After hatching a good idea, building a prototype, and maybe a little incubation, a strong business development strategy is crucial to the success of your tech startup.In a series of interviews at General Assembly, Anand Chopra-McGowan talks to leaders of some of the hottest technology startups to uncover their strategy, tactics, and insight.
The series kicked off this Wednesday with Jennifer Fremont-Smith, Co-Founder and CEO of Smarterer, a Boston-based startup funded by Google Ventures and True Ventures, among others.
Smarterer is a platform designed to test and score people on their digital, social, and technical skills, using crowdsourced test design and a scoring algorithm that is able to rapidly produce a quantitative score.
Over the 90-minute session, Fremont-Smith covered a range of topics related to building a business – fundraising strategies, partnership creation, and the traits of a successful business development professional, among many others.
Below are five key takeaways from the interview:
1. Defining business development: Business development is, by definition, undefined. It is the process of uncovering the “unknown unknowns” that can help to grow a company. The key is to focus on specific metrics that define growth for your business, and then seek out the partnerships, people, and products that increase those metrics.
2. Advice on getting a job in biz dev: Many people see business development as just a way into a startup – a generic enough role that doesn’t require specific knowledge or background. In reality, however, you shouldn’t get into biz dev unless it’s truly something you want to do. You have to be ready to constantly make calls, pitch, and be rejected.
3. On Scaling Strategies: As startups grow and team members get further and further from the founders, communicating the original zeal and passion can get difficult. It’s crucial to focus on establishing processes at the earliest stage that will keep the message consistent, the forecasts accurate, and the steps to success clear.
4. Traits of successful biz dev professionals: More important than standard sales abilities like being aggressive, persistent, and a good presenter, is being organised, methodical, and able to manage time well. Because most business development deals and partnerships are original, a good BD professional needs to be able to maintain meticulous attention to a lot of details.
5. Limit customisation: It’s very dangerous for a startup to strike a large number of deals that require high customisation. A good business development professional should look for the common traits that drive success in partnerships, rather than committing engineering, product, and design resources to build out deal after deal from scratch.
The series continues for three more weeks, and features conversations with About.me, Mashable, and GroupMe. Details and registration are at http://bit.ly/mTP5VG.