Beyond the Pitch

3 Tips for Getting the Best of the Best from First Connect

When is the best time for an entrepreneur to engage with Rev1’s First Connect network? I get this question a lot. My answer is always the same: Today.

First Connect experts stand ready to help Central Ohio’s tech entrepreneurs, whether they are at the paper napkin stage or whether the company has paying customers. When Nexosis came to Rev1, the company had a great idea for a product, significant industry engagement, and interest from real customers—including companies with national brands.

“One of the most difficult things about being an entrepreneur is to decide whose advice to listen to,” Sevey said. “Our approach has been to listen, take in what everyone says, and then decide.”

Through Rev1’s First Connect, Nexosis worked with Ice Miller for legal services and ZoCo Design to develop the branding and marketing materials. Sevey offers is own advice from his experience on how to gain the best of the best from First Connect.

  1. Use First Connect to connect to legal counsel that’s right for your company. “Finding the right attorney is about more than just the legal stuff,” Sevey said. “We enjoy speaking with our lawyer. We feel comfortable. There have been times when I talked to her about non-lawyer things.”
  • Always tell the truth. “Don’t make it about what you aren’t saying,” Sevey said.
  • Read everything before you sign. “If you sign your name to an agreement, it’s not easy to go back and fix it,” Sevey said. “You aren’t going to get a second chance. There are no do-overs in contract negotiations.” 
  • If something in an agreement doesn’t make sense to you or seems odd, don’t skip over it or send a text or email. Pick up the phone and ask. Entrepreneurs can hand their attorneys 50-page agreements with nothing more than a Post-it note asking, “Should I sign?” or they can be more involved. The Post-it note approach will likely guarantee a bigger bill at the end of the day, Sevey said, but not necessarily a better result. “Attorneys know the law,” he said, “but they don’t necessarily know your business or industry. Give guidance on contract language sections that you don’t understand or that you think my benefit from additional legal review.”
  • Does your attorney call you back? “This is a big one,” Sevey said. “It might be to leave a message that they’ll get back to us by a certain date, or it might be an immediate answer, but we get a response from our counsel every single time. They acknowledge us.”
  1. Use First Connect to achieve critical, affordable marketing and branding projects before there are budgets for marketing.
  • Every startup needs a logo, some branding, and one or two elements of collateral. It’s a rare young company that has the budget to pay a standard monthly retainer, but that doesn’t mean that startups don’t have a need. “We aren’t an organization that can spend $200,000 on marketing,” Sevey said. “ZoCo Design really stepped up and gave us some great quality marketing material. Their projects ranged from a table cloth and brochure to a case study and, a pitch book.”
  • Choose a marketing firm that knows how to work with startups. “ZoCo Design gets what a startup goes through,” Sevey said. “They didn’t propose projects that were too large or too grand for us. They gave us materials that we can reuse.”

Earlier this month at Launch Festival, billed as the world’s largest startup event, Nexosis got more mileage from the materials that ZoCo created a year ago.

Nexosis was a Top 10 featured company in AI/machine learning in the Launch Demo Pit as well as one of only three companies in AI/machine learning industry invited to present and hold the stage for a 45-minute Q&A in the Ask Me Anything session.

  1. Working with First Connect experts is a great way to building trust relationships
  • The most successful startups forge relationships that last. “Working with professionals through First Connect is a way to test things out,” Sevey said. “If you don’t feel comfortable with a service provider, keep looking. These companies want relationships with startups for the long-term. They are betting that you’re going to be successful. When that happens we are win.”

Nexosis tackles the next set of milestones.

With a team of nearly a dozen people expected to grow to 20 or more, Nexosis has outgrown its offices and is looking for new space.

Asked about the next great challenge, Sevey said, “Every startup is going to relate to what I’m about to say. Finding a good sales person is the most brutally painful thing for a technical founding team. The right people to lead sales teams are unicorns; they really are.”

Could you use some advice on building the right sales process and finding your company’s sales unicorns?

Rev1 First Connect experts can help. Contact us.

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