Product! It’s Time to Get (Market) Fit

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A couple of years ago, when I was running MarketSprint, my tech consulting company, I had an idea and bought this URL: ThisIsYourMarket.com. MarketSprint’s expertise was in helping international B2B tech companies secure their first sales in the US market but we often took a couple of steps backwards before selling for new clients because we needed to establish product/market fit.

The idea for “ThisisYourMarket” was to put a structured, measurable and timely process around market validation that companies in a hurry, with only revenue on their minds, could stomach. I never did set up that company but I still love the idea and believe in the fundamental need it addresses.

Now, as Entrepreneur in Residence at Talent Tech Labs (TTL), my passion for a structured approach to market validation is being put to good use. Our companies (who like IDIRUS are all in the Human Capital Management and Talent Acquisition space) are hungry for two things – access to markets and access to funding. TTL can offer them both but before we do, we’re putting them through their paces to get fit. They’ll iterate based on continuous and direct market feedback, develop product roadmaps based on where the market is actually going, and score the most innovative early adopter clients because they’ve listened and are “just” ahead of the market and therefore, in pole position to lead it.

So, watch out for TTL companies on a mission to get fit! One of these days “ThisisYourMarket” itself may even turn the lights on and start to sparkle:)

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Irish Central tells our story

IrishCentral

A nice, quick and I hope, interesting piece on our work and our company..

http://www.irishcentral.com/business/startups/Mentoring-in-the-digital-age-with-Niamh-Bushnells-startup-IDIRUS.html

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New York Women In Communications on IDIRUS

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New York Women in Communications is our newest client and of course, we’re super excited. Our work together has just started so we’ll be able to talk more about it very soon.

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Doing it for Ourselves

indexMadeleine Albright once said “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”. I often remind myself of this battle cry because helping others feels really good – and if Madam Secretary is right, it’s also going to save my soul.

There are two kinds of help entrepreneurs like me need on a regular basis – strategic advice and warm introductions. My great female mentors were almost always the ones to provide the strategic advice while my male mentors followed through on those oh-so-crucial introductions.

But things are changing rapidly and women have not only started valuing their networks more but have become more comfortable opening up their personal and professional networks if it can help to accelerate your business forward. For me, this is a significant and very welcome cultural shift and it’s happening before our eyes.

The credit goes to organizations like Nicki Gilmour’s The Glass Hammer, Shaherose Charania’s Women 2.0 and Sallie Krawcheck’s Ellevate (formerly 85 Broads) along with many many more, here in New York and globally. Another great example is the 30 Percent Club who are working to get more women on boards. Now, there’s a mandate!

Today’s exciting news about Sallie Krawcheck’s new investment fund is another measure of how far we’ve come. Women – and men – want to invest in women-driven companies, and it’s just such an exciting time to be a part of it all.

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Introducing …

Idirus_logo_notagline_small.pngKinnecions is now IDIRUS.com.

As some of you know, IDIR means “between” in Irish (gaelic) and since we’re in the networking, mentoring and relationship business we were excited to call the company IDIRUS: “Between Us”.

I presented IDIRUS publicly for the first time today, at a Springboard event hosted by Thomson Reuters in Times Square. We got some great and positive feedback on our work and many great new contacts and mentors! It was a privilege to present in front of such a talented and engaged group of individuals.

From Thomson Reuters I traveled back to my home state of New Jersey and to a Plan and Pitch event organized by Rising Tide Capital in Jersey City. It was my turn to mentor and give feedback to inspiring and aspiring entrepreneurs, and I loved every minute of it.

Thankfully, the circle of learning and paying forward doesn’t ever have to end:)

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Welcome Boardmatch Ireland!

BMWe’re proud to announce our newest client Boardmatch.
Boardmatch matches executives in industry to seats on non profit boards across Ireland, and they perform hundreds of matches per year.

There’s lots that we love about Boardmatch – their mission, their people, their expertise and also their focus on making great matches happen.

In fact, as Kinnecions evolves we’re seeing more and more interest for matching among our clients and in the market at large. Even our peer networking clients are interested in the idea of serving up “best matches” to their members.

So SunGard, and now Boardmatch, are with us on this matchmaking journey. It’s a very interesting play for us and we’re super excited to embrace it.

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Me to the World vs Me to this Group

metotheworldIn a recent post, I talked about LinkedIn and how it didn’t seem to be an effective way for Irish entrepreneurs to find and connect with each other. And how, as a result, I started Kinnecions: a private networking tool for specialist and exclusive groups.

The core value of a tool like Kinnecions is the context it gives to the individual. On LinkedIn you’re marketing yourself to the world. On Kinnecions, you’re still promoting yourself to others, but you’re doing it privately and through a much narrower and more specific lens.

The ‘me’ on Kinnecions explains things like – why I’m here, what I can offer, what I’m expecting, what information I’m willing to share.

The Irish female entrepreneurs group, B4IG, is a great example of why Kinnecions exists. On this specialist network, members share information about their funding, the countries they export to, their clients, their needs and the milestones they’re hoping to achieve this year.

These are super valuable data points to share with people who are looking to connect with you. They put you in context and highlight your value to others with common goals and interests, and we can all see the value in that:)

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The BackStory….:)

I wasn’t expecting to share the back story every time I pitched my business.

But, people really do want to know the motivations behind your product, your company and what drives you to steer away from an “easier” career path to become an entrepreneur. In fact, without telling this story, you can’t effectively sell your product or attract great team members, mentors or investors.

So, here in brief, is my backstory:

When I started my consulting business in 2006, I was working with a lot of Irish tech companies entering the US market. Many of them were in the enterprise B2B space and shared a similar challenge – how to get access to high level decision makers in the US. For companies so similar, yet not competing, it always amazed and frustrated me that they didn’t know or have a way to reach out and talk to one another. As a result, I was making introductions between people who likely often brushed shoulders with each other back home in Dublin or Cork or Galway. They just didn’t know it.

As this experience persisted it got me thinking about specialist networks and how beneficial one would be to these entrepreneurs since LinkedIn didn’t seem to be fulfilling their needs.
And that’s where Kinnecions came from – specialist networks to connect professionals who have lots in common and lots to share, privately.

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Diversity and Inclusion

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I attended the Colloquium on Global Diversity last week in NYC run by Irene Natividad’s wonderful organization GlobeWomen.

These smart, impassioned and engaged women and men blew me away with their insights into Women’s “career capital”; the importance of influence, leadership and sponsorship; the power of diversity and how important it is to get men involved from the start in initiatives to close the gender gap.  I loved the mantra that was repeated many times over the two days  – women don’t need to be “fixed”, the environments they’re working in do.

This morning I was at a WIM breakfast where Kelly Hoey was interviewing Heidi Messer. Talking about hiring and diversity, Heidi said (I’m paraphrasing): “It’s mandatory for managers to have different backgrounds and experiences so that they can react to the challenges that drive revenue for their companies. The market is diverse and it’s spitting diversity back at companies and they’re not ready for it”.

Plain speaking, great thinking.

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Mentoring in my DNA

DNAI met my former mentee at Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator, Josh Abdulla, recently and he said: “I’m so glad you’re doing Kinnecions, mentoring is just in your DNA”.  Josh is right, I love to mentor. I was a certified gymnastics coach in my late teens, taught English to an army general in Spain in my early twenties, ushered young companies into the US market as a consultant for a decade after that and more recently signed up as a mentor at ERA, ASU’s Edson Program, the Thiel Foundation, Rising Tide Capital and the Ryan Academy’s Propeller program in Dublin.

Someday, when I’m old and grey, I’d like to become a teacher, in a school, with students and classes and homework assignments. But for now I’m happy to be a mentor, connecting one on one with people I can help to succeed. And that’s why I love what the Kinnecions product does, making great matches between mentors and mentees within organizations.

 

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