April 10, 2017

Customer-funded development — structuring a deal

This is the second post of a short series about what I think is an underused business model among software entrepreneurs, namely sponsored (i.e. customer-funded) development. Key points of the first post included:

This post covers the nitty-gritty of sponsored-development deal-making.

As per the previous post in this series, suppose you are fortunate enough to identify the right customer for a sponsored-development relationship. Then the deal process is likely* to go something like this:

*Actually, the deal process is likely to fail. Most deal processes do. But if it does succeed, it’s likely to look like what I just outlined.

Two of the bullets above allude to challenges in agreeing on deal terms. The first concerns IP ownership. The structure you should insist on is:  Read more

April 10, 2017

Customer-funded development — overview

This is the first post of a short series about what I think is an underused business model among software entrepreneurs, namely sponsored (i.e. customer-funded) development. Key points include:

The second post in the series discusses the substantial complexities that an actual sponsored-development deal might entail.

Suppose you have a great idea for a software product that you want to develop and sell. How do you get initial funding? In some cases the answer is straightforward.

Even better, the product might be fast and cheap enough to bring to market that even a non-wealthy person might be able to self-fund. Examples include:

If you’re in such a situation yourself, congratulations — you’re in a great situation for successful entrepreneurship.

Suppose however that you’re an inventive engineer, with:

Read more

February 15, 2017

Stoking a fear and promising a fix

I’ve been insistent that everybody needs to pay attention to politics now, which is being conducted with greater cynicism than technology marketing ever could be. But in this particular post, political and technology marketing (among other kinds) are compared on a more even basis.

Donald Trump:

This is actually a time-honored pattern, pursued by (among others):

While fear-and-fix is a powerful strategy, it’s not easy to pull off, because it involves establishing both sides of a partial contradiction:

Approaches to resolving this paradox typically fall into one or more of three buckets:

Let’s consider some examples. Read more

February 8, 2017

Donald Trump’s politics in one song

Donald Trump’s favorite musical is said to be Evita, the story of the fascist/populist couple Juan and Eva Peron, who guided Argentina from status as a rich country to being pretty much of a third-world wreck.* Isaac Butler wrote about that back in November, but he missed a key point. More precisely, he missed a key song, whose lyrics I shall copy below. (I think this is one of the rare cases in which printing a song’s entire lyrics is clearly fair use.) Emphasis added.

*In real life, Juan Peron was vastly more influential on his country than his second wife Eva, not least because he lived much longer. But the musical portrays them as more equal partners, giving her great credit for his original ascension to power.

Art of the Possible Read more

February 2, 2017

How to influence legislators

A group of former congressional staffers has put out a great-looking, short guide on how to influence legislators. Their angles include:

I’ll quote the summary in its entirety: Read more

March 8, 2016

Selling is complicated

It’s time for another of my quick primers on the enterprise IT business. This one is about sales. First I’ll run through some generalities; then I’ll link you to some previous posts; after that I’ll close with a collection of practical tips.

This is, to put it mildly, an important subject. In particular, there are only two kinds of enterprise IT CEOs:

Every enterprise IT CEO needs to be heavily involved in sales.

Of course, a few tips do not a salesperson make. Selling is a complex process, with many steps. Worse, it’s tough for somebody to explain to you what the process is, in part because there’s a kind of recursion involved — a big part of what you do in the sales process is establish what the process is.

And that’s in both senses of “establish”, namely “figure out” and “bring into being”.

Other inherent difficulties in selling include:

Read more

February 21, 2016

Telling multiple stories

Much of this blog gives advice about how to tell a story. But that’s actually an oversimplification. In fact, you’re almost always in the situation where you want to tell multiple stories at once. The main messages of this post are:

Reasons the multiple-stories situation is so common include:

The first way to deal with all this is via modularization. In some cases, that’s easy. (E.g. websites can make different points on different pages.) Sometimes it’s harder, but worth doing anyway. E.g., in my recent post on influencer pitches, I said:  Read more

January 15, 2016

PR (or AR) pitch emails

I believe:

My support for these views includes:

My top tip for pitch emails is: Approve the pitch emails a PR firm writes before they are sent out!!!! There are two big reasons for this:  Read more

October 30, 2015

Why pitching ability matters

Engineers used to wonder what the point of sales and marketing people was. If a product was good, wouldn’t customers make the correct decision to buy it?

Nobody I know seems that naive anymore, but I did just get a similar question, which may be paraphrased as:

Why do investors judge a startup on the CEO’s pitching ability? Shouldn’t they focus instead on the actual merits of the company?

Most of my answer boiled down to:

Investors’ top concern is management’s ability to execute, and pitching is — or simulates — a large part of execution.

In particular (and now I’m quoting my own email directly):

I finished with one other point that didn’t fit the template, namely:

If you can’t articulate a good pitch, why should we believe there’s a good story in there at all?

I think the entrepreneur who asked me the question was convinced. :)

Related link(s)

September 18, 2015

Third-party quotes in press releases

I’m generally a skeptic about the value of press releases. However:

So my current opinion is:

That fits with my general view that press releases:

That brings me to the subject of this post: third-party press release quotes. For starters, I think the following are pretty obvious: Read more

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