Could Enterprise Florida’s Logo and Brand Be Improved?

February 6, 2013 - Comments Off on Could Enterprise Florida’s Logo and Brand Be Improved?

There is a small controversy over Florida Enterprises new logo. A few female business executives are calling it sexist. Specifically because of the use of a tie, which has been construed as being masculine. Here is the link to the article outlining the complaints, written by Alex Johnson of NBC News. See the new logo and tag line below

EnterpriseFloridaLogo315x09*280I am not to found of the design myself as I find it to be a bit cheesy. Mainly my dislike for it is the funds could have been better spent as it cost $380,000 to develop the new logo. I will outline how these funds could have been better spent. In my attempt to not come off as nay-sayer without a solution I created what I believe is an improved Enterprise Florida logo.

Florida Logo

I selected a clean font that is not as playful as the current logo and utilized BIZ inside of box to simulate an I. Making the Logo and Tagline read as, “Flor biz(is) da the new business state of mind.” I believe this is more upbeat and applicable to the ultimate strategy of Enterprise Florida, to attract and promote new businesses in the state of Florida, specifically the organizations strategic areas of emphasis:

  • Emerging Technologies
  • Corporate Headquarters
  • High-Tech Manufacturing

Now with this new and improved logo and tagline the remaining $380,000 can be utilized in a brand awareness campaign for Enterprise Florida. This campaign would include two events to stimulate organic business growth in Florida and address the venture capital drought in the state. The two events would provide funding towards seed stage (Idea stage) and early stage (Product stage) based business in Florida. Utilizing the emerging networks of incubators, accelerators, and entrepreneurship focused academic programs at many of colleges and universities throughout the state to create a pool of startups to compete in these two statewide competitions. The idea is simple award both winners and runner ups of the two events with capital.  The net result is networking opportunities for the companies and the subsequent organizations they represent and clear brand awareness for Florida Enterprise with new emerging companies in the state.

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eCommerce Store In 1 Hour for $35

July 18, 2012 - Comments Off on eCommerce Store In 1 Hour for $35

Editor’s note: Doug Smith is the founder of Headsdown providing business strategy, M&A, strategic project, marketing, and finance consulting

A question poped into my head after a discussion with a peer about a comical idea that I pitched at a recent Startup Weekend event in Tampa. The discussion about the idea led me on the journey  to see how much it would cost and how long would it take to build a fully functional branded and customized eCommerce store that was live and accepting orders.

Surprising it took basically no time, roughly a hour excluding the time waiting on hosting. My initial stop was Shopify, a turnkey ecommerce site that handles store hosting, shopping carts, payments, and almost everything you would need. The base packages  start at $29.99 a month and earlier in the weak I  read about Shopify’s Build-A-Business Competition. Shopify pitches the competition as ”Come up with a product to sell, open your online store and pick a mentor. Our community and your mentor will give you great advice and guidance along the way. At the end of the competition, the four stores that sell the most over a two month period will each win a $50,000 investment from their mentor.”

The competition’s most recent winners include million dollar companies:

  •  Coffee Joulies – Maker of a metallic jewel like items that cool and maintain hot liquids at optimal drinking temperature for long periods of time
  • DODOcase – Marketer and designer of iPad cases that utilize actual book bindings.

The competition also came with several perks including; a free Dotco hosted site, $100 Google AdWords, $100 MailChimp credits.  I selected this as my eCommerce solution, but did not go with a Dotco site, rather I selected 1&1, which offers the first year hosting for .com sites for a mere $3.99. I purchased the hosting and spent the rest of the time waiting for it to go live tweaking my Shopify site and getting images loaded up.

Review-Shopify is very intuitive and surprising rich with features. I would characterize the difficulty to be comprable to that of writing a blog on WordPress. 1&1 is very straightforward and I liked the expierecne more than I do GoDaddy’s. I would say for $35 the first month an $29 a month thereafter it is a no brainer for someone that currently doesn’t have an eCommerce store.

So for those wondering what the comical idea was. Well it is called LiquorDogs, an online store that sells liquor injected and marinated hotdogs, bratwurst, sausages, and beef franks. The idea came from an ice-breaker done at Startup Weekend where dozens of nouns were written on a white board and one individual from a team selected two nouns. The teams then had five minutes to come up with a business based around the name and pitch it.  LiquorDogs was everything from liquor flavored dog treats, a malt beverage company that’s bottle was shaped like a dog bone, and a dog park that has a bar attached, which in hindsight is a nice idea with anyone with a bar and or vacant land in suburban or urban area. All of these ideas were pretty solid considering the time allotted, but the liquor injected meat somehow won over the team of a dozen twenty to thirty year olds males. Unfortunately the launch of LiquorDogs is still to be determined based off some more research in potential regulatory issues and finalization of beta tasting.

Web Tools for Business and Life

January 31, 2012 - Comments Off on Web Tools for Business and Life

This article will cover some companies that are offering very dynamic web products and services. I have used these tools in my business and personal life and stand-by them and most are free or freemium based products & services.

The most robust suite of free products comes from Google, which includes:

Dropbox  easy way to share documents with clients and co-workers.

  • Business Use large documents such as business plans, financials, and presentations
  • Personal Use – sharing high-quality photos with family and friends
Evernote  easy way to take notes both written and audio. Evernote also allows you to share files and images in addition to allowing you to search all notes even hand written notes.
  • Business Use – team brainstorming sessions and note/document sharing
  • Personal Use – personal memos and keeping track of important notes & numbers

Workflowly  allows users to create simple list that can be shared in sections.

  • Business Use – Project management tool across organizations and teams
  • Personal Use – Grocery list, household chores and projects

GIMP  free graphic design software for image editing and creation.

  • Business Use – create company logo’s or edit images on the fly without the need of graphic designer
  • Personal Use – create interesting profile pictures for social media sites and edit personal pictures

WordPress.com  free or paid blog hosting site.

  • Business Use – very easy to use blogging site that can double as a business site
  • Personal Use – create a blog for events such as a wedding or creating a new alumni network!

Square  not a web-tool but very cool free payment card reader 2.75% swipe fee and next day pay-out.

  • Business Use – awesome to take credit/debit cards on the fly to collect payments
  • Personal Use – settle up with friends and family for group trips and outings

List.ly –  a comprehensive list of great web tools.

I would recommend if you liked this list to also check out the WFSEN Resource Page and see some of the sites and books listed on entrepreneurship. WFSEN is also looking for guest writers to write articles on their insights into entrepreneurship or other relevant business insights. Please contact Doug at douglasmithfl@gmail.com if interested in being a guest writer.

How To Handle An Investment Conference Call

January 31, 2012 - Comments Off on How To Handle An Investment Conference Call

So great – you have been awarded a conference call. Time to speak with a potential institutional investor or angel. This connection possibly came through an introduction from someone in your network. If you’re  not familiar with how to handle getting a introduction I touch on this at the end of this post. I have been involved and led several dozen conference calls with some of the largest institutional money groups and corporate venture capital arms in the country.  My time spent on the venture capitalist’s side and the entrepreneur’s side of the table has allowed me witness a few blow ups and some successful calls that led to terms later on. There are steps as a entrepreneur that you can make pre-call, during the call and post-call with investors that can lead to a smoother call and potentially better outcome.

Pre-Call

As a entrepreneur you need to minimally be able to speak about the following things in length:

  • Brief pitch of the company one minute in length
  • What is the problem the company addresses
  • What is the solution the company provides
  • What is the business model
  • What is the magic sauce of the company (Technology, Team, etc)
  • The backgrounds of the management team
  • What is your market and size
  • What is your focus or vertical(s) inside of the market
  • Financial status (Burn-Rate, Revenue, Profit, Net Income)
  • What is the sells process
  • What does your client base look like
  • What is the capital need for the company near-term and long-term
  • What type of capital is being sought debt or equity
  • What % of the company is up for sell (Avoid valuation discussion if possible)
  • Use of funds and what the exit strategy is for a investor

The second step in the pre-call process is to qualify what type of group you are speaking with and if it is actually a investor. In my personal experience I have been dragged into numerous calls with an “interested investor” that is nothing more than an investment bankers looking to provide services under the guise that they have a pool of funds they would be willing to put into the company if you hire them. I warn any entrepreneur that is looking at utilizing a investment banker. They  should be the last option especially for any company that is pre-revenue or south of $1million in sales. Their are a few truly good investment bankers out there though that can provide great service but they are far and few between. The main point here as a entrepreneur you need to qualify whom it is your speaking with as it can save you time.

The third step is doing research on the fund and most specifically the types of investments they make. I have also found it to be good practice to examine their portfolio companies and try to find commonalities between your company and investments they have made. These commonalities mean company stage, industry, geography, business model, amount of capital invested, etc.

The fourth step is to do research on the particular individual(s) that will be on the call and look to their background and see who they are in the firm. Associates are not decision makers but do not blow them off because they still carry sway inside of these firms. Managing partners are the decision makers and their word goes much further in the weekly meetings that firms have to discuss deals. One should also focus on the particular companies that the individual has been involved with. Managing partners sit on the board of their investments, thus it is more logical to speak about one that they are on the board of.

During the Call

The first thing is to communicate with the other party on how long they have allotted for the call. First time investment calls normally span 30 minutes to hour. Be cognizant of the time but be respectful and allow for them to speak this can be done by inviting the money group to speak about themselves and whom is on the call. You can find out why they are interested in speaking with you based on how they describe themselves and their group. They sometimes will also give you insight of how much they already know about your space or company. This is a important thing to listen for because it reduces the amount of educating you will have to do and allows you to focus on more of the nuances of the company rather than the broad macro details. Also if the other group is unfamiliar with the space your in and have failed to really look at your company materials it means they might not be very interested in your company to begin with. Minimally it will take much longer to educate them on your company and industry. This also shows the character of the individuals at the group and who really wants to have someone sit on their board who doesn’t even read the material before the meeting or doesnt bring any industry contacts or knowledge.

Another important step during a call is to be mindful of how you present yourself and interact with a potential investor. Josh Linker’s piece 5 Disastrous Moves that Will Botch Your Pitch lists five things to avoid when pitching your company to a investor.  Much of what Josh speaks about comes down to being straightforward and taking the time to listen and clearly present your company and answer any questions that a investor has directly and be humble about your company. The five mistakes he recommends against are listed below:

1) THE GREAT GATSBY: Grandiose braggarts may entertain at cocktail parties, but they rarely win the battle of the pitch. Keep it authentic and real. Your startup with 11 beta customers isn’t a billion-dollar company just yet. Think big, but stay humble. After hearing a pitch where the daring hero outperforms Groupon and Apple in their second year with trillions of revenue and six billion customers, I’m ready for a shower instead of a closing dinner.

2) THE FACT LEAP: Anyone who is being pitched has turned on their highly developed BS detector to full tilt. We are questioning everything you say and trying to poke holes in your story. So the minute you exaggerate a stat, make an outrageous claim, or state a fact that can be challenged, your credibility crumbles.

3) THE OVERSELL: If you make a strong point once, it resonates. If you feel the need to make the same point several times you end up diluting the power of the message. If you keep pushing a point, you transform before our eyes from a passionate world-changer to a used-car salesperson or infomercial pitchman. If what you are pitching is that special, you don’t need to oversell it.

4) THE S.A.T.: When responding to a question, just answer it directly. If you tell a four-minute story that includes 73 data points, the listener feels like they are taking a college-entrance exam in which they need to sift through all the irrelevant stuff in order to get the answer. This does not help you shine or get your message heard.

5) THE RUN-ON SENTENCE: One of my pet peeves is listening to someone drone on for a 45-minute monologue. In your big moment, your instinct is to communicate everything you know, the entire history of your idea, and endless amusing anecdotes. Avoid this urge. Your pitch will be 100 times more powerful if you can make it concise. Make every word count.

I have heard a CEO do all five of these things. The result was that the once excited investor turned dark because he was so unimpressed by the CEO even though the technology was exciting. The investors ultimate response was that he liked the technology but because he did not trust the CEOs ability to present the company to clients he would not invest anymore of his time into speaking with the company.

This brings me to another step and that it is important to put yourself in the investors shoes as they get pitched on deals all day long. Thus making it as easy as possible for them to understand what it is your doing. While being honest and polite throughout the process by listening and answering questions. They are people too and your company is among many they will speak with in a given week.

Another vitally important step to take is to remove emotion from the call. I see it as the worst thing that you can do as entrepreneur to become overly emotional on a call as it is unnerving for everyone involved. Nothing good can come from crying on the phone or becoming angry and insulting a potential investor. I have seen both and it is extremely unprofessional and uncomfortable.  Needless to say I was on a call where the entrepreneur became angry and got offensive and attacked the investor by calling him a liar and dumb for not understanding what the company was doing. Needless to say they did not receive a follow up call. I also had entrepreneur break down on the call out of frustrations and sound of sobs came out. This tugged on the heart strings but it will not open ones wallet.

Post-Call

Investors normally give you four types of responses of what the next steps are. The first is they would like to set-up a follow up call with you and your full team in the next few days or a face to face meeting. This is fantastic because it means you potentially have a fundable company and have spiked their interest. The second “We will reach out to you after we talk about the deal internally,” this normally leads to a polite turndown, but all hope is not lost. The final is “we would like if to keep in contact and see how you progress” meaning your company is not a fit for X reason, but they are being polite. This is the typical response given to companies with inadequate revenue or some other fundamental reason. The fourth they come right and turn you down on the call. I respect these groups greatly and wish more groups were more blunt like this.

The proper follow up in the latter cases is to put them on your mailing list and reach-out to them after you have hit certain criteria if they have listed any. It is greatly important to understand that interactions with investors can be a lengthy process taking numerous months and even years until your company meets the criteria the investor is looking for. Thus, it is important to make sure your speaking to the right groups for the stage that your company is at and if possible have a introduction to the firm, as this can go along way. I know first hand most investments made by investors come from referrals from people in their network. Chris Fralic has great advice on how to handle the introduction process in his article the Art of the Introductions: Top Ten Tips. His ten tips are listed below and the article is worth the read to see how many deals a VC gets sent his way through his network:

1) SUBJECT LINE MATTERS This one is a big one – DO NOT use just “Introduction” or “Intro” alone as email subject line. That’s the equivalent of sending a resume titled “resume.doc” – it says nothing. You should have the names and company names of both people being introduced in the email subject line.

2) WHAT’S IN IT FOR THE TARGET? Ever hear the line about everyone’s favorite radio station? WIFM – What’s In it For Me. WHY should the Target care about this introduction? Put it in the first sentence or paragraph. Another way to look at it – is there any evidence in your email introduction that you know anything about the Target whatsoever?

3) CONTENT MATTERS Are you being specific enough about what you’re asking the Target to do, and are you actually saying what your company does? If you’re looking for a job or career help, did you attach your resume? If you’re introducing your company, did you attach a deck or executive summary or at least a paragraph explaining what you do? Links are not enough – they’re generally useless if the person reading it is on a Blackberry or on an airplane.

4) MAKE IT EASY TO REACH YOU Consider having your email signature (and your reply signature) contain all of your relevant contact information. You want to be one click away from a call or email. Every deck or executive summary should contain your contact information on the first and last slide.

5) MAKE IT EASY TO HELP YOU DON’T just verbally ask someone to make introduction – the follow through rates on those are usually low, and it puts too much work on the Connector. A best practice is to craft an email from the Subject to the Connector that contains EVERYTHING and can be easily forwarded to the Target (from the road a Blackberry, etc.)

6) CREATE FIREWALLS This one needs some explanation and some caveats – if the Connector is really close to both parties or has achieved a certain level of relationship with the Target, it can be fine to introduce both parties directly. But it often makes sense to consider the benefits of using a “Firewall” – the best/easiest example is via LinkedIn where it’s easy and completely up to each party to forward or accept the Introduction. Another alternative to a direct introduction is for the Connector to forward information to the Target to see if they’re interested first.

7) “LEAN FORWARD” ON YOUR RESPONSE When someone engages on a response you can really tell – it makes a difference and gets the ball rolling (e.g. offering some quick insight into the problem or opportunity at hand, offering multiple times/places to meet, etc)

8) CLOSE THE LOOP But don’t create an endless loop – don’t copy everyone on each of the 12 emails it takes to find an open time to talk. Instead…

9) EMBRACE THE BCC Blind Carbon Copy is the most powerful and least used feature in email. One simple BCC lets the Connector know that the introduction has been received and is under way.

10) EVERY INTRODUCTION CAN BE A WIN/WIN Help people out when you can and be honest and helpful even if you can’t.

One seeking to get introductions to investors should contact your accountant, attorney or vendors to see if they know anyone who would be interested in your company. I would also hit up the local entrepreneur circuit of events. These events will connect you with other entrepreneurs but also potential people who might be willing to make introductions for you. In Florida and most specifically in Tampa there is a number of organizations such as Tampa Bay Wave  that have frequent events that offer networking opportunities.

Lastly, I want to note that investment conference calls are one part of a very long and arduous process of convincing people your idea and company are worth investing in. I also want to emphasize that these are not harden fast steps to success but a starting place to begin preparing for a call.

How to Make Your Own Linkedin QR Code

October 10, 2011 - Comments Off on How to Make Your Own Linkedin QR Code

I have a fairly generic name, so it is very difficult for people to actually search me merely by name on Linkedin. Thus, I assume I am not the only one of you out there with this problem. Thus, I decided to show you how make your own QR code that ties back into your Linkedin account.

I utilized my Linkedin QR code and had it printed on my next batch of business cards or for those out their seeking jobs utilize a QR code on the top of your resume. This makes allowing people to connect with much easier. Below are the easy steps to create your own Linkedin QR code.

Step 1

go to your Linkedin profile scroll down to find you “Public Profile”

Step 2

Login into bit.ly or go to goo.gl copy your public profile URL and paste into text box and press shorten

Step 3

Google “Free QR code Generator” or use http://qrcode.kaywa.com/

Copy the QR code image on the left and save and insert into your business card template our attach to top of your resume.

Headsdown Media can help you or your company with implementing QR code strategies into your marketing initiatives or other applicable business tasks. Example we can keep track the effectiveness of print marketing campaigns by implementing a QR code strategy that would track  the number of scans of your QR code in direct mail-outs coupons or other forms of print advertising. This gives much greater visibility to campaign traction and creates potential stickiness with your campaign’s audience.

Headsdown Media Featured in Article about QR codes

June 25, 2011 - Comments Off on Headsdown Media Featured in Article about QR codes

Headsdown Media was featured in an article written by Elizabeth Graham from the American Cancer Society.

The article, QR Codes: The New Face of Marketing was featured on her personal blog and highlights the emergence of QR code technology in marketing and how it is becoming its “New Face”.

“Doug Smith, CEO Headsdown Media , thinks QR codes over time will become wildly more prevalent because of their ability to store static information such as names, telephone numbers, and also dynamic information such as links to websites. The information on the codes can also be easily shared on social media and can rapidly become viral.”

“I (Doug Smith) can see a world were coupon books become a single slip of paper with a QR code that links back to a website catalog of discounts,” Smith said. “I also think over time that some magazines and newspapers will opt to include them in their articles to bring a new element to their stagnant words, by having codes that link to multimedia elements such as video of sports events or political speeches.”

“I think like most areas, Tampa Bay is in the dawn of the use of QR codes,” Doug Smith, CEO Headsdown Media, said. “They will become more prevalent when creative people think of dynamic ways to share the information that their customers and their audience want to learn or share.”

We recommend reading the full article as it is very instructional and can give you ideas how to use them in your professional and personal life.

http://elizabethgraham.org/2011/05/17/quick-response-codes-the-new-face-of-marketing/

 

Adoption of QR Code Usage on the Rise

April 23, 2011 - Comments Off on Adoption of QR Code Usage on the Rise

Fresh design for the Headsdown Media QR Code

March 16, 2011 - Comments Off on Fresh design for the Headsdown Media QR Code

The QR elves at Headsdown have been tinkering away at creating Headsdown Media’s new QR Code. This is what they have created. Notice the color and Headsdown logo embedded in the image!  If you like what you see please contact us at Headsdown Media, so we can create your custom QR Code.

Custom QR Code for Headsdown Media

Custom QR code for Headsdown Media

Tampa – QR codes & the iPad will impact how you read print news

March 6, 2011 - Comments Off on Tampa – QR codes & the iPad will impact how you read print news

We at Headsdown a QR code provider, based in Tampa Bay found a great article highlighting the application of QR codes by the Indian journalist N Madhavan @ Hindustan Times. The article highlights the use of QR codes potential application in traditional print news and magazines using the iPad 2 tablet and iPhone smartphone.

“Now, imagine you are reading a newspaper or a magazine (the old paper stuff) and you come across an article that discusses, say the iPad 2 and you point your mobile handset or tablet computer’s camera at the QR code. Presto! You immediately can watch a related video. That’s what I got to experience.”

We at Headsdown can work with your organization to implement QR code technology into your print  advertising or if you are print media company and need a partner to increase your product offering contact us at Headsdown Media.

Telephone – 727-424-9779

Email -headsdownmedia@gmail.com

Follow us on Twitter @headsdownmedia or Facebook Headsdown Media

Tampa Bay – NYC Goes QR Code for New Building Permits

March 5, 2011 - Comments Off on Tampa Bay – NYC Goes QR Code for New Building Permits

New York QR Code

NYC Permit with QR Code

Fastcompany.com highlights how New York City officials plan to utilize QR codes to drive efficiency in their city’s building permit process. Headsdown can help your municpality or business implement a similar process check our about us page.