Former Managing Director, Investments
Douglas Roth Director, Investments
Russell “Russ” Tweeddale, an engineer, Marine, and investor with Connecticut Innovations for more than three decades, sat down this week to talk shop with Douglas Roth, CI’s director of investments. Over the course of their hour-long chat, during which they covered everything from fuel cells to the importance of strong advisory boards, Russ imparted some hard-won pearls of wisdom he gained while investing more than $75 million in numerous Connecticut companies. Russ’s notable successes include many of today’s industry leaders, such as Affomix, AxioMx, Proton Energy Systems, CuraGen Corporation, Genaissance Pharmaceuticals, Bio-Plexus, International Telecommunication Data Systems, Open Solutions, and Ipsogen.
Kelsea Michael Public Relations
For many, the thought of talking to the media can be nerve racking. But an interview doesn’t have to be stressful. Whether you have a national primetime TV appearance or a discussion with your hometown paper, there are some standard tips and tricks to follow that can not only ease your nerves, but also ensure success.
Whenever I’m training clients, I always make sure they adhere to my one and only rule for media interviews. Sure, I have lots of advice, but only one rule, and that is to communicate with honesty, integrity and transparency. It’s what I call my deal breaker, so if you take nothing else away from this, please remember the rule when you do your next media interview. Many big news scandals could have been prevented if the key players communicated with honesty, integrity and transparency. Consider the recent scandal involving NBC’s Brian Williams, which was solely about misrepresenting the facts. Consider also the now-tarnished reputation of Alex Rodriguez. His history of lying to reporters about steroid use has cost him his credibility and has all but destroyed his personal brand.
With that in mind, here are the rest of my top tips for working with the media.
Capital is the lifeblood of any startup. Because of this, too many entrepreneurs blindly charge forward raising money without understanding the importance of the process. Raising capital is generally not a skill that most startup executives have. Why? Well, for starters, fundraising is not something an entrepreneur does every day. It’s also a distraction from the important effort of launching and operating a business. A young company needs money and generally needs it now, but many entrepreneurs fall victim to the belief that four quarters from one funding source is the same as one dollar from another. But smart entrepreneurs aren’t so cavalier about something so important! Not all money is green. The sources from which you raise capital can make all the difference between success and failure.
No matter your industry or business model, there will come a time when you’re going to have to convince someone that what you’re doing is worth their time and/or money. You’ll need to make money by raising venture capital or angel funding, getting a grant that will help win federal dollars, or by doing it the old-fashioned way: making a sale.
I’ve sat in on and reviewed a number of presentations and pitches, and my feedback is almost always centered on the same thing: focus on benefits and not features.
You’re extremely close to your business. The features are important to you. You might sell a software for personal finance that uses a patented intelligence algorithm. Great! But anyone considering giving you money is going to want to know what that means for them. Don’t make them ask.
Vice President, Marketing and Communications
Quick quiz: What’s the most effective way to get new customers?
- Social media
- Public relations
Actually, it’s a trick question. The best way to bring in new customers is to create an army of current customers who will advocate for your brand. Most of us know that people trust their friends and colleagues far more than they trust advertising, but many of us don’t know how to get those referrals. A new book by Peter Shankman, out at the end of this month, shows you how. While many of the tips in Zombie Loyalists: Using Great Service to Create Rabid Fans (PALGRAVE MACMILLAN TRADE, 2015) seem obvious—hire nice people, for one—it’s surprisingly rare how few companies manage to do it.
The book offers a good reminder of everything you know you should be doing, but that you might be overlooking. Because hiring jerks—and committing other deadly customer service sins—could cost you business.
Executive Vice President and Chief Investment Officer
The Crossroads Venture Group, a leading VC professional organization in Connecticut, recently presented its annual Founders Award to Connecticut Innovations’ (CI) very own Peter Longo. The award honors an individual with a long record of serving the local venture capital community as an investor. With Peter’s more than 20 years in the industry and numerous achievements, it’s no surprise to us that the Crossroads Venture Group has taken notice.
Vice President, Marketing and Communications
2014 was full of marketing buzzwords. Many have been around for a long time, and many have merit, but good or bad, you couldn’t escape them when creating your campaigns this year. I bet you realized you needed more content, more of a focus on digital (or mobile), and a greater effort on social media. You probably set out to create content that was shareable, tweetable, digestible, actionable, and most of all, measureable.
Like most industries, the landscape in marketing is always evolving. With potential customers now having access to a wealth of data at their fingertips thanks to the Internet, our focuses have shifted. We’re creating content that educates and helps move people through the sales funnel (rather than hitting them over the head with a sales message). We’re showing them that we care about their problems and want to fix them. We want to build a relationship and earn their loyalty so they’ll keep coming back and tell all their friends about us. We know that delighting our customers and potential customers means they’ll likely stay with us for years to come.
So how are we doing that? What will we marketers buzz about in 2015 (and what won’t we)? Read on.
Today marks the launch of CI’s new BioInnovation Connecticut website, the home of two important funds that we administer: The Connecticut Bioscience Innovation Fund (CBIF) and The Regenerative Medicine Research Fund (RMRF).
These funds are two of the many steps Connecticut has taken to become a major player in bioscience innovation. In addition to funding, the state has made strides in fostering a bioscience community through the Connecticut Bioscience Innovation Network (CURE), which has hubs in New Haven and New London.
Connecticut is also a hotbed for bioscience talent. It’s no. 4 in the nation in bioscience-related patents and is anchored by two nationally-renowned research institutions in Yale and UConn. It’s also home to major multi-national bioscience companies such as Boehringer Ingelheim, Purdue Pharma, Alexion Therapeutics, Protein Sciences, The Jackson Laboratory and others.
The community, talent and support system is in place, but what about critical funding? That’s where CBIF and RMRF come into play.
Four reasons for entrepreneurs to be excited about where the Elm City is headed
Senior Investment Associate
It’s been 11 years since I moved to New Haven from Washington, D.C. with my wife. At the time, we were making the move to further our careers. My wife was pursuing her pediatric residency and I was attending business school.
We were skeptical about the move. We never anticipated staying beyond our respective trainings. However, once we got here, we found a burgeoning small city teeming with culture, great food that has received national recognition, and young, talented people across a variety of industries.
And 11 years later, we’re still here.
People are moving back to the city. Between 2000 and 2010, New Haven experienced the highest population growth rate of any city in the Northeast, even surpassing Boston. A lot of this population growth can be attributed to the growing number of businesses making New Haven their home. It also doesn’t hurt that the city has become a desirable place to live. There are a few compelling reasons for this trend.
Startup culture is, by nature, inherently radical: offices with open layouts, irregular hours for employees, nap rooms, free beer, TVs, video games, loud music and more. These are perks employees at traditional companies can only dream of.
But startups are different. With innovative ideas come innovative ways of doing work, and as Facebook, Google and many others have shown, doing it differently does work.
So when I read about Buffer’s intense focus on transparency, I thought it was fascinating. Here’s another startup trying to redefine what “normal” is, but doing it in a completely different way: culture first.