Balancing tech when making sales personal (issue no. 31)

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Founder Education 

This section is meant to help you grow as a leader, manager, or entrepreneur.

What we learned from hiring at Homebrew

Homebrew, a early-stage VC fund recently hired for their first outside role since the start. Nothing to write home about. What is unique was the intentionality they embedded into the process to make sure they received the top candidates. 

From refusing to put a title on the job description so candidates wouldn’t self-select reject from the process; to only mentioning broad strokes for day-to-day duties allowing potential candidates to envision their own path of success. 

What I love about this job posting is that they were focused on getting the best candidate for their firm. They could not have cared less about getting the best candidate for the role. When we are indoctrinated with the idea of hiring for the best fit first and skill-set second, we view that through the filter of “as long as they fit the job I’m hiring for.” 

Homebrew turned that on its head and that deserves to be included in this newsletter.

Business Strategy 

This section is designed to help you improve your skills as a strategist and tactician.

Staying human in the age of automated sales

At the outset of forming your company, sales is your number one priority. It’s very difficult to survive if you have no sales coming in the door. As software has evolved, there are many tools and companies that are designed to help entrepreneurs and teams scale their sales efforts. The culmination of these advances mean that the act of sales is exchanging personable outreach into a data-driven machine. 

There is a very thin line between successful sales processes that bring in prospects and the ones that alienate them. If cold outreach has such a low success rate of even resulting in an initial meeting, why spend 10-15 minutes crafting a personalized email? That’s how many entrepreneurs are approaching their initial sales process. 

This may work for the initial revenues, but you have to adopt a human-centered approach as you scale. Customers have a very long memory when it comes to negative engagement with brands. You do not want to top their list before you have even received payment for your product/services. 

In this article, Beth Carter outlines key pieces of the sales process that can shift how potential customers perceive your value. It starts with mapping out the buyer’s journey and ends with making adjustment to optimize the effectiveness of your processes. A great read if you are just starting out and want inspiration into how much to lean on technology to scale your sales model. 

Mental Snacks

This section was created to introduce ideas that may not related to starting a company, yet is important to your success as a founder.

Rent the Runway & Glossier hit unicorn status

When Katrina Lake, at 34, rung the NYSE bell to signify Stitchfix’s public listing…it was a shock. She represented a unique character within the startup world. A newly born baby on her hip, she proudly showed that she had accomplished her vision of growing a huge business and had done it while still living the life she wanted. 

In recent years, there have been a lot of activity around supporting female founders as they aim to build fast-growing startups. Allraise, a female-only group of VCs, set out to create an inclusive environment for investors who were underrepresented in the institutional startup funding industry. Female Founders Fund launched to provide access to capital to overlooked founders. 

There has been a stigma that women can’t build fast-growing business. There is too much demand on their time to live a life of their choosing and execute at a high-level. It’s always been harder for them to raise funding compared to their white, male counterparts and when they do…the terms aren’t nearly as founder friendly. 

A seismic shift is happening right before our eyes. Katrina was the start, Emily Weiss and Jennifer Hyman have continued moving things in the right direction. Currently, only 14 of the 130 unicorns (startups with valuation of $1B+) are led by women. This off-balance approach will be coming to an end much faster than investors think. When you have diverse ideas within a top-tier team that can execute, you end up with better products than with homogenous teams.

Some of this because of assumptions that homogenous teams make when brining an idea to market, other times its the melting pot of experiences that can really push a company over the top.

Around The Startup Ecosystem

This section was built to update you on important events, opinions, or pieces happening in the world of startups.

On Startups, Platforms, and Innovation

Scott Kupor, Managing Director at the esteemed Andreesen Horowitz, delivered a testimony to the FTC on the subject of whether large platforms (Google, Amazon, Facebook) stifle competition and hurt innovation. 

I won’t dive into the entire transcript (link above)…because it’s dense. I find the following quote very encouraging as what we are building at KnowCap is a platform for investors, communities, corporations, and startups to coexist and help each other to build a new segment of economic development within smaller markets.

"As the number of IPOs has shrunk considerably — down about 50-60% in the last 15-20 years relative to the long-term median volumes — and as the time to IPO has significantly elongated — now about 10-13 years from founding vs a long-term median of 6.5-7 years, the role that IPOs play in providing liquidity continues to shrink.

As a result, M&A continues to grow in importance to the well-functioning of the ecosystem — it provides much need liquidity to the institutional investors, who then use that liquidity to re-up their venture capital investments. Policy that could impact the timing or availability of M&A could do meaningful damage to the capital flows in the venture business, particularly at a time where the capital markets remain a much delayed and smaller exit opportunity for venture-backed companies."