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Campfire Show & Tell | Showcasing Tagboard

josh-decker-nteIt’s that time again! Join us in the second floor lobby at our Redmond location on Wednesday, December 10 at 4:00 pm for our monthly Campfire Show & Tell event! This month, new thinkspace member Tagboard will be joining us for some Christmas cookies and craft brews at our Holiday Happy Hour.

Tagboard offers hashtag-based curation, collecting posts from the social media platforms that you already use. Why hashtags? According to Tagboard:

No other social discovery mechanism has the same speed, versatility, and widespread adoption as the hashtag. It may seem geeky or trendy to some, but the hashtag is a powerful tool that unites people around common interests and goals. We believe every community needs a hashtag, and every hashtag needs a tagboard.

You’ll want to be on time for this one. Tagboard’s founder and CEO, Josh Decker, will be kicking off the event with a short presentation, to be followed by Q&A, as well as the opportunity to sign up for a free trial and group training session.

everymoveIn case you need another reason to be on time, our friends from EveryMove will be here to motivate you to get moving! Come learn about their @Work program, where you can compete in challenges, earn points and win prizes! Read more about it here.

We’ll see you on Wednesday for some seasonal goodies, free giveaways and holiday cheer!

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LinkedIn’s #RockYourProfile Event in Seattle Showcases How to Stand Out in the Crowd

On LinkedIn there are millions of users but not all profiles are created equally. Many are a direct reflection of their resumes, but at a recent pilot event held in Capitol Hill, LinkedIn instructed the crowd  to think of their profile as a “living, breathing” way to get a new job, customer, or even volunteer opportunity. That can be accomplished by adding rich media, from pictures to videos to links of your work.

To help those in attendance achieve those goals LinkedIn brought together a panel of experts to speak about how LinkedIn has helped them grow their brand. It included: Peter Chee, CEO and chief pot stirrer at thinkspace; Carol Vecchio, founder of Centerpoint Institute for Life and Career Renewal; and Alexis Baird, Product Manager for Profile at LinkedIn. It’s the first time the San Francisco-based company held an event like this one. They chose Seattle because of the large number of startups here and the diversity of the city.

Personality Prevails – “Talk about what you are passionate about.”

LinkedIn panel

“People do business with people, not businesses,” Peter told the crowd. “Find ways to connect on a personal level.”

That wasn’t the only time the eager group of nearly 200 entrepreneurs, small businesses, and students were encouraged to show their personality especially on a professional website. Alexis explained the importance of sharing what you are passionate about. Adding your hobbies could lead to a professional ice breaker.

When talking about how LinkedIn has worked for him, Peter described what he called his “Alex from Target moment” a few months ago. It began with posting a long form blog on his LinkedIn page late one night titled “Questions To Ask Before Quitting Your Job To Work At A Startup.” It was part of an event promotion aimed at helping those wrestling with the same decision. Several hours later the post had 3,000 views and eventually ballooned to more than 92,000 views worldwide, hundreds of comments on LinkedIn, and it helped sell out the event. Peter said the post “created value” for the event, making it a bigger success than he initially anticipated. It’s the perfect example of using personal experience to connect with your audience.

Actionable Tips

So maybe you’re not an established business owner with an expansive network and more like me. I’m in the midst of changing the course of my career and need help with the transition. Peter provided other actionable tips.

For example, after meeting someone at a networking he suggests including “why you enjoyed the conversation” in your LinkedIn message. And don’t procrastinate.

Experts suggest:

1) Tailor your profile around what you want to be doing. It’s not necessary to list every job you’ve held.

2) Avoid job titles and use statements instead.

3) Show examples of your work whenever possible e.g. pictures, links, and presentations

The LinkedIn team also offered profile makeovers. I found this one-on-one time to be invaluable. Crystal Braswell offered me tailored tips that I utilized as soon as I got home. They included changing my profile picture because she said I looked younger in person. (Yikes!) The changes instantly made my page look better. I’ve already received positive feedback which let me know I was on the right track.

Crystal Braswell gets her makep done

Whether or not you think of yourself as being photogenic the experts say don’t ignore your profile picture. The LinkedIn team converted a small area into a professional photo shoot complete with make-up artist. All night this booth had a continuous line. Your profile picture is one of the first things people see and taking the time to ensure it’s representative of who you are is important.

LinkedIn photoshoot

By the end of the event I felt rejuvenated. Receiving usable tips and being in the company of others who are working on improving their digital footprint helped recharge my career batteries. Change isn’t always easy but events like #RockYourProfile showed me that improvement isn’t an insurmountable task.

Here are more Growth hacking with LinkedIn tips from Peter Chee.

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Seattle Startup Week | Angel investor Andy Liu illustrates the importance of building rhythms

andy-presentingBy 1:00 pm on October 23, the day of his Seattle Startup Week presentation, Andy Liu, local dream investor and CEO of BuddyTV, had already been in contact with four prospective customers. According to Andy, his number one job is to sell.

“You know what? As CEO, sales is actually my number one job. Sales to customers, sales to employees, sales to investors…Sales to everybody else that may eventually come into contact with the company…I need to constantly be doing that.”

Getting in front of the customer is one of the best ways to learn about a business.

Andy also explained that businesses are built on rhythms. Therefore, it’s crucial that a company reevaluate the rhythms that are in place to be more effective on a day-to-day basis. To do this, Andy has implemented a number of rhythm-boosting practices. For example, every Monday morning he sends out an email to the entire team with BuddyTV’s latest happenings, team recognition, and any other relevant information for the upcoming week. Another tool he uses is a refined system of key performance indicators.

“It’s not 30 numbers that you need to track, it’s one or two.”

Andy wrapped up by highlighting the importance of celebrating.

“Even in the darkest days, there’s always something to celebrate…There’s always some reason to ring the bell.”

Andy follows his own advice quite literally. In BuddyTV’s office, one of the developers has a cash register linked up his computer speakers. Each time a sale comes in, the cash register dings.

What does your startup do to celebrate?

You can hear more about Andy’s rythmatic practices here:

Check out Andy’s SlideShare deck from his Seattle Startup Week presentation:

Or see the entirety of Andy’s talk here:

Check out our recaps of our other Startup Week events:

Kicking off with Aviel Ginzburg of Simply Measured
Matt Heinz explains why you have to fail in order to succeed
Russell Benaroya talks night runs and how to ease the loneliness of entrepreneurship

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Seattle Startup Week | Russell Benaroya talks night runs and how to ease the loneliness of entrepreneurship

russell-presentingLast week, thinkspace and Seattle Startup Week, with help from Russell Benaroya (co-founder and CEO of EveryMove) and Andy Liu (angel investor and CEO of BuddyTV), took over the incredible space that Graham & Dunn occupies on the Seattle downtown waterfront. For twenty three minutes, we had the opportunity to bounce around inside Russell’s mind.

Russell opened his presentation with a wonderfully vivid and intensely personal description of the 75 mile journey that he took on the Pacific Crest Trail, from Steven’s Pass to Snoqualmie Pass, called Section J. According to the Washington Trails Association, Section J “is not for the beginning backpacker. There is considerable elevation gain and loss—about 16,000 feet! Some places are impassable until well into August when the snow melts out.”

Russell did it in 24 hours. Yes, 75 miles of rough terrain in just 24 hours. Bearing in mind that this was a Herculean task, it was not surprising, then, when Russell said:

“We ran through the night, entirely self supported, and when I finished that run, I was…Broken.”

This story of course came full circle when Russell explained how this run, this fantastic personal accomplishment, translated into so many areas of his life, specifically entrepreneurship:

“This is the road of entrepreneurship, right? This very lonely road, in many ways, where we are.. Where it’s broken on so many levels, and it’s so painful, and it’s so emotional, but at the same time, we’re so alive, right? We’re stretching ourselves to do more than we thought possible and it’s emotional. And this rollercoaster of emotion is something that we can’t do alone.”

There’s a reason why shared offices and coworking spaces and organizations like the Entrepreneurs’ Organization exist—and not just exist, but thrive. Sure, you can start a business out of your basement, or your spare bedroom, or Starbucks. But the benefit of surrounding yourself with a support system, with like-minded people? Invaluable. Entrepreneurship may be a lonely road, but that doesn’t mean we actually have to walk it alone.

Like Russell said, “We’re all in this together.”

For those who were unable to attend the event, watch the full video here:

Check out our recaps of our other Startup Week events:

Kicking off with Aviel Ginzburg of Simply Measured
Matt Heinz explains why you have to fail in order to succeed
Angel investor Andy Liu illustrates the importance of building rhythms

 

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Seattle Startup Week | Matt Heinz explains why you have to fail in order to succeed

matt-and-audienceThe dust surrounding Seattle Startup Week is settling, but on Wednesday morning, in the midst of the hustle and bustle, we hosted a Startup Week event in our Redmond location. Matt Heinz, president of Heinz Marketing, joined us for breakfast and told us how we could scale our sales and marketing without breaking the bank. One of the ways to do this is to assess what you’re doing on a regular basis. Regular as in weekly, or—better yet—daily. Another way is to fire a lot of bullets. As Matt said, “You will not get it right right away.” Because what works for one company may not work for you.

Matt explained:

“Even if you do the math of what you need to achieve, even if you define your customer in a really crisp way, you will still fail a lot. If you’re doing it right. The path to innovation and success is paved with failure.”

Matt described the following scenario: A company thinks they have a great idea and they just go for it, guns blazing. But what if it doesn’t work? Or what if parts of it don’t work? You have an entire program or organization built around something that’s broken. They just built a cannon that doesn’t fire. They just wasted a lot of resources.

“What if you fired a couple of bullets instead? That’s faster, easier, cheaper. Some of those bullets will hit the mark, some of them won’t. But if it hits the mark, and you validate it a couple more times? Put down the gun and pick up a cannon.”

“We all need cannons in our business,” Matt explains, “But we can’t figure out which cannon to build until you do some testing and actually validate that.”

Check out Matt’s SlideShare deck from Wednesday’s presentation:

And for those who were unable to attend the event, you can see the full video here:

Check out our recaps of our other Startup Week events:

Kicking off with Aviel Ginzburg of Simply Measured
Russell Benaroya talks night runs and how to ease the loneliness of entrepreneurship
Angel investor Andy Liu illustrates the importance of building rhythms

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Seattle Startup Week | Kicking off with Aviel Ginzburg of Simply Measured

aviel-ginzburg-what-is-a-high-growth-startupYesterday, we spent the afternoon kicking off Seattle Startup Week with Aviel Ginzburg of Simply Measured, which recently raised $20M in venture capital funding. Aviel joined us in our Fremont location to talk about what a high growth startup really means. During his presentation, he mentioned Simply Measured’s first incarnation, Untitled Startup, Inc., which, as Aviel described it, was pretty much two guys with $150K in funding from Founders’ Co-Op “throwing ideas at the wall.”

Which begged the question:

“Why would they put money into you when you didn’t even have an idea or specific plan?”

Aviel smiled and quickly responded, “That is a phenomenal question. You should ask Andy Sack that question.”

But then he explained what investors are really investing in: people. Aviel had a proven track record as a software engineer at Appature, and, during a Startup Weekend, he and Simply Measured co-founder Damon Cortesi built an application called TweetSum. This app utilized something called the DBI, which, no joke, stood for Douche Bag Index. (Now, keep in mind that this was before social media analytics like Klout existed.) The DBI would score your followers from 1-100, letting you know how big of a douchebag they were. The catch?  The only way to see your own score was to tweet it. TweetSum ended up trending on Twitter for four straight days, and Aviel and Damon ended up being approached by Madrona Venture Group.

So why did a company without an idea or a specific plan get funded? According to Aviel:

“We had this track record of being people who could execute and who had interesting ideas…For an investor, it’s like, these guys are going to do something. I want a piece of this.”

For those who were unable to attend the event, watch the full video here:

Seattle Startup Week is in full swing! Join us for one of our upcoming events. Each will focus on scaling up and will feature a speaker sponsored by the Entrepreneurs’ Organization:

Wednesday, October 22 @ 8am | Scaling Sales & Marketing on a Shoestring Budget with Matt Heinz
Thursday, October 23 @ 1pm | Everything I Screwed Up While Scaling up with Andy Liu + Russell Benaroya
Friday, October 24 @ 1pm | Random Acts of Cupcakes with Jody Hall

Seattle Startup Week may be over, but we’re still basking in the event afterglow. Check out these recaps of our other events:

Matt Heinz explains why you have to fail in order to succeed
Russell Benaroya talks night runs and how to ease the loneliness of entrepreneurship
Angel investor Andy Liu illustrates the importance of building rhythms

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Seattle Startup Week | Scaling, and funding, and cupcakes! Oh my!

startup-week-seattle-header-wide We are excited to be sponsors for Seattle Startup Week!  With over 40 events hosted over five days, this is a celebration of entrepreneurship in Seattle.  thinkspace is hosting the “Scale Up” track, which will feature four events with EO-sponsored speakers, each with a focus on scaling up.  Check out our events below, and see the full line up of Seattle Startup Week events here.

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Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) is the only global network exclusively for entrepreneurs.  EO helps leading entrepreneurs learn and grow through peer-to-peer learning, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and connections to experts.  EO also has an Accelerator program.  The EO Accelerator program is the catalyst that enables first-stage entrepreneurs to catapult your business to the next level.  Our mission is to empower you with the tools you need to grow your business to more than US$1 million in sales and provide you with the skills to make yourself a better entrepreneur and leader.

 

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What is a High Growth Startup?

Monday, October 20th 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm // thinkspace Seattle

[Who] Aviel Ginzburg, co-founder of Simply Measured

[What] What a high growth startup really means.  The mentality, the expectations, the challenges and the fundraising.

[Why you should go] When it comes to raising venture funding, Aviel is a pro.  His company recently raised $20M in VC funding.

Refreshments provided.

Register for “What is a High Growth Startup?” here:

Scaling Sales & Marketing on a Shoestring Budget

Wednesday, October 22nd 8:00 am – 9:30 am // thinkspace Redmond

[Who] Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing

[What] A fast-paced, action-oriented framework for building, managing and executing a scalable, predictable sales and marketing engine without breaking the bank.

[Why you should go] Matt brings more than 15 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations, vertical industries and company sizes.

Refreshments provided.

Register for “Scaling Sales & Marketing on a Shoestring Budget” here:

Everything I Screwed Up While Scaling Up

Thursday, October 23rd 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm // Graham & Dunn

[Who] Andy Liu, angel investor, CEO of BuddyTV + Russell Benaroya, co-founder & CEO of EveryMove

[What] Both Andy and Russell have built and sold companies.  They will share how they screwed up along the way but still managed to succeed.

[Why you should go] Andy is an entrepreneur and angel investor who has invested in over 40 startups.  A former private equity investor and investment banker, Russell also appeared on Puget Sound Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 list and is on a mission to improve the health of 10 million people in 10 years.

Refreshments provided.

Register for “Everything I Screwed Up While Scaling Up” here:

Random Acts of Cupcakes

Friday, October 24th 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm // thinkspace Redmond

[Who] Jody Hall, founder of Cupcake Royale

[What] It’s not about the cupcakes. How to build a foundational culture of trust, collaboration and fun for a sustainable business.

[Why you should go] Not only is Seattle’s first cupcake bakery and café celebrating 11 years in business and soon-to-be seven locations, Jody was also former marketing lead for Starbucks, helping scale the company’s growth in early years.  (If that doesn’t convince you, come for the cupcakes.)

Cupcakes provided.

Register for “Random Acts of Cupcakes” here:

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Emerge from Corporate to Startup: Approaching Sales With Empathy

e2s-panelist-cracking-upFive years ago when taking an HR survey, PR and marketing executive Shauna Causey discovered that she was in the 100th percentile for empathy.  And it freaked her out.  But five years later, Shauna, along with Don Gerould of Cogent Equity, Sandeep Phadke of Airlift, and senior technology exec Brad Carpenter, was a panelist at thinkspace’s Emerge from Corporate to Startup event, and she had this to say:

“What I can do a good job of is putting myself in the customer view.  I just am obsessed with what the customer wants.”

Later in the evening, the panel was asked, “How important are sales skills for a startup founder?”  Sales are key for any startup founder.  Event moderator and CEO & founder of thinkspace Peter Chee made the point:

“My personal feeling is that if you are adverse to sales and you don’t want to do sales, you probably shouldn’t be a startup founder.”

I think it’s safe to say that a lot of us are adverse to sales in the traditional sense.  It conjures up images of used cars salesmen and pushy telemarketers.   Shauna touched on that point, but also circled back to her customer-centric viewpoint from earlier in the e2s-audience-emotionnight.

“I feel like ‘sales’ is sort of a bad word to me, because I don’t ever want to be ‘salesy.’  But simplifying what the customer needs, and the communication side, I think is so valuable.”

So, as a startup founder, how can you reconcile this idea that “sales” is a bad word with the fact that it’s a huge part of what it takes to make your startup successful?   Maybe we can start by reinterpreting the act of selling itself. What happens if we approach our sales from a place of empathy?  See things from our customer’s viewpoint? Relate to them and really figure out what they need?  You can create a symbiotic relationship, where you are not coming from a place of asking for something, you are offering something that can really help your customers.  You are creating connections.  You are creating true value.  And, as Don Gerould responded to Shauna:

“That’s exactly what a good salesperson does, by the way.  If you’re something other than that, and you think you’re good at sales, then you’re not very self aware.”

Video clip from the event:

Handouts from the event:
1) Questions to ask before you quit your job and join a startup.
2) Recruiting Services provided by thinkspace.

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Managing to Milestones & #JFDI Recap

The Redmond thinkspace office had its first Acceleration Services event to talk about the importance of project management. The event was held on Friday, May 30th with panelists Liz Pearce, CEO of LiquidPlanner; Trent Scott, CEO of Rainleader and Director of Sales and Marketing at Mouseflow; and Brenda Reed, Project Launch Manager at thinkspace. Josh Anderson, CEO of One into Many, was our moderator.

Notable take-aways and tweets from the people that were there!

  • Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing (@HeinzMarketingtweeted, “The iron triangle of project management: Budget, scope and quality.@lizprc @thinkspace
  • “Figuring out how to prioritize importance: As the CEO, what can be done by you, by someone else, or not at all? Also, make dates to set deadlines.” – Liz Pearce, CEO of LiquidPlanner
  • “A project is always evolving and in the beginning you may not know solid details.”  – Mieka Miller, Acceleration Services Director at thinkspace

Benefits of a Project Manager (PM)

“The benefits of having a project manager (PM) on your team are ten-fold.  A PM can help you identify what constitutes a project, help you define your objectives and overall goals. They will hold team members accountable for their project roles and responsibilities. A PM will also keep the project within budget, on time and ultimately deliver what the customer wants!” – Brenda Reed, Project Launch Manager at thinkspace.

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The big ‘fat’ launch

The Big fat lunch1

Entrepreneurs know what it’s like to be in an environment that changes everyday, and sometimes every minute. To launch a product or service within your budget and on time can feel daunting. Then again, when has a daunting task deterred an entrepreneur?

What to Expect During a Launch:

Change is the only constant when it comes to the launch process. The team needs to be prepared to deal with ambiguity that cannot be predicted by even the best data. As the plan starts taking shape, a clear picture emerges, and that is when a roll out action strategy is created. The key to a successful launch lies in the way the launch manager tracks this roll out plan: meeting deadlines; staying within budget; seeing issues before they become problems; and changing tracks as needed.  In other words, ensuring that the entire process is seamless.
 Now that we know what to expect, what are the three things that must be done in order to have a successful launch?

Don’t assume you know everything about your audience:

In our frenzy to be unique and with the passionate belief that our product and service is going to change the face of the market, we tend to make assumptions about our target audience. This can hamper the success of the product. Know your customers — their likes, dislikes, needs.  Most importantly, know how your product will change their lives. Do not spend too much time analyzing the demographics data; try to understand their mindsets.  What drives them and does your product have the potential to be in the front of their minds?

Create the buzz:

For a typical launch, invites are sent a week before, but entrepreneurs don’t necessarily need to launch their product via this traditional route. Before the launch, start having conversations with your community and your peers. Start utilizing social media to create excitement without putting a huge dent on your resources. By using the power of leverage you can get the word out faster, build your customer base more quickly and generate more revenue. Consider for a moment the employees, friends, family, customers, partners, investors, press and associations that you can reach out to – the people that can influence the success of your product launch. Don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth. One person talks to another, who will in turn talk to others and the word will spread. Give your audience something to talk about.

Post launch sustenance is more important than the launch itself: 

Once the product or service is launched, the team needs to work harder and faster to deliver results. Ensure that you answer all of your team’s questions. Organize your team in such a way that every query or problem is answered within one business day. Be open to criticism; not everybody may like what you have launched. Take it in stride and see if you can incorporate the feedback to make your product or service better.

Launching a product or service is not easy, but a calm mind coupled with someone on your team to drive accountability for the project can get you closer to the ‘dream’ launch that we each envision for our products and services!

Ready to launch your next project?

Not sure where to begin? Do you know what tools to use? How fast it needs to get done? Who your audience is? Join us Friday, May 30th at thinkspace in Redmond. We will meet at 12:00 pm to discuss the launch manager services that we offer here at thinkspace. Our panel of experts has insight and knowledge you will need to get your project management on track!

To join the event, click here.