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How to evaluate ideas?

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Are you often asked to estimate one's ideas? I am periodically invited as a member of a jury to various commercial and non-commercial competitions. It is almost a routine activity: you sit, read strategies prepared by the others, analyze them according to certain evaluation criteria and write a conclusion. Tricky part comes in the final step when it is necessary to choose one from several strong applications. Yet, the choice is set up by the nature of the competition, priorities and other parameters significant for the organizers. It's their right as conditions are transparent and equal. It is therefore much more interesting to evaluate ideas for the free market: unequal, opaque, with a lot of opposite trends. How do you distinguish between weak and strong ideas?

It is usually advised to take a piece of paper and rate the idea from of 1 to 10 for utility, novelty, flexibility, realism, value, etc. How useful is this idea for a specific client? What about technical feasibility, possible profit and so on. In a more advanced version it is necessary to carry out a market research: key words, size of potential audience, presence of competitors, formulation of hypotheses for testing, etc. Although this technique is widely-recognized, it doesn’t bring a sufficient help.

There are thousands of examples. "Thank you for the audio, but unfortunately we have decided that it is not appropriate for us at this time." This is the response of RSO Records to the first song sent, by the leader of the U2 Bono, who has sold 150 million records. FOX studio didn't see a potential and abandoned the idea of the Star Wars, which profit then exceeded $8 billion. Jeff Bezos visited more than 60 investors, and only 20 gave him $50 000 each to start Amazon, which has a gross-worth of more than trillion dollars. You can easily come up with a lot of similar examples yourself.

On the other hand, would you agree to invest in the business together with Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore and Arnold Schwarznegger? A cool company full of successful people, initiated a network of restaurants named “Planet Hollywood”. The company's share price reached a value of $32 on the first day of trading. However, three years later the stocks began to cost less than 1 dollar. Oops… It is much easier to find examples of business failures; every large company with longer history has experienced that.

In most cases of ups and downs, decisions were made by smart people with high qualifications, experience and intuition. Human consciousness is retrospective and the past seems so obvious to us. What lesson can be drawn from aforementioned examples? The only person who is really able to appreciate your idea is your client. Sole and impartial judge.

An expert can tell you if the similar ideas to yours are being implemented in the market (but only similar). Who's betting on what? How's everyone doing? How do customers behave? This is an important assessment of current trends. The expert can say: the chances are small or great, but it is not an opinion of the idea itself. No matter how ridiculous it seems.

My favorite example considers Doggles Company based in the United States. Two brothers decided to produce and sell sunglasses for the dogs. According to the Daily Mail, these glasses were listed as one of the most useless inventions. The founders even joined a TV show, where they were presented with an anti-prize and everyone laughed at them. Once they became recognized, sales skyrocketed. Dog breeders were buying glasses for fun, and the U.S. Department of Defense ordered a large shipment to protect the eyes of military dogs from sandstorms in Iraq. Today, Doggles' annual income is $3 million. Still think the idea was stupid?

Each idea has many nuances. When it first appears in your head, it's usually weak. A vague picture of the desired future, provokes you to start doing something with it in the present. The idea doesn't get strong in one moment. Even genius needs to put a lot of hard work behind the moments of insight. The more you work on the idea, the more powerful and realistic it becomes.

When you are ready to bring the idea to discussion, some people, will certainly criticize it. It is normal. Good things are almost always rejected at some point. It's hard to describe with a dozen slides and a few thousand words the work done by 86 billion neurons of your brain. Besides, people are more likely to judge not your idea itself, but their own interpretation of it. Some people will definitely support you; find something interesting in the idea, perhaps even something you haven't noticed yet. The more often and more you discuss the idea, the more realistic it becomes.

Don't hold the idea as your property that might be stolen. It is better to use the image of a puzzle: in your head, there is only a part of the necessary details and you need communication with a lot of different people to collect the whole picture.

Study reaction. It's bad when there's no reaction or it's weak. When there's a lot of criticism – it's rich material for improvement. Imagine you're spinning a radio handle looking for the right wave. When you change small elements of an idea, people's response changes, too. At some point, you'll get what you need. And, most likely, not where originally expected.

The only obstacle that can prevent you from implementing your idea is you. Especially lack of persistence. Most ideas are not realized because people abandon them, refuse to continue. If you don't stop, over time, you'll cover all the deficits.

Think of Joan Rowling, who was rejected by 12 publishers, Walt Disney, who was denied funding 300 times, Thomas Edison, with his 10,000 unsuccessful experiments of inventing a lamp. How many great creations and inventions lost the world because someone lacked the will and perseverance to complete their masterpiece.

Ideas are not being realized mostly because people simply abandon them. As long as you do something, your chances are always 50/50. Only if you refuse to continue the result is 100% predictable (and it’s negative!).

How do you rate ideas? Share your strategies. Whether elbows were bitten by missed opportunities or vice versa, rejoiced that avoided a major fiasco. Are you making a grand plan now? Let's discuss and welcome to our community of social entrepreneurs and impact investors – Galileo www.iiic.ch

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😎How to Get Webdesign Clients FOR REAL

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I've been receiving many messages lately on how difficult it is to get webdesign clients. The majority of stories revolve around potential clients ignoring you or disappearing after a first promising exchange of emails.

So I decided to put together an article, listing what I do to book Webdesign clients FOR REAL. Everything in this article is based on pure practice and my personal experience.

If you want to watch the video version of this article, click here (and like the video since you're there 😝).

Research on your clients

As I always say, everything starts with research. The wrongest thing you can do is to send duplicate emails that you create in batch for everyone you want to work with.

The client needs to feel that the email is original and written just for her.

I don't know you, but I immediately spot a "copy and paste" proposal to work with me. I receive duplicate messages all the time on Linkedin, and I stop reading them after the second line.

I take into consideration just the ones I feel genuine, and the ones where I see that the person TRULY knows who I am and what I do.

That's why research is fundamental before writing the email.

Visit your addressee's website and take notes. Get familiar with what the client does. Then write the message sowing here and there information you grasped from your research.

I'm aware that this approach takes way more time than bombarding 100 clients with the same email. That's why you need to sort clients.

When I'm looking for website redesign gigs, I discard all the companies with a presentable website. Researching and pitching my service to them would be a waste of time.

I reach out just to clients who could need my help. This allows me to reduce the time I spend collecting info.

Focus on them

In case you offer Webdesign services, it's useful to highlight what are the flaws of the client's website, and how you could solve the problem.

This part is what makes your approach different from the crowd.

Clients aren't interested in your previous experiences and history. What they truly want to know is if you can be an asset to them and how motivated you are.

The fact is that usually, clients don't even know what their problem is. If you can show their website's flaws, and then you show how you can fix them, they will pay attention.

Showing what needs improvement

But what's the best way to show what you can do for the clients?

Visual explanations is the answer.

When I contact a client, I rarely write a plain text email. I use videos and images, instead. They permit me to show visually what are the parts to improve on their website.

In case I want to shoot a video, I use Loom. Loom is a great tool to film screencasts, upload them online, and share them through a private link.

If I want to attach an image to my email instead, I use Skitch to add notes on the website screenshot.

I've been using pain emails for a while before realizing that almost everyone responds better to videos and images. So why not using the same approach in my emails.

This turned out to be the right choice. Since I use videos and notes on screenshots to promote my services, I saw an increase in positive feedback.

Working before getting paid

In case you definitely want to work with a specific client, you can go a little farther with your strategy.

Instead of notes on the existing website, you can create a new version of this client's homepage.

This method needs more time and energy, but it's so far the best one I used to collect clients. If you want to impress someone, there's no better way than working for that person without getting paid.

To reduce the time it would take you to create a new mockup, you need to use website builders. They allow you to come up with a fresh design quickly, using drag-and-drop.

I've been using Elementor for years, and it made a huge difference in finding web design clients. With Elementor, I can create a webpage in a matter of an hour and send it to the client as an example of what I can create for him.

And if you don't want to invest too long creating a new template from scratch, Elementor gives you a vast list of templates you can choose from.

You can try Elementor here.

Tailor your service

The last advice I can give you is to be honest and specific with your clients. Promise just what you can deliver, and promote tailored services for your clients.

The more tailored they are, the better they will work.

While the majority of web designers propose a 360degrees service (blending with the background), you can be the authority in your distinct topic.

Niching down gives better results than being the all-round expert.

And if you need an extra push to convince them to hire you, offer a trial period. Propose to work together for a month in order to see if you're good for each other. If at the end of the trial, you're not a good match, no hard feelings.

What about you? What are the techniques you use to get clients for webdesign?

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In this ‘new normal’ it’s not more time, but THIS, that’s the holy grail of life and business

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Has anyone else secretly worried that they accidentally manifested a worldwide pandemic? Because the top 3 things in my future vision journaling for about a year now have been:

  1. My husband works at home (so I don’t have to do all the childcare)
  2. I run my business in just a few short hours a day
  3. We spend lots of time together as a family

“Not like this!” I journal frantically on day 1 of lockdown.  It feels like those awful wish reversals you get in fairytales where your wishes are indeed granted, but only in the most ironic and terrible ways.

Abracadabra! The world’s now in peril, your kids rarely leave your side, your husband’s going to work from home (but only emerge to look in the fridge), oh and here’s your new work day: AKA the crack of dawn, and “crikey, it’s midnight!” Enjoy!

On day 2 of lockdown I realise I do not have the patience of Mary Poppins and that our teachers are indeed underpaid; perhaps my children are going to have to settle for ‘The School of Life’ for a few weeks (or even months?!).

On day 3, I have a mini meltdown in the shower and sob into the soap dish over the future of the world, my business and my children (who are apparently now destined to be educated by a mentally unstable mother who doesn’t even know what a number bond is).

But on day 4, something miraculous happens: I feel better!

Months and years of mindset work and gratitude finally kick in, and I emerge from that dark place of fear, mourning and worry we all seem to have been tipped into, and realise that:

Yes, we’ve been forced to slow down, and yes, we’ve been forced to create space, and yes, it’s happened in the most horrible way; but even with all the extra scariness and worry and uncertainty; without the rush of the old world and the necessity to live our lives around someone else’s timetable, I can finally see the truth in that saying that, with change, comes opportunity.

We can either use this time to freeze and bemoan all the plans and dreams that will now have to be postponed or forgotten; or we can stop focusing on all that we’ve lost, and redirect our attention to all that we’ve gained.

I hate to say this, but for me and anyone else with children and/ or a job that can be done from home, more time isn’t necessarily one of those things we’re gaining – so don’t worry, I’m not going to suggest you’re suddenly going to be able to write your book or launch that new membership program…

But actually, after a few more days in our ‘new normal’, I realise that although my days are definitely longer and fuller and involve far more parenting and far less actual working than ever before; it has also meant that I’ve had to pare back everything to the pure essentials, and there’s no doubt about it, this forced simplicity has created something I now suspect is more precious than that holy grail of more time: it’s given me back my headspace.

Because without the rush that bookends my days; the school runs and the work trips, the homework, the social events, the clubs, appointments, obligations, and all the other mental acrobatics that go into running a 21st Century life, I realise that it’s not lack of time that’s been stopping me from doing all the things I want to do, like write my book, or tap into my business vision, have more self care, or be more present with my kids (time is just an illusion, after all).

No, the thing that’s really been holding me back, is a lack of room in my mind to see things clearly, a lack of space to daydream, and a train of thought that’s constantly being stopped and diverted.

Maybe it wasn’t the new skeleton schedule, or personal development seminar, or more help around the house that I needed to help me achieve those dreams. Maybe what I really needed all along was a pattern interrupt; something that would slow me right down. And suddenly here we have it; the mother of all pattern interrupts; not really holding us back so much as reining us in, so we can slow down and see the opportunities already here.

So 2020 isn’t exactly panning out how I’d planned it – I’m sure you know how that feels – and while I know there’ll still be moments of frustration, fear and sadness for all of us, I’ve decided to take what the universe has given me (more family time and more togetherness), embrace the change, go with the flow, trust, and look for the opportunities that were here all along.

And you know what? Maybe that’s how slowing down to speed up really works; because in the little under 2 weeks since this all began, that book that’s been sitting outlined in my google docs for months has already been turned into a mini ebook ready for my VA to make pretty in Canva (and the extended version is on its way); and that membership I’ve had all the content for but no ‘time’ or energy to launch – it’s going live later this month so I can serve more people who need what I’ve got.

Yes, the road ahead is uncertain right now, but I’m beginning to trust that I’ve got all the tools I need within me to weather the storm (or at least Amazon Prime, probably does). So now’s the time to stay out of fear and stay in momentum; to show up and serve with no other agenda than serving; to be scared without being scary (as Brene Brown very aptly said); and to look for the opportunities that were already there.

And hopefully, when this is all over, l may still not know what a number bond is, but at least I’ll be ready to rise with the tide. Will you rise with me?

Words by Cate Butler Ross.

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A Broken TV Led This Entrepreneur To Build A $3.5 Billion Business

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Girish Mathrubootham has built an incredibly popular startup from the ground up. A company that fuels businesses of all sizes, and is probably becoming far more important in the wake of the big events of early 2020.

Girish recently appeared as a guest on the DealMakers podcast. During his interview he shared how he has raised hundreds of millions of dollars through a Series H fundraising round, been through rebranding, built cloud-based global software solutions, and has even created what he calls an alternative model for designing software. His company Freshworks has even acquired 12 other organizations according to Crunchbase.

Listen to the full podcast episode and review the transcript here.

Everything Started With An MBA

Girish was born in the Southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. He grew up in the small town of Trichy. He left college in 1996, and the job market was tough. So, he applied for an MBA program and headed off to Chennai.

After completing his MBA he went on to work at software companies HCL Technologies, Cisco, eForce, and Zoho.

The Art Of Transitioning

Mathrubootham has become somewhat of a master of transitions throughout his career. He was a Java programmer, a trainer, an engineer, and then VP of Product Management. A position he says is great training grounds for becoming a CEO. Then as a founder, you add HR, finance, and sales.

In a recent Tweet, he wrote that “Building a company is like building a product where culture is the UX for employees and customer experience is the UX for customers.” Although he has clearly surrounded himself with some of the best minds and advisors today, Girish is a big advocate of just learning by doing. No matter how long you go to school there is a lot you’ll never be given to prepare you for real life. You have to allow yourself to be curious about learning new things.

Then it’s also about building a great team. He says the age of rockstar talent is over. It is now about building great teams. You want product managers who can see things from a user’s point of view. You want designers who prize craftsmanship and attention to detail. In developers, you want the ability to break down complexity to simplicity.

All Good Startups Begin With Experiencing Personal Frustrations

Girish Mathrubootham’s story started with a broken TV.

In 2009 he was moving back to Chennai, India from Austin, TX. Among his belongings being shipped was a Samsung TV. It arrived broken. No amount of emails and calls and requests managed to get any results from the insurance he had paid for.

A year later he hit an online forum to share his terrible experience with others. The very same day he was contacted by the president of the company and had the money in his bank account.

This was his eureka moment. He saw the shift in power from the companies to the people and individual customers.

Leaning on his experience of building help desks before he set out to build his own first product, Freshdesk which would later rebrand to Freshworks.

Building A Global Digital Business

Girish quickly assembled a team of six to develop the product. Finding product-market fit wasn’t much of a challenge. What appeared more challenging was to build a big business with this out of Chennai, India, and to ever hope of being fundable at the VC level.

After nine months of development, they launched. Within 30 days they had their first customer. It happened to be a college in Australia. Their first six customers represented businesses on four different continents. They had instantly gone international. They were doing it all remotely. This was back well before most thought of going 100% remote.

After hitting 100 customers in their first 100 days, and doubling that in the following 100 days, they got noticed by investors. Accel and Tiger Global gave them a few million dollars.

While they were doing well in the SMB sector with this remote business model, and even gained large international franchise clients, they saw they were missing out on a lot of business.

Many bigger companies were just used to being sold in person and doing face to face meetings. They weren’t the type to search for Google and buy software online.

So, they began setting up small teams and offices in Europe, Australia, and the US.

Today, they have 3,000 employees, across 13 offices, with customers spanning 126 countries.

They expanded their product line and kept adding services for small to enterprise businesses.

For others thinking about their own startups, Girish’s top advice includes to just go for it. If you are scared of becoming an entrepreneur, accept that it is hard, but look at how many others are doing it successfully. You can too. Learn how to learn, and start doing.

It has worked out well for Girish and Freshworks. They’ve already raised almost $400M, from tier 1 investors including CapitalG and Sequoia. Storytelling is everything which is something that Girish was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) where the most critical slides are highlighted.

Listen in to the full podcast episode to find out more, including:

  • The best practices for pulling off a rebranding
  • What was more important than the money when bringing in these top VCs
  • How the Freshworks Software Academy is lifting kids out of poverty
  • How a high valuation helps your startup
  • How they turned a Twitter attack into an epic PR moment
  • The concept of Indian Democratic Design
  • Alternate design models

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