1) “You can't just hire people. You need to lead them." This was a direct quote from Media Temple President Russ Reeder and it was a theme throughout the day. Simply hiring talent is not enough to be successful, that’s just the first step. You need to work closely with all employees, sharing vision, providing goals goals, and guiding growth.
2) Transparency. PandoDaily’s Michael Carney began the first panel of the day with a fireside chat with Rubicon Project CEO Frank Addante, and Frank emphasized the importance of fostering a transparent work environment. Transparency empowers employees to challenge the status quo, leading to more frequent innovation.
3) “There is nothing more important than company culture.” This was Frank Addante’s response to Michael Carney’s question about building a successful business. Later on, Demand Media’s Dan Brian emphasized the importance of building a team in-person. You can't build culture without intimate one-to-one interactions.
(Side note: We couldn’t agree more with this -- that’s why our SF and LA teams are in the office working together every day, regularly traveling up and down the coast to work together and heading on bi-annual company retreats. Culture building is at the core of every strong business.)
4) Understand your valuation and don’t settle. Rubicon Project’s Frank Addante had some great parting advice on fundraising: “If you don't like the valuation, take as little as you can. If you like it, take as much as you can."
5) Your non-employees better deliver value. The people you surround your company with must contribute value. The Fundraising panelists spoke about the importance of surrounding your company with people who are helping you reach your goals, even if they aren’t employees. Cross Campus Co-Founder Dan Dato made a great point about this when building an advisory board: When you add an advisor or investor you should outline very specific contributions they will make so clear expectations are set.
6) Networking: Small is the New Big. So much importance is placed on “networking” in the tech industry, with quantity often outweighing quality. Building personal relationships focused on trust and common thinking will lead to introductions to more like-minded, positive, trustworthy people. (If you’ve read The Secret, you know what we’re talking about.)
7) You need a military-grade mission statement. This was good advice from the “Meet VCs: Investing in Silicon Beach” panel: A mission statement needs to be bulletproof before meeting with investors. The same advice applies to the full business plan and specifically how you ask for money: You can’t simply ask for $2.5M and say it’s for hiring developers and salespeople. You need to have an itemized budget breaking down every expense and provide a detailed explanation of what each is for. (Check out our post on crafting a targeted elevator pitch.)
8) Native mobile advertising’s biggest opponent may be Apple. Ad Age Reporter Tim Peterson led a more intimate session in the Cross Campus Boardroom discussing trends in mobile advertising. Everyone on the panel nodded their heads that native works well, yet none of the panelists had a good answer for our question: How are you handling Apple’s recent anti-reward ads policy enforcement? Our takeaway: In-app advertising works, and offers unprecedented engagement opportunities. However, Apple is making a direct play at taking a bigger piece of the in-app ad business pie. Watch out.
9) The new investment hustle is marketing. In years past, startups seeking funding have invested a lot of time and money wining and dining investors. Panelists discussed the different ways entrepreneurs can now raise money with various online crowdfunding services at their disposal. Entrepreneurs may be able to skip the expensive dinners, but they need to deploy creative, diligent online marketing campaigns if they’re going to raise the capital they need online.
10) Repurpose earned media into paid media. This one stemmed from a question we asked midway through the “PR For Startups” panel. When your tech company secures a great piece of press coverage, consider leveraging it further via paid display campaigns. For example, you can take a great USA Today article and promote it via a Facebook advertising campaign specifically targeting your target customers.