TOMORROW night, on Tuesday April 5, 2015 at 630pm I will moderate a panel on this subject for the Boston Entrepreneurs’ Network (ENET) at the group’s Waltham location: Constant Contact, 1601 Trapelo Rd., 1st Floor, InnoLoft, Waltham, Massachusetts (Exit 28, I-95/Route 128).
For today’s entrepreneur – who faces high hurdles to funding, ever increasing competition, thin barriers to entry, and shortened cycles from invention – strategic alliances and partnerships have become a key survival technique. For the startup company, your strategic partner can be your first source of outside funding, the beta tester of your product or service, and source of credibility for your first angel or venture capital investment round. For the early stage company, alliance partners can help you to gain competitive advantages, increase sales, scale up production, penetrate new markets and deliver new products and services. The strategic alliance partner, might also offer more… the potential for an exit strategy, the potential acquirer for your company or one to lead you to a future acquisition.
On April 5, our ENET panel will include present and past CEOs, investors and Merger and Acquisition (M&A) professionals, moderated by a startup company and M&A attorney. All have extensive experience developing and building these alliances to deliver value and to aid companies for future M&A events and for their exit strategies. They will tell what to look for and what to avoid as they : (1) address the process of identifying possible partners, drilling down to the best one and securing the relationship; (2) share experiences regarding what has made their partnerships successful, and, more importantly, what went wrong and why; (3) discuss how these relationships aided them in their M&A and exit strategies, (4) review the risks to their companies, and the learning process that they went through.
Katherine Hays, co-founder and CEO of Vivoom, Inc. ( http://www.vivoom.co/ ) a mobile media company that enables brand-safe storytelling between advertisers and consumers. The company has built a platform that allows brands to put people at the center of their entire mobile marketing process. . Customers using Vivoom’s platform include Citibank, General Mills, TCU, Universal Pictures, NCM, In the Pink for Lilly Pulitzer among others. Prior to Vivoom, Katherine served as CEO of GenArts from 2008 to 2015. While CEO, she more than doubled the company’s number of high-end users and transitioned the company to a SaaS business model, and made acquisitions of wondertouch, UK-based SpeedSix, Ltd., and the Tinder business (formerly part of The Foundry). Katherine has a proven track record of launching media and technology companies including Massive Incorporated, the In-game advertising network she co-founded, ran as COO/CFO and eventually sold to Microsoft in 2006. Prior to Massive, Katherine was an equity research analyst with Goldman Sachs. She is a graduate of Princeton and Harvard Business School.
Richard C. Kimball, Senior Director of Bigelow LLC ( http://www.bigelowllc.com/ ) for over twenty years, where he has built stockholder value in family-owned and owner-managed businesses, managing client relationships in distribution, technology, and service industries for U.S. and foreign clients. Kimball’s operating experience includes serving as Vice Chairman and Director of Rock of Ages Corporation, the nation’s leading quarrier and manufacturer of specialty granites and granite products. Prior to joining Bigelow, Dick served in a number of sales, marketing, and consulting positions with Universal Packaging, Unilever, and The U.S. Department of Commerce and The U.S. Department of State. Kimball has served on the Board of several public and private companies, including Merchants National Bank, Hollis Automation, and Advanced Systems Inc. He has been quoted in a number of publications including the American Bankers magazine, CFO magazine, The Boston Globe, and the Wall Street Journal. Dick is a graduate of Babson College, where he has served as Trustee for over 20 years, and has chaired several Babson Councils on Family Business, Entrepreneurship, and Global Business.
Charles R. Lax, Co-Founder and Managing General Partner of GrandBanks Capital, focusing on investments in Internet infrastructure, software and software services, security and storage applications, mobile media, financial technologies and services, and wireless technologies and services. Charley’s investment career includes investments in 54 portfolio companies, which have resulted in 39 exits thus far. His track record includes 15 companies that went public, of which 10 achieved market caps in excess of $1 billion. The combined value of exits during Charley’s venture career has been over $6.1 billion which includes the $4.6 billion purchase of GeoCities by Yahoo!. Charley was recently named one of the top 50 venture capitalists on the east coast by AlwaysOn. Charley currently serves on the boards of a number of GBC companies, including; Defense Mobile, GlassHouse Technologies, KnowledgeVision, SilverRail Technologies and TIM Group. Charley is also a founding General Partner of SOFTBANK Venture Capital (established in 1997), an early-stage venture capital firm. Prior to his career in venture capital, Charley worked for a series of software companies in marketing, product management and sales roles, including Phoenix Technologies Ltd., the BIOS developer. Charley is a graduate of Boston University, B.S. magna cum laude, and currently serves on the Advisory Boards of Boston University Athletic Department and recently retired from the President’s Council of the Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering.
Hopefully, these presentations on strategic alliances and preparing your early stage company even from the beginning for a future successful exit will be helpful to entrepreneurs in small and early stage companies I represent. Hope to see you at ENET’s Waltham meeting place, at Constant Contact tomorrow night at 630pm!
* * *
I remain active in ENET, a Waltham and Cambridge based group that aids founders, entrepreneurs, small and early stage companies, and people who invest or work in those companies. I have been on the ENET Board since 2002, and served as Chairman since 2009, re-elected in May 2015 to my fourth 2-year term as ENET Chair. During the period of my leadership, ENET’s annual program has grown from 10 meetings per year to 19 planned for 2015-16: 10 meetings in Waltham, and 9 in Kendall Square Cambridge, plus our annual cruise of Boston Harbor to end the program year. Each meeting has three or more speakers on a subject of interest to entrepreneurs and company founders, in life science, tech and other areas of New England’s innovation economy.
On January 30, 2016, at a ceremony at the national meeting of IEEE-USA in Las Vegas, NV, the President of that organization Peter Eckstein (pictured below) presented me with the IEEE-USA professional achievement award for “extreme dedication and contributions to the IEEE entrepreneurial community”.
Three months ago, on January 5, 2016, I was meeting organizer and moderator for the ENET meeting on “ Product Development in Life Science & Tech Startups.” Our lead speaker that night was Dr. Richard Gill, who spoke not only to the issue of product development in biotech, medical device and across the life sciences fields but also spoke to the issue of funding of startup life sciences companies. Here is a link to Dr. Gill’s excellent slides – “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Life Sciences Investing or How to Navigate the world of Life Sciences product development and commercialization” – http://boston-enet.org/resources/Documents/Presentations/2016/Jan_5_2016/1%20Speaker%20Gill.pdf
Here is a little bit on Dr. Gill’s background as both serial entrepreneur and well placed angel investor in life science companies.
Richard Gill, PhD, Board Director and Investor, Launchpad Venture Group (http://launchpadventuregroup.com/ ) Dr. Gill is a seasoned entrepreneur, CEO, investor, and board member. He is a longtime investor and director at Launchpad Venture Group, the largest angel investing group in the Northeast. Dr. Gill is active on the board of several startups. Dr. Gill’s most recent operational role was President & CEO of TruTouchTechnologies, an alcohol testing and biometric device company, where he remains a board member.
On October 6, 2015, I was meeting organizer and moderator for the ENET meeting on “Innovative Ways to Bootstrap Your Startup Company.” We had three great speakers, a full house in Waltham and great audience questions. To see my write up on the meeting and slides from each of our three ENET speakers, go to http://boston-enet.org/event-2017582
One of the highlights of the October 6 ENET meeting was the presentation of Joanne Lang, Founder and CEO of AboutOne, www.aboutone.com/about/our-story/ Joanne is based in Philadelphia and flew in special, at her own cost, to give her presentation for ENET. Joanne’s slides, “”Bring Your Product to Market Bootstrapped Style… and Keep it there” – were also excellent, a great and continuing resource for founders and entrepreneurs to use and reference, LINK http://boston-enet.org/resources/Documents/Presentation_Lang.pdf
On September 1, 2015, I was meeting organizer and moderator for the kick-off meeting to ENET’s 25th year. For that meeting in Waltham, our subject was “Giants of the Startup Community, Founders who made it Big, tell what’s Important”. It was a great evening for ENET where our founders of startup companies heard stories of entrepreneurial challenges, surprises, disappointments, victories and triumphs.
To see slides from the September 1 ENET event, go to – http://boston-enet.org/event-2005499
Additionally, in prior years, I’ve moderated and/or spoken at a number of ENET panel presentations, including presentations on the following subjects:
- “Building and Using Board of Directors and Boards of Advisors ” , April 2015 (moderator),
- “Founder Agreements and Stock Vesting – Building a Team, Protecting yourself, Managing expectations ”. February 2015 (moderator & speaker)
- “Entrepreneur Success Stories ” , September 2014 (moderator),
- “Raising Money from CrowdFunding” , May 2014 (moderator),
- “Ready, Set, Launch. Knowing when you’re ready & How to start a company” , September 2013 (moderator),
- “Bootstrapping 101: Alternative Ways to fund a Startup without an Angel or VC”, November 2012 (moderator)
- “Seed and Angel Financing” , October 2012 (moderator),
- “Getting Stuff for Free”, April 2012 (moderator),
- “Transforming Your Idea into a Successful Company”, September 2011 (speaker and moderator),
- “Get Going! Launching a Successful Business”, September 2010 (moderator),
- “Licensing Technology”, February 2010 (moderator),
- How to Select and Retain Management for your Startup Company”, February 8, 2008 (speaker and moderator)
- “Getting Initial Money to go from Nothing to Something”, October 2007 (speaker and moderator)
- “Strategic Alliances and Partnerships: to build, finance, and develop early stage companies”, November 2006 (speaker and moderator)
- “Building Boards of Advisors and Boards of Directors”, March 2006 (moderator)
- “Protecting Your Intellectual Property”, January 2006 (speaker)