After spending two years at Stanford Business School during the run-up to the dot-com bubble, my appetite was whetted in the intersection of technology and business. Aside from two years at a strategy consulting firm Bain & Company, I have spent the past 18 years at technology startups in the US and Europe. Highlights include two executive roles, including 2 startups, that each exited for over $100M.
Outside work, I am a father of four kids, husband to a wonderfully smart and capable lawyer. I co-founded and am on the boards of the TechHub Riga and TechChill foundations and work to support the startup community in Latvia and the other Baltic States. Last but not least - I’m a part time (aka weekend) warrior in the National Guard of Latvia, serving as an infantryman in the 1st Riga Brigade.
MY TOPICSTopic is a subject you can talk about with curious human.
Interesting research from Yale that positive mood when pitching helps raise capital. Implications: founders need to practice maintaining that positive, confident tone when pitching; investors have to be careful to distinguish "hutzpah" from real competence.
For startups from Central and Eastern Europe pitching in the USA especially, I always advise that you need to pitch very aggressively and with extreme confidence, such that you feel uncomfortable yourself. The result will look mildly confident to the US venture investors who are used to seeing American founders pitch all day long….
As a venture capitalist, when I invest in a company I am investing and risking reputation, as important as the capital itself. Because there are so few investors relative to startups and funds have very few “shots at goal” to return money to their investors, the credibility aspects of an investment are very important. Check out this great article by Chris Harvey that provides more detail: https://lawofvc.substack.com/p/10-episode-the-stories-behind-cap
Yesterday a startup asked for advice about putting out news about their recent funding round. I believe PR can be one of the most leveraged marketing activities for a startup, worth doing right. Here are the key points to keep in mind, as I see these points are needed again and again:
Be clear who your #1 audience is. Other investors? Clients? Industry analysts? Then spend effort writing the main message in one headline until you have that clear. That message can have several components, but needs to be concise and to the point.
Write the first paragraph, where you expand on this in 2-3 sentences. Remember to think about the message from the journalists point of view - what will they think is interesting to their readers? After that you can expand the full text to add more details.
Check for keywords that you want to include, make sure this fits with your SEO strategy. A good news post can generate SEO for years, worth making sure you are consistent in your usage of terms and keywords. Align with other marketing efforts.
Assemble your list of target media. Sort by news category and journalist type. Some will write long form pieces and require a more sophisticated approach, some will just re-post industry news. Pick targets where you really want the news to appear and work those individually.
Some outlets (e.g. TechCrunch, Tech.EU in tech press in our region) will respect embargoes, so use them. That means a prohibition against publishing until time & date of announcement (in bold at top of document). They prepare a post ahead of time. Give them a week's notice.
A good PR firm will help you craft the message and leverage their journalist relationships to get placement. Some Change Ventures portfolio companies have used TrueSix, BallouPR and Black Unicorn PR. Ideally you want a long term relationship with a firm for best results.
Questions? Shoot them over in the discussion.
Great podcast with James Currier of NFX interviewing Keith Rabois, legendary startup co-founder and investor, now with Founders Fund. Keith talks about what a contrarian really is, how important teams are in determining startup success, all with fantastic stories from Square, PayPal and his other startups and investments.