Hodgepodge of lessons learned from a busy week

Well, I’m as swamped as I’ve been in a long time, thanks to a business trip to Illinois to work with a University on commercializing a beautiful market maker website and technology for agricultural users. This was a great trip, and here’s a mish mash of lessons:

1. Universities are an untapped market. Many of you who live near universities should consider stopping by some departments to discuss potential projects for outreach to constituents. In two days, this particular university department (agricultural extension) received requests to create a bunch of sites that will become the “go to” sites for a variety of natural resources and recreational research. They can’t do any of this on their own, and need people with good ideas to help create commercialization (e.g. advertising and premium membership) models.

2. Part of the trip involved pitching to a local venture capitalist. I helped develop the business plan and pitch. If you have yet to pitch to a VC or investor, make it part of your goals. It’s fun, exciting, and you get great feedback (or brutal feedback). In this case, the VC thought he knew what we were pitching, but didn’t. Our mistake was going off script instead of sticking with our key themes and “story.” But we also learned that this particular VC has a different mission than our particular venture, and so the fit is not there.

3. During the trip, 2 other prospective clients reached out to me, adding over $50K to my pipeline. When you visit a large organization, try to get visible while you are there walking the halls. In this case, my client sponsor helped me get visible and was very helpful in this regard.

4. Don’t underestimate your value. Sometimes I take what I do for granted, like helping people get organized and move forward to grow a business. But the client found this enormously valuable, and helped me think more about the value I bring, so I can describe it to others. Nothing beats having your own clients tell you how to describe your value to others.

5. During business trips, find time to do other work so you aren’t overwhelmed when you return, as I am now. I just hung out at my hotel room, when I could have done a better job catching up.

Okay, back to work…..

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  • http://www.designity.nl peach

    I’m going to university campus quiete often but I can’t picture myself selling a website to a professor or something ;)
    Can you elaborate on how you sell yourself to a large organisation such as a university?

  • aneitlich

    Peach,

    Find a department that needs to connect its potential constituents with the university. Universities are hot on the subject of community relations and extension. That’s where you may be able to help.

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  • Joe

    Jesus, the author talks like a brain-dead, jargon-happy automaton.

  • scollins77

    I am a webdeveloper employed at a University, and my experiences are quite different (perhaps being in Australia rather than the USA?).

    Here, many of the faculties / departments are quite low on funding, and some are bankrupt (they generally have academics in charge, not trained managers), and trying to get them to fork out any money for professional work is like trying to draw blood out of a stone. They prefer to get their not-so-computer-literate admin staff to do as much of the “web work” as possible (for no extra cost), and don’t care if the result is unprofessional.

    I’m planning to leave the University sector…