Inside My Brain

Thoughts about startups, tech, marketing, and life

TAG: consulting

New Consulting Partnership with WiserAdvisor.com

Wiser Advisor LogoI’m happy to announce that I’ve entered into a consulting partnership with WiserAdvisor.com, a startup based in Fairfax, VA, that helps connect people looking to better manage their wealth with accredited, pre-screened financial advisors (FAs). WiserAdvisor.com is part of Respond.com, which is a similar but more broad-based site that helps consumers find and hire local businesses for a number of categories such as home improvement, insurance, photography, and many more.

WiserAdvisor is building tools and processes to better engage and educate people about personal finance with the eventual goal of connecting them with FAs to help them achieve their financial objectives. My role is to help lead content strategy and marketing, which means I’ll be acquiring, creating, and reviewing this educational content and leveraging technology to deliver the right content to the targeted audience at the right time.

Murtaza Amil, the CEO of Respond.com, reached out to me last September via the contact form on this blog (I knew this blog would pay off someday!). After a few meetings and phone calls, he brought me on board to help. He has put together a strong team that has a solid grasp of technology, strategy, marketing, and operations and how it all works together to acquire new clients.

For me, this is a great balance between consulting and startups. I’m looking forward to contributing to this project and helping WiserAdvisor grow.

And if you need a financial advisor, please check out WiserAdvisor.com!

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please connect with me on TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn for future updates.

New Partnership with Exhilarator

Exhilarator Logo

I’m proud to announce that I’ve forged a consulting partnership with Exhilarator, a unique “startup factory” based in DC, and will provide them with marketing consulting and business development services.

Exhilarator Overview

Exhilarator is so unique because it is part accelerator, part services company, and part events company, all focusing on scaling startups.

The accelerator accepts 4-5 consumer tech startups on a rolling basis, houses them in their offices in Georgetown for four months, and provides them with business model refinement, customer acquisition, mentorship, and anything else that will help these companies grow.

The services part, with which I’ll be most involved, helps entrepreneurs execute on their vision. Whether the entrepreneur has an idea that needs validation or looks to grow her existing company, Exhilarator can provide these services on a fee basis. I’m partnering with Exhilarator to both bring in new business and help execute client projects.

Finally, Exhilarator runs SwitchPitch, a series of events that helps startups enter into strategic partnerships with large, multi-national corporations looking to get projects off the ground. If you’re a tech entrepreneur in NYC, check out the upcoming SwitchPitch NYC event on October 1.

The company is all about scaling startups and it’s doing it three different ways, two of which that actually bring in revenue. Really smart.

How This Opportunity Unfolded

I first met Exhilarator Founder Michael Goldstein last year at a startup conference; at that time, I was working on my failed smart calendar company Dokkit and he was running his accelerator named Endeavor. After the event, we immediately connected on LinkedIn but didn’t interact with each other too often after that.

Then a couple of months ago, Michael reached out to inquire about my consulting work. We met for coffee and chatted about the projects that I was working on and what he was building at Exhilarator. I thought the concept of Exhilarator just made so much sense and I was really interested. We met twice more and decided that a partnership would be a good fit, and recently pitched our first project together.

This is a great opportunity because it combines the two worlds that I’m involved in and passionate about – marketing and startups. I’m really looking forward to a long, mutually beneficial relationship with Michael and the Exhilarator team.

And if you’re a startup or small business and need help launching and growing your business, please reach out!

Like this post? Then follow me on Twitter – @mikewchan – for future updates.

Breadth vs. Depth – What’s Better For Your Career?

I’ve thought a lot and have had many discussions about this throughout my career. Should I be a generalist and build a broad base of skills and knowledge so I can be flexible and work different jobs in many industries, or should I go deep into one specific skill and/or industry and become a specialist? What’s best for long-term success? Forbes and the Harvard Business Review thinks generalists will rule the future; I tend to agree but I don’t think it’s that cut and dry.

There are some careers where it’s necessary to be a specialist, otherwise you likely wouldn’t have a career. College professors and scientific researchers come to mind; you need to be an absolute expert on a particular subject to be successful.

On the other hand, industries like consulting, which is where I started my career, breeds generalists. Consultants, especially in the early stages of their careers, work on a wide array of projects across many industries. As they become more experienced, some may focus on a particular function (such as strategy, marketing, or operations) or a specific industry (e.g. healthcare, technology, consumer packaged goods), or a function/industry combination. But overall, consultants are armed with a broad array of skills and knowledge that many take with them to executive positions at other non-consulting organizations.

So, like with many questions, the answer is, “it depends” – on your goals and your personality.

If you want to start or lead a company, having breadth is a must because you have to understand all aspects of your business, including sales and marketing, product development and management, engineering, finance and accounting, human resources, and more. Sure, you can outsource or hire specialists to handle many of these functions, but you must have at least a cursory level of knowledge of all of these to effectively run a company.

You can also do really well by being a specialist. You can focus on a particular sector of finance (e.g. fixed-income investing), marketing (e.g. email marketing), engineering (e.g. Java programming) or any other function, and be the go-to guy or gal in that specific field within your organization. Additionally, you will presumably really like what you do, since you’ve found enough affinity for it to specialize.

I’m in the generalist camp. Like I mentioned earlier, I started in consulting and enjoyed jumping from client to client and working on different types of projects. As a marketer for the Washington Caps, I liked touching many different aspects of the business, such as CRM, database marketing, advertising, mobile, social, and analytics.

And in my current career of launching a tech startup, I believe being a generalist will serve me well. The various marketing and strategy roles I’ve played will help me acquire and retain customers and map out the future for my company. And I’ve broadened my skills even further by learning programming so I can work more closely with software developers and add value to them when I can.

So for me, the preference for being a generalist boils down to a couple of reasons: 1) I want to start and lead a company, so the generalist business skills are necessary, and 2) I would probably get bored if I focused on only one specific function. And while I think a broad array of skills is powerful, augmenting that with some deep knowledge of a particular industry makes for the best recipe for professional success.

What do you think? In your field, are you a generalist, specialist, or a mix of both? What pros and cons have you seen being so?

New Partnership – Thorn Technologies

Screen Shot 2012-12-07 at 5.44.21 PMGreat news! I just entered into an agreement to work with a software development shop called Thorn Technologies, one of Baltimore Business Journal’s top ten fastest growing private companies!

Our engagement is really broad and will include strategy work for Thorn Tech clients, sales of current products, building of the Thorn Tech brand through content creation and social media, and potential collaboration on startup projects. This will be much more than just a consulting gig; it will be a true partnership.

Thorn Tech has extensive experience building consumer-facing mobile and web applications, but they also excel at building back-end enterprise software, which allows them to provide unique, end-to-end solutions for its clients. Thorn Tech’s expertise fits really well with my experience designing and developing mobile apps and working with enterprise apps like CRM and marketing automation software.

I first worked with Thorn Tech President Jeff Thorn while I was at the Washington Capitals. He was a subcontractor for Acuity Mobile (acquired by Navteq), whose SMS platform we used to deliver text messages to our fans. Jeff also built the Caps Fantasy Challenge, which was a fantasy game delivered over SMS, online, and mobile web. Jeff is a really smart guy and he’s also a fellow Lehigh University alum!

I’m really looking forward to a long, mutually beneficial relationship with Jeff and his team. And if anyone needs software development work, please let me know!

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