Archive for August, 2011

Month #5 on the job and by now I find myself spending more and more facetime on the front end of the business, showcasing our company to potential customers & investors. And as I begin preparing Diffusiare for an investment round of $2M, along with the upcoming international WATEC exhibition this November, there are some fascinating lessons to share from the efforts that go into making the case for an innovative wastewater technology.

Lesson #1: ” You do what ??!! “

Getting investors to notice you here, in Startup Nation, is not easy when you’re trying to pitch an ‘innovative sewage treatment’ technology. People who have no clue about your industry space, fall back on their comfort zone. And so when you’re trying to get yourself noticed, from inside a sewage pond, you have to choose your words carefully.
My suggestion:  Acknowledge the fact upfront that this story is going to gross them out, but promise them that it’s worth their time to listen to the whole pitch. After all, there must be a compelling reason why you went to work for these guys. I know it will sound like an TV commercial, but it works: ” Hi, you won’t believe where I found my next big thing.”

Lesson #2: Shit is a great ice-breaker- use it generously.

I remember when I just started loosing my hair, and got all nervous about what would people say about it. To my surprise, I quickly found out that you can spin your story [not the hair 😦  ] into a great ice breaker for people to get comfortable with you. Pretty soon, I began introducing myself as “the bald and the beautiful”.
My suggestion: As you strive to sell people first with technology second, use any humorous angle  to get across that you’re a cool guy, leading a great team that does not shy from getting their hands dirty if they’ve spotted a good opportunity. Soon enough, people will come knocking on your door, trying to get a smell of the action…

Lesson #3: Looks can kill- so beware!

Sewage cappucino: our unit in action at a sewage treatment site, outside Tel Aviv

Look at the photo on the right and tell me if you would invest $2M in our company? There is nothing sexy about marketing a frothing pipe of sewage belching in the corner of an treatment plant. Compared to other, more attractive sectors of the cleantech industry such as solar and wind farms, this stuff is a difficult sell upfront to the analysts standing the entry gates of VC firms. Further more, with most of our equipment running below the surface, even visitors to the site have little to see.
My suggestion: With that in mind- set the stage during the first act. Have the first meeting at the office be the one in which you sell them your great team, followed by the market size and its growth potential. These two factors, investors understand. A site visit should only be invested for more serious candidates who understand what they’re looking at.

Finally, I believe that there is a sort of ‘natural selection’ in this industry sector, where at the end of the day, if you believe in your team and your product, the right sort of investors will gravitage your way, while other, less applicable won’t. Investors that are suitable for your needs and that both sides will feel comfortable that they can work together and where you too can also fulfil their goals in return.

As I always tell my tech team- at the end of the day, it all comes down to people.

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[a  good excuse to try out this QuickPress feature]
It was a hot & humid July morning, and as I was thinking of taking the day off to celebrate my 41st. It turns out that we got booked some downtime at the sewage treatment plant where our technology is currently installed.
So, with a change of plans in the works, I found myself 20 ft below and knee-deep, shovelling what seemed like the biggest ‘choclate cake’ ever…

Hey, all I can say, is that from down here, things can only get better.

Can you smell the excitement in the air?

Shit happens- right here!!

Happy Birthday- emptying out a 5m deep sewage treatment plant.

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