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CMO - hire or find a founder?

It is a very hot discussion about equity/salary for the CTO. I am on the totally opposite side, I am a tech guy, have tech team, can easily build an MVP (say medium size can be built in 2-3 month).
We are working on a Travel app (it is like a Yelp mixed with Tripadvisor), so you can fly in some city you have never been and find something current, trendy and chicky. It is more interesting than official guides and there is always something new.

But I am not a marketing person, and it is not enough to build a product, you need to promote it, sell it, got your first (second, etc) customer.

So what is the right way / time to get a marketing person? Should I build it completely and then find somebody? Should I split my time and do half that/half that? Should I try to raise money first and then hire somebody? How do I know if that person can sell the product?

And because our product is very customer oriented, this person can really pivot the development. So these questions are important

13 Replies

Neeraj Sanghani
3
0
Neeraj Sanghani Advisor
EVP Products & Strategy
Stan,
I would suggest you get a business / marketing person on-board right away. Product development and customer development has to go hand in hand. Additionally, this person will be able to add value to defining the strategy, business model, partnerships, alliances etc. in addition to the core marketing activities. As you rightly figured out all these input and activities will have an impact to what product you build.

Regards,
Neeraj


Andrew Tan
0
0
Andrew Tan Advisor
Fall 2015 Class Company at Boomtown Accelerator
I would agree with Neeraj.

A business co-founder not only adds value with fundraising and marketing but should add value with product direction and early customer adoption and growth.

I believe at your stage, early customer interviews, testing a market, and figuring out the best product direction to find product/market fit would be a their primary job- and an extremely important one. You obviously can do a lot of this as well, but I have found that dividing up the work load and allowing the technical founder to focus solely on building speeds up the process.

The MVP is always important but getting good/honest feedback on the MVP is even more important and this process can greatly benefit from a founder who is people oriented.

G'luck!
Stan Podolski
0
0
Stan Podolski Entrepreneur • Advisor
CEO at Nimble Aircraft.
Actually, I would prefer to get a partner, not to hire, but then again I am hitting the same wall as Allison. I need somebody willing to spend considerable time to build it with me before revenue would come up.

However I think we can actually get first results in something like 2 months.
Bill Schick
1
0
Bill Schick Advisor
Founder, Long-form and interactive content marketing strategy
Stan - You're in an interesting position, because you need the "market" side of a CMO right now. You need someone to look at market dynamics, customers, products, channels, etc. And a good CMO will do exactly this. But you also need someone who can operate a bit more tactically. Someone who can develop a buyer's journey, personas, identify the context(s) in which your app will be used, create a voice, message mapping, content, promotion (advertising, marketing automation, etc). And that's NEVER a CMO. Ask yourself what your company needs MORE right now. Typically the answer is "paying customers". To get there, you need an MVP, XXX number of customers, and customer feedback, THEN you can decide if you need to pivot, develop new channels, and more-all of which a CMO would add value to. I would suggest skipping the CMO for now and hire a well-rounded/vetted/proven Marketing Manager/Director. They will have enough experience to handle message mapping, buyer journey, etc, yet will be energetic enough to handle tactical execution on their own or directly manage it. You need energy and more tactical execution than you need high level strategy. B
Stan Podolski
0
0
Stan Podolski Entrepreneur • Advisor
CEO at Nimble Aircraft.
I would argue that MVP needs a marketing touch on a development phase. Because I have such a grandiose idea in my head (and I can build it, it just takes time), but an MVP needs to be sweet and to the point. That's where marketing partner would be very useful - to help me cut that piece of carbon into a diamond.
The other part is of course is we are premoney.

However, we are looking at both options, and if we have to hire, the question immediately arises - how do I know it is the right person, I am not into marketing, never was.
Bill Schick
0
0
Bill Schick Advisor
Founder, Long-form and interactive content marketing strategy
I would agree with your first point. But don't feel constrained to hiring a CMO because you need help focusing the MVP. You can easily source that without losing your shirt, equity, etc. Re: hiring the right person, again it depends on the role, but there are some really great ways to frame the search. Have you ever read (or listened to) "The Innovator's Solution?" I'm just finishing it now. Towards the end there's a section on how to build great teams. According to the author Clayton Christensen, regardless of the level that you are hiring for, you want to make sure that that person has "taken the work classes" associated with solving the problems you will face. Forget resume attributes like "hard worker" and "people person" and focus on things that you need done like "took a grandiose idea, boiled it down to an MVP that was downloaded 10,000 times in the first 3 months". I've taken this approach with hiring, and it's more than paid off. B
Stan Podolski
0
0
Stan Podolski Entrepreneur • Advisor
CEO at Nimble Aircraft.
Hmm, would you mind to make like bullet points? I am sure a lot of people would appreciate it.
How would you hire such a person. Like what site would you use, for example, or anything, like your experience.
Stan Podolski
0
0
Stan Podolski Entrepreneur • Advisor
CEO at Nimble Aircraft.
And I can tell! This site definitely can use some near-real time technology like Meteor (the one we use), so you don't have F5 the page to see the comments
Nigel Swaby
0
0
Nigel Swaby Entrepreneur
Online Marketing Specialist
These days, identifying and even pre-selling your customer is crucial. Why build a product people aren't interested in? Like you mentioned, if a CMO can help you pivot, why wouldn't you want them there sooner rather than later? How much more valuable would customer feedback be pre-product development? Sites like Beta List, Product Hunt and even crowdfunding can provide valuable feedback and even pre-sales if the product is right.Swaby Online Media [removed to protect privacy] http://swabymedia.com http://nigelswaby.businesscard2.com Our commercial - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfqHg5ywL9A
Kimberly Salzer
0
0
Kimberly Salzer Advisor
Chief Marketing Officer at Hyperloop One
I think early stage companies could use a high level marketing and branding strategist, but not full time - you can't afford them, and they won't be the ones to be in the trenches every day. I think having them as advisors or consultants makes sense as they can deliver strategies that can be handed off to a Director-level person, that you can better afford, and who can execute on the strategy.
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