Guest Speaker @LeeHower #sbbuzz chat: Summary from March 9, 2010

This week’s SBBuzz chat featured guest speaker Lee Hower, early employee at PayPal, cofounder at Linkedin and now VC.

Our chat next week is on Tuesday March 16th  from 8-9 EST.  Want to join in and get (or give) small biz advice, here’s how it works!

sbbuzz: Welcome to #sbbuzz, a Tweetchat for the next hour of small biz talking technology on Twitter. Join us! http://sbbuzz.biz/instructions
sbbuzz: Rules: 1)NO pitching till end 2)Be nice 3)Stay ON TOPIC! 4)Send ?s for group to me w/o hashtag 5)Use #sbbuzz in all messages 6)Have fun!
sbbuzz: Start off w/an INTRO: 1 message about you and your business and whatever else we need to know. #sbbuzz
decker_chris: I’m an IT professional, web developer and entrepreneur based out of Eastern NC. Excited about my first #sbbuzz! #sbbuzz
DanNieves: Hey everyone! Working with RootOrange, start up trying to grow the business, how can we grow with FB, Twitter, etc? #sbbuzz
TraceyHolinka: I?m a web designr/developr @chaostoclarity. We teach small biz & freelancers how to work better in a digital world. #sbbuzz
ruxtermobi: Hi, I’m Mike from Ruxter. We’re a universal mobile app for small biz & organizations. We combine free mobile websites & low-cost SMS #sbbuzz
lindadessau: Glad to be here! I ghostwrite and edit content for blogs and newsletters – I work with coaches and service providers (intro for #sbbuzz
merritto: I’m a freelance writer and marketing/fundraising consultant to non-profit organizations #sbbuzz
pmohara: Hi all – Pamela here from @batchblue and the hostess of #sbbuzz. Very excited to have @leehower speaking He’s WICKED smart!
stellel: Hi I’m Christelle, I am a customer experience peep at @batchblue. Stopping by to hear the buzz #sbbuzz #sbbuzz
RisingStarIdeas: hello tech gang! I Find cool free online tools to help small business owners save time and money. #sbbuzz
ginabee: Hello All! Gina here from WriteyTidy.com writing/content creation. Looking forward to my Tuesday night education! #sbbuzz
cjservia: I’m a business continuity consultant beginning business here in Eastern North Carolina. #sbbuzz
scoblitz: @sbbuzz Hi everyone – Scott Blitstein from eSeMBe. I’m a blogger, tech-guy, superhero, and music lover. #sbbuzz
familyfoodie: hello all – Family Foodie and I love to cook for my family of 6. #sbbuzz #sbbuzz
ginabee: @scoblitz Superhero, huh? Gonna tell the class about your superpower? #sbbuzz
leehower: hi – I’m Lee, former tech startup entrepreneur turned venture capitalist. I look fwd to participating in #sbbuzz chat on small biz tech.
cjservia: Hi Lee. Can’t wait to hear your story tonigh. @leehower #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: Our guest speaker tonight is @LeeHower, early employee at PayPal, cofounder at LinkedIn & now VC. Welcome, Lee! #sbbuzz
foodiegrl: Hi, I’m Liz – partner marketing manager at Vr4SmallBiz and a raging food geek. #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: We will talking to Lee about early days at successful companies & how we can do the same. Send me any ?s you want included in chat #sbbuzz
wiseleo: Good evening. It’s been a while :) I am Leonid, a world-class computer expert #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: Everyone – feel free to jump in with your own responses & follow-ups, but stay ON TOPIC! #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: @leehower Q1 What are the common characteristics of the successful start-ups you have worked in/with? #sbbuzz
leehower: #sbbuzz Q1: smart, passionate, capable founders / mgmt team – this is true of tech startups (what I focus on) but really all small biz
leehower: #sbbuzz Q1: also a “maniacal” focus on customers… esp when trying to develop a new product or service, cust feedback critical
cjservia: @leehower #sbbuzz How did they demonstrate their passion for the business?
leehower: #sbbuzz be willing to work hard, take personal risk, and just visibly demonstrate an enthusiasm for building their biz
foodiegrl: @leehower, when you’re small and busy, what r your favorite CX feedback tools? #sbbuzz
decker_chris: @leehower Have you ever had to confront a partner that wasn’t demonstrating passion for a startup? If so, how did you handle? #sbbuzz
leehower: #sbbuzz best ways to gather cust feedback depend a little on who your cust are… huge companies, other small biz, consumers, etc
leehower: #sbbuzz but generally I like just talking to cust… also I personally put more weight on what cust do than what they say
ruxtermobi: @sbbuzz @leehower, many ‘overnight’ successes have been in dev for years. What should start-up ‘stars-to-be’ focus on? #sbbuzz
RisingStarIdeas: @leehower how did you convenience people to jump on board with your startups? #sbbuzz
lindadessau: @leehower Yes, people “vote with their feet,” don’t they? #sbbuzz
leehower: #sbbuzz not easy, but as both an entrep & VC I’ve tried to be picky about who I partner with… choose not to work w/ folks not passionate
leehower: #sbbuzz cust vote w/ the dollars as much as their feet :) but totally agree w/ this sentiment
DanNieves: Has your small biz had success utilizing a facebook fan page? if so, how did you drive people to the page? #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: @leehower Q2 from @andrewnim Did you have your entire strategy at start or did you allow it to alter over the first few months? #sbbuzz
leehower: #sbbuzz Q2 always worth planning out your strategy ahead of time, but have to be flexible to alter as mkt needs, financing, etc demands
familyfoodie: What marketing methods do you recommend to small retail bus? Direct mail is so expensive. What is the best way to drive customers? #sbbuzz
leehower: #sbbuzz my old boss (LinkedIn’s CEO Reid Hoffman) used to say starting a company is like jumping off cliff & assembling plane on way down
leehower: #sbbuzz you have to sort of have a clear sense of plan initially, but most startups end up redirecting once or more in big ways
SeeboldMarCom: @leehower ..and I’d say Reid Hoffman built a pretty darn good plane! #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: @leehower Q3 from @foodiegirl as your startup grows, would you invest in tech resources or cx service if had to choose one? #sbbuzz
foodiegrl: @familyfoodie – DMA reports email still has highest ROI: $44 for each $1 spent, but Social is gr8 tool. disclose: I work 4 email co #sbbuzz
leehower: #sbbuzz Q3 depends on nature of biz I suppose – also tech resources and cx service don’t have to be mutually exclusive
leehower: #sbbuzz I’ve seen startups use tech for online cust forums, problem tracking, etc – e.g. cust svc being leveraged w/ tech and “labor”
sbbuzz: @leehower Q4 Is their a cultural difference as the company grows? How do you preserve your culture? #sbbuzz
leehower: #sbbuzz culture undoubtedly evolves as company grows, either in terms of more people or people in different geographic locations
leehower: #sbbuzz no magic bullet for preserving culture, but some elements include: trying to retain good chunk of founders / early employees
leehower: #sbbuzz also establish core values that are as relevant when company is 5 ppl as when its 500 ppl – Netflix has done an awesome job of this
leehower: #sbbuzz Netflix doesn’t track employee vacation time even though it’s huge company today – expectation is ppl work hard but are responsible
sbbuzz: @leehower Q5 What if you don’t want explosive growth? Can you be successful without expanding? #sbbuzz
andreayap: Q4 #sbbuzz culture needs to be genuine + organic, but also disciplined in that you reinforce it everyday #sbbuzz
leehower: #sbbuzz here’s a preez put together by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings on culture/values even as they grew to big company http://bit.ly/czTnBP
TraceyHolinka: Way it should be: RT @leehower: #sbbuzz Netflix doesnt track employee vacation – expectation is ppl work hard but are responsible #sbbuzz
betaspring: Betaspring mentor @leehower is the guest for tonight’s #sbbuzz chat. Small business wisdom from a dude who’s built some big businesses.
leehower: #sbbuzz Q5 absolutely… the definition of “success” as a small business is based upon the founders goals and aspirations
leehower: #sbbuzz my parents were entrepreneurs & owned their own small biz – never grew larger than them + their two kids helping them
leehower: #sbbuzz they (and I) would consider their business absolutely a success, even though it didn’t grow to be huge company
andreayap: @leehower how bout funding via customers vs. VC? Prefer revnues but speed/growth opp tempting me to VC #sbbuzz
leehower: #sbbuzz owning a small biz gave them freedom & independence relative to working for big company, plus time w/ their kids
leehower: #sbbuzz growth is great too, and some businesses only work at large scale – but again success is in eyes of the beholder
leehower: #sbbuzz I prob can’t fit the pros/cons of decision whether or not to pursue VC funding into 140 char, but I’ll take a shot :)
andreayap: Q5 also you can grow margins and cash flows – efficiency not necessarily topline #sbbuzz
leehower: #sbbuzz pros – large amt of up front capital, advice from experienced professional investors + ability to tap their networks for hiring, etc
andreayap: @leehower the vc vs. customer issue being both require fulltime warfare LOL #sbbuzz
leehower: #sbbuzz cons – having a funding partner means just that – take on partner’s opinions, expectations, etc
leehower: #sbbuzz I think pursing VC funding path is a complicated topic – you’ve prob already researched but I’d suggest sites like venturehacks.com
sbbuzz: @leehower Q7 from @ruxtermobi In today’s investment environment, what’s best way for an early-stage company to attract VC support? #sbbuzz
cjservia: I’ve avoided partnerships myself because of “- take on partner’s opinions, expectations, etc “you mention. #sbbuzz
JohnFMoore: Yes, clear VC con is they may push you to grow faster than desired, loss of cntrol #sbbuzz
leehower: #sbbuzz do search of venturehacks.com – some old articles I believe on pros/cons of VC, & lots of info on how to approach it if you puruse
JohnFMoore: Q7. Great management team will attract funding, quality VCs, better than anything else IMO #sbbuzz
laowsmith: @sbbuzz #sbbuzz in current climate is it more important to build out for scale or for profitability?
sbbuzz: And now we near the end of our show. This is what we affectionately call Pitch Time. Please tell us a little about your business. #sbbuzz
leehower: #sbbuzz Q7 as others suggest, outstanding founders/mgmt is 1st thing VCs look for and a dimension VCs won’t compromise on
sbbuzz: A HUGE thank you to @leehower for joining in tonight and sharing so much of your experience. Very instpirational! #sbbuzz
JohnFMoore: No pitch here, just a thanks for an informative discussion #sbbuzz
leehower: #sbbuzz other things we VCs look for – unique prod/tech that creates sustainable competitive advantage, big / rapidly growing mkt
TraceyHolinka: @chaostoclarity helps small biz & freelancers take charge of computers & use social networking/media & the Web to grow their biz #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: And thanks to everyone for all the great discussion! We’ll get the #sbbuzz summary posted on the site soon at http://sbbuzz.biz
scoblitz: @sbbuzz Thanks to @leehower for the chat – very informative. #sbbuzz
lindadessau: Thanks @sbbuzz, thanks @leehower – my pitch: How to write a top 10 article – http://snipr.com/t1pw5 #sbbuzz
stellel: @leehower Thanks for the chat! #sbbuzz
rzazueta: What up #sbbuzz!!! I lurked a little tonight. If you’re going to be at #sxsw, come find us! VerticalResponse at booth 1223!
leehower: #sbbuzz thx @sbbuzz and everyone who participated, I enjoyed it
familyfoodie: Thank you for all the info. As a newbie, I was very impressed. #sbbuzz
TraceyHolinka: Yes was a very interesting and informative discussion. Thxs @sbbuzz & @leehower #sbbuzz
decker_chris: @digitalmints assists small biz owners with web development, digital marketing and social media #sbbuzz
pmohara: Thanks Lee and everyone for awesome chat tonight! Pamela from @batchblue – the company who brings you #sbbuzz
P_Wannemacher: I also want to thank @leehower for the discussion, good stuff! #sbbuzz
scoblitz: @sbbuzz Pitch: eSeMBe helps you choose and implement technology so you can work more efficiently and effectively. #sbbuzz
ginabee: http://www.WriteyTidy.com does the writing so you don’t have to! Thanks for the words of wisdom from my small biz hoping to grow! #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: #sbbuzz is a small business Twitter chat hosted each Tuesday night by the folks from @batchblue Come again soon!
cjservia: #sbbuzz Awesome chat tonight. Great insight.
foodiegrl: I’d pitch, but @rzazueta is doing it for us – thx rob! @VR4SmallBiz #sbbuzz
ruxtermobi: Ruxter is social networking for small businesses who wish to be mobile. Free universal app + low-cost texting to your customers. #sbbuzz
sbbuzz: If you’d like a once-a-week e-mail reminder of #sbbuzz (including the topic) sign up at http://sbbuzz.net #sbbuzz
rzazueta: FYI – #sbbuzz is the thing that showed me the TRUE power of Twitter. Every Tuesday night from 5 – 6 pm PST.
cjservia: We assist all businesses with developing alternative management plans for disaster situations. http://www.lighthousecontinuity.com/ #sbbuzz
ruxtermobi: Thank you @sbbuzz and @leehower for an excellent Tuesday night #sbbuzz chat.
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