October 25, 2005

I have a product and some customers, Now What?

Posted in introduction at 7:15 pm by scottmaxwell

I finally got around to setting up my blog. Why? Partially because I give a tremendous amount of advice to emerging growth technology companies that I want to share with a broader audience, but mostly because I have a lot of unanswered questions about the best approaches for building technology companies.

I was finally convinced by my friend Ed Sim that if I posted my thoughts and comments on particular topics then I could expect to receive additional comments and perspectives that I would find useful. both Ed and Brad Feld were encouraging and gave me the basic steps to get started.

My world is different than many VCs, in that I focus on expansion stage companies in the software and internet markets. I define expansion stage as companies that have build a product, gotten some customers, and are now in a position to scale.

The issues faced by technology companies at this stage of development are very different that early stage companies. The major issues are around distribution strategy and execution, but as companies scale they tend to need more formal development approaches and have many other process, organization, skill, and staffing gaps as well. Every CEO is also looking for more leads, customer introductions, and ongoing advice in every category, personal and professional.

The overarching question from most CEOs (not in these words) is “I have a product and some customers, Now What?” (truth be told, I wish most of them said this. In actuality, most have a belief in the “right” direction for the company, but either need assistance getting there or need some help stepping back to 100,000 feet periodically).

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10 Comments »

  1. DKasler said,

    now you find a usergroup and market to them.

  2. Good points.

    It does take a certain drive and determination to make things happen and who has more to prove than the original CEO? It is always fascinating to review a CEO’s behavior actually operating the business. It is much easier to see their strengths and weaknesses.

    Sometimes it is a surprise.

    Like you mentioned it takes a wide variety of skills to grow a business and acquiring these strengths to offset a CEO’s weaknesses is an important growth strategy because it balances the organization.

    My concern with this strategy is that it focuses on productivity, what about increasing the effectiveness of the CEO and the business?

    Anyone care to comment?

  3. I have added you to my reading list, good luck!

  4. Congrats on joining the blogosphere! It’s great to see a fellow growth investor in the mix of venture capital blogs. Keep the posts coming, they’re great so far… I’m sure you’ll build a great reader base.

  5. Dave Chase said,

    You commented above that you want to find the “best approaches for building technology companies.” I can think of no better source of information than the thought leadership that Mark Leslie is providing in this realm. If you check out the blogosphere, you’ll find many VC’s who’ve heard his story and said it was one of the most insightful presentations they’d seen in awhile. Mark was one of the rare entrepreneurs to build a company from $0 to over $1B in sales (Veritas) and is now teaching at Stanford’s MBA program.

    My partners and I were so impressed with what we heard that we eventually built a practice around his principles. Mark gave a presentation to a group of 100 or so tech CEOs in Seattle earlier this year. You can find his presentation and whitepaper at this URL — http://altusalliance.com/ceoInfo.html. His paper is expected to be published in one of the world’s most respected business pubs this Winter but you can get a look at a draft of his paper now.

  6. scottmaxwell said,

    Thanks Dave! I really like Mark’s concepts (actually pointed to them in another post) and I am an even larger fan of Mark’s accomplishments over time, particularly Veritas. Good stuff…

  7. Brad said,

    Hey Scott,

    I am going to be an analyst at Insight come January. Looking forward to reading your blog in the meantime. You were mentioned on Ed Sim’s blog.

    Regards,
    Brad

  8. Nick said,

    Hi Scott,

    Welcome to the blogosphere. Another expansion stage blogger is great news; the space has been dominated by the early stage guys for too long.

    I was on the board of Hitwise with your colleagues Jeff H and George. Great guys, great firm.

    Regards,
    Nick

    http://www.carriedinterest.com

  9. scottmaxwell said,

    Nick,
    Thanks for the note. I mentioned Hitwise in one of my posts. The companies I introduce it to are amazed with what it can do for them. I will look forward to meeting you in person at some point!
    Scott

  10. Stephen said,

    I’m one of those CEO’s Scott will be working with as Insight has just invested in my company. I am looking forward to drawing on Scott’s experience as we have products and customers and are faced with the enviable challenge of facing ‘what now’!


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