Steve Hall, Rock Star Venture Capitalist

Big thank you to Steve Hall for speaking at a pre-Snowpocalypse Rock Star Venture Capitalist on Tuesday, January 17. Steve brought a fresh perspective and practical advice in his “A VC’s Guide to Joining the Right Startup” presentation.

After a brief introduction, Steve jumped in with why joining a startup is like being a VC. In his view, both VCs and those thinking of joining a startup eed to look for the same things. Here are the highlights:

1 Execution over ideas.
Ideas do not make a great company, but execution does. Think Facebook, not Friendster.

2 Due diligence is critical.
Understand the market and the competition. If you are not willing to pay for the product or service, why would anyone else? There will always be gaps in due diligence, but minimize them.

3 “Know where the puck is going” ~ Wayne Gretzky
Some great local examples of Gist and Redfin. Be sure to join the company for what it will be tomorrow.

4 Understand valuation and stock option value
This resonated the most with me. Startups are typically not prepared to deal with sophisticated questions around valuation. If you are willing to take the risk, they should provide a picture of the value of options as compensation.

5 Diversify
Time is capital. Give an opportunity 2-3 years, if it is not there do not be afraid to cut your losses.

Thanks again, Steve, a true Rock Star!

gCRM: Google CRM?

Will Google enter the enterprise applications market? Are they there already with gMail and Google Docs? Clearly, the company is targeting the enterprise. They are running print ads in Forbes saying as such. For many small to mid-size businesses, the first business process to be put into place is CRM. I would bet that Google will enter the enterprise application space in CRM to better leverage existing services.

1) gMail is becoming widely used in the enterprise. The cloud is proving privacy can work. CRM is the next logical application.
2) Email is the de facto CRM application. Sales, service and marketing all rely on email to connect with customers.
3) Google has great corporate data research with
4) Searching for anyone (customer, prospect, etc.) involves a Google search in addition to searches in other services like Jigsaw and Gist.
5) Sales, service and marketing are becoming more about individual and less about the company due to social tools.
6) Microsoft and, Google partner, Salesforce are battling it out for cloud-based CRM. gCRM would be less robust, but give companies a reason to move from Office to Google Docs.

A solid read on this topic worth checking out: The Software Advice Blog: Will Google Enter the CRM Market?

Gist as a small business CRM tool

I have blogged a bunch on Gist over the last year. The Seattle startup has some nice traction going for it. It seemed pretty clear to me from the beginning that Gist would be a great CRM and/or Sales Enablement tool for the small to mid-size market. Check this nice blog on that at this link: Gist as a small business CRM tool.

More of my take on Gist can be found at: 12Sided, The Blog: Gist Posts

The business-to-business of Gist

Nice review of Gist on ZDNet: The business-to-business of Gist

I have been a beta user of Gist for awhile and have been pleased at the improvements that they have been able to make to a very cool product. I see Gist as a great Sales CRM play in the sales force automation area. There are Sales Enablement applications as well. For more of my thoughts on Gist, check my earlier posts.

Gist Posts

Gist as Sales Enablement

The Sales Enablement space players are currently focused on the marketing to sales side of the CRM equation. No doubt that these tools have the ability to increase user adoption. I have been a part of enough CRM deployments (over 30 to date) to know. As few weeks ago, I was asked in conversation about where I thought the CRM market was headed. Sales enablement and other productivity tools came to mind. One such application is Gist. In a nutshell, Gist allows to to keep up with your contacts, their blogs, tweets, and news. It is powerful stuff. I have used for meeting prep and background research. Example, I am meeting a CEO this week. Turns out that we had traded a few emails on a tech forum over the past couple of years. Gist highlighted those emails. They were in a nested folder. I would have missed them otherwise. Now, I can incorporate those threads into the conversation.

The Gist business model may be the Sales Enablement pitch. The ability to provide clarity around contacts, prospects and clients will be a powerful selling point to the enterprise. No need to “clone” your best reps. Your best reps already do what Gist does.

They get the Gist. Pun intended.

Bantam vs Gist

Came across Bantam Live: The Ultimate Social, Real-Time CRM @ TechCrunch this morning and have been thinking on it all day. My take is that it offers watered down features of Gist with the workflow features of most CRM tools.

Is Social CRM important to the enterprise? Depends. If the customers are there, it is. Most enterprise customers are not there and likely will not be there ever. When I compare 90 second video of Bantam to a tool like Gist, it falls short. Gist offers a comprehensive, implicit way to track and monitor contacts and companies. This is important for Sales. All sales. Bantam falls into the enforcing rules and “sales accounting” dark side of CRM. User adoption does not occur in those scenarios. Be social all you want, but if Sales can avoid using you to fill the pipeline, sales will.

Getting the Gist…

I have been kicking the tires of Gist and I am very impressed. Gist has recently made some headlines as they scored $6.75M in funding. See here and here. Gist allows you to keep up with your contacts. Twitter, blog postings and even email. Armed with the right information, you can get “personal” that much faster for a more fruitful relationship. This is a sales dream. If you are client-facing, check it out.

Thanks to Robert Pease for setting up my account. Congrats to Gist on funding in a tough market.