2013 was started off right with an informative and diverse set of entrepreneurial themed speakers at the Venture Club of Indiana monthly lunch. This opportunity is an enriching offering of the Kelley School of Business Indianapolis, Evening MBA and its Entrepreneurship Programs through Experiential Education with the venture community of Indiana and beyond.
The spotlight presentation by NitroMojo provided a confident perspective on the potential usefulness of its customer relationship software. As with most of these sales pitches, it created both positive and negative audience perceptions. Debbie Pierce described many aspects of the company in an impressive manner, including: the "Swiss Army knife" analogy of the software's performance; the detailed financial numbers of its fees, EBITA, and specific funding goals; the wealth of experienced internal players; and future focus on higher education. Of course, as mentioned previously, some components of her talk were a bit troubling, such as: the true viability of the ease of use differentiator, the strength and durability of the patents, and the productivity of targeting MBA students. Yet, the basic feel of the presentation was professional and well thought out, exemplified by the straightforward mention of their product aligning as a "good investment" because of the powerful dynamic of their: 1)Product, 2)Timing, 3)Need, and 4)Team. In fact, overall, the fundamental impression remained one that motivated interest and further research to determine how applicable the product could be to audience members. Any funding presentation that leaves a positive impression and generates curiosity would seem at least partially successful.
The Purdue Enterprise Company presentation that was offered gave a brief introduction into their for profit LLC configuration of providing expert assistance for corporate engineering, communication, and business functions. Primarily a facilitator that connects faculty with specific companies and creating a higher level of cross-functional collaboration, their claim to have a unique approach to IP ownership issues offered intriguing potential benefit to the audience members. This interesting combination of streamlining access to faculty while also alleviating some of the headaches surrounding time management and liability insurance appears to be a key factor to utilize their services. However, as mentioned, the actual presentation fell flat through the rushed reading of slides with a lack of enthusiasm that bordered on disdain for having to be there at all.
"A launch is always a leap." This quote and several other small anecdotes were the key takeaways from Robert Jordan's discussion of his book, "How They Did It: Billion Dollar Insights from the Heart of America". His book's collection of interviews from 45 corporate founders that grew technology businesses from startup to hundreds of millions of dollars in value was a great token to take home after the lunch was complete. A repeated theme of his stories returned to the common factors of success he observed: 1)Find a problem or need, 2)Have a passion to solve it, 3) THEN hone the skills necessary through self-taught lessons that rely on characteristics with high levels of curiosity, tenacity and commitment, while avoiding cynical stances on problems. Definitely a relaxed talk that provided some worthwhile tid-bits to most attendees.