Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The new year resolution you’ll rarely read about


I started writing this post on Christmas eve and it’s based on a true story.

// Original post attempt starts here

I’ve never been a fan of new year’s resolutions but I always found it amusing to ask others about theirs (and when possible see how long it’d be before they give up on them).
Few days ago I asked a friend: what are your new year’s resolutions? As I was getting that flow of impressive “I’m gonna do this, and that, and of course, be fit” I regretted asking this question because I knew I’ll have to answer it shortly.
And I was right! Damn it! As I got the inevitable “What about you?” I felt like a student who didn’t study for his exam. I was so pressured to come up with a smart, impressive and well articulated answer. However all I could think of was: “I want to be happy”.
I didn’t feel comfortable saying it though. I mean, what kind of new year resolution would that one sound like? “Be happy? Who cares about you being happy?” I could almost hear myself asking. I wanted to come up with something massive related to business, making money, creating value (my favorite), changing the world. I simply couldn’t.
I was thinking “objectives, goals” and how they should be SMART*. Didn’t come up with any.
I didn’t reply. (Actually I did but the answer isn’t really blog-friendly so I’m saving that part.)

But thinking about it I do believe that being happy is way more important that almost everything else that modern life conditions us to look for. Core elements of real happiness like values, family, love, spirituality, simple pleasures of life are more and more overlooked. Instead we all tend to hustle for sexier achievements like wealth, fame, power, etc… What do we end up having? I’m tempted to say: More successful yet unhappy people.
(If you’re reading this, please don’t think that I’m giving up on fighting to be successful. On the contrary, I’ll fight harder only because I’ll be happier).

// Original post attempt ends here

I honestly gave up on my writing endeavor at that point, finding it impossible to explain rationally why being happy is a valid resolution in today’s world without sounding softy or insane. And I decided to keep my failing attempt to myself.
Until just few minutes ago when I read this post by Sir Richard Branson:

How awesome is that? If Richard Branson and I both think it’s true, then it’s gotta be true. And I thought: Screw it, let’s just post it!

Whether you make it your new year resolution or not I wish you all real happiness in 2013. Howard Thurman said: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Be happy, come alive and the most amazing things will just happen!

(*SMART = Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant & Timely)


Business Development Tips for Startups: Part 1


Business Development is vital to your startup. If sales is the backbone of business, business development is then the spine of sales. It goes way beyond “networking,” requiring strategy, forward thinking and discipline. Here are some tips that might help you sharpen your business development skills. Note that most of these hints overlap with each other and yield way better results when orchestrated altogether:

  1. Think strategically. Business development is not sales. It would take a separate article to describe the many differences between the two, but, simply put, sales is transactional while business development is strategic. While sales is about taking a specific product or service and selling it, business development is more about identifying new strategic opportunities and building alliances that, granted, would eventually lead to more sales. I meet many startups looking for investment “mainly to increase salesforce” while there are countless easier ways to access the same customers or partners. How?
  1. Know the importance of ecosystems. Regardless of the nature of your business, people you’d need to do business with (whether as partners or customers or suppliers) are already connected in one or few micro-networks. Understand the landscape of your industry and try to map strategic alliances and access points to these clusters rather than starting with 1-1 relationships only. It’s more scalable, less costly and faster.
  1. Conquer and divide. Am I hinting that 1-1 relationships are not important? Not at all. At the end of the day it’s all about personal relationships. Once you have scaled horizontally and identified or accessed these micro-networks or clusters, it’s time to dig down and build personal relationships. Stay tuned for a future post on building personal relationships.
  1. Don’t just be a hunter, be a sniper. Here’s another difference with sales: salespeople are either “farmers” or “hunters.” To me, good business developers are snipers. Once they have identified a possible target deal, they have that laser-sharp focus and determination that makes it happen. Time is a luxury you don’t have, so don’t spend it all on “strategizing” and collecting business cards. Instead try to identify your “big deal” quickly and then focus on achieving it and moving forward.
  1. Become a connector. Helping people make money by introducing them to each other is one of the most useful tools that smart and successful business developers use. Creating value for third parties will always bring benefit back to you, one way or another. How and why? I wish I could explain it scientifically, but I just know that it works for me and I see it working marvelously for every successful entrepreneur and business person I meet.

This article was published on Wamda.

3 worrisome signs of the possible upcoming bubble


It looks like a bubble, moves like a bubble: remember the last property bubble? Or the 2000 Tech Bubble? Or maybe the 1600s’ Tulips bubble 🙂 They all have few things in common: crazy demand combined with easy money and fuelled by speculation on one side and on another side an overhyped target (property, tech startup, tulip bubble).  Result? As this article about the Tulip mania () puts it: “Soon even ordinary bulbs were selling for extraordinary prices, and the actually rare bulbs were astronomical”. Sounds familiar?

–       Easy money: If you’re reading this article, I bet that you know at least one person who’s “starting a VC Fund”. Even a 21-year-old fresh grad wants to start a 100Mn VC Fund. I’m not hinting that it’s bad to start a VC Fund but unless you’re really doing something to improve the quality and/or quantity of supply (i.e. startups) you’re just messing with the Supply & Demand equation and sending prices through the roof. In the words of Sequoia Capital’s Douglas Leone: “Right now there’s an incredible amount of capital. Why you want to join the capital side is beyond me.”

–       Hype:  If you think we’re not in a hype of “social media and digital” investment I would love to hear your proof. Take Groupon’s IPO, would it have been feasible without a real hype around it? Aren’t many deals taking place just because everybody is fearing to miss out and just want to jump on the bandwagon of investing in tech startups, betting that valuation will keep skyrocketing?
Speaking of hype, remember how everybody cheered for Groupon’s “successful” IPO 3 weeks ago? In just 3 weeks, Groupon has shed one-third of its market value in less than one week and wiped out nearly $6 billion in shareholder wealth.

–       Crazy valuations: here’s an extract from Yelp’s S1 filing:
We have incurred significant operating losses in the past, and we may not be able to generate sufficient revenue to achieve or maintain profitability. Our recent growth rate will likely not be sustainable, and a failure to maintain an adequate growth rate will adversely affect our results of operations and business;
Valuation? “between $1 billion and $2 billion”!

“This time it’s different”: the signature of any bubble… Real estate prices will always go up, technology companies are the future, gold will always be a safe investment, etc…  We heard it all before and we saw bubbles bursting every time more intensely.

Is this time really different? Bubbles always burst when one of the underlying factors reverses course.  It took one buyer not showing up to pay for his bulb to burst the Tulip bubble and some mortgage defaults to burst the biggest financial bubble of all times.
Wouldn’t one less-than-expected IPO spread panic and dry appetite for tech investment? Or wouldn’t continually growing valuations reach a point where someone in the value chain realizes that there’s no way to exit leading the money flow to shut down?

It’s all about people


One of the most exciting and enriching experiences of my entrepreneurial journey so far is the one about people.

Since day 1, I have had the chance to meet some truly amazing people with whom I entertain the most interesting and insightful conversations and always leave overwhelmed, refreshed and more determined to go further.

How is this relevant to this blog? I never had the discipline to blog regularly nor the commitment to put every interesting idea (at least from my point of view) that crosses my mind in an article. Yet, after every conversation I feel that I have to take the effort and share at least some of those thoughts that would definitely impact someone’s life one way or another.

Today I made up my mind: out of appreciation for this chance I have and in return of it I commit to sharing those thoughts no matter how briefly and sometimes randomly, hoping you would find them as inspirational and motivational as I do.

When thinking of entrepreneurship I always say: Don’t blame those who don’t know, blame those who don’t share what they know… I, for one, wouldn’t want to be blamed one day and hope that my humble experience would help as many people as possible achieve their real passion and potential.

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