Full house for the 3rd time :)

Yes, we did it again! It was a full house for our 3rd Igniters meetup, hosted by the Vorkspace team. Everyone had a great time — we’ll let the photos speak for themselves! 🙂

 

Attendees enjoying the wide spread of food before the meetup, while chatting about their own great startup ideas

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Cynthia breaking the ice with a “6-word-game” (more about this in the next post!)

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Everyone excited about the game, eagerly flexing their brains to think of the best 6 words to describe their team

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Bruce Templeton, our sponsor from Nephoscale, speaking to the audience 

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Their expression says it all — it’s lesson time, by Paul DeJoe

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Room packed full of creative founders and entrepreneurs

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Attentively absorbing every piece of tip Paul is sharing from his personal experiences

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Excited founders grabbing on to Paul to seek his opinions even after the very interactive session

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The Vorkspace team, co-organizers of the Igniters Meetup, together with Paul DeJoe

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And the networking continues with another round of beer…

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Proudly brought to you by the Vorkspace team! 

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See you at our next meetup on 6th of September! 🙂

 

Photos by BrianByllesby

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4 easy steps to make your first 1000 sales!

Paul DeJoe’s session at the meetup last night was amazing!

He gave very honest, close-to-heart sharings of what he learnt from his own experience, and the audience was extremely engaged and interactive.

If you (very unfortunately) missed the session, here are our 4 major takeaways:

  1. Carefully and religiously pick your 100 evangelists. These are people who will be your first customers, your earliest adopters. But don’t just pick them because they are interested in your product and are eager to be your customers. Watch them use your product. Sit down with them, observe every click they make on your program, see how intuitive (or non-intuitive) your product works, see how many wrong buttons they click, time how long it takes to get from point A to point B. Do NOT tell them what to do, but let them use it on their own, like a real customer. This is the time to really test how well designed your product is. Take their opinions very seriously, make necessary changes, please your customers, make them worship your product. This very last step is very important, because they are going to be your evangelists. They will help you spread the word about your product, they will vouch for your product, and they will find you your next customers. These 100 evangelists are going to be very difficult to find, and they will take up a huge amount of your time and effort, but it is all going to be very worth it, when you see how the network grows exponentially after that.

  2. Reach out to 20 industry experts. These are the people who are experts in their field. They assess many similar products in the market, give reviews, and write about them. They have strong credibility, and people trust what they say. That’s how you want to gain credibility and market your product. Getting these industry experts to write a blog about your product is a very important strategy in your marketing plan. Make a list of such industry experts in your field. Find out what “criteria” they have to write a blog for you (e.g. do they require a promised 100,000 viewership?). Reach out to them to write an article about your company/product. Followup on the wave of incoming customers from the publicity.

  3. Research, research, and more research. This is particularly important for companies targeting enterprises as their customers, but is just as important for all other startups. It is not uncommon to require 60 hours of research just to have a 2 minute conversation with the CEO of a company. You need to find out who to talk to, who is the potential user of the product, who makes the decision to purchase the product, what is the goal and focus of the company, what is their budget for a product you are selling, what are the procedures and regulations they have to meet before purchasing your product, etc. All these research has the single goal of making it a no-brainer decision for the CEO to say yes to your piloting of your product in team x (which, should be already using your product by the time you have that conversation with the CEO).
  4. Analytics are your secret weapon. Data is gold. You need to make full use of analytics to know how efficient each marketing strategy is, so you can remove the useless ones and increase resources on the effective ones. Each and every of our speaker so far (James Kennedy on growth hacking; Ben Kaplan on PR hacking; Paul DeJoe on sales hacking) has mentioned the importance of using analytics, such as Kissmetrics and CrazyEgg.

There is no coincidence, that every single speaker at the Igniters Meetup has emphasized the importance of analytics. It is just that important. As such, we are proud to announce that we will be bringing in Neil Patel, master of analytics, co-founder of Kissmetrics and CrazyEgg, to speak at our next Igniters Meetup!!!!! 😀 This is a chance of a lifetime, so sign up NOW!! Image

 

The Vorkspace team with Paul DeJoe

Last few seats available for Sales Hack meetup!

The title says it all. Sign up NOW if you haven’t yet done so! We completely sold out all seats a couple of days ago, but because we want everyone to have a chance to listen to Paul DeJoe, we created 20 more seats. So grab the chance while you can!! 

 

See you all on Friday, 9th Aug, at the Sales Hack meetup!

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Paul Dejoe will be speaking on how to get your very first 1000 paying customers, to generate your first revenues for your startup. Paul is the CEO of Ecquire, software for lead management. He serves as the Entrepreneur in Residence at Fairbridge Venture Partners, has been featured in the Wall St. Journal, Business Insider, Forbes, Inc., is a Mentor for the Thiel Fellowship, and advisor to 4 startups. He has built three different startups from idea to sustainability and beyond.

Working from home makes that employee FREE!

There has been a long debate on the efficacy of working from home. Professor John Roberts and his team explored whether working from home benefits the company and the employee. The team conducted a study over a 10-month period at CTrip.com, a billion-dollar NASDAQ-listed company in Shanghai. He discovered that having employees work from home generates a win-win situation.

For the individual:

  1. Employees were happier

  2. Employees saved time commuting

For the company:

  1. Saved on real estate

  2. Employees worked 9% more

  3. Employees worked 4% more efficiently → total 13% gain.

  4. Fewer employees quit

For the society:

  1. People can choose where they live

  2. City congestion eased with fewer commuters and fewer people having to live in busy cities just for their work

  3. Better family and community life

To further the net 13% gain for the companies with employees working from home, if the employees chose to work from home (i.e. decided to work from home knowing the negative sides of it, such as lack of social interaction), the number jumps to 22% gain in productivity. The net savings per employee who worked from home was estimated to be approximately the annual salary of the employee! This is highly significant from the company’s point of view!

So, given the great benefits of remote work, why doesn’t everyone jump to it? There are, of course, negative sides of working from home. For one, as mentioned above, working from home removes a large part, if not all social interaction from colleagues. Some individuals feel more lonely as a result, while others who are working in more creative sectors become less innovative due to the reduced chance to bounce ideas off colleagues. As such, the huge benefits of working from home are only applicable for a selected group of individuals, and these are the people who should strive hard to get their companies to let them work from home, if they haven’t yet done so (more on this at a later date).

For more information of the study, watch this short video by Professor John Roberts from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he talks about how his groundbreaking study of call center workers in China provides the first scientific evidence that working from home can produce big gains in employee productivity. He conducted the study in collaboration with Stanford economics professor Nicholas Bloom, and Stanford GSB graduate students James Liang and Zhichun Jenny Ying.

Learn more by subscribing to our blogs, or follow us on twitter and facebook!

John Roberts is the Emeritus John H. Scully Professor of Economics at the Stanford GSB. His teaching and research involve the application of economic and strategic (game-theoretic) analysis to management problems. His specific areas of current interest involve international business, the organization of the firm, and the connection between strategy and organization. He also has published extensively on industrial competition, emphasizing how informational differences among various parties affect strategic behavior, and on complementarities as a driving force in organizational design and strategic choice. As well, he has helped develop new techniques for deriving robust conclusions from economic models. Most recently, he has undertaken controlled randomized experiments in large firms to investigate the effects of changing management practices.

Top 5 advantages of having a distributed team

A study said that 43% of their respondents worked remotely less often 2-3 years ago; 83% of them spend at least a part of their current days working from home; and 66% believe that their office might go full virtual within the next 5 years.

 

WHY? Why is there an increasing trend of distributed teams and working remotely?

 

Here are the top 5 advantages of having a distributed team:

 

  1. Able to hire the best people.  Being open to a distributed team would enable you to find and hire the right people, the best talents, regardless of where they happen to live. Geographically limited companies have a restricted talent pool from which they can hire their people from. This results in possibly sub-optimal or just the wrong people being hired just to fill the position. In contrast, in a distributed team, there are virtually no barriers as to who you can hire, be it nationality, location, background etc. With an infinitely larger talent pool to choose from, there are also higher chances that a perfect candidate can be sought for the position without compromise. As Jim Collins said in his book “Good to Great”, “[Good leaders] start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.” Start your company right by hiring the right people, regardless of where they live.

  2. Increased productivity. The President’s Council of Economic Advisers released a study that suggested that remote workers are absent less, more healthy, and more productive. Someone who works from home has the flexibility of visiting the dentist whenever they like, picking up their children without having to leave work early and can even get back to work after the kids have gone to bed. The ability to manage family and work life well results in happier workers. Any time saved on commuting can also be better put to use, thus increasing work productivity.

  3. Diversified (international) experience and expertise. When a company works with distributed teams, an organization gains both the experience and expertise in working with different global markets. This type of experience is critical and extremely useful for a company that is expanding or plans to expand its business internationally.

  4. More efficient workflow. A distributed team can have team members working from different time zones. Although the first thought would be inconvenience iterating ideas, if this difference in time zone is well tapped into, it can turn into an advantage rather than an obstacle. A project can be completed in a faster manner if people in different time zones are continuously working on a particular project. For instance, a manager in the West Coast can draft up a task before he leaves work one evening, a programmer in India receives the task early in the morning and works on it the entire day. He finishes up the work before he leaves work, sends it to his supervisor in the East Coast. The supervisor looks through the work and edits it, and sends it to the manager in the West Coast. By the time the manager returns to work in the morning the second day, the task has already been completed. The same workflow in a co-located team may take 2-3 times the amount of time to complete, just because everyone starts and ends work at the same time.

  5. Cost savings. A team or company that is partially or completely distributed can save on real estate spendings, as less or no office space is required.

Five tips for on boarding a distributed team member

Being in a distributed team is not always easy, but joining one as a new member without prior experience is the hardest. To help you help your new team members settle in as quickly as possible, we suggest here some tips for on boarding a distributed team member. We understand that the strategy will vary between teams, but here are a couple guidelines to start you off when enrolling a new distributed team member:

 

1. Officially introduce the new member to the team – an introduction email is great, but why not also set up a team video conference? Instead of a general welcome email, why not also explain what the new member will be working on specifically?  

2. Create knowledge spaces where the new member can go to for information, including technical, and procedural. If your distributed team uses a particular set of tools for communicating and collaborating (e.g. dropbox for file sharing, skype for calling, asana for project management), let the new member know up front, so he/she does not have to email the team to find out which specific tool(s) is(are) needed for which circumstances. Similarly, let the new member be aware of various procedures in accomplishing various tasks, especially when decision making is to be done by the manager of the team, and when the member can use his/her own discretion in deciding. A simple orientation like this helps the newbie settle in much more smoothly. This tip is probably also useful for all kinds of teams, distributed or not, but yet many teams don’t bother with this essential piece of information.

3. Have sync up meetings regularly. Meet once a week (+/-, depending on your team’s needs) to help with any immediate questions and give guidance on next steps. Don’t let matters drag on until they are discovered. Efficiency is something that distributed teams sometimes struggle with, due to trouble iterating quickly, so extra effort has to be put in to actively work towards optimal efficiency. Having regular meetings also helps ensure consistent motivation amongst team members.

4. Encourage new member to have one-on-one meetings with each team member. This is a great way for the new team member to get to know everyone on a personal level, as well as gain a deeper understanding of who is responsible of what tasks. Social interaction is limited in a distributed team, leading to a slower build up of team bonding and familiarity. Having one-on-one meetings with team members will help kick start the process.

5. Communicate the team’s culture. Even a distributed team has culture. But this culture is going to be more difficult to grasp for the new member, when there is minimal (or no) face time with the team. Henceforth, as the manager, you should clearly articulate the team’s culture to the new member right from day one. Be clear about expectations, how work progress is tracked, how self motivation plays a role in the team and whether feedback is an option. No detail is too detailed.

 

Most importantly, TRUST each other.

Any other tips you have? Share it with us!

We have reached our 400th Igniter!!

The meetup group that the Vorkspace team organizes — Igniters; Stanford entrepreneurs and Silicon Valley founders, has reached its 400th member today! Thank you everyone for your support! If you have not yet signed up to be an Igniter, DO IT NOW! If you’re already a member, we love you!! Please continue to spread the word about this awesome group of founders, and see you at our meetups at Hacker Dojo! 🙂

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(P.S. the next one is coming right up on 9th August)