More on Entrepreneurship
25 days ago
I've Never Seen a Sales Deck This Good
It’s Zuora’s, and it’s brilliant. Here’s why.
My friend Tim got a sales position at a Series-C software company that garnered $60 million from A-list investors. He's one of the best salespeople I know, yet he emailed me after starting to struggle.
Tim has a few modest clients. “Big companies ignore my pitch”. Tim said.
I love helping teams write the strategic story that drives sales, marketing, and fundraising. Tim and I had lunch at Amber India on Market Street to evaluate his deck.
After a feast, I asked Tim when prospects tune out.
He said, “several slides in”.
Intent on maximizing dining ROI, Tim went back to the buffet for seconds. When he returned, I pulled out my laptop and launched into a Powerpoint presentation.
“What’s this?” Tim asked.
“This,” I said, “is the greatest sales deck I have ever seen.”
Five Essentials of a Great Sales Narrative
I showed Tim a sales slide from IPO-bound Zuora, which sells a SaaS platform for subscription billing. Zuora supports recurring payments (e.g. enterprise software).
Ex-Zuora salesman gave me the deck, saying it helped him close his largest business. (I don't know anyone who works at Zuora.) After reading this, a few Zuora employees contacted me.)
Tim abandoned his naan in a pool of goat curry and took notes while we discussed the Zuora deck.
We remarked how well the deck led prospects through five elements:
(The ex-Zuora salesperson begged me not to release the Zuora deck publicly.) All of the images below originate from Zuora's website and SlideShare channel.)
#1. Name a Significant Change in the World
Don't start a sales presentation with mentioning your product, headquarters, investors, clients, or yourself.
Name the world shift that raises enormous stakes and urgency for your prospect.
Every Zuora sales deck begins with this slide:
Zuora coined the term subscription economy to describe a new market where purchasers prefer regular service payments over outright purchases. Zuora then shows a slide with the change's history.
Most pitch recommendation advises starting with the problem. When you claim a problem, you put prospects on the defensive. They may be unaware of or uncomfortable admitting the situation.
When you highlight a global trend, prospects open up about how it affects them, worries them, and where they see opportunity. You capture their interest. Robert McKee says:
…what attracts human attention is change. …if the temperature around you changes, if the phone rings — that gets your attention. The way in which a story begins is a starting event that creates a moment of change.
#2. Show There’ll Be Winners and Losers
Loss aversion affects all prospects. They avoid a loss by sticking with the status quo rather than risking a gain by changing.
To fight loss aversion, show how the change will create winners and losers. You must show both
that if the prospect can adjust to the modification you mentioned, the outcome will probably be quite favorable; and
That failing to do so is likely to have an unacceptable negative impact on the prospect's future
Zuora shows a mass extinction among Fortune 500 firms.
…and then showing how the “winners” have shifted from product ownership to subscription services. Those include upstarts…
…as well as rejuvenated incumbents:
To illustrate, Zuora asks:
Winners utilize Zuora's subscription service models.
#3. Tease the Promised Land
It's tempting to get into product or service details now. Resist that urge.
Prospects won't understand why product/service details are crucial if you introduce them too soon, therefore they'll tune out.
Instead, providing a teaser image of the happily-ever-after your product/service will assist the prospect reach.
Your Promised Land should be appealing and hard to achieve without support. Otherwise, why does your company exist?
Zuora shows this Promised Land slide after explaining that the subscription economy will have winners and losers.
Not your product or service, but a new future state.
(I asked my friend Tim to describe his Promised Land, and he answered, "You’ll have the most innovative platform for ____." Nope: the Promised Land isn't possessing your technology, but living with it.)
Your Promised Land helps prospects market your solution to coworkers after your sales meeting. Your coworkers will wonder what you do without you. Your prospects are more likely to provide a persuasive answer with a captivating Promised Land.
#4. Present Features as “Mystic Gifts” for Overcoming Difficulties on the Road to the Promised Land
Successful sales decks follow the same format as epic films and fairy tales. Obi Wan gives Luke a lightsaber to help him destroy the Empire. You're Gandalf, helping Frodo destroy the ring. Your prospect is Cinderella, and you're her fairy godmother.
Position your product or service's skills as mystical gifts to aid your main character (prospect) achieve the Promised Land.
Zuora's client record slide is shown above. Without context, even the most technical prospect would be bored.
Positioned in the context of shifting from an “old” to a “new world”, it's the foundation for a compelling conversation with prospects—technical and otherwise—about why traditional solutions can't reach the Promised Land.
#5. Show Proof That You Can Make the Story True.
In this sense, you're promising possibilities that if they follow you, they'll reach the Promised Land.
The journey to the Promised Land is by definition rocky, so prospects are right to be cautious. The final part of the pitch is proof that you can make the story come true.
The most convincing proof is a success story about how you assisted someone comparable to the prospect. Zuora's sales people use a deck of customer success stories, but this one gets the essence.
I particularly appreciate this one from an NCR exec (a Zuora customer), which relates more strongly to Zuora's Promised Land:
Not enough successful customers? Product demos are the next best evidence, but features should always be presented in the context of helping a prospect achieve the Promised Land.
The best sales narrative is one that is told by everyone.
Success rarely comes from a fantastic deck alone. To be effective, salespeople need an organization-wide story about change, Promised Land, and Magic Gifts.
Zuora exemplifies this. If you hear a Zuora executive, including CEO Tien Tzuo, talk, you'll likely hear about the subscription economy and its winners and losers. This is the theme of the company's marketing communications, campaigns, and vision statement.
According to the ex-Zuora salesperson, company-wide story alignment made him successful.
The Zuora marketing folks ran campaigns and branding around this shift to the subscription economy, and [CEO] Tien [Tzuo] talked it up all the time. All of that was like air cover for my in-person sales ground attack. By the time I arrived, prospects were already convinced they had to act. It was the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to sales nirvana.
The largest deal ever
Tim contacted me three weeks after our lunch to tell me that prospects at large organizations were responding well to his new deck, which we modeled on Zuora's framework. First, prospects revealed their obstacles more quickly. The new pitch engages CFOs and other top gatekeepers better, he said.
A week later, Tim emailed that he'd signed his company's biggest agreement.
Next week, we’re headed back to Amber India to celebrate.
1 month ago
Your Ideal Position As a Part-Time Creator
Inspired by someone I never met
Inspiration is good and bad.
Paul Jarvis inspires me. He's a web person and writer who created his own category by being himself.
Paul said no thank you when everyone else was developing, building, and assuming greater responsibilities. This isn't success. He rewrote the rules. Working for himself, expanding at his own speed, and doing what he loves were his definitions of success.
Play with a problem that you have
The biggest problem can be not recognizing a problem.
Acceptance without question is deception. When you don't push limits, you forget how. You start thinking everything must be as it is.
For example: working. Paul worked a 9-5 agency work with little autonomy. He questioned whether the 9-5 was a way to live, not the way.
Another option existed. So he chipped away at how to live in this new environment.
Don't simply jump
Internet writers tell people considering quitting 9-5 to just quit. To throw in the towel. To do what you like.
The advice is harmful, despite the good intentions. People think quitting is hard. Like courage is the issue. Like handing your boss a resignation letter.
Nope. The tough part comes after. It’s easy to jump. Landing is difficult.
Paul didn't quit. Intelligent individuals don't. Smart folks focus on landing. They imagine life after 9-5.
Paul had been a web developer for a long time, had solid clients, and was respected. Hence if he pushed the limits and discovered another route, he had the potential to execute.
Working on the side
Society loves polarization. It’s left or right. Either way. Or chaos. It's 9-5 or entrepreneurship.
But like Paul, you can stretch polarization's limits. In-between exists.
You can work a 9-5 and side jobs (as I do). A mix of your favorites. The 9-5's stability and creativity. Fire and routine.
Remember you can't have everything but anything. You can create and work part-time.
My hybrid lifestyle
Not selling books doesn't destroy my world. My globe keeps spinning if my new business fails or if people don't like my Tweets. Unhappy algorithm? Cool. I'm not bothered (okay maybe a little).
The mix gives me the best of both worlds. To create, hone my skill, and grasp big-business basics. I like routine, but I also appreciate spending 4 hours on Saturdays writing.
Some days I adore leaving work at 5 pm and disconnecting. Other days, I adore having a place to write if inspiration strikes during a run or a discussion.
I’m a part-time creator
I’m a part-time creator. No, I'm not trying to quit. I don't work 5 pm - 2 am on the side. No, I'm not at $10,000 MRR.
I work part-time but enjoy my 9-5. My 9-5 has goodies. My side job as well.
It combines both to meet my lifestyle. I'm satisfied.
Join the Part-time Creators Club for free here. I’ll send you tips to enhance your creative game.
27 days ago
In November, I made an effort to pitch 10 brands per day. Here's what I discovered.
I pitched 10 brands per workday for a total of 200.
How did I do?
It was difficult.
I've never pitched so much.
What did this challenge teach me?
the superiority of quality over quantity
When you need help, outsource
Don't disregard burnout in order to complete a challenge because it exists.
First, pitching brands for brand deals requires quality. Find firms that align with your brand to expose to your audience.
If you associate with any company, you'll lose audience loyalty. I didn't lose sight of that, but I couldn't resist finishing the task.
Delegating work to teammates is effective.
I wish I'd done it.
Three people can pitch 200 companies a month significantly faster than one.
One person does research, one to two do outreach, and one to two do follow-up and negotiating.
In 2022, I'll outsource everything.
I felt this, so I slowed down at the end of the month.
Thanksgiving week in November was slow.
I was buying and decorating for Christmas. First time putting up outdoor holiday lights was fun.
Much was happening.
I'm not perfect.
I'm being honest.
Less than 50 brands pitched.
Result: A deal with 3 brands.
I hoped for 4 brands with reaching out to 200 companies, so three with under 50 is wonderful.
That’s a 6% conversion rate!
I needed 2%.
Here's a screenshot from one of the deals I booked.
These companies fit my company well. Each campaign is different, but I've booked $2,450 in brand work with a couple of pending transactions for December and January.
$2,450 in brand work booked!
How did I do? You tell me.
Is this something you’d try yourself?
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5 months ago
DAO 101: Everything you need to know
Maybe you'll work for a DAO next! Over $1 Billion in NFTs in the Flamingo DAO Another DAO tried to buy the NFL team Denver Broncos. The UkraineDAO raised over $7 Million for Ukraine. The PleasrDAO paid $4m for a Wu-Tang Clan album that belonged to the “pharma bro.”
DAOs move billions and employ thousands. So learn what a DAO is, how it works, and how to create one!
DAO? So, what? Why is it better?
A Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO). Some people like to also refer to it as Digital Autonomous Organization, but I prefer the former.
They are virtual organizations. In the real world, you have organizations or companies right? These firms have shareholders and a board. Usually, anyone with authority makes decisions. It could be the CEO, the Board, or the HIPPO. If you own stock in that company, you may also be able to influence decisions. It's now possible to do something similar but much better and more equitable in the cryptocurrency world.
This article informs you:
DAOs- What are the most common DAOs, their advantages and disadvantages over traditional companies? What are they if any?
Is a DAO legally recognized?
How secure is a DAO?
I’m ready whenever you are!
A DAO is a type of company that is operated by smart contracts on the blockchain. Smart contracts are computer code that self-executes our commands. Those contracts can be any. Most second-generation blockchains support smart contracts. Examples are Ethereum, Solana, Polygon, Binance Smart Chain, EOS, etc. I think I've gone off topic. Back on track. Now let's go!
Unlike traditional corporations, DAOs are governed by smart contracts. Unlike traditional company governance, DAO governance is fully transparent and auditable. That's one of the things that sets it apart. The clarity!
A DAO, like a traditional company, has one major difference. In other words, it is decentralized. DAOs are more ‘democratic' than traditional companies because anyone can vote on decisions. Anyone! In a DAO, we (you and I) make the decisions, not the top-shots. We are the CEO and investors. A DAO gives its community members power. We get to decide.
As long as you are a stakeholder, i.e. own a portion of the DAO tokens, you can participate in the DAO. Tokens are open to all. It's just a matter of exchanging it. Ownership of DAO tokens entitles you to exclusive benefits such as governance, voting, and so on. You can vote for a move, a plan, or the DAO's next investment. You can even pitch for funding. Any ‘big' decision in a DAO requires a vote from all stakeholders. In this case, ‘token-holders'! In other words, they function like stock.
What are the 5 DAO types?
Different DAOs exist. We will categorize decentralized autonomous organizations based on their mode of operation, structure, and even technology. Here are a few. You've probably heard of them:
1. DeFi DAO
These DAOs offer DeFi (decentralized financial) services via smart contract protocols. They use tokens to vote protocol and financial changes. Uniswap, Aave, Maker DAO, and Olympus DAO are some examples. Most DAOs manage billions.
Maker DAO was one of the first protocols ever created. It is a decentralized organization on the Ethereum blockchain that allows cryptocurrency lending and borrowing without a middleman.
Maker DAO issues DAI, a stable coin. DAI is a top-rated USD-pegged stable coin.
Maker DAO has an MKR token. These token holders are in charge of adjusting the Dai stable coin policy. Simply put, MKR tokens represent DAO “shares”.
2. Investment DAO
Investors pool their funds and make investment decisions. Investing in new businesses or art is one example. Investment DAOs help DeFi operations pool capital. The Meta Cartel DAO is a community of people who want to invest in new projects built on the Ethereum blockchain. Instead of investing one by one, they want to pool their resources and share ideas on how to make better financial decisions.
3. DAO Grant/Launchpad
In a grant DAO, community members contribute funds to a grant pool and vote on how to allocate and distribute them. These DAOs fund new DeFi projects. Those in need only need to apply. The Moloch DAO is a great Grant DAO. The tokens are used to allocate capital. Also see Gitcoin and Seedify.
4. DAO Collector
I debated whether to put it under ‘Investment DAO' or leave it alone. It's a subset of investment DAOs. This group buys non-fungible tokens, artwork, and collectibles. The market for NFTs has recently exploded, and it's time to investigate. The Pleasr DAO is a collector DAO. One copy of Wu-Tang Clan's "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin" cost the Pleasr DAO $4 million. Pleasr DAO is known for buying Doge meme NFT. Collector DAOs include the Flamingo, Mutant Cats DAO, and Constitution DAOs. Don't underestimate their websites' "childish" style. They have millions.
5. Social DAO
What are the DAO Benefits?
Here are some of the benefits of a decentralized autonomous organization:
- They are trustless. You don’t need to trust a CEO or management team
- It can’t be shut down unless a majority of the token holders agree. The government can't shut - It down because it isn't centralized.
- It's fully democratic
- It is open-source and fully transparent.
What about DAO drawbacks?
We've been saying DAOs are the bomb? But are they really the shit? What could go wrong with DAO?
DAOs may contain bugs. If they are hacked, the results can be catastrophic.
No trade secrets exist. Because the smart contract is transparent and coded on the blockchain, it can be copied. It may be used by another organization without credit. Maybe DAOs should use Secret, Oasis, or Horizen blockchain networks.
Are DAOs legally recognized??
In most counties, DAO regulation is inexistent. It's unclear. Most DAOs don’t have a legal personality. The Howey Test and the Securities Act of 1933 determine whether DAO tokens are securities. Although most countries follow the US, this is only considered for the US. Wyoming became the first state to recognize DAOs as legal entities in July 2021 after passing a DAO bill. DAOs registered in Wyoming are thus legally recognized as business entities in the US and thus receive the same legal protections as a Limited Liability Company.
In terms of cyber-security, how secure is a DAO?
Blockchains are secure. However, smart contracts may have security flaws or bugs. This can be avoided by third-party smart contract reviews, testing, and auditing
Finally, Decentralized Autonomous Organizations are timeless. Let us examine the current situation: Ukraine's invasion. A DAO was formed to help Ukrainian troops fighting the Russians. It was named Ukraine DAO. Pleasr DAO, NFT studio Trippy Labs, and Russian art collective Pussy Riot organized this fundraiser. Coindesk reports that over $3 million has been raised in Ethereum-based tokens. AidForUkraine, a DAO aimed at supporting Ukraine's defense efforts, has launched. Accepting Solana token donations. They are fully transparent, uncensorable, and can’t be shut down or sanctioned.
DAOs are undeniably the future of blockchain. Everyone is paying attention. Personally, I believe traditional companies will soon have to choose between adapting or being left behind.
Long version of this post: https://medium.datadriveninvestor.com/dao-101-all-you-need-to-know-about-daos-275060016663
7 months ago
Blockchain to solve growing privacy challenges
Most online activity is now public. Businesses collect, store, and use our personal data to improve sales and services.
In 2014, Uber executives and employees were accused of spying on customers using tools like maps. Another incident raised concerns about the use of ‘FaceApp'. The app was created by a small Russian company, and the photos can be used in unexpected ways. The Cambridge Analytica scandal exposed serious privacy issues. The whole incident raised questions about how governments and businesses should handle data. Modern technologies and practices also make it easier to link data to people.
As a result, governments and regulators have taken steps to protect user data. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was introduced by the EU to address data privacy issues. The law governs how businesses collect and process user data. The Data Protection Bill in India and the General Data Protection Law in Brazil are similar.
Despite the impact these regulations have made on data practices, a lot of distance is yet to cover.
Blockchain may be able to address growing data privacy concerns. The technology protects our personal data by providing security and anonymity. The blockchain uses random strings of numbers called public and private keys to maintain privacy. These keys allow a person to be identified without revealing their identity. Blockchain may be able to ensure data privacy and security in this way. Let's dig deeper.
Online payments require third-party services like PayPal or Google Pay. Using blockchain can eliminate the need to trust third parties. Users can send payments between peers using their public and private keys without providing personal information to a third-party application. Blockchain will also secure financial data.
Blockchain technology can give patients more control over their data. There are benefits to doing so. Once the data is recorded on the ledger, patients can keep it secure and only allow authorized access. They can also only give the healthcare provider part of the information needed.
The major challenge
We tried to figure out how blockchain could help solve the growing data privacy issues. However, using blockchain to address privacy concerns has significant drawbacks. Blockchain is not designed for data privacy. A ‘distributed' ledger will be used to store the data. Another issue is the immutability of blockchain. Data entered into the ledger cannot be changed or deleted. It will be impossible to remove personal data from the ledger even if desired.
MIT's Enigma Project aims to solve this. Enigma's ‘Secret Network' allows nodes to process data without seeing it. Decentralized applications can use Secret Network to use encrypted data without revealing it.
Another startup, Oasis Labs, uses blockchain to address data privacy issues. They are working on a system that will allow businesses to protect their customers' data.
Blockchain technology is already being used. Several governments use blockchain to eliminate centralized servers and improve data security. In this information age, it is vital to safeguard our data. How blockchain can help us in this matter is still unknown as the world explores the technology.
1 month ago
Nomad.xyz got exploited for $190M
Another hack. This time was different. This is a doozy.
Why? Nomad got exploited for $190m. It was crypto's 5th-biggest hack. Ouch.
It wasn't hackers, but random folks. What happened:
A Nomad smart contract flaw was discovered. They couldn't drain the funds at once, so they tried numerous transactions. Rookie!
People noticed and copied the attack.
They just needed to discover a working transaction, substitute the other person's address with theirs, and run it.
In a two-and-a-half-hour attack, $190M was siphoned from Nomad Bridge.
Nomad is a novel approach to blockchain interoperability that leverages an optimistic mechanism to increase the security of cross-chain communication. — nomad.xyz
This hack was permissionless, therefore anyone could participate.
After the fatal blow, people fought over the scraps.
Cross-chain bridges remain a DeFi weakness and exploit target. When they collapse, it's typically total.
Unbacked assets are hurting Nomad-dependent chains. Moonbeam, EVMOS, and Milkomeda's TVLs dropped.
This incident is every-man-for-himself, although numerous whitehats exploited the issue...
But what triggered the feeding frenzy?
How did so many pick the bones?
After a normal upgrade in June, the bridge's Replica contract was initialized with a severe security issue. The 0x00 address was a trusted root, therefore all messages were valid by default.
After a botched first attempt (costing $350k in gas), the original attacker's exploit tx called process() without first 'proving' its validity.
The process() function executes all cross-chain messages and checks the merkle root of all messages (line 185).
The upgrade caused transactions with a'messages' value of 0 (invalid, according to old logic) to be read by default as 0x00, a trusted root, passing validation as 'proven'
Any process() calls were valid. In reality, a more sophisticated exploiter may have designed a contract to drain the whole bridge.
Copycat attackers simply copied/pasted the same process() function call using Etherscan, substituting their address.
The incident was a wild combination of crowdhacking, whitehat activities, and MEV-bot (Maximal Extractable Value) mayhem.
For example, 🍉🍉🍉. eth stole $4M from the bridge, but claims to be whitehat.
Others stood out for the wrong reasons. Repeat criminal Rari Capital (Artibrum) exploited over $3M in stablecoins, which moved to Tornado Cash.
The top three exploiters (with 95M between them) are:
Here's a list of all the exploiters:
The project conducted a Quantstamp audit in June; QSP-19 foreshadowed a similar problem.
The auditor's comments that "We feel the Nomad team misinterpreted the issue" speak to a troubling attitude towards security that the project's "Long-Term Security" plan appears to confirm:
Concerns were raised about the team's response time to a live, public exploit; the team's official acknowledgement came three hours later.
"Removing the Replica contract as owner" stopped the exploit, but it was too late to preserve the cash.
Closed blockchain systems are only as strong as their weakest link.
The Harmony network is in turmoil after its bridge was attacked and lost $100M in late June.
What's next for Nomad's ecosystems?
Loss of confidence may do more damage than $190M.
Cross-chain infrastructure is difficult to secure in a new, experimental sector. Bridge attacks can pollute an entire ecosystem or more.
Nomadic liquidity has no permanent home, so consumers will always migrate in pursuit of the "next big thing" and get stung when attentiveness wanes.
DeFi still has easy prey...
Sources: rekt.news & The Milk Road.