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Paul Higgins
London
Recent Activity
I’ll be honest: I haven’t read The Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Guilty, I know. I could make excuses – I’m new to the tech scene, I don’t have the time, whatever – but they probably aren’t valid. Nonetheless, I don’t live in a cave, so I am of course... Continue reading
Posted Jan 17, 2012 at Rapid Innovation Group blog
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As we were discussing current renovations to our company website, our director began talking about ways to define each person’s individual expertise and area of focus. What’s your brand? Answering the question directly poses significant challenges. It’s a bit like being asked, “What’s your culture?” There’s no simple answer to... Continue reading
Posted Jan 9, 2012 at Rapid Innovation Group blog
We recently sat down with Shields Russell, Principal and Founder of RIG, to talk about the company’s beginnings and his evolving thoughts on working with entrepreneurs. Why did you start RIG? "There are essentially three capabilities involved in starting a high growth technology company: solving a real problem for a... Continue reading
Posted Dec 9, 2011 at Rapid Innovation Group blog
A couple of weeks ago I had a chance to hear some of the speakers from the event “Silicon Valley Comes to the UK” in Cambridge. Several of the speakers talked of the amazing possibilities opening up with the availability of large data sets that effectively index information, language, and... Continue reading
Posted Dec 8, 2011 at Rapid Innovation Group blog
Dr. Markus Perkmann is a Senior Research Fellow at Imperial College Business School where he leads the Business Model Innovation theme. Having worked earlier in his career as Head of Innovation and Strategy at a software start up, we talked to him about his experience of working in a growth... Continue reading
Posted Dec 1, 2011 at Rapid Innovation Group blog
As a recent graduate working with start ups (not infrequently run by people who would themselves be considered ‘young’ in the corporate world), I think credibility is one of the biggest issues a young professional comes up against. The trouble with credibility, and this is by no means a new... Continue reading
Posted Nov 29, 2011 at Rapid Innovation Group blog
This is my first week at the Rapid Innovation Group and I come to the company from an unlikely background. Having studied English, literature, languages, and medieval studies from undergrad through a PhD, I have often been asked in sneering tones, “What are you going to do with that?” Along... Continue reading
Posted Nov 17, 2011 at Rapid Innovation Group blog
You're welcome. Thanks for the feedback. Your comment seemed to get flagged by Typepad's spam filter for some reason but I've posted it now.
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Hackathons are generally seen as being the preserve of enthusiastic developers. It’s all about the code, surely..?? I recently had the good fortune to be accepted for the Seedcamp Seedhack event – there were going to be 120 attendees, with a mix between coders and ‘business types’. My personal aim... Continue reading
Posted Nov 14, 2011 at Rapid Innovation Group blog
Hi Lorraine, Thanks for commenting - I'm glad you find it useful. Yes I think you're right; the relationship side is probably the most important factor in the whole negotiation and it's not covered here. I guess the relationship side comes down to a phrase I always hear - 'cultural fit' - which I suppose is basically whether you actually like the idea of working with the other party. Some people might say that if the commercials are strong enough then it doesn't matter whether you would go for a drink with a reseller/partner. Maybe it depends on how close the relationship would have to be on the scale of licensing partner (not close at all) through to full merger (very close indeed). What do you think?
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StarBase, founded in 1992, is a London-based performance testing software consultancy with established testing expertise in a wide range of industries. We spoke to Stephen Davis, StarBase founder and MD, about his experience in starting his own company. Why did you start StarBase? "The reason I started StarBase was basically... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2011 at Rapid Innovation Group blog
How to approach an initial sales meeting I wanted to write this post to follow up a previous one which covered the importance of having an effective sales process. The post began with a comment that entrepreneurs have a fantastic passion for their products and are able to convey this deep enthusiasm in sales pitches. The risk is that this can lead to relying upon a solution-centric approach which takes no heed of the prospect’s challenges. Founding CEOs frequently turn up at a sales meeting and wax lyrical about the features, capabilities and benefits of their solution. But how can you presume the solution will solve the prospect’s problem, without understanding what that problem is in detail? Getting this right is especially important at the early stages of your company’s life, as feedback from these early sales meetings can be vital to helping you refine product / market fit in the wider sense. A meeting (or meeting preparation) should always begin with a focus on identifying the prospect’s key challenges. In addition to taking this approach for our clients, we also use it with our own prospects. I thought I would lay out the high-level methodology I employ when meeting potential future clients, because although we are selling services, the same approach should be used as part of a consultative sales process for an enterprise technology solution. 1. Set a clear objective a. E.g. ‘To understand the {prospect’s} key growth objectives, strategies and the accompanying challenges. From this, to determine whether our capabilities and experience could be utilised to help address these challenges and as such accelerate the growth of the business’ 2. Understand their challenges (to determine whether they can be addressed by your competencies / capabilities) a. Elucidate these through a series of insightful questions. This serves a number of purposes beyond identifying their challenges: 1. By asking the right questions, you demonstrate your expertise 2. Gives a chance for you to highlight issues / opportunities which the prospect may not have been aware of 3. Shows you have done your homework on their company, demonstrating that winning their business is of value to you b. For example, I often try to drill down to the crux of a prospect’s challenges by structuring questions under the following headings: 1. Market and competitive landscape 2. Growth objectives / window of opportunity 3. Market focus and rationale 4. Market strategy and proposition 5. Demand generation activities 6. Sales and sales management processes 7. Partnering capabilities 3. Explore potential synergies / areas of collaboration a. Give a relevant (according to the answers to the questions) background to your company / solution b. Discuss how a relevant selection of your competencies / capabilities could be used to address their most strategic challenges (elucidated earlier on) c. Add credence to the discussion by referring to appropriate case studies 4. Next steps (if appropriate) a. Agree to structure the discussions into an objective driven programme of work 1. If well put together, this document will in itself give you significant credibility, as well as laying out the value the prospect will gain from the collaboration 2. Suggesting to put together this programme of work should be compelling for the prospect – they should get value from it even if they end up not choosing you to execute upon it If you are thoughtful, effective and easy to work with during the sales process, you give direct assurance to the prospect that this will be the case after the sale. As well as using what you learn to tailor the relevance of your offering to the company in question, it also helps you develop your overall proposition and further refine your product / market fit. Continue reading
Posted Oct 27, 2011 at Rapid Innovation Group blog
Hi Traoloch, Thanks for commenting. I think you're right that 'lean' might slow growth rates for good businesses, with the quid pro quo being that you pick the best long-term opportunity. Like saving for a rainy day? You make sacrifices in the early days to give yourself the best chance long-term. So the challenge must be to stay afloat (both in terms of cash and motivation) during the experimentation period for long enough that you reach the pure execution phase.
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The final of the Rugby World Cup took place over the weekend, with New Zealand winning the title for the first time in 24 years on their home turf. As a disappointed England supporter, the end of the competition led me to do some thinking about what went wrong and... Continue reading
Posted Oct 24, 2011 at Rapid Innovation Group blog
Thanks Dan, I appreciate your feedback. Good luck with the conference.
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We asked our good friend Peter Collins, CEO of Permasense, what are the key challenges a CEO faces when running a company of Permasense’s size? How should you prioritise your tasks and how would you define a good strategy to overcome these challenges? Be clear about strategy "I define strategy... Continue reading
Posted Oct 21, 2011 at Rapid Innovation Group blog
Very interesting indeed, Tristan, thanks for commenting. I certainly take your points about Twitter and Zynga. What then about Color? Are they effectively following a 'lean' methodology now in the sense that they launched an early product version in March, which received terrible customer feedback, so they went back to stealth mode to try again?
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I like the ideas around 'lean' methodologies for startups that have been developed from their manufacturing background in Eric Ries' new book, The Lean Startup. It's now on our recommended reading list and I cited some of its principles in my recent podcast on market leadership. To use Ries' 'lean... Continue reading
Posted Oct 18, 2011 at Rapid Innovation Group blog
What are some of the key considerations and potential challenges in taking business abroad? We asked Fanny Dolo, Key Account Manager at WISAFORCE, in charge of the UK market… “You should establish yourself in your home country before expanding out. Before you do, it is important to have the following... Continue reading
Posted Oct 6, 2011 at Rapid Innovation Group blog
Hi Ed, Yes I absolutely agree. I see you wrote a blog post on the Chief Revenue Officer role on your site recently as well. I think you're right to say that the CRO role can be the start of bringing sales and marketing together but it's by no means the end of the story.
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Designing an effective sales process for a complex B2B sale Entrepreneurs have a fantastic passion for their products. This deep enthusiasm which they are able to convey is often the driving force behind their company’s first few key sales. A common complaint that then follows is that the initial sales people they hire are unable to close by themselves – the entrepreneur believes he/she has to remain involved in all opportunities. This is obviously not scalable and it highlights the vital importance of an effective and well codified sales process. What constitutes an effective sales process? It should precisely reflect a customer’s buying process, for instance: • Which individuals (influencers, decision makers and likely blockers) need to be met? • What do they need to be presented with / need to understand in order to give their approval? • What is the optimal way to articulate and deliver this information? • In which order do these individuals need to be approached, and what is the best way to engage them? An effective sales process provides answers to all these questions in the form of a ‘best-practice’ roadmap which is split into discrete and well defined stages, each with: • A clear objective and unambiguous gateway (to the next stage) • An information requirement (the key information which needs to be obtained to help you effectively progress) • A ‘tool-box’ (e.g. FAQs, presentations, business case building structures, email templates) – i.e. codified best practice How is it created? A sales process can only be created through direct experience of engaging with your target market, and it is a process of continuous refinement. A different skill-set is needed by the sales-person involved in these initial pioneering sales. They need to continually gather insights around how customers use the product and how it can be most effectively positioned against alternative solutions, and then be able to incorporate these into a freshly re-iterated approach. It is vital to get this process well defined before ramping up a sales team – this is brilliantly explained in an HBR article ‘The Sales Learning Curve’. Its benefits • Effectiveness and scalability – by developing best-practice and codifying it, best-practice becomes repeatable (by other people) • De-risking of the hiring process – all the different stages require different capabilities. Once these have been defined, the optimal individuals to execute upon them can be hired and managed This role of sales-process creation is one of the key things we do for those of our clients at an early stage (i.e. where the CEO is often the sole sales-person). By clearly designing and segmenting the sales process we make their time go much further – we can execute a large percentage of it, and only involve them at stages where their capabilities are required. Also, by taking menial tasks off their hands (e.g. sending agendas, booking in calls) they are able to be positioned much more powerfully with the prospect. Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2011 at Rapid Innovation Group blog
RIG will be opening applications for its summer 2012 internship programme on 1st October. Most of RIG’s applicants come from the UK’s top universities, so the fact that they do, although a positive attribute, is not a stand out quality. RIG recruits from some of the best institutions; a successful... Continue reading
Posted Sep 16, 2011 at Rapid Innovation Group blog
In January 2008, Fourth Hospitality acquired ABS Ltd. We asked Tony O’Shaughnessy, founder of ABS, to tell us more about the two companies joining. “ABS and Fourth Hospitality had known each other for years and we’d always talked to each other about working together in partnership. "ABS offered a trading... Continue reading
Posted Sep 15, 2011 at Rapid Innovation Group blog
Last week I recorded a podcast for OpenView Partners' LabCast series, entitled Is Market Leadership Within Your Grasp? Every company dreams of gaining leadership in their respective markets but choosing the best market to attack in no easy task. The podcast is a discussion of the strategies that early and... Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2011 at Rapid Innovation Group blog
I like this analogy of pigs vs chickens, but isn't there an argument that your entrepreneur is going to be more honest and open in discussions if they have other options? If they know that they have the mortgage and the family college fund riding on their venture then will they always be in the right frame of mind to assess the right strategy? Is it possible to be too committed?
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