Tech In Boston

Tech In Boston

Sharing learnings from the people building and working at companies in Boston.

What Makes a Good VC?

Tech In Boston Podcast #19: Interview with Blake Bartlett, Principal, OpenView Venture Partners.  

Click here to download this episode on iTunes.

Blake Bartlett is a VC at OpenView Venture Partners.  Prior to OpenView, Blake was a VP at Battery Ventures where he helped lead 10 investments, including Wayfair.  Blake started his career in growth equity at Kayne Anderson after graduating from USC in 2006.

In this episode, Blake talks about:

  • The types of companies he typically invests in at OpenView
  • OpenView’s consulting arm (OpenView Labs) and the growing trend of VC firms with services
  • The deals he’s hit on and the ones he’s missed (including why he said no to GrubHub)
  • What makes a good VC
  • Product/market fit, what it is, and why having it isn’t always enough
  • Good revenue vs. bad revenue
  • Why great products reduce Time to Value
  • What’s good (and not so good) about building a company in Boston today

Join the Tech In Boston email list and never miss a new episode.

image

Comments

The Second Time Around as a Founder with Matt Lauzon

Tech In Boston Podcast #17: Interview with Matt Lauzon, Co-Founder & CEO, Dunwello

Click here to download this episode on iTunes.

Matt Lauzon is co-founder and CEO of Dunwello.  Dunwello is Matt’s second time around as an entrepreneur: he founded the e-commerce jewelry site Gemvara back in 2006 while he was a student at Babson College and grew the team to 75 people before moving on in 2012. Matt was named to Inc. Magazine’s 2011 “30 under 30” list, BusinessWeek’s “Top Entrepreneurs Under the Age of 25” and loves when you tweet at him @mattlauzon.

In this episode, Matt talks about:

  • His approach to building a team in the early days
  • Stepping down from Gemvara and knowing when to make a change
  • Why you don’t have to be technical to be a successful founder
  • The three key roles of any great CEO
  • What he’s doing differently this time around as an entrepreneur 
  • Why Boston is giving the wrong advice to college grads
  • How a stranger gave him a $5,000 check in the early days of Gemvara and what he’s doing to pay it forward

Join the Tech In Boston email list and never miss a new episode.

image

Comments

Making Early Stage, Wild Ass Bets On Startups

Tech In Boston Podcast #17: Interview with Ty Danco

Click here to download this episode on iTunes.

Ty Danco is an angel investor and entrepreneur.  After working on Wall Street, he founded eSecLending and returned to investing after selling the company in 2006 before launching BuysideFX.  Now back full-time as an angel, Ty has invested in many local startups, including Crashlytics (acquired by Twitter), EverTrue, Objective Logistics, Drizly, Kinvey, and previous Tech In Boston guests CoachUp, Codeship, Tablelist.

In this episode, Ty talks about:

  • What an angel investor does and how they gain traction/source deals
  • His big wins and some of the deals he passed on
  • How his experience as a founder (2x) has helped him as an investor
  • Why he believes non-competes can be good
  • How new tools and platforms like AngelList and Mattermark are having a huge impact on investors
  • Why Boston should stop trying to be the next Silicon Valley

Join the Tech In Boston email list and never miss a new episode.

image

 

Comments

Why Startups Need Marketers More Than They Realize

This is a guest post from Josh Mendelsohn, VP Marketing, DreamFund. You can also listen to Josh on this previous episode of Tech In Boston.

Imagine if you will, a bunch of marketers sitting around trying to write code for their tech startup without an expert on hand.  They’d be mocked and dismissed, and probably write some code that is full of bugs and will quickly need to be re-written. For good reason it’s generally not something that you see done.   

So, why is it so common to see developers attempt to position and market a business without any help? Perhaps it is because marketing appears simple at first glance.  Everyone is exposed to online advertising and company web sites every day.  We all think we understand what works and what doesn’t and as individuals we feel qualified to try our hand at doing something we are so familiar with.  

But that can be a tragic mistake for companies trying to get their first sets of funding and customers because while pivots are common, you rarely get a second chance to make a first impression with the people who could make or break your business.

As a marketing guy with a passion for startups, I am obviously biased on the topic but there are a few really good reasons to have a marketing (and/or business development) pro on hand through the early days of a company.  Because while developers might have good marketing ideas, they usually don’t have the developed skill set to actually get people to investigate, use, and recommend a product.  

1. Positioning the product for each of the key audiences.  Marketers bring unique skills in understanding how people buy and the emotional, not just functional parts of the process. In many cases the “best” technology doesn’t win, the one with the clearest and most compelling message does. They also understand that the pitch for investors may be different than consumers and know how to decide what features should be highlighted where.

2. Help focus development on the things that sell.  We can all agree that early stage development is all about trade offs. Marketers bring the customer perspective to the table to help identify which features will actually entice someone to start using a product and drive referrals, and which you can add later.  

3. They know how to say it simply.  Developers are usually super smart people who want to build cool things.  They understand and will happily tell you why building on one code stack or development platform is better than another or how bleeding edge a product is.  Which is great, except most buyers can’t understand what that means or why it matters.  Marketers are great at simplifying the message into the key points that potential users care about and making people feel like they are making a smart choice instead of being confused and feeling dumb.

4. They’ve actually done the work before.  I’ve often said that doing marketing for a day is easy.  Doing it every day is really hard.  But just because you’ve read about how to do social media, email marketing, create and test landing pages, funnel analysis and more doesn’t mean you actually know how to do it.  Reading lots of articles can’t prepare you for what it’s really like to continually produce content and optimize your marketing. Sure, people can learn and even an experienced marketer will make mistakes but with critically low marketing budgets (time and money) you don’t want to make rookie mistakes with your startup.

5. Proper data interpretation: Research tools like Survey Monkey and Delighted make it really easy throw up an NPS survey and analytics tools like Google Analytics and Mixpanel make it easy to track behavior.  (I love all of those by the way.)  But understanding what is good or projectable data and what is not can be tricky.  Even for marketers, the urge to think a little bit of data is anything more than directional can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s so important to have someone on hand who really understands what they are looking at and how to spin it for an investor meeting.

Am I saying that you have to have a founding CMO or even a marketing head? Not necessarily.  But knowing what they bring to the table is essential so you can decide whether you actually need them or not.

 

Comments

The Early Days of Hubspot, Learning About VC and Building a Product for Quants

Tech In Boston Podcast Episode 16: Interview with Karen Rubin, Director of Product, Quantopian.

Listen to this episode on iTunes.  On Android? Listen on Stitcher.

image

Karen Rubin is Director of Product Management at Quantopian, a company that provides a platform for anyone to build, test, and execute trading algorithms.  Karen was one of the first product managers at HubSpot after joining the company in 2008, and her teams helped build the first versions of many of the current HubSpot products.  She also spent time as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Matrix Partners, helping the firm evaluate deals and find new companies to invest in (and having a lot of coffee meetings with local founders).

In this episode, Karen talks about:

  • Her role as Director of Product Management at Quantopian
  • Being on of the early employees at HubSpot and her biggest learnings from the company’s growth during that time 
  • What makes the perfect Product Manager
  • Her role as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Matrix Partners
  • The learnings from meeting with hundreds of companies/founders and thoughts on why early stage venture is so hard
  • Her formula to succeed in a new job, regardless of whether you know the industry

Join the Tech In Boston email list and never miss a new episode.

Comments