documentation for the memory maps and configuration/control register behavior. Semifore has bootstrapped growth since 2006 and has seen their offering adopted at a number of major semiconductor firms. and system houses.
We have two members of the Semifore executive team joining us 10AM PST on Fri-Jan-17-2014 for a discussion of what they have learned about their success so far as a niche player in the Electronic Design Automation space and their plans to scale up in 2014. You can register to take part in the conversation at
Background for discussion
Semifore Inc. is a software startup in Palo Alto Ca. The company provides a software product platform that automates and manages the register information for the Hardware / Software interface during the definition, specification, implementation and verification phases of the ASIC and/or FPGA design process. The company is privately held and has no external investors. It was founded in 2006 by Richard Weber who is currently the CEO of the company.
Currently the company has over a dozen paying customers which are using the platform to deliver their chip sets to customers. Logo’s such as Altera, AMCC, Microsoft, and other large firms have embraced the tool and associated design methodology to reduce their design cycle time and improve their product functionality.
Semifore’s products are used by Systems Architects and designers, Verification Engineers, Software Development Engineers, and Technical Publications teams inside of Semiconductor companies.
The company has been funded via “bootstrapping” and is operated solely from operating cash flow. This has provided sufficient funds to get through the product development and early customer engagements that allowed Semifore to market, test, and refine the technology to a state of high reliability and functionality with low post-sales support requirements. The product does what we say it does and once it’s installed the product often goes viral.
The company has relied on trade show attendance and word of mouth to secure additional sales leads to qualify and move to a product demonstration. The customers for this product, are for the most part, currently internally developing their own solutions in this space.
Market / Customer Challenges (Lessons Learned 2006-2013)
Key Goals for 2014
Update Fri-Jan-17: here is the audio for the event.