Archive for August, 2008

1 Year Of Scott Middleton

I was just showing a mate my blog and realised I’ve been blogging for 1 year and 7 days now.

Wow.

Reflecting for a moment I ask myself, “what is this blog about?”

It’s to record my thoughts and experiences on life and creating something that gives me freedom and hopefully makes someone’s life a lot more exciting.

Onwards and upwards!

9 Lessons I Learnt From My First Pitch For Investment

Yesterday I made a pitch to the guys at Geeksville on a real-time local mobile search service (similar to buzzd). We’ve got a provisional patent on a particular method and believe there is an exciting opportunity to use our technology in the local Australian market. (Email me if you’d like to know more about our plans).

Whilst I’ve made pitches for various things, internal projects/change initiatives, sales pitches and pitches to get people interested in my idea I had never pitched with the intention of getting financial commitment.

I went into the meeting with the view that no matter what happens today I win. I either a) walk out with the backing that I wanted or b) walk out having learnt a huge amount about making a pitch for investment.

Interestingly I think I walked out somewhere in the middle.

Here are the lessons I learnt:

  1. MAKE SURE YOUR NUMBERS ARE OFFERING THE SIZE OF OPPORTUNITY YOUR POTENTIAL INVESTORS ARE LOOKING FOR. My feeling was that these guys are looking for something that goes profitable in the first 12 months and breaks even that year or the year after. I went in aiming a bit low and my numbers reflected that. I should have aimed higher. Which brings me to my next point:
  2. Aim high, have a big vision but be realistic. I should have looked at the larger opportunity, I focused primarily on Sydney and then later in the first 12 months on Melbourne. I should have said “Hey let’s tackle Australia, then NZ and then parts of Asia.”
  3. Get your cost of customer acquisition as low as possible. Understand how much each customer is worth to you over a year, I only looked at over 5 years (way to long). Then look at how you are going to acquire each customer, how much is that going to cost? My costs were probably too high.
  4. Don’t be on the bleeding edge, be on the leading edge. This is somewhat related to number 3. My marketing strategy involved an expensive campaign that was partly focused on educating customers. This drove up my cost of customer acquisition and made it hard for me to be profitable. I need to cut these costs and find an innovative way to raise awareness and service use.
  5. Understand who you are pitching too. I should have spent much more time than I did in understanding who these guys were and what each company in the Photon Group does. In particular which ones, when combined with our offering could find substantial leverage.
  6. Explain your assumptions and your financials. I didn’t spend enough time explaining why my financial projections looked the way they did.
  7. Present alternative paths. With a service that doesn’t yet have signed on customers it just makes sense to present alternative paths. E.g. if we tackle all of Australia at once it will cost X and we can expect revenue of Y and a profit of Z. If we tackle take a staged approached going city by city it will cost X2, we can expect revenue of Y2 and a profit of Z2. These alternative paths should also be used to answer the question “how much do you need?”.
  8. Just when you think you understand as much as you can about the market – learn more. I backed up most of my arguments and discussions with relevant reports, studies and statistics however I still think I said “I’m not sure” too many times. Just when you think you understand your market, start learning more about it!
  9. What is unique about you? Make sure you can clearly articulate why you are unique and why you are the man/woman/team to do the job. At the end I stumbled (at least thats how I view it) into our strong background in technology/telecommunications and the provisional patent we have.

So now I’m going to incorporate everything I learnt last night into my next pitch, the service and future pitches.

Young Entrepreneurs Society President

Wow!

I’ve just been voted in as the President of the Young Entrepreneur’s Society for FY 2008-2009.

The main initiative I’ll be focusing on is creating and running a business planning competition in the first semester of 2009. Sydney University is in the heart of Australia’s business capital so it has every reason to aspire to have the best business planning competition for an Australian university.

I’m also looking to get people interested in starting their own business or running a business together on a regular basis for an informal coffee and chat on campus.

As per usual we will be running events to do with starting and running a business.

If you’d like to present to our 400+ members or get involved with us (non-students are more than welcome) then please contact me.

Bloody Startup Competition!

Last night I had a moment of frustration and a moment of “do I really want to continue with http://www.donttell.com.au?”;

Why?

The idea for sharing outfits, searching them and browsing them came to me over a year ago but I didn’t execute properly and it’s only now that things are really moving forward. Unfortunately it looks like someone else executed properly within that year and have moved themselves a few steps ahead of where we are with Don’t Tell.

Everything I read says “be the first in your category” which we would have been had I executed properly a year ago. Now it looks like we’re second.

Not to worry though, I’m going to push on because we do have slightly different positioning to our competitor. I just need to get it into my head that competition is healthy – in footy do you just lay down and stop playing if another team turns up?

Each day so far is new ground for me so I’m learning, learning, learning. I wonder what will happen tomorrow.

My Pain In The Ass (PITA) Tendencies

It’s hard to admit your weaknesses and failings to yourself. It’s even harder to post them up on the web and make them publicly available. In an effort to reduce my pain-in-the-ass (PITA) tendencies and begin working on removing/controlling them, I’m going to post them up here.

Firstly, I read about PITA over on Leadership Ship @ LeadershipNOW which asks the question What Are Your PITA Tendencies?.

After doing the exercise I wasn’t surprised to find out that, according to PITA, I have a tendency to be high maintenance, stubborn, picky, occasionally inflexible, self-centered, spoiled and oblivious to how others receive me.

Now that I think about it, according to me, that’s what I would say about myself. I’m glad I did this exercise, it bought things further out into the light of self-awareness.

Guess I should buy the book. Until then, I think I might try and attack each tendency and post up my solutions.


Scott Middleton
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