Michael Sippey’s original title for his August 2, 2006 talk at SVPMA was “Iterating Towards Bethlehem” was changed to a less cryptic Making the Shift From Being a Packaged Software Person to Being a Hosted Services Person. The original title was a riff on Yeats’ Slouching Towards Bethlehem (not the Joan Didion book or the Angel episode).
Gone are the days of annual release cycle. For many companies, weekly releases are the new standard. Picking the best software release cycle impacts your customers, team, and management. At this roundtable discussion we will exchange tips and gotchas. Provide a look at the impact on business models, teams and product development.
Tuesday October 30 2007, 11:30 – 1:00 pm
Fenwick & West 801 California Street Mountain View, California 94041
Cost for lunch: $20 After Oct. 24 $30
About the Roundtable Leaders
At SKMurphy, he provides consulting for Software Startups focusing on Early Customer, Early Revenue
- Reviewing and defining product release and test strategies
- Developing test and development sandbox environments focusing on automated regressions and system level testing
Prior to SKMurphy, Anthony was a Director at Cisco Systems. He managed the growth from 1 test engineer to a division of 280 employees in multiple sites, and 20,000 sq ft of test labs. Anthony holds a BA in Computer Science from University of California at San Diego.
Sean Murphy has taken an entrepreneurial approach to life since he could drive. He has served as an advisor to dozens of startups, helping them explore new options and bring their businesses to new levels. His firm, SKMurphy, Inc., focuses on early customers and early revenue for software startups, helping engineers to understand business development.
Prior to SKMurphy, Sean worked in a variety of areas including software engineering, engineering management, application engineering, business development, product marketing and customer support. His clients include Cisco Systems, 3Com, AMD, MMC Networks, Escalade and VLSI Technology. Sean holds a BS in Mathematical Sciences and an MS in Engineering-Economic Systems from Stanford University.
Finding More Customers
Every business owner asks “How do I Find More Customers? How can I get the phone to ring?” Is your New Year’s Resolution to develop a plan to grow your business? Now is the time to get started.
SKMurphy offers a three hour Getting More Customers workshop where you develop a one-page ACTION plan and we provide follow-up to hold you accountable. We are not promising a fast and easy way to obtain customers. Our methodology of setting goals, developing plans, and exploring options will help you build a framework to maximize your resources as a start up. If you are a software startup or consultant, these workshop allow you to focus on building your business.
Last night’s talk was well received. We had a good crowd, with folks filling the seats and and a few having to stand up along the back wall. Here’s the feedback from the talk:
- I was surprised that it was more than 12 capsule reviews back to back, that Sean was able to extract some key concepts that many of the books shared about “the way the world works” for understanding how to market discontinuous innovations.
- Expand on a smaller number of books
- More clearly explain that presentation is broken into three categories.
- Great presentation! I can’t wait to get the slides.
- Great Speaker! + Excellent Information
- Well Done
- Would be nice to add to slide deck the comments at the end where he discussed which books to focus on for specific industries.
- Always repeat questions.
- I suggest to use some business example to apply to the book / business theories.
- I’d like to have further SDForum Marketing SIGs continue to work with the material. Excellent content…I would have enjoyed going through it more slowly.
- I would be interested in hearing Sean Murphy again.
- Excellent content and organization. With Case Study would be awesome.
- Sean was a fabulous presenter!
- Good 50K ft. overview
- Tough decisions on depth vs. breadth. Good choices.
- This talk can be delivered to a variety of groups. Hope you can market it.
- Integral of Bell Curve = S Curve
- Excellent list + summary of books
- Demonstrated tremendous knowledge of marketing literature
- Great, concise summary to introduce folks to important marketing books.
- Speaker rocked. Great presentation
- Kind of got lost on explaining the S curve.
- Good job of asking applicable questions
- Nice transition of why you did not use sales books.
- Money is a small part of price:
- high quality people assigned to project
- opportunity cost of their time
We have learned that the Yahoo Group for the SDForum Marketing SIG will be discontinued in favor of a new system. We have put a copy of the presentation here as a PDF so that folks can access it reliably.
12 Books For the Busy CEO: spend an hour and leave with a summary of key marketing insights and some rules of thumb for successful innovation in Silicon Valley. You might even identify one or two books that you haven’t read that will be worth your time over the Christmas holidays. I will cover twelve books that form the basis for conventional wisdom in Silicon Valley for marketing discontinuous or disruptive products.
Mary Sullivan addressed “Customer Centric Marketing” last Monday, providing a number of examples of marketing messages based on the customer’s operating reality. Mary highlighted the need for marketing campaigns to recognize that the customer is in charge of the buying process today. The example messages cut through the noise (Mary provided an estimate that every day we receive some three thousand odd commercial messages) and were able to catch a prospect’s attention by speaking directly to their needs and clearly indicating how the offering would resolve them. This inverts the traditional
“Product Specs -> Features -> Benefits”
And replaces benefits with “resolution messages” to yield:
“Needs -> Resolutions -> Product Specs”
Mary has two articles available on the KickStart Alliance website that nicely summarize her presentation:
I dropped by tonight’s Stirr Mixer at Illusions on 260 California Ave in Palo Alto. It’s a better venue for parking and it’s not as loud as the Blue Chalk—-if it’s too loud you are too old? I am certainly at risk for this in the Stirr crowd.
Three interesting people I came across
- Jim Rowson, who I last saw at Redwood Design Automation before it was absorbed by Cadence in 1994, is now helming tracking shot, a very interesting site devote to helping you assemble slide shows and put them to music. My only quibbles were that it should not require local storage of the pictures (e.g leverage Flickr and/or Photobucket) and there should be an easy way to provide a voice over narration.
- I had a chance to meet Steve Larsen, CEO of Krugle, after seeing him demo at Office2.0. I followed up with an e-mail to Ira Baxter at Semantic Designs, their Clone Detector offering might be a nice add-in for Krugle. Nothing will likely come of it but you never know
- I had a chance to meet Jeffrey McManus after seeing him demo Approver at Office2.0; alas I confused him with another Web 2.0 startup that had written on the SVASE mojo wire that they were looking for funding so we talked about that instead of how to focus Approver more sharply at a niche. My bad.
Some follow-up back and forth with Jim Rowson over e-mail
Voice over narration is on our list of stuff to do at some juncture. However, we’re thinking at the start that simple, automatic, decent videos from photos and music has a broader appeal. Doing voice overs requires a fair bit of expertise (microphone, etc.).
My thought was that it would allow Tracking Shot to do more “business oriented” stuff because messaging could be added via voice. Folks could also add background narration snippets around a photo, group of photos, or sequence of photos. But I do agree on the recording quality, although with all of the audioblogging going on they might be able to leverage another service and just mix them in.
Mary offers a messaging framework for moving beyond product-centric features and product-centric benefits to demonstrating your understanding of a prospect’s problems, needs, and wants. If you want to see more samples of her thinking for startups see her two blogs “Way to Grow” and “First Year”
The meeting starts at 6:30 with networking, Mary’s presentation will be from 7-8:15PM. I have previewed it with her and was struck by the number of thought provoking suggestions for marketing folks–and software startup founding teams–used to focusing on features.
Just a brief note on the SDForum Marketing SIG, our promise is “Practical tips and techniques for anticipating, identifying, and satisfying customers needs for emerging technologies profitably.” We are guided by this quote from “Management: Task, Responsibilities, Practices” by Peter Drucker on the importance of marketing:
“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only these two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”
Update August 2008: Mary Sullivan’s slides are now available here http://www.sdforum.com/document/docWindow.cfm?fuseaction=document.viewDocument&documentid=85&documentFormatId=103
- I need to align my sales efforts with my prospect’s success factors. This means that I need to figure how they are getting measured and how to influence and serve their basic needs.
- We had an interesting and lively discussion about selling to or around corporate gatekeepers, typically purchasing and IT departments.
- They recommended a book called “Questions That Sell: The Powerful Process For Discovering What Your Customers Really Want“, which I plan to check out and report back on in more detail.
On Nov. 8, I attended the Guy Kawasaki Art of the Start Seminar. This was the second time I have listened to Guy’s presentation. Guy is an amazing speaker and has given this pitch a hundred times. Even after 100’s of presentations, Guy continues to illustrate passion and enthusiasm in his Art of the Start pitch. A few techniques that he used to keep the crowd enticed and entertained were using current topics for examples and news breaking politics for jokes.
Three lessons that I took away from “The Art of Rainmaking” portion of the seminar include:
- Build Credibility
- Find the Influencers
- Don’t use Cheap Adjectives
Building credibility is difficult as a start up. Some obstacles you should overcome to help make you more credible include:
- Closing paying customers
- Developing strategic partners
- Investor board for references
- Advisers / industry experts who believe and will testify for you
- Milestones- what is your path for success
Finding the influencers is key. Often start ups try to sell to executives, which means asking someone with a budget and an overwhelming amount of responsibility to take a gamble on unproven technology. As a first time CEO, you lack the credibility to be trusted to deliver on your claims. Startups would be better served to find prospects who are already looking for a solution to a problem they solve. Even if these prospects do not make the purchasing decision, they will influence the decision maker.
Two key things we try to help clients understand: their prospect’s perception of the total cost of acquisition, and initially its easier to close smaller companies.
- What is the opportunity cost of implementing your software? How many guys must be pulled away from their day to day job to work on a special project? If you cannot tell the customer something that they do not already know about their business in two hours or less, you are wasting their time. Furthermore, your software must be installed, usable, and delivering results in a week. Finding the influencers is essentially finding your early adopters.
- Most early adopters are found in small or medium sized companies. As a start up, it is too difficult to close a Fortune 500 company. Go after smaller companies, close business, and build credibility.
The Art of the Start is an amazing book and an even better seminar. They are definitely worth your time.
Art of the Start is one of the best workshops out there for startups. Here are 3 things I learned from it.
- Mary Hodder, founder and CEO of Dabble, reminded the audience of the saying “If you want money, ask for advice. If you want advice, ask for money!”
- One of the most important Guy Kawasaki’s rules: 10/20/30. It applies to all pitches whether to VC or prospects. 10 slides, 20 minutes and 30 point font size.
- I learned about an interesting new startup Slideshare. It allows you to share powerpoint slides. We will be checking this out soon.
I did my profile in http://kmi06.pbwiki.com/SeanMurphy in the form of a FAQ
Q:Why do you come to KMWorld?
This is my third year, so it’s something of a triumph of hope over experience, but I believe that there are a number of techniques and technologies in the “knowledge management” space that are going to have a profound impact on business. This conference is one place to listen to bona fide practitioners and see vendors with innovative technology you don’t see in many other venues and certainly not all together.
Q: Are there specific technology issues that you are interested in?
- How are wikis, blogs, and instant messaging (IM) tools going to merge into content management systems on corporate intranets?
- How can the very powerful text analytics tools available for enterprises be scaled down so that they work for personal information management: I am thinking of a number of things like latent semantic indexing, recommendation and group lens systems for small teams and ad hoc groups, and e-discovery tools that I could use for my e-mail and IM (instead of by a corporate compliance officer or outside counsel).
Q:If you could merge this conference with another one which would it be?
Two choices: Techdirt Greenhouse and Office 2.0:
- Techdirt Greenhouse (see also the wiki for the Jun-10-2006 event) fosters a level of discussion among the attendees that would be very energizing at KMWorld. Have 3 people come up and present a current challenge in their organization related to knowledge management. The group breaks into six teams, two each working on the three issues. There is small group discussion, a report back to the larger group by each team, and then a large group discussion
- Office 2.0 had a number of vendors aimed at replacing PC based apps with web services, the net effect was to focus on enabling group process and communication. Many of these applications have a strong potential to enable much more effective knowledge sharing at least in a team setting than any of the “top down” enterprise class portals that make the same promise.
Q: Any sessions in particular you plan to attend?
I missed Tuesday because of a prior commitment but today I plan to listen to Dave Pollard, whom I find to be consistently insightful, talk about “Adding Meaning and Value to Information” in Session A203
Q: Did you see any new vendors on the Exhibits Floor that are worth mentioning.
The Abbrevity folks look like they have a very interesting and very scalable file classifier that is extremely low cost, designed to be run in parallel, and could scan an enterprise intranet and attached file systems overnight. It may form the basis for some interesting vertical applications when they find the right partners.
One under-appreciated company is Traction Software which offers a richly featured blogging / content management system that has seen uptake in environments with complex security requirements (e.g. a number of three letter government agencies). But they already ten years old, and may not be willing to make the changes (or perhaps take the risks) to gain wider acceptance.
I spent a lot of time in the adjacent hall in the “Streaming Media” show where there was an interesting mix of technologies for video and audio broadcasting that struck me as very applicable to enterprise training needs. One company that I was interested in there in particular was Blogtronix looks like it would be very useful for mid-size and larger corporations with rich internal blogging ecosystems that they want to keep inside the firewall (or perhaps only publish via extranet/VPN), it offers a mix of functions that others are sure to follow but I was still excited to see it. I chatted briefly with Dave Sifry last year after an AlwaysOn breakfast and asked him why Technorati didn’t offer an appliance for intranet blogging ecosystems: “off strategy” was his reply. Probably the right answer for his firm but there is clearly a need. (Update Nov 7: Intel seems to think so as well with SuiteTwo)
Q: Any advice for the Conference Organizers?
It sure would be nice if each session had a permalink and trackback function, if it’s available I haven’t found it).
Q: What else can you tell us about yourself?
I have a backgrounder here: https://www.skmurphy.com/about/
 Update Jan-18-2011: Office 2.0 website www.office20con.com has been taken over by spammers, links deleted.
I’m late to the party on GoogleGuide, based on who else has written about it, this blog entry was triggered by Nancy Blachman’s upcoming talk, “What Google Can Do For Your Business,” Tuesday, November 21, 2006 7:00 PM, at the IEEE-CNSV meeting at KeyPoint Credit Union, 2805 Bowers Ave., Santa Clara, CA.
This looks to be a good talk, but if you can’t make that Nancy has a schedule posted for other upcoming talks. And you can always just consult her Google Guide directly. Two sections I found particularly useful were on adwords and advanced commands. And as the Pandia Post Newsletter observed in January 2004
Take a look at her GoogleGuide web site. There she gives away a lot of web search information for free. Actually, if you print out the printer-friendly version of her site, you end up with a very useful book containing some 114 pages of Google tips and information.
Actually, as of Oct-23-2006, the Google Guide PDF is now 149 pages, so Nancy hasn’t been idle in keeping up with Google’s new features. With her very impressive resume (an MS from Berkeley in Operations Research and an MS in Computer Science from Stanford) she should be working at Google..say on an easy-to-use constantly updated guide to how to use Google for novices and experienced users alike. But she may happier running Variable Symbols and letting her husband work there–since 1999 according to this interview.
If you are a technical consultant in Silicon Valley, the IEEE Consulting Network for Silicon Valley frequently runs useful and informative events and is an organization you should consider joining.
Diane Greene, VMware’s CEO, gave a fireside chat at TiE Silicon Valley tonight. It was outstanding. I had never heard her speak before. I was encouraged by two folks who knew her and she did not disappoint. She was the founding CEO of VMware, which was acquired by EMC in January 2004, and still runs it as a wholly owned subsidiary.
Last night, I attended an SDForum Startup SIG featuring Bill Trenchard, CEO of LiveOps. Bill is a prime example of a serial entrepreneur. In 10 years he has been a founder and CEO of three successful start ups. One of which was Jump Networks, Inc., that was acquired by Microsoft in April 1999.
Bill said that he had learned to do the following things routinely:
- Do not be afraid to ask for help
- Learn from failure
- Understand your limitations
One experience Bill shared was from when Jump Networks started taking off. He received a call from Microsoft stating they were interested in buying his company. At the time, Bill had very little experience with negotiating. He turned to his advisory board for help. The most important thing he learned was, “no matter how big the deal is, sometimes it is best to walk away.”
Another experience Bill shared was trying to start a company that provides software for PDA’s. After designing the software, he realized that the market did not exist. The problem was, at this time, there were only 1 million PDA users. Essentially, Bill had never failed before and he became depressed. Bothered by thoughts of being a one hit wonder, he evaluated his experience, learned from his mistakes, and tried again.
“When you start a new company as an entrepreneur or a founder, you need to recognize that they are building something bigger than yourself.” Good CEO’s can handle pressure and have experience in many aspects of business: Marketing, Finance, Sales, Engineering, etc. CEO’s must have the ability to multi-task and make decisions. “You need to ask yourself if you truly believe you are the one for the job, it is okay to be the inventor and not the entrepreneur.”
For more background: Bill has an extensive video clip set in the Cornell eClips collection (registration required, but this transcript matches last night’s talk pretty closely if you are interested); he was recently profiled by BusinessWeek as one of dozen technology entrepreneurs under 30.
I stopped by their booth pedestal in the exhibit area and was surprised to see that I had been selected as a spokesmodel for their new service as I have only been blogging on business topics for two weeks. And yet there I was in the picture on the front cover of their brochure.
Mike assured me that I would be in the “Special Highly Interactive Techdirt” section of the community. I was taken aback because my mother had always assured me that I had a face for podcasting and I assumed that it was there I would ultimately be able to make my mark. It wasn’t until I was in the bar a little later drinking some ice tea, imported from Long Island of all places, that I was able to summon my marketing imagination and jot down captions that Techdirt should consider adding to the flyer when they exit beta. I put them in an e-mail to Mike and then realized I should share them with the four of you reading this blog:
|Techdirt Version||SKMurphy Version|
|Take part in interesting discussions with your peers||“Maybe if this guy had written this monologue in a blog we might have had the last 30 minutes of our lives back.”|
|Interact with companies who want your opinion||“Is this you, holding forth to a roomful of three people on an arcane topic? If so, you can join our blogging network and double your audience.”|
|Get paid for your insight||“Ever feel like the guy at the whiteboard isn’t really capturing the depth and breadth of your insights? Our blogging network allows you to capture and expose all of your thoughts on a topic.”|
Mike offered some clarifications on the program and it’s structure in the comments in response to some speculation by Anne Zelenka.
Details as they are stored in some post-Apocalyptic reliquary whose display case for the 20th century might house a fist sized chunk of the Berlin Wall, a charred fragment from Skylab, and the test tube that contains Edison’s last breath.
Mark Duncan gave an excellent guided tour at the October 9 SDForum Marketing SIG of several web based applications that marketing teams should consider taking advantage of in addition to (or even instead of) Microsoft Office. He opened with the observation that
The applications bundled into Microsoft Office—word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, calendar, and mail–are the only software tools that many marketing professionals have learned.
Appropriately enough talk was titled “Beyond Microsoft Office: New Tools for Increasing Marketing Productivity.” His slides were done in the “beyond bullet points style” that very effectively complemented his spoken presentation but would be hard to follow without his spoken linkage and counterpoint. So he also created an article to act as the stand-alone representation of his talk (see http://www.askmar.com/Marketing/Beyond%20Office.pdf )
It’s definitely worth a read. Three good ideas I picked up from the talk:
- Many marketing activities and deliverables involve collaborating on a document to reach a working consensus by a deadline. While Microsoft Office applications can make you productive as an individual, they don’t help you to leverage the Internet in gathering information or facilitate review and discussion at a team level. Once there are three people involved it’s no longer clear who has the most recent version of the slides or the pitch or the datasheet. Wiki and on-line workspace tools can offer a team dramatically lower friction and the ability to operate much more rapidly against a deadline.
- Read Merlin Mann‘s “43 Folders” blog and the group blog at “LifeHack.Org” regularly for practical personal productivity tips and tricks (christened “life hacks” by Denny O’Brien in a famous O’Reilly Etech talk). These are a gold mine of information for knowledge worker productivity.
- Two good sites for low cost digital stock photography: istockphoto.com and Lucky Oliver. Mark’s slides made good use of stock photography to complement his talk.
Mark is a marketing consultant who focuses on emerging technologies, assisting companies in entering new markets and developing new business opportunities.
Attending Office 2.0 in San Francisco, we discovered some useful tools for consultants and small teams.
What is Office 2.0? Office 2.0 tools are collaboration tools that you can connect to from anywhere. They are perfect for virtual businesses or small teams. Most are sold as software as a service (SaaS) and for a low monthly fee you get web access to the tools. All that is needed on your machine is a web browser.
Here’s what I found interesting:
- Site Kreator – pick a template and get a basic website up and running very quickly. You don’t need to get a web designer or know HTML, Java, etc. It supports wiki, blogs, and forms. Everything is click and point.
- Another way (and the one we selected) is WordPress. We did use a web designer, Dave Horner from Silicon Ridge. But we picked a template and he quickly built our website. I can build new pages, changes pages, or add blog post without coding.
- Invoicing might be a consultant’s least favorite thing, but it’s impossible to get paid without it; check out FreshBooks.
- Do you need a part time admin to put together conference material? Work on your website? Virtual admins are a great way to go. They charge by the hour and can answer your phone or perform other tasks you need.
- One area we have been hunting for quite a while is a shareable calender. Our team is virtual and scheduling appointment used to take many emails. We have been using with WebEx WebOffice and quite happy with it. It is more expensive than many we tried but it fits us the best, so far.
- Podcast/RSS for e-newsletters or training. Podcast and voice in general allows you to make an emotional connection with your audience or prospect. This one is still under construction for us.
- We use wikis (e.g. from Central Desktop, EditMe, Jotspot, and Socialtext among others) with all of our clients. A wiki provides a private work space which we can leave behind after our engagement is over and they cut down considerably on having to e-mail attachments. We have used it for collaborating on datasheets, web site mock-up, backgrounder and other strategy and planning documents.
 Update Jan-18-2011: Office 2.0 website www.office20con.com has been taken over by spammers, links deleted.
I will be blogging from the Office 2.0 Conference for the next two days.
It’s a set of tools that I have been interested in for a while–blogs, wikis, content management systems, chat/IM, VoIP–with a focus on enabling small teams to work more effectively against a deadline. This is the challenge that software startups need to surmount if they are to win the battle of maneuver against their larger, better funded, and more established competitors. I think one of the primary benefits these newer tools offer is that a small team can maintain a shared situational awareness in complex and rapidly evolving environments/markets.
I had the pleasure of sitting next to Ori Weinroth from Microsoft, during the morning sessions. I was surprised to learn that they also had a product family called Office, because they were not listed as an participant.
 Update Jan-18-2011: Office 2.0 website www.office20con.com has been taken over by spammers, links deleted.
I was sitting in one of the nice conference rooms over at Fenwick & West earlier this year at a TVC half day seminar on “Entering the Entrepreneurial World” (TVC offers great seminars by the way, and they rotate the speakers so that the material doesn’t go stale)and I had a strong sense of deja vu for freshman year in college. Normally when I dream of being back in college I am in an exam for a course I haven’t really studied for–although in my case these are more accurately termed “recovered memories”–but this felt like freshman year again, where I slept spent a lot of time in a large lecture halls.