It's interesting situation. I was given a project that required my undivided attention. None of the team that I am working with is in our Atlanta office. They are literally spread across the globe. Remove me from the office, remove distractions.
I have been doing this for a week or so and my typical day looks like this. Get up in the 3:45 - 5:30am time frame and communicate with my Eastern Europe comrades. Work til 8:30 then help my teenagers get off to their summers camps/jobs for 30 minutes. Turn my attention domestically then and perhaps a little exercise or a meeting for lunch. Then back to task with the USA Eastern time zone cohorts. Wrap that up around 5, set tasks for those whose workday begins at 1:00am Eastern time, and communicate with contractors on the West Coast or those with full time gigs between 7 and 11pm. The latter which I just wrapped up before writing this post.
Not sure if it is an actual lifestyle improvement or not. I will say this, I am not getting much sleep but I put on long pants for the first time in about a week today.
Interesting new report out by comScore and UPS, Pulse of the Online Shopper. The most amazing snippet to me is that 47% of shoppers are willing to have a retailer send a coupon to their smartphone when they are in-store or nearby. Seems like a sea change from not that long ago.
Willie King over at WorthPoint reached out to me earlier this month via LinkedIn, "Congrats Lance on 2 years" he said. How time flies. He is talking about my time at Half Off Depot/nCrowd.
It has been quite busy. So busy that I have not really had a chance to practice my preach of updating your resume every year just to remember what you have accomplished. Doing that and keeping it to the required two pages is just way too time consuming. So at the risk of being self aggrandizing here are the bullet points of the past two years (one of the reasons I have a blog is to find things that are important to me) that someday I am going to have to whittle down and properly format for a resume.
Played a significant role in the company securing $7 million series A.
Selected expansion markets and in conjunction with CEO set expansion strategy.
Successfully expanded into first additional market within 60 days of joining company.
Based on the results recommended to board that we accelerate expansion.
Expanded into four additional markets with 100 days of joining company.
When Groupon botched its IPO recommended a market rollup.
Took over direct duties of CTO and Vice President of Marketing.
Personally led the negotiation of two asset acquisitions.
Identified and made initial inquires to major acquisition target, oversaw due diligence and closing of the same.
Oversaw the development of proprietary platform and assumed direct management of the darn thing. As in doing sysadmin and committing code.
Assisted in securing venture debt for major acquisitions.
Acted as corporate secretary.
Started as employee number 21, employee base now reported to be 70.
3.5x revenue run rate growth.
Not a bad list for two years. It will be interesting to see what the next two bring.
I was joined at the front of the room by VillageDefense which I regret to say I don't fully understand cause the demo had some technical issues; DudeRanch, a TripAdvisor for wannabe Cowboys and an interesting domainer story; Sidewalk District, which is going to need some serious UX work to to work; and Ionic Security, fresh off a $10 million Kleiner/Google Ventures round.
Mr. Cummings claims the meetup is the largest startup event in the South. Mr. Bird claims I am OG, which I think is a compliment. Regardless it is worth a trip if you want to see the new edge on the Atlanta startup scene.
Not too ago we were having a meeting about sales activity and what a rep needed to do to have a healthy pipeline and this ended up on the white board.
Essentially contact 50 prospects, reach 10 decision makers, send out 10 contracts and get 5 signatures. Directionally correct for a rep in my current business.
Not many folks know I started out as a sales rep. Sold capital packaging equipment. I had to cold call 100 prospects to land ten face to face appointments. Those ten appointments would turn into three demos. Three demos would turn into one sale. I had to get 3.5 orders to reach my quota every month. Essentially had to make 100 cold calls a week.
Nice video from the Metro Atlanta Chamber highlighting the 2013 ATDC graduate companies and the strategic benefits of that technology hub. Great to see companies like BrightWhistle, KontrolFreek, PatientCo, and Urjanet, which I helped in some way, growing up.
While Atlanta Tech Village seems to be getting all the attention these days ATDC continues to be an important node in the Atlanta startup ecosystem. Kinda interesting that the fourth 2013 ATDC grad company, AccelerEyes, is now my neighbor at ATV.
That post the other day about room to grow in the mobile coupon space. From the Groupon Q1 earnings call this is what it looks like today for them, one of the leaders in local couponing. Sales via mobile have risen to 45%. There's gold in them devices.
I have written a bit about the stages a successful startup goes through in the past. Covering theories such as concept, seed, early stage and growth stages for those that were not reading in 2009.
One of the things I have always believed is that at some point, in the $50 million revenue range, a startup is no longer a startup and is really a small company. Maybe I was wrong. I now think sometimes it happens before that mark.
I am basing this on my current experience with nCrowd. Back in January when we announced the CrowdSavings acquisition All Things D reported that nCrowd had 70 employees. That number goes down a little as we rationalize the organization and up a little as we purchase the assets of Tippr. But for the sake of discussion let's use it.
If you use David Cumming's Employee Counts as a Proxy for Startup Revenue post with $150,000 (I have always used just a straight $200,000 myself) of revenue per employee for a venture backed startup without a recent large round of funding one could estimate that nCrowd has revenue of about $10 million. That estimate would be low, because our revenue per employee is higher, but it is no where near $50 million. and nCrowd is starting to feel more like a small company than a startup.
Why is this? The answer is three fold.
One, the way we have grown is partially due to organic geographic expansion and partly due to executing a rollup strategy that also quickened our geographic expansion. The latter has lead to more time being spent on integration then one would normally see for a company the size of nCrowd.
Two, due to the headwinds created by Groupon and LivingSocial, the financial markets are not receptive to investments in the local e-commerce space (and have not been for some time) so our actions are driven by profitability and building long-term value. This is not a bad thing, it just makes things feel a little more small company like than startup like.
Three, I personally don't get to spend as much time as I want talking to customers, growing our member base, and building product. The startupy stuff. My job is much more corporate whack a mole. I get involved in acquisitions, handle the duties that a company Secretary is required to do, the administrative things that our CEO does not have the time or inclination to do himself, and oversee parts of the technology integration of the assets we purchase.
This is all good. But it points out that some startups become small companies much before others and that the $50 million number I have been throwing out there could be a lot lower in certain circumstances. Sometimes a startup becomes a small company before you know it.
nCrowd is no longer a startup. It's a small company. And that is great progress.
The keynote speaker was Dave Moody whose firm, C.D. Moody Construction Co., is the second-largest minority contractor in Georgia (after H.J. Russell & Co.) and No. 46 in Black Enterprise magazine’s 2012 list of the nation’s 100 largest black businesses. Quite the successful guy, with quite the story. Dave was sexually abused as a child. The Penn State sex abuse scandal drove him to go public with his personal story in order to help others.
His presentation was emotional and moving. And one thing he said really stuck with me. "Always give them a way to tell you something bad." It's true with your kids and applies to business as well. You have to give your employees a way to tell you bad news and believe/support them when they give it to you.
Not too long ago Wired ran an article on five Google products at risk. One of these at risk products was Google Offers. I think Wired was right. Google seems to be heading in another direction.
That direction is Google Local. Google is moving to a retailer self-service model. Not really surprising. I never really thought that Google liked the high touch sales effort of the deal marketplace model.
Google Local is distributing offers though Google Maps for Android. Within Google Places merchants can set their own promotional offers, set a promotional period, and cap the number of promotions that consumers can use. They have adopted a ScoutMob like "Use Now" button. Currently there is no cost to merchants to place a promotion during the "trial" period, which if it is anything like betas at Google could go on for a long, long time.
It will be interesting to see how this pivot works for them.
All Things D broke the news this morning that nCrowd has purchased the assets of Tippr out of Seattle.
It is the largest acquisition that we have made to date. The purchase includes the Tippr and Groupalicious web properties, a subscriber base of more than one million consumers, and some intellectual property rights.
This is nCrowd's 20th acquisition. It pretty much solidifies our position as the number three participant in the local offers market as we continue to evolve away from the deal space. Our operating footprint is expanding from being focused on the Southern/Plains regions to a national footprint where we will be able to provide merchants online customer acquisition services from New York to Honolulu.
At the moment we are executing well on the rollup strategy that we devised in the fall of 2011.
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