The Stanford University + Palo Alto Ecosystem

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I often refer to this phenomenon in my blog and my Startup Workshops presentations as my favorite case study – “Stanford Love”. Now the New Yorker has picked up on the trend. “Is Stanford Too Close to Silicon Valley?”    @tomnora  #StartupWorkshopsLA

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/04/30/120430fa_fact_auletta?currentPage=all

REPOST: The Importance of BUS DEV (from august 2011)

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This question has come up often recently – what is the difference between Sales, Marketing, and Business Development? What the hell is business development?  Here’s my take on it:

http://j.mp/z4QMmI

@tomnora

People often undervalue Business Development as a critical function in a startup. What is it? How does it differ from Sales, Marketing, Major Accounts? When is the company big enough to dedicate a full headcount to Business Development?

Less understood than most titles, and widely ranging in responsibilities, BusDev is the critical glue between todays sales functions and the senior management. BusDev is relationships, longer term thinking, non-revenue partnerships, communication between Sales, Marketing, Engineering and Finance if you have all of those covered.

BusDev people see the potential connections between your company and several others. They also find creative ways to do business or vastly improve business relationships, especially when they can work with BusDev counterparts at target partners. It’s like the 2 lead guitarists of 2 bands playing together going off into the corner and working on just their parts, and relationship. They’re focused on one thing. The BusDev people are also focused on one thing – taking the businesses beyond a simple linear transaction based relationship. They don’t worry about this weeks revenue or finance, etc.

In a smaller or earlier stage startup, the CEO covers most areas that have no dedicated leader, BusDev being the most common unfilled spot. Sometimes this works but often not. The problem is when the CEO is not a good match for this position – in experience, skill set or desire. It also distracts him/her from other CEO functions, and is not as impressive to the client, partners.

So, if you can afford a strong BusDev investment early, it  can be a secret weapon that ensures your long term scalability and gets you funded.

Contact me if you’d like to discuss more:  tomnora2020@gmail.com

500 Startups? How about 5000!

Angel Investor, Business Development, CEO Succession, early stage, founder, Revenue Growth, Scalability, startup, startup CEO, Tom Nora, Uncategorized, venture

Southern California is going to reach the tipping point. A year ago I wasn’t so sure but now it’s getting crazy. Craig Page @CraigDPage hosted a party 2 weeks ago in Santa Monica that celebrated 500 startups in the SM/Venice ecosystem known as Silicon Beach these days, and he may not be far off.

Then last week there was a Venice Town Hall where you could see that locals are in awe of the influx of startups in their (my) little town by the beach. They’re calling it a Venissaince.

Orange County is growing some amazing companies like @signnow who is attracting Tier 1 VC funding @vkhosla.

Coworking spaces, Incubators, etc. Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Diego, Downtown L.A., on and on. C++ meetups where 100 people show up. Jason Nazar @jasonnazar meetings where 400 people show up! Jason Calacanis @jason Startup interview show @TWIstartups with some of the top startup people in the world, who seem to visit L.A. a lot these days. Google has 500 people here now and is building bike paths in Venice. Startup USC. Startup UCLA. Factual! SpaceX.

I love it. I guess it could happen, So Cal could surpass Silicon Valley some day. Never thought I’d say that. My home town.

Oh well….  5000 could easily happen.   @tomnora

The Power of Connection

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Last week I witnessed again the difference between 2 people meeting in person compared all other forms of communication we currently employ.

It’s amazing to see the power of the connection between 2 people in proximity to each other. In the startup world, it seems to be winning over the bits and bytes style. I’ve discounted the value of face to face recently as much as anyone, leaning heavily on asynchronous electronic communication for much of my business and personal life, and even using broadcast communication (twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, email, …) to replace individual communications. But we all should rededicate ourselves to the face-to-face – the random, the first time, the networking, the required, the “have a good weekend”. Connecting on LinkedIn or FB is great but usually leads to few subsequent actual interactions. Apple’s face time is bridging the gap nicely, but still isn’t the same. Meetup.com and Eventbrite, founded on this principle of meeting in person as a response to too much Internet meeting, has helped to spawn, grow and change thousands of startups.

So, back to last week – at a startup mixer I was walking past someone headed to my seat, and we kind of got stuck in the crowd face-to-face. He had on a name tag, I didn’t. We couldn’t move. So he stuck his hand out to say hello, and we wound up talking for 10 minutes and definitely made a bit of a connection. We found several things we had in common, most people do. Since then we have met and emailed and referred business to each other, all from a semi-random meeting.

We never would have connected otherwise. If we saw each other on the street or lived on the same block we probably would just walk on by. So get out there, go to things that you like and are interested in. Barriers will melt.    @tomnora