Selling Innovation…

Turning Innovation Into Business Revenue

Where were the “sales related” topics at Boston’s 2011 unConference?

Last Friday, Over 800 of Boston’s tech entrepreneurs and enthusiasts gathered for the 2011 MassTLC unConference.  As the unConference was being created first thing in the morning, there must have been over 100 topics proposed by audience members as they came up to the microphone to “pitch” their ideas for hosting and leading a session.

At the conclusion the proposed topics, there were just a few sessions mentioned that were sales related.

Over the weekend, I also read a BostInnovation post by Jamie Goldstein, Partner at Northbridge Venture Partners asking the following question: Are Boston Entrepreneurs Focused on the Right Areas?  (

I see my observation as an extension to the main points in Jamie’s post.

Maybe the “if we build it, they will come” argument is stronger than we recognize?  The lean start-up processes that many start-ups follow almost give the impression that you will be on an auto-pilot to success if you follow the program…meaning once to build your “MVP” and are ready to launch, all you need to do next is put up a “PRICING & PLANS” section on your website, install the latest sales/marketing 2.0 tools, and you will be off to the races. (Both lean start-up principles and web 2.0 tools are great…What I am saying is that a complementary, strategic, proactive approach in targeting ideal users, customers, and partners may be needed.) Some may argue that the “cost to acquire a customer” will be elevated, but if executed correctly, the ROI and swiftness to this approach can be huge.  (THESE COMMENTS FAVOR B2B START-UPS VS. B2C.)

Are these sales-related topics important to our community?

  • As another potential source of funding, how can we connect with big company, open innovation initiatives? These companies are eager to identify early stage, disruptive technologies and platforms while investing in a customer development partnership.  They have a strong “voice” that can confirm and validate your product development roadmap.  These open innovation leaders also understand that you cannot be “sole-sourced” to them as you need to grow your user, customer, and partner base in other directions as well.
  • How can I identify new strategic partners where I can become part of an extended and complementary “ecosystem” to order to provide a far greater value proposition?
  • Can we better leverage and collaborate with the portfolio companies of our angel and VC investors?  What are the current and best practice strategies, tactics and sales tools that have the most impact?  How do we create new and innovative pricing models so that we can attract, retain and expand our business, nationally and internationally?

Were you at the unConference…do you agree?


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7 thoughts on “Where were the “sales related” topics at Boston’s 2011 unConference?

  1. Rob,

    This is a great point and something Boston as a whole could do better: we need to better balance our networking/party/social events with actually EDUCATIONAL events that level up entrepreneurs.

    Some of the developer groups and the Lean Startup Circle do a great job of this, but given we all could probably use to learn more about Sales, Product, Marketing, etc, I really wish there were more groups.

    The challenge is you need an organizer for each (or preferably a team to share the load). The benefits to the organizers are soft ones – increased visibility, ability to set the curriculum and meeting interesting people (ie- the speakers and those helping you find the speakers).

    Know anyone who might be interested in leading any of those such hard topics? I know a site that will make sure people hungry to learn come 😉


    Jason Evanish
    Co-Founder, Greenhorn Connect

    • Hi Jason,

      Thanks for the response and comments. I would be interested in brainstorming around the suggestions you made. If you have time to meet-up over coffee, please let me know…I live in Newton and commute to the CIC. Otherwise, let’s connect by phone.

      By the way, Greenhorn Connect is awesome…congrats!


      • Rob,

        I can’t start any new initiatives (my plate is full), but I can help someone else’s vision to better the community succeed.

        Send me your thoughts at jason at greenhorn connect dot com


      • Hi Jason,

        I completely understand based on all that you have going on…Since we connected, a Boston VC and a CEO from a start-up want to collaborate on this topic and we are meeting Thursday afternoon…I will pass along the highlights and next steps for your review and comment.


      • Awesome Bob! Happy to help however I can.

        I *LOVE* seeing the community working together to solve problems and fill in gaps.

        Drop me an email when you’re ready.

  2. Hi Jason,

    Checking in to pass along an update…The other people who have interest in figuring out how to best collaborate within the community so that start-ups focus on the right priorities are Jamie Goldstein, NBVP and Chuck Glodman, Apperion. We had an initial conference call last week to frame our discussion and will be extending our conversation after Thanksgiving. (due to travel calendars)

    Hey, it’s a start and will pass along any interesting developments.


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