Archive for May, 2012

Web 3.0 Money Management Solutions

May 31, 2012

Cynthia Typaldos embodies the intersect between great products, great business mentality, and a passion for the company. She has extensive experience in both hardware and software companies in Silicon Valley, and has worked from the engineering side and the business side. Her experience also includes several start-ups, with products envisioned and designed by Cynthia and her team. Her current service, Kachingle, is a usage based micropayment service initially targeted toward content providers, but now, at the request of the new client base, serving application developers and vendors.

 

Cynthia speaks knowledgeably about the mobile application market, and the challenge the actual vendors have of converting their ‘freemium’ users to ‘premium’ usage with additional features. Both the ‘penny gap’ challenge, which describes how difficult it is to secure the first penny from a customer, and how relatively easy it is to earn more money once the penny transaction is secured, and the ‘cloud squatting’ phenomena, which describes how consumers optimize free options, sometimes hobbled together and sometimes ‘bought’ in sequence, for the maximum no-cost value, contribute to the challenge that free-app providers face: getting enough of the volumes of their customers to actually ‘pay’ for usage. Kachingle’s ability to bundle apps from multiple vendors, chosen by individual users provides that win-win: 1) it allows vendors to increase their conversion rates from freemium to premium, 2) it allows usage  subscribers to customize which bundles of apps they are looking for, 3) it makes the micro-payment collection process simple for all users involved, 4) it allows each vendor to connect with other vendors and cross-market their apps at their option, 5) it serves a range of user markets, particularly small business owners who may not have that IT support to integrate apps, and 6) it helps create a community of vendors (see http://www.meetup.com/freemium).

 

In the end, Kachingle (www.kachinglepremium.com) leverages the best of the hottest areas around cloud computing, mobile apps, aggregated services and micropayments. Its early success following the recent shift to a new market foretells some grand successes to come.

 

Please join me in thanking Cynthia for taking the time to share her company and her story with us. Her advice to us about work-life balance is to do what you are passionate about, don’t settle for what others say you should do, and don’t go through the motions if you’re not driven by the cause.

 

Resources:

  • Free: How Today’s Smartest Businesses Profit by Giving Something for Nothing by Chris Anderson examines the shift from an economy based on scarcity to one of abundance and how it breaks old markets while creating new ones.
  • Freemium & the Penny Gap – Bloomberg video: Bob’s Buzzword of the Day: `Freemium’ – YouTube
  • Blog post by Josh Kopelman at First Round Capital: The Penny Gap
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Increasing Shareholder Value

May 25, 2012

The WomenNow May 24 Face2Face Panel discussion was on the topic of Increasing Shareholder Value and was sponsored by the Monali Jain Foundation, featuring:

Linda Holroyd (Moderator) : CEO and Founder at FountainBlue

Sumeet Jain: Partner at CMEA Capital

Vivek Paul: Professor at Stanford

Gary Shara:  Attorney At Law

Savitha Srinivasan: Partner, Venture Capital Group at IBM

Our esteemed panelists represented corporate venture, investor, serial entrepreneur and consulting perspectives, with deep experience and expertise in working directly and indirectly with companies of all sizes manage their shareholder value.

They defined shareholder value as the price of the stock for companies that are public, combined with future and anticipated stock value, and the actions taken to manage and maximize shareholder value overall. Whether they are representing an up-and-coming tech company, a small non-tech services company, an investor or a corporation, our panel commented that the companies leaders must proactively manage shareholder value, and work with all stakeholders to maximize such value. Below is advice offered to entrepreneurs for increasing shareholder value:

  1. Act with integrity. Be authentic, sincere and truthful in your communications, reflecting that core integrity in all that you do.
  2. Be the type of passionate, persistent entrepreneur who may even be described as a psychopath in her/his will to accomplish the impossible, despite the naysayer and the obstacles.
  3. Communicate your passion in a way that inspires others to support and follow that vision.
  4. Validate that vision with real market/customer data and needs.
  5. Keep moving the needle forward, making overall forward progress despite inevitable blips.
  6. Set your standards high for everything that you do, and hire the right people accomplish the impossible. Don’t hesitate to lay off the people who aren’t passionate about what you’re doing for whom.
  7. Build relationships and networks to support yourself personally and your cause.
  8. Proactively manage a pivot for your technology/product and company when the numbers and customers are telling you that’s what needs to happen. In order to do this, you must always pay attention to the data, what the customers, partners, investors and other stakeholders are telling you.
  9. Seek counsel from people who are willing to tell you you’re on the wrong track.

10. Put the company in front of yourself. Know when it’s time for you to move on into another role so that someone else can make that company bigger and better.

Our panel discussion concluded with a look to what’s hot in the future, all centered around how technology is making information more relevant, making possible new ways of doing things that even anticipate and predict your needs. Business models and entrepreneurial opportunities will be hugely impacted by these technology changes, and even more so because these technology advances also make it possible for rapid creations of companies that cater to the needs of niche customers, leveraging their desires, needs and patterns and delivering what they were looking for, perhaps even before they know what they need!

NASDAQ and YOU

May 25, 2012

Marianne Baldrica is an energetic, can-do professional who relished the opportunity to earn her degree, while working full-time throughout her college career. Her employers at AMFAC saw her brilliance, drive and potential, and hired her right out of college for public affairs, public relations and investor relations roles, despite the fact that her degree was in OD. Marianne describes AMFAC as a well-led, women-embracing company adept at making opportunities and encouraging growth and change in its employees.

Life changes including a new husband necessitated a move to San Diego, and a search for a new role, something not easy in the late 80s when San Diego was a bedroom community for LA, and tech companies life Qualcomm and life science companies were nascent. But the largely military community, coupled with a tech and business community did create an HR opportunity for Marianne to help translate between two very different groups of people. Her experience there also provided an opportunity for her to see for the first time how an employee-owned company managed the quarterly sales of options, and the impact of the quarterly sales on people, team and companies.

Life and relationships changed again with her divorce. With the option of returning to her Portland roots, remaining in San Diego, or heading for Silicon Valley, where she went to school, and which she described as comparable to Florence-in-the-Renaissance, her choice was obviously for the magnetism of Silicon Valley. And her work option here was set: working with a colleague from the past in the high-flying fast-IPO days in an independent investor relations firm helping companies like KLA, Electraglass and Varian with their public offerings. Yes, Silicon Valley was on fire, and people like Marianne Baldrica worked behind the scenes to fan its flames.

Not every company they helped continued on to be big and successful. In fact, some are no longer in existence. But enough people witnessed Marianne’s work and results to welcome her as the first woman regional vice president at NASDAQ. Today, as the Western Region VP, she currently oversees the NASDAQ relationships with all the NASDAQ-listed companies in the 13 Western States, which includes 50 of the 100 largest Companies listed on NASDAQ. She provides strategic and consultative financial advice to investor relations, treasury departments, CFOs and CEOs of these companies and also works with pre-IPO companies in the same space about 18 months in advance of an IPO. Her deep network includes entrepreneurs who have that great idea and who are persistent enough and lucky enough to get it funded, VCs and institutional investors who see these great entrepreneurs and ideas and fund the company, and investment bankers who assist with pre-IPO pricing, counseling and document-preparation, and government officials and elected who have a vested interest in the economy overall. Marianne also wanted to comment that NASDAQ, like AMFAC, is also a female-friendly company, with a woman CIO and a woman EVP, and several Vice Presidents in other business segments.

Marianne’s advice for women and money include: be independent, take care of the needs of yourself and your children and family, and save early and often, for anything can happen.

Her advice to entrepreneurs interested in working with NASDAQ is to be persistent and passionate, be smart about your product, market and relationships. She adds that woman may be uniquely qualified to be passionate and to build companies that can scale.

Marianne concludes by remarking that it’s an incredible time to be an entrepreneur, and the world *can* be your oyster, if you’re passionate and effective enough to make it so.

Please join me in thanking Marianne Baldrica, for her candor, advice and stories.

The Mentors In Our Lives

May 24, 2012

FountainBlue’s May 11 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Standing on the Shoulders of Mentors, featuring:

Facilitator Sasha Grinshpun, Executive coach, facilitator, and speaker, Talent Mosaic

Panelist Carol Evanoff, former Director, Lockheed Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific

Panelist Monica Kaldani-Nasif, Director of Talent Acquisition for the Americas, Hitachi Data Systems

Panelist Jocelyn King, Director of Corporate Marketing, Altera

Panelist Gayatri Patel, Director of Product Management, Analytics Platform, eBay

Panelist Joyce Reitman, Vice President and Banker, JP Morgan

Please join us in thanking our speakers for taking the time to share their advice and thoughts and to our gracious hosts at Altera, and our food sponsors at JP Morgan. Below are notes from the conversation.

Our panelists were women who represented different companies, roles and levels, supporting a range of product and service offerings, with training from technical to business, with experience mentoring dozens and even more than a thousand people. They are also women who had so much in common:

  • They personally benefited from a mentee-mentor relationship and were motivating to give back and empower others.
  • They are all women with extensive experience working in technology, and see firsthand the challenges women face within a corporate setting, and are passionate about making a difference for more women leaders through mentoring.
  • They are self-aware, focused on passionate about leadership and empowering others to succeed within a corporate context.
  • They have worked with both women and men as mentees and as mentors, and willingly share their advice on what works and what doesn’t work.

Mentoring is different than coaching in that it is generally less formal, can be more general, encompassing not just specific work goals, but also life integration into work. Coaching and mentorship and sponsorship are all about caring and making a difference, but coaching might be more likely charged, whereas mentoring generally is not, and neither is sponsorship. A sponsor might be more likely be a senior exec from your own company, helping you mitigate political issues for example, and helping you advance within your company, where mentors and coaches are more likely independently and outside the company. Coaching is more about going outside in, whereas mentoring is more about inside out and sponsorship is more outside up. All three might add a value in specific ways, as agreed between the two parties.

Our panel talked about ‘mentoring moments’ where they, or those that they worked with benefited from a conversation about a significant event and its implications for the current personal or professional challenges for the mentor. They talked about looking at things from the perspective of the mentor-mentee relationship, and communicating about issues and questions which could impact what mentees think about their past experiences and their present challenges and opportunities.

Our panelists describe the attributes of a good mentor:

  • Someone who believes in the mentee, in words and actions, and is very involved in their lives and their career.
  • Someone who give mentees the feedback they don’t want to hear, and helps them take action on it in a way that helps them move forward.
  • Someone who focuses on your growth and your passion.
  • Someone who helps mentees understand both their strengths and weaknesses and also to leverage their strengths to overcome their weaknesses.
  • Mentors are not managers, whose management roles might interfere with their ability to do either well.
  • Friends are not mentors, as their obligations as friends might interfere with their ability to help you stretch yourself.

They are clear about the benefits of mentoring done right:

  • Mentoring is generally informal and fluid, focused on ensuring that both mentors and mentees benefit from an ongoing relationship.
  • Mentorship is a dynamic process, and each party must continually access needs and actions to support the mentee and the relationship.
  • There are many different kinds of mentors, including technical mentors to guide your technical development, a professional mentors to help address both work and life challenges, and fault-finding mentors to help you in the continuous improvement process.
  • Mentees should bring value into the relationship: information, validation, feedback, perspective.
  • Mentors provide a roadmap for the career path, and helps mentees cross bridges and avoid landmines.

Below is their advice on securing an effective mentor-mentee relationship:

  • Know who you are and what you have to offer. Know how you want a mentor to help you get from where you are to where you’d like to go, then decide which mentor might be the best person to help you get there.
  • Know your core values and never deviate from them. Choose a mentor with similar values who can help you grow and succeed while maintaining those core values.
  • Grow deep within your skillset, but also grow laterally, applying your skills to other functions and sectors.
  • Show your mentor/mentee that you are enjoying the experience and tangibly benefiting from the experience.
  • Stretch beyond your comfort zone to find the right mentor. They are generally not your work friends, your manager, or others who have known you a long time and feel comfortable with. They are accomplished professionals whom you admire for specific reasons and can help you in a specific way you define.
  • Have the right reasons for seeking a mentor, and transparently communicate that reason to the potential mentor. Focus also on why they would like to mentor you as well.

In the end, if done right, mentorship benefits both the mentors and the mentees, the team and the organization, the individual and their network of relationships.

Strategies for Building Your Nest Egg

May 17, 2012

Joyce Reitman was raised in a traditional home, where women were encouraged to attend college as an opportunity to meet a qualified, educated man. Clearly a bright student and vociferous reader, Joyce skipped a grade before working on a BA, Liberal Arts, English Literature from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and along the way, also did find and marry a husband, and had her first child by her sophomore year in college.

But the other side of the story was her strong entrepreneurial spirit, which was rare in a girl from that age. With sales and business as part of her DNA from the very beginning, her early recollections are of filling piggy banks, selling lemonade, and wrapping coins and candy together and selling them, a childhood form of gambling (!). And even with a husband and a child at home at the age of 18, she opted to continue her education, complete her degree and work three jobs alongside her husband, which is far beyond the plan set out for her.

Upon graduating from college, Joyce and her husband were drawn to the mystique and magnetism of Silicon Valley, where they both found jobs in the burgeoning tech field. Beginning as a secretary, Joyce progressed steadily to a financial specialist position at GE, where she supported 400 engineers with their budget forecasts, ROIs and capital equipment expenditures.

From there, she and her second husband decided to start a contract manufacturing company together. Her advice on building something from nothing is to be persistent, assume that you’ll make mistakes and learn from them, and recognize when something needs to change, then pivot quickly. She would take no option but success, and knew that to successfully work with your spouse, you must respect each other’s responsibilities and judgment. She negotiated the successful sale of company to a multi-billion dollar competitor.

From there she developed a pioneering e-commerce business model for the jewelry industry, recruited a start-up team and lead fundraising efforts that resulted in funding from a Tier One venture firm. This company was a victim of the dot com bust, and her next adventure was as CEO of the Internet division for a company with a small group of psychiatric hospitals, which was eventually sold as well. Next, she launched a new luxury brand in the consumer market, starting with special occasion apparel and learned a lot from this very different market before shutting its doors.

From there, she decided to leverage her financial acumen, her love of people, her versatile background and her huge network, and got credentialed as a financial adviser, working for a bank before joining JP Morgan. Joyce had the following advice about building your nest egg:

  • Move fast and early on planning and saving money.
  • Contribute to a 401K so that you receive the matching fund, and don’t take the money out, not for any excuse.
  • Know what you make, know what you spend, and consciously spend. Total your checkbook and credit card expenses and your housing costs and you will come close to understand the total financial picture.
  • Protect yourself from inflation by making investments. CDs will not bring the premiums to match inflation, so you must be an informed investor in the stock market and in real estate.
  • Reach out to resources like eTrade and experts like those at JP Morgan for customized advice.
  • It’s a volatile investment market, and the shakiness in the European financial markets is making investors nervous. We just came from a big high, and savvy investors will make measured investments in stock right now.

Please join me in thanking Joyce for taking the time to share the story of her career, and her wisdom about starting companies, working with people, and investing and making money.

Investing in Start-Ups

May 11, 2012

When Nina Labatt graduated from college, she wanted to do what all the best and the brightest from her Stanford class did: join a prestigious investment banking firm, work hard and make her mark. She joined Goldman Sachs for two years, earned an MBA from Harvard before returning to Goldman Sachs for another four years, where she worked 80-90 hour weeks. When up for promotion to VP there, Nina decided to take a step back and do fewer hours a week, while still following the work that she loves. She ended up at a regional investment bank, and then served as CFO of a private company, director of operations for another company which eventually went public, and next worked 11 years as a CFO in the VC and PE world before joining Silicon Valley Bank.

Over the past decade, Nina has witnessed the evolution of the technology sector, where ground-changing companies such as FaceBook and Google and Salesforce happened, not just changing what’s possible in technology, but also shifting and changing the business opportunities and revenue models for businesses to follow.

In her current role as Senior Relationship Manager at Silicon Valley Bank, Nina works with CFOs from venture capital and private equity firms to serve their commercial banking and lending needs. She is a trusted adviser for many of her clients, helping them plan for the ebbs and flows of the economy, and also helping them raise their profiles within the organization, and perhaps adopt a larger management role with greater front-office visibility. She also works with the team at Silicon Valley Bank to identify and support early stage start-ups in hot technology areas including social media, gaming, mobile and cloud. Silicon Valley Bank is a bit different than other banks in that they target technology and life science companies (as well as premium wine), based in Silicon Valley and beyond, and serve these companies throughout the company life cycle.

As a successful professional and a mother of two young children, Nina has the following advice for professionals seeking work life balance:

  • Work hard when you are a new-grad, and make a name for yourself and build a network for yourself so that you may later in your career have the option to take a step back, and work fewer hours, doing the work you love.
  • Make the tough choices so that you can have work-life balance, and choose the right partners and support system to be there for you when you can’t do it all.
  • Set aside dedicated time for yourself and for your family.
  • When the kids are young, you may not have much time for things outside family and work. So get involved in your kids’ schools, and also in the charity(ies) supported by your work.

Nina’s parting comment about tech trends is to watch how technology will be further integrated into our conversations and communications, yet there will also be an opportunity to connect human-to-human, also leveraging technology.

Please join me in thanking Nina for sharing her wisdom and thoughts on technology trends and the start-up ecosystem.

What Women Want (Around Money)

May 3, 2012

Georgianne Pillsbury looked at her temporary position at a bank as just that, a temporary position, not a career where she would advance through different departments, find her passion around empowering women around their finances, and educating and serving the larger community around proactive money management.

In her banking career as a teller, new accounts manager, loan adviser, and call center manager, she found a passion for working with people in addressing their financial issues, challenges and opportunities. As she advanced beyond that to launch and direct a call center and then move on to investment management, she found that there were fewer women in these roles, and also that men and women were different in the way they looked at and worked with money. She found her passion in educating and empowering and guiding women to have open communications with their spouses around money, and to be informed enough to make financial decisions for their future.

Georgianne said that women in general, look at money differently – not so much in quantifiable, goal-oriented dollar terms as men do, as family providers, but more around impact, meaning and values. Georgianne works with women to take their emotions and feelings around money, and map it to their values, and then to create a realistic, quantifiable, dollar-amount plan for the future. She does this by creating a trust-based, authentic relationship, and getting women to open up individually and in groups, in a safe environment, without worrying about pushy sales pitches. She is also adept at creating networks and connections between women of similar mindsets and values and helping them help each other through difficult financial conversations with spouses and others, and by helping us distinguish between a budget, something that people might find limiting and worth avoiding, and a spending plan, which is a more positive way to facilitate values-based choices around money. She has the following advice to help women meet their financial goals:

  • Accept that women and men are generally different about their views on money.
  • Most men act as providers and make and implement quantifiable plans for the future.
  • Many women trust their spouses to go with their plan, not knowing the details about their joint finances.
  • Encouraging open communications around spending, budgeting and retirement is essential to success. Starting that open communications in a non-threatening, non-emotive way will help ensure its success.
  • Get informed about your financial situation, and find resources and support to help you understand where you are financially and where you want to go, in quantifiable terms.
  • Continue to evaluate how well your financial progress is in alignment with your emotions, your values and shift your goals if necessary to ensure continued alignment.

Please join me in thanking Georgianne for taking the time to participate in our interview, and for inviting us to think proactively about our financial future and well-being, and giving us the resources and tools to do so. For more information, visit www.FromHereToWealth.biz and www.MoneySerenity.com.