Linking, Zooming, and Moving Forward
One of the questions that we often ask ourselves is, what makes a startup feel like a startup? Specifically, what makes a Link startup feel like a Link startup?
This question was a central element of a recent Link gathering of team members and associates.
Overall, we think we’ve done a reasonable job of keeping people and teams connected during COVID, but now that post-COVID feels like a mix of “before” and “during”, and we don’t really know what “after” looks like — how do we proceed? We’ve always placed a high value on being together physically. Our teams are our best asset. How do we continue to grow standout teams, with a Link/Cogo imprint, in the current mostly-virtual world?
We kicked off this “reintroduction” by inviting the team to Lake Tahoe. We chose Tahoe for several reasons:
- One of our team members lives there
- It’s a gorgeous setting, which we’ve found helps with creativity and communication during conferences
- It allowed for outdoor activities, like golf, boating and hiking (let’s just say, outdoor activities are a high priority for this group)
Most speakers and participants joined from other locations, such as Bermuda and Costa Rica.
Speakers were given suggested topics based on one area that has served their businesses well, or an area of expertise. Having speakers cover the same topic from different perspectives and different positions of leadership within their respective companies gave us a much clearer view into processes and progress. We also heard from founders of potential investment companies, and individuals we want to work with in the future.
We used Zoom as a platform, taking into consideration the inherent potential issues there. We amped up our technical capabilities, kept sessions short and used lots of visual aids. As for the sessions, here’s a (very) brief synopsis of the speakers and key points used to educate us all on best business practices:
- Bing Gordon, Chief Product Officer at Kleiner Perkins and former Amazon Board Director (among many other roles) kicked things off with a talk about founders, and how a founder has to be a “learning machine” to keep up with role changes through business iterations.
- Think you know a lot about email? Jordan Staab, CEO of SmarterTravel, gave us some great advice for staying relevant, namely, find the best possible data and keep verifying it, and remember that you are not your target audience.
- Alexa Sachs, head of native advertising at Healthcare.com, schooled attendees on the proliferation of platforms. Don’t limit yourself to one or two, she pointed out, because most publishers have exclusives with specific platforms, so you’ll miss a huge chunk of traffic.
- Ian Joseph, VP of Marketing at OwnUp, is a Facebook expert who gave the team invaluable tips on how to be successful despite the greatly reduced opt-in numbers: put dedicated ad spend behind assets you believe in.
- Eric Stradley, COO of MotoRefi, and JT Benton of Cogo Labs talked about partnerships, and two rules for success: establish goals and strategy first, and understand a long-term vision.
- Hadar Landao/CEO and Omri Klinger/CTO of TextLuke talked about the reasons why text is the new UI. It’s important to meet users where they are, and, as one example, millennials love to text. Stay tuned for GPT2 to change our chat experience forever!
- Craig Lister, CMO of EverQuote revealed the real goal of performance marketing: turn marketing investment into revenue and profitable growth. How do you do that? Employ analysts and storytellers.
- Elyse Neumeier of EverQuote and Amy Dalebout of MotoRefi did a joint presentation on talent acquisition. They taught us that hiring well is a science, not an art, and should be a data-driven exercise, since it’s such an important part of any business. Also: creating an army of sourcers and holding to a high bar will help companies hire the right people in the right time frame.
- Katie Fellenz, Head of Marketing at Trust & Will and Rohit Mittal, CEO of Stilt teamed up to talk about SEO. What’s the secret to organic success? Build the foundation, become the authority and amplify your brand.
Our success here means that we can use this format as we expand the number of companies in our second fund, LV2, and plan for our third fund, LV3. While we love being together, the ability to hold an event anywhere will remain incredibly beneficial for us; we can attract talented speakers, cover more topics, and create a library of best practices.
We don’t mean to imply that we’ve invented Zoom or the art of gathering. What we did perfect was a way to use Zoom that enables the platform to live up to its potential for us, so that we live up to our own standards.
We can ensure that our culture endures.