Monday, December 24, 2018

Marketing - Learning to skate before you play Ice Hockey

 My University, Northeastern, below, wins 'the Beanpot.'  

2018, 'The Beanpot' is a favorite tradition in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, where I lived for ten years and went to college. It's an Ice Hockey Tournament between Boston University, Boston College, Northeastern University (my college) and Harvard.

Jack, my ten-year-old son, is learning to play Ice Hockey. Of course, first He's had to learn how to skate. No point teaching him how to use his hockey stick to hit a puck into the goal, when he can barely stay on his feet on the ice.

So every week We go down to the Ice rink in Bayswater, London, and he gets to skate for two or three hours. Last week, we bought him some Ice Hockey skates and had them sharpened.

- Initially, he was actually a lot more unsteady on his feet, as he adjusted to the new Ice Skates.
I see this effect when we initially bring digital transformation to Marketing or start to use more sophisticated CRM.

However, within a few hours, Jack was actually skating faster. I timed him, and he was about a quarter more quickly around the rink with the new skates.

Next month he starts his Ice Hockey classes. 8am on a Sunday morning. That'll be the big test.

My son, Jack, at his first Hockey class

Our coach, wearing the Boston College shirt, is from Boston, where Jack was born.

A lot of companies can't skate at all, but they want to be Wayne Gretzky (a famous Ice Hockey player, who won a lot of championships) within, let's say, six months.

- and often, when they're not skating like a superstar after six months, they change their trainer

As a Marketing leader, you could tell your leadership team that We will achieve some notable victories, but 'first we need to learn to skate around the rink without falling on our behinds'.

Of course, that doesn't sound very good. So a lot of Marketers, sort of skate around the issue and say 'Sure, we can do that. But we do need to do x, y, z first' and just hope that this expectation will go away.

But the truth is that marketing is hard. Digital Marketing is even harder. It takes a lot of time, testing, experimentation. It's not something that works with constant micromanaging.

It doesn't work overnight.

You see gradual, incremental improvement over time, with a lot of work.

You will also see better and faster improvements when the entire company is entirely behind the marketing efforts.

-but frequently that does not happen.

I know it's a pain in the ass to hear this - particularly in this high expectation, low concentration world we live in, but when it comes to effective marketing.

- The adage is not 'Seize the day.'

- It's 'Rome wasn't built in a day.'

Marketing automation and analytics are the same. So why do a lot of startups expect this sudden, dramatic change in six months?

Impatience? Frustration? Lack of thought? These are all possibilities for their desperation. But I believe their problems stem mainly from not understanding how Digital Marketing works.

The standard rules of business often simply don't apply to startups.  Just like the world of Ice Hockey, the world of startups is crazy and chaotic. Sometimes fights break out in the middle of the action. Sometimes the action just carries on regardless. It's actually amazing how similar the two worlds are!

Marketers in the start-up industry need to start being more honest and say 'sure we can achieve some fantastic results. But it'll take a lot of time, commitment, effort and yes, some money too. Plus we can't guarantee that you'll win the Beanpot this year.

'I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat' (Winston Churchill)  is a robust but effective message.

- But it's also a hard message to hear.

Friday, October 19, 2018

The 'Five Eyes' Secret Service Conference in Australia

This all went well, except for the fact that all the other countries in the Secret Service 'Group of 5' - Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the USA, were exquisitely entertained at the best Hyatt Hotel in town.

But the cash-strapped & miserly English had to languish in a hotel chain unknown outside of Australia a long way from the event (someone quipped 'in the outback'). We were certainly the other four nation's poor cousin this month.

I understand we are all living in the age of austerity, but I think this is excessive. We're the country that invented James Bond for goodness sake...........and now James Bond presumably stays at the Holiday Inn and has to eat value meals on food vouchers? Where is our National Pride?

One of the British contingent made a very inappropriate joke about Snowden to the Head of Legal Affairs of the CIA.

I suppose some of us in Europe are not really aware how poorly Edward Snowden is viewed in US Secret Service and military circles. Many consider him to be the most significant US traitor since Benedict Arnold.

So why would you make such a joke at a packed assembly with a leading US Secret Service delivering a vital talk?

The top topic was Cyber Security, which is fast becoming the obsession of all Secret Service organisations. Strangely companies like Apple and Whatsapp still protect their data against Western agencies.

However, in Russia, China and other dictatorships, all data (on Google, Whatsapp, Facebook, Apple etc..)  is easily accessible by their governments. So much for Silicon's Valleys 'values'. I guess they only work when there's no real threat to their profits.

Another topic on the agenda was the proposed enquiry into abuses committed by British undercover officers, going back to the early 1970s.

These officers were dealing with some of the most dangerous criminal gangs in the UK and were consequently promised complete anonymity for their lifetime. The British Government is now going back on that promise.

Like many businesses, these gangs that the agents were operating in, go on in perpetuity and they have long memories. These undercover officers were in extreme danger then, and many of them are still in danger now and will be for the rest of their lives.

This enquiry will almost certainly uncover nothing useful, after 20,30, 40 years, yet will potentially unleash several hornets nests. Is it worth it?

Another big story right now is the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Istanbul, Turkey (where coincidentally I am going for a friend's wedding in November).

If the Saudis had asked around, they would have realised that all embassies are bugged, so they are not the best place to accidentally kill/Murder someone without detection.

Saturday, September 01, 2018

The Financial Crash of 2008 & why it could happen again

 Professor Adam Tooze was talking to a packed audience at the LSE; I was lucky I booked early. He started off strong; Every time a crisis is solved - whether it's Long-Term Capital Management in '98, the .com crash of 2000, the financial account frauds of 2001 or the Mortgage-backed securities driven financial meltdown of 2008, they are increasing in amplitude.

The big problem is that The Fed, the government, Central Banks and so on have to move heaven and earth each time to fix the problem.

- Then within a few years, we're all acting like nothing awful happened. You have the problem of Moral hazard endemic in this industry. It's like a drug addict who keeps going back for more - and keeps getting more from the government.

2008 - 'Too big to fail' - 2018 now they're even bigger

- Everyone remembers the phrase 'too big to fail,' right? Well ironically, a result of the government fixing the last crisis is that there are even fewer banks and that they are even bigger than before.

But in 2008 something REALLY BAD happened and we were fortunate to get out of it. It cost a fortune - $13,000,000,000,000 of our (taxpayers) money and we're still suffering the consequences.

- Brexit
- Austerity
- The Election of Donald Trump as US President
- The debt crisis in Portugal, Greece, Spain, Ireland and much of Eastern Europe
- The rise of 'Popularism' and the far right in Europe

- these are all, arguably, consequences of the 2008 Financial crash.

Federal Chairman Ben Bernanke's quote that 2008 was 'worse than the Great Depression' and but for the government intervention, it would have been.

Banks on the brink of Bankruptcy in 2008

On the surface, it looks like it's all ok right now.......

The US Federal Reserve spending

But check this chart below, out - Our Economies had to go into a war-time footing, in 2008, last seen during World War 2. And we are not back to normal now.

The Housing Market

What about this, the housing market. See that big loopy curve at the end of the chart that looks entirely different from the rest? That's right now. 

And what about this. We keep hearing about all the causes of our current austerity policy in the UK. 

- It's Social security spongers, immigrants, people abusing the health service. Obviously, these are serious problems that need to be dealt with.

- However, this chart shows us exactly when the government deficit took off - when they needed to spend a fortune to prop up the failing banks and financial institutions.

Government debt and the UK's 'austerity' policy

Check out when government debt starts to take off, in this chart below: 2008, just when the Crash in the Financial Sector happened.

What would you think if after reading a Yelp (or TripAdvisor) review on a restaurant you were planning to go to, you subsequently found out that this restaurant was paying them to write their review? 

Well, that's precisely what happened at all the rating agencies during the crash. And it's still happening today. The rating agencies are paid by the companies they rate. 

At the Congressional hearings into the 2008 crash, an email was discovered from one rating expert to another that said: 'Let's hope we are all wealthy and retired by the time this house of cards falters.' 

Most likely, the rating agency staff at Moodys and S&P knew about the monster they were creating.

I had personal experience of something similar, when living in Boston, USA. I used to meet up regularly with a senior director at a large financial firm,  who was running the Mortgage-backed Securities Sales desk there. 

He used to laugh at his analyst projections.....

Companies like Bear Stearns and Goldman Sachs were shorting (Betting against) Mortgage-backed securities while another part of the company was selling them. 

I also knew the CEO of one of the companies that started the collapsewho was at the helm when this financial meltdown happened. He was distraught for a time. However, He walked away with no jail time and $30 Million in severance. Taxpayers had to bail out his company for $189 Billion.

The biggest bailout in History - will the next one be even bigger?

It became evident during the lecture how little could be done during the crash without the USA. The Federal Reserve guaranteed loans not only for US Banks but for banks across the globe. 

It's irrelevant what those in the European Union say, because but for the US's action, we would have all been sunk. As Professor Tooze put it 'The European Central Bank became the 13th Federal reserve district.'

In fact, the EU is still doing very little. Spain, which is the size of Texas, has youth unemployment at 50%, right now. How is that satisfactory? Greece is still reeling. 

Youth Unemployment in Europe 
- Spain at the top

We are on a path of ever greater fluctuation in Economic Downturns, according to Professor Tooze, Columbia University.

In 2015-2016, we narrowly dodged a recession spreading from Russia, Brazil, South Africa, the collapse of commodity prices (notably, Oil) and the Chinese Yuan (see below).

Where will the next big crash come from?

Sunday, July 29, 2018

How I learnt to use Digital Marketing

My first experience of digital Marketing working at a start-up was in Fintech, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, in 2009. We had a free stock trading dashboard, that over 400,000, mainly small private investors used to trade. Later on, we brought out a tool that allowed you to scrape data off the web, analyse and publish it, that the Wall Street Journal called 'Twitter for numbers'.

During the last 9 years,  I've mainly worked in the Business to business field. Therefore I have tended to gravitate towards managing email marketing, events, contact lists and business intelligence. However, over the last 5 years, I've been increasingly delving into digital marketing. 

Back in 2013, I took a course on HTML5 & CSS3, which enabled me to design web pages. These programming languages have also been useful when I've designed email templates for Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics (the two main CRM systems I've worked with). 

A few years later, I began to experiment with paid search. I took a course in Google analytics, SEM and Paid Search in 2015. Typically I've worked with an SEO expert, but over the last few years, I've also run quite a few paid search campaigns on my own. I feel confident doing so, but at the same time, I always feel like I can learn more, which I endeavour to do.

becoming adept at digital marketing is a journey, not a destination So if you're looking to get into this, I suggest just getting started as soon as possible, as I did. 'A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step' says the old Chinese proverb. So far I've found nothing to be overwhelmingly challenging. It's simply a case of application and learning.

Currently, I'm taking a Diploma in Digital Marketing at the Digital Marketing Institute. This is more costly and in-depth than the previous digital marketing courses I have taken. However, so far, I'm pretty happy with my progress.

This course has been great both to refresh basic concepts and learn new ideas. Some of it goes over old ground - like how to run campaigns in Twitter, Linkedin or email. Other parts are definitely teaching me new skills; for example in content marketing, strategy, metrics and Search Engine Marketing and Optimisation or running campaigns in Facebook and Instagram.

I also like that I get to take a formal exam at the end of it at a Pearson test centre (the same place I took the GMAT). These tests are a great way to 'check' my knowledge.

Friday, June 15, 2018

GDPR - LSE Lawyers round table discussion on Privacy and Data Protection

On the 25th of May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force. A regulation that is changing not only how big digital players are processing data but the entire private sector, and forces organisations to get their registered information on individuals in check. With the challenges of implementing such regulation in organisations in mind, the Lawyers’ Alumni Group hosted a round-table Q&A and discussion of the newly introduced regulation and its impact.

Led by Steven Taylor (LLM 2012), a specialist in privacy law and data protection, the session brought together a small group of select alumni who have an interest and experience of the practical application of the new regulation.

Below, Steve Taylor, a specialist in privacy law & data protection, working for a US Private Equity group

Notable contributions were also made by Anita Bapat, Data Protection & Privacy Partner at Kemp Little LLP, who gained a first in Law at the LSE in 2005.

Since I've purchased annual subscriptions with several large data/Business intelligence companies like Zoominfo and Rainking, I wanted to see what the Law was on this and also, if there is some issue, whether it is the data company, my company, or both who are liable.

It's significant since the EEC has the right under GDPR to fine a company up to either 4% of annual revenue or 20 Million Euros.  There is a two-tier system of administrative fines, the first being up to 10 million Euros or 2% of annual global turnover.

Steve said that the responsibility lies with the data company (the data processor), not your company (the data controller). This confirmed what I had thought. However, he said that you must also check the contract, to ensure data company does not have some type of exclusion clause.

Steve told me earlier that he'd met and talked to Elizabeth Denham, the ICO commissioner, who is overseeing GDPR in the UK. Steve's understanding of this legislation is that, to use his analogy, it's rather like doing math's homework; as long as you are seen to be trying your best to comply, the ICO will not generally expect perfection.

However I did also find this quote from Elizabeth which puts her position across somewhat stronger: “If your organization can’t demonstrate that good data protection is a cornerstone of your business practices, you’re leaving your organization open to enforcement action that can damage both public reputation and bank balance”

In terms of data use, there are two ways to establish if you can use a person's data; Consent and Legitimate interest. The first is self-explanatory; the second is a little trickier to define. Legitimate interest can be a basis to contact business customers.

The protection levels are lowered for business customers since they are typically seen as a less vulnerable group than some business to consumer contacts. For the ICO definition of legitimate interest, click here.  Most agree that it means that you have a good reason to hold and use that person's data.

To fall within 'legitimate interest' you must be able to apply three rules to your data use:
  • Purpose test – is there a legitimate interest behind the processing?
  • Necessity test – is the processing necessary for that purpose?
  • Balancing test – is the legitimate interest overridden by the individual’s interests, rights or freedoms?
Most important to remember is that if your company takes customer data in one way and uses it in another, you absolutely must have your customers express permission. This makes sense since they only agreed to have their data held for purpose A, the original purpose, not purpose B, your new use of their data.

He also reassured us that if you are a start-up, you are much more likely to be fined 4% of annual revenue, which could actually be a fairly small amount, rather than 25 Million Euros; unless of course, you are flouting the law, for example, in the case I just mentioned above.

We had an outstanding discussion on Brexit, and how that will impact this European legislation. Here, Anita, really came into her own, as She knew all the details. I had thought that there was some room for data companies, to lobby, to have this legislation removed in the UK (when all EU legislation is enacted into UK law).

However, Anita told us that GDPR had already been enacted into UK Law on May 24th, one day prior to the European GDPR date. The Data Protection Act 2018 is thus both an extension of the 1998 UK Data Protection Act, as well as implementing the same regulations as European GDPR.

Our conversations were too detailed and wide-ranging to include all of them in this blog post.. However, some points that Steve made, to remember;

Article 27
Requires a company to have a representative in Europe

Article 37
Requires the company to have a Data Protection Officer. This person must have an understanding of the Law and GDPR specifically and also must be an expert on handling data.

Article 72
This covers breach notifications. As soon as you are aware of a data breach, no matter how insignificant, you must notify the ICO, within 72 hours.

My chief takeaway from this discussion was how uncertain, even highly trained legal experts on the subject, are as to how these laws will actually be applied. To give an example, Steven said that if the EEC (or ICO) digs deep enough, it will be able to uncover breaches of the GDPR rules anywhere, even at tech giants like Facebook or Google.

Does that give them a right to do so just to generate more revenue? How are they going to determine the extent of their dig and who they dig for breaches with?

281 Billion emails are sent every day. How can the EEC monitor all of these? Will they concentrate on large companies? Or flagrant breaches of the legislation? Steve said that the latter is the most likely.

I rounded off the evening with dinner across the road at The Delaunay (yet again) with my fellow LSE law alumni, Joanna Mcdwyer; We celebrated since She has just been offered the job of development director at Newnham College, Cambridge and will consequently also be made a fellow of that college.

Thanks to Sharon Park, LLM Student in Information Technology Law at the LSE, for checking and editing this post for me. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

5 things you should think about when moving country for work

MBA Class of 2008 dinner

Northeastern University (Boston, Massachusetts, USA).

The first of a series of reunion dinners I organised for some of our MBA class of 2008
Now I'm back in London. I really miss these.

The first big move I made for my career was in 2005 when I made a decision to take two years out, to study for a full-time MBA in the USA. I hoped to work in the USA for a few years afterward and get some good experience there.

If you gain a Master's degree in the US, you are allowed to work there for one year afterward. Often foreign graduates are then 'sponsored' by their employer company to continue working in the USA with an H1B work visa.

I got a scholarship as well as a part-time job in the Marketing Department at Northeastern University - Office of Corporate Programs. So that also helped financially.

Returning from Boston to move back to London, 10 years later (2015), was a far bigger and more complicated affair. I was now married, with a 6-year-old son, with disabilities (ADHD and Dyspraxia) and a 9-year-old daughter.

My wife, Catherine, had always wanted to live in the UK. She was running College recruiting at her company, Akamai, in 2015, when she was offered the chance to go to London, to run EMEA recruiting there, managing a team of twenty-five recruiters.

I found a great job too, setting up Lead generation in the UK and Europe, for a little-known Cybersecurity start-up called Zscaler (it has since had an IPO and is now valued at $9 Billion on the Nasdaq). This brings me to my next point:

1. Paperwork: Other than the usual challenges of getting an MBA; Taking the GMAT, making the applications, writing the application essays, interviewing for the schools, finding the money to go; I'd say getting the Visa sorted out was the hardest part.

It required me completing a lot of detailed paperwork. Further down the road, when I finally got my US Permanent resident card ('Green Card'), it was even harder. There were so many hoops to jump through that I eventually had to hire an Immigration lawyer at considerable expense to expedite it.

Equally important, though not as hard; after two years of living in the country, I had to pass my US driving license - many years after passing my British driving test.

Help, Where's my car? I need to get to work!

2. The Weather; My second shock was rather more prosaic; I was just not prepared for the weather in Boston. In the winter, it gets down to -10 C. You also have big snowstorms.

For example, during the last winter, I was in Boston, in 2015, over 14 feet of snow fell in the city. In the summer, you need air conditioning in your apartment. It gets up to 40 degrees centigrade.

3. Get help: Make sure you employ all the help you can. For this, we used a corporate relocation company to manage our move. Moreover, we used an army of staff, from childcare professionals to cleaners.

Corporate relocations have experienced a paradigm shift in the last fifty years. In the twentieth century, the husband usually worked and the wife, who did not, would manage a lot of the move.

Today, more often than not, you are dealing with 2 parents, who both have to manage demanding jobs. Consequently, anything that will save you time is an absolute necessity.

My son, Jack, in our dining room in Boston, Massachusetts, USA 

4.  Make sure you employ technology to your advantage. We live in a digital world for a reason. It's fast and efficient. Everything from using DocuSign to sign all our documents (including the sale of our house in Boston) to Skype for all those foreign calls, to using video surveying tools to track where all our furniture was.

5. The importance of having flexible work. There is no way We would have managed this move so effectively without remote working.

I had two weeks training in Austen, Texas and I traveled back to Europe several times to run conferences there. One time, just after the move, I had to go from England to a Sales kick-off in Las Vegas.

During this time, I was partially renovating and selling our house. We were unhappy with our real estate agent, so we had to switch agents mid-way.

Throughout this, Zscaler allowed me to work remotely for the UK office, from Boston, USA, for almost four months. Zscaler's and Akamai's flexibility made a big difference to Catherine and me.

Click on image below to check out my website

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Highlights, Meeting Vlocity, Pardot and Salesforce at the 'Trailblazers' Conference

Bella at Salesforce

I've worked with many Marketing Email Marketing and CRM tools, from Microsoft Dynamics and Click Dimensions to Hubspot, Eloqua, and MailChimp, to Marketo. I've been most impressed with Salesforce, and Pardot, particularly in the quality of their support. Salesforce and Pardot are truly built to work together as a combined sales enablement (Salesforce) and Marketing/CRM/Email tool (Pardot).

Ronan Twohig, Account executive, Salesforce, Emer Merriman, Marketing Specialist, Salesforce and Isabella Hernandez, Marketing Executive, Buzzmove

My colleague and I, Bella Hernandez, met up with our team at Pardot in the SMB arena at the excel centre in the Docklands. It was great to see Ronan Twohig again and meet Emer Merriman.

Straight away we were deep into a conversation about how I could make some adjustments to better integrate Salesforce with Pardot. Then right away, I was like 'hey Emer, I want to get a better insight into our Marketing ROI. How can I best accomplish that?'

B-2-B Marketing analytics - What we may be missing

Emer asked me about our product suite, and it turned out that we are missing one component that can achieve this, the B-2-B analytics suite. We fixed up a demo next week, so I can best understand this and then, hopefully, remedy the situation.

But also We're going to talk through a couple of those questions I had about the best practices in Salesforce/Pardot integration.

Ronan then asked me 'hey, Rudy, how is that rolling out and implementing Pardot coming along, the one you mentioned a couple of months ago when we were at the Shard?'

Bella asking the Salesforce trailblazer scout for directions 

I was happy to report to Emer and Ronan my first 2 months progress; I wrote my marketing plan, pitched it and had it was agreed by my CMO, in the first week. By the following week, I had implemented Pardot for all our campaigns.

Emer said 'wow, two weeks, that's amazing!'  But it's no big deal - Pardot is easy to use, and there's plenty of content and people to guide you if you get stuck.

In fact, it's worked so well that I've even begun using it for more extensive B-2-C lists, of over 80,000 contacts, that's despite B-2-C not being in my job description. But in the start-up world, you do what you can to help.

Why do I love these Salesforce headphones so very much? 
1. Is it the cute logo? 2. is it that they light up with a warm glow? 

Yes, all our contact data is now inside of Salesforce, we are fully integrated, and we are running a range of campaigns from LinkedIn inmail, to events, to Email. Not only that, but the data quality is far better and more actionable by the sales team than it was previously.

I have also set up lead scoring and Marketing automation, including nurture campaigns; we can roll this out for all other parts of our business too.

Ronan Twohig kindly suggested that I come and present what I've accomplished in Pardot at a Salesforce conference coming up, which sounded cool. Small businesses actually generate over 1/3 of Salesforce's total revenue.

The keynote was terrifically entertaining and informative; the CMO, Simon Mulcahy, is a natural presenter and he brought on some real powerhouses of digital and b-2-b marketing, from Ulster Bank (part of RBS) and Adidas, to run some live demos. The marketing feats they had accomplished using Salesforce were quite mind-blowing.

Simon Mulcahy, CMO, of Salesforce, hitting it out of the park with his keynote.

I was particularly taken with Simon's concept of 'trailblazers' - how it's people like 'us' - intrepid pioneers, innovators, game changers, who are doggedly trying to improve the organisations we work at; we are the ones who are driving growth in our companies. That was a powerful message.

Which CRM provider dominates now?

There are a plethora of platforms right now. Who knows which will dominate in 2023?

Along the way, I ran into a few old colleagues and friends. Bella and I had a good chat with Pedro Jose, a rockstar Sales engineer at Vlocity, a Salesforce company. I worked with him at Sigma. Pedro was pivotal in signing our biggest deal last year with Telstra, for $15 Million.

Pedro Jose, Senior Solution Consultant at Vlocity, a Salesforce Company

He worked like a maniac on Telstra, flying back and forth from his home in Portugal to Sydney, Australia, many times. He was 'all over it'! That deal was also important from a marketing perspective; since it was our first big account in the APAC region.

I'm glad to report that Pedro was thrilled at Vlocity, performing exceptionally well and being treated even better by Salesforce.

We rounded off the day with Bella rocking the floor of over 5000 salesforce event attendees with her killer tunes, breaks and massive bass.

What I got out of the event

1. I learnt valuable information that will make me a more productive marketer and will enable me to carry out more effective marketing at my company.

2. I connected with those who can help me in my journey; not least of all some of the salesforce team. This was sadly lacking when I ran global demand generation at my last company (with another CRM provider).

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Financial Management for start-ups

Most founders of start-ups want to end up in one of two places; Becoming a public company (by having it’s IPO) or being acquired by another company. Each of these scenarios has played out at 2 of the last three companies at which I’ve worked. If, as an entrepreneur, you want to reach either of these goals, someone in your organisation must have a good grasp of finance.

It's been about ten years since I completed my MBA. But all the lessons remain fresh in my memory. I majored in Finance, so I was fortunate to have studied with a lot of, primarily US (my business school was in the USA.), finance professionals from organisations like Blackrock, State Street, Fidelity and Bain Capital. I was even more fortunate to have completed an internship at a New York Investment Bank, Bryant Park Capital

During my internship and studies, I learnt a lot about - valuing companies, presenting financial data to investors, powerpoint (doh! I'm an MBA, of course!). Most importantly, I started to understand the special language that Finance professionals use; Market Cap, Fifo/Lifo, beta, default risk premium, arbitrage, hedging and so on..

Back at business school, I hit it off with one of my professors, Don Margotta, who is an expert on corporate governance and shareholder activism. I want to share a few of the ideas here, that ignited my passion for Finance.

Here are some of the books, that did the same; Liar's Poker, Barbarians at the Gate, and Black Swan (where Nassim Taleb proceeded to pull apart all the concepts I'd devoted hundreds of hours learning in my Statistics classes).
First off, Time value of Money. This one is crucial. A pound today is worth more than a pound you get tomorrow, which is worth more than a pound you make the next day and so on, like this. The interest rate drives this value.

If I said all Finance calculations stem from this one idea, I wouldn't be far wrong. For example, you could get a good read on the value of a company by using this method to calculate the present value of all it's future cash flows.

Or if you thought the company had legs, you could use the perpetuity equation here:
PV of a Perpetuity = PMT/I
PMT = $1,000,000
Interest rate = 2.5%
Company Value = $40 Million

When they start negotiations, a lot of Investment Bankers will use earnings multiples to value a company; these vary for industries and countries, one may be x 4, some may be x 20. You will use the EBITDA figure for a company - Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization, which is a standard measure of a company's operating performance. Here's a good example of one such valuation, using two parameters - High & Low:

At Bryant Park Capital, I began using Capital IQ, to find comparable public company data to estimate a Private Company's value. I also used Bloomberg, when I was at MFS Investments, for the same.
I hope I've given you some ideas about valuing your start-up.

I have concentrated on the Financial value in this article. However, it's important to remember that sometimes a large company will buy a startup because it has strategic value rather than financial.


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Enterprise level marketing for your start-up, with Pardot

Tommie O'Brien (pictured, below, right) at Salesforce, kicked off the presentation at the Shangri La Hotel on the 34th floor of the Shard (pictured, below, left, view from the Shard). I was deeply impressed by the demo, which illustrated a relatively high level of sophistication for Small businesses.

For example, when setting up workflows, they demonstrated a real-time and highly effective way to re-engage prospects that hadn't signed up for an email offer; by sending them targeted ads across Facebook, LinkedIn and AdWords.

Marketing Automation lies at the heart of most Start-up demand generation programs. During my career, I have run Marketing Campaigns using a variety of tools, from Salesforce, Marketo, Hubspot, Dynamics, and more. Last year I had to learn to use the Microsoft Dynamics with Clickdimensions whilst running global campaigns for a company of around 500 employees, Headquartered in Toronto, Canada.

Currently, I'm switching from using Microsoft Dynamics to Salesforce. I've never learned to run campaigns in Pardot, so I thought that this session would be particularly helpful. After just 3 weeks, I can tell the level of support on Pardot is streets ahead of Microsoft Dynamics.

I had to learn to use Dynamics by reading manuals and watching videos online. Particularly challenging was trying to coordinate fixing several serious bugs in the system with our IT team that was based in Canada.

The Salesforce team initiated some useful discussions around lead generation forms - often these forms ask for too much information. I know I have been guilty of this. According to Salesforce, 3-5 questions maximum is the standard and really first name and email are enough. The part of the talk devoted to the automation workflow was fascinating and really got me thinking about the way I run campaigns.

And they had some great insights on Lead scoring; they talked about the usual ones of course, like Job title and company revenue. But there were some surprises. This slide shows that they can track your prospects sentiments about your company and products across social media, like this:

That can really give your sales and marketing team an edge over your competition. Pardot can also allow you to create buyer personas within Salesforce so that you can use these to gauge your ideal prospect, for even more accurate lead scoring. But what really blew me away was the analytics on the dashboard and Pardot's ability to measure marketing campaigns' effectiveness in a way that will appeal to CFO's and CEO's.

Not only can you demonstrate return on investment for entire programs, you can also dig in at the granular level, to show what specific leads generated what specific revenue. As a metric-driven marketer, with an MBA in Finance, this is what I'm aiming to accomplish.

Tommie told some great anecdotes, with his classic Irish wit; I couldn't help thinking Tommie would go down a storm in my old hometown, Boston, which is pretty much run by Irish Americans. And of course, they love anyone from the old country, particularly if he or she has a lot of drive and a good sense of humour.

One of Tommie's best stories was about him setting up a new internet provider in his new home. The provider was terrible and he was forced to contact them multiple times whilst suffering from flu and working from home.

All this time he was receiving prospecting advertisements and emails from the company; which only exacerbated his annoyance with their poor service. Imagine how much money this company is throwing out the window!


At the end of the talk, Rory O'Neill, Data and Systems Manager at the Drum came to talk about his experience using Pardot. I know the Drum very well. When I was at Visual IQ (now part of Nielsen), we successfully exhibited at several of their events.

I found out in the presentation that Rory is responsible for sending 35 Million emails a year. My last email contact list was 30,000 strong (B-2-B) and the largest I've worked with was 400,000 (B-2-C).

I was able to ask him a question in at the end, which was to ask his advice as to what first steps he would take if he was in my shoes, rolling out pardot at my company. He recommended that the most important was that I consult with the sales team and get them on board with our plan. He also offered to give me some advice on that if I got in touch with him. I will definitely take Rory up on his generous suggestion.

For more information on how to set up Marketing automation for your B-2-B business, sign up for my free guide here

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Moonshot thinking to unleash innovation

Before you say, yeah, right, but moonshot thinking is by its very nature, hard to quantify and only useful in very remote instances, take a look at this slide below; though Moonshot thinking only gets 10% of Company budget, it is responsible for generating 70% of the revenue (This is taking a long-term view, over years, rather than over the short-term range of standard financial quarters):

It's worth trying to solve those crucial but seemingly impossible problems, especially ones that may only come to a head 5 or 10 years from now. You could transform your company or even yourself!

We played a great exercise where we were asked to count the number of red balls on this slide in 10 seconds. Quite a few got the correct answer - 10. However, when Dr Pablo Rodriguez asked us now to tell us how many green balls there were, no one got the answer right. There were fewer of them and they were larger.  

This demonstrates the danger of over-focus. By being so intent on solving one problem that you may completely miss solving a much greater, more significant and simple one! Over 50% of scientific discoveries were made by accident; so in effect, counting the green balls, when the exercise was to count the red.

Clearly, the problems Alpha has solved, whether for improving performance at Telefonica, radically changing health habits across the globe, or bringing power to regions that were greatly lacking, all required phenomenal, high-performing, cross-functional teams. 

I asked Pablo how he selected his teams; his answer surprised me. I thought he would say that He chose the most talented or educated individuals. But He said that He selected those who had an absolute passion for solving these problems. 

If you think you might be that person, Alpha is hiring right now. They are fully owned by Telefonica but, despite having Telefonica's CEO José María Álvarez-Pallete López, on their board, they are fully independent of it.

Pablo has worked as an entrepreneur, at various start-ups in Silicon Valley, as well as in Academia. He showed the curve of an idea, where at the very early stages, often Academia can do best in advancing innovation. In a later stage, it could be a start-up. Dr Rodriguez's projects sit in the middle of that, between academia and start-ups. 

He makes a great point that in the 20th Century, it was the government that primarily initiated innovation; The creation of the internet, the human genome project and yes, of course, NASA pioneering the first men to the moon, were all government-backed missions. 

But now, and in the future, most innovation is driven by corporations. This can come in many forms; Alpha, an innovative organisation owned by Telefonica; or a Start-up, like Cloudlock, founded by one of my colleagues at Northeastern University Business School, and bought last year by Cisco for $293 Million 

This was a brilliant lecture, as good as the one I attended on Venture Capital. I thoroughly commend Professor Milan Vojnovic and Dr Pablo Rodriguez.

If you are still sceptical about Moonshot thinking after reading this, I want to leave you with a great quote about it from one of the founders and CEO of Google: