Concept to Company
While I was volunteering in MIT/Stanford Venture Lab (VLAB), I had a chance to meet with and listen to numerous CEOs and great executives. If you are living in Bay Area and interested in business, I canâ€™t think of a reason that you donâ€™t go to this SUPER GREAT event (http://www.vlab.org). Volunteers can also go to those meetings for free.
Each year, VLAB will host an â€œAnnual Concept to Company Eventâ€ and last year, they were featuring Vocera Communications, a wireless voice communication company. During that event, I saw lots of great people, such as Ann Winblad (one of the best VCs in bay area), Srivats Sampath (former founder, President and CEO of McAfee.com, CEO of Mercora), Robin Vasan (a nice VC), Robert Shostak (Principal Founder and CTO of Vocera), Brent Lang (VP of Marketing of Vocera). I always like to leverage my business knowledge by meeting with some great experienced people. But this time is really special. When I left the auditorium, I was thrilled by their discussion. I just felt that I had move a huge step towards my dream.
A start-up company
In the event, Robert Shostak first showed the audience how he and his partners founded Vocera few years ago and how they found funding. His story is very interesting. When they were planning to start the companies, many people thought that why they have to use a wireless wearable communicator instead of cell phones. People just didnâ€™t get their business ideas. Therefore, they invested $3000 to make a video to describe clearly about their business concepts and to illustrate their products in reality. They said this â€œ$3000â€ is one of the best investments for them because positive feedbacks start to come after they show the video to potential investors. Robert said they have found more than 40 venture capitals before they got enough funding for their company. I am really impressed by their efforts and I have a better picture about what I need to do in the future.
After that, Brent Lang, the VP of marketing of Vocera, told us they had never specific an industry as their targeted customers before they found the company. However, after they have interviewed with more than 70 customers. They got a surprised result. They received a huge demand of their products, which still havenâ€™t come to the world at that time, from people working in hospitals. They told Brent they have waited for this kind of product for a long time because it can enhance their customer service, productivity, and teamwork. But the company never expected this outcome. This story reminds me about a chapter in â€œBuilt to Lastâ€ called â€œTry a lot of stuff and keep what worksâ€. Many great companies have also used these kinds of method to find out their best strategy.
Advices from Venture Capitalists & CEOs
Ann Winblad told us to make sure what your pricing strategy is in a technology company. Also Robin Vasan said customer research is very important. If you can show the venture capitalists a think emails printouts showing the customersâ€™ positive feedbacks, he is sure the venture capitalists will pay attention to your business plan.
At last, Srivats Sampath states that he believes in a great team. Business is like a team sport. If you can have a great team which knows its strength and weakness, they will do well no matter in good time or bad time. His concept has been proved by his achievement in McAfee, having 4.4 million people paying $50 a year for its serviceâ€¦â€¦4.4m x 50, you can do the math. =) how easy it sounds from his mouth. You can know how great this person is.
I really glad that I havenâ€™t missed this great event. It may affect my whole life and my future business concept. Although I still donâ€™t have a clear business plan for my future business at this moment, I still feel confidence about my future company. I just wonder which powerful business person I will meet next time.