Wajam CEO Martin-Luc Archambault with guests Ron Hirson & Bram Sugarman
Every month at Wajam, we host a Lunch & Learn where we invite guest entrepreneurs and thought leaders to come and share their experiences with our team. We previously hosted Richard Speer, Nicolas Bélanger, Ethan Song and Hicham Ratnani.
This week, we had the pleasure of hosting Ron Hirson, entrepreneur-in-residence at Khosla Ventures & Mayfield Fund and previously co-founder and president at Boku, a leader in mobile billing and mobile payment solutions, with coverage through over 240 wireless providers around the world. We also welcomed Bram Sugarman, senior associate at OMERS Ventures, Canada’s largest VC fund.
DAVID AND GOLIATH BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
Ron Hirson gave us some great insights on how to close deals with big companies.
1. Swarm the org. Approach the company from all levels, from the engineering to product to business and corporate development.
2. Find a sponsor. Find someone within the target company who believes in your product and will champion your ideas. A maverick who’s not afraid of losing their job and will be the one sponsoring you.
3. Do their work. Make it as easy as possible for them. You’re the one who knows your product and market best, and will be the best to pitch it. So go ahead and even prepare their slides for them.
4. Be in the neighborhood. You have to show up in person to get deals done. Business in conducted between people, so do what it takes to be meet potential partners in person.
5. Tier up & peer up. Create opportunities and events where people from different levels of the organizations can mingle and hang out. You don’t always want your CEO at every meeting.
6. Bring PM and ENG. Your guy in business development may not be the most credible source of information when it comes to answering technical details, so involve your product manager and engineering team in partnership discussions when needed.
7. No is just the beginning. Rejection is an opportunity to build out product features or remove obstacles. If they ask you if you can build a rainbow, the answer is “Yes”. They may ask you to build things that may seem useless or impracticle, but it’s doable.
8. Sell on fear. It may be useful to set artificial deadlines to make a deal happen. For example, we’re about to make a major announcement on X day, and if we don’t get this deal done by then, we won’t be able to announce you.
9. Offsite to close. Build tighter relationships by celebrating a deal closing offsite. This can even be the kickoff by setting some time during a sporting event to discuss the deal and the implementation process.
Bram Sugarman shared some insights with us on the relationship between entrepreneurs and VCs, and how to find more opportunities.
1. Venture capitalists should be working for you. That’s the relationship you should be having with your VCs, and that’s how OMERS Ventures operates. You should be working on satisfying your customers, not your board. And VCs can help by identifying trends and new entrants in your space.
2. Have open communication with your VCs. It’s important to have open communication between startups and their investors, so keep them updated on your progress, and never reveal a surprise at a board meeting.
3. Build lasting relationships. Business is about people. So you should invest in people and build relationships. Be open and willing to meet people and explore new opportunities. You never know when this relationship will bear fruit in business.
Thank you Ron and Bram for visiting Wajam and inspiring our team!