Job Opportunity: Chief Technology Officer / CTO / VP of Engineering

Job Opportunity: Chief Technology Officer / CTO / VP of Engineering

We’re working with an Albany NY based company in the e-commerce affiliate market (Amazon Affiliate, eBay Affiliate, etc.) that had enterprise software and is now offering a SaaS product based on it. They have a decent amount of existing revenue/MRR for this product. The existing VP of Engineering is leaving and they might be looking to replace the entire dev team when this happens. The code has limited scalability and documentation, and the development processes (release planning, release cycles, etc.) are immature. They are looking for a leader that can hit the ground running and build a new development team (2-3 people to start, growing within 6 months, with some external funding to help) very fast. This leader does not need to be an active coder but meeting as many of the the following criteria as possible is important. We understand it’s a big list and we definitely don’t expect anyone to meet all of our requirements. Leadership and Knowledge Working on code is a low priority in this role, but a former coder who has moved into leadership is desired. They need to know what’s easy to develop and what’s complex, and should be able to review code and understand what it’s doing (or not doing). But we want a leader first and a coder second. The ability to assess and implement processes such as components of Agile, continuous development, and testing frameworks and approaches. The ability to put in appropriate processes and tools for managing this team and their code, and to develop appropriate KPI’s to measure progress and cause/effect of the departmental work. The ability to work as a positive part...
Emotional Branding: 4 Critical Questions, and Stupidity

Emotional Branding: 4 Critical Questions, and Stupidity

We all believe that getting your message right will resonate with potential buyers, improve your brand’s positioning and increase your sales. By reading this article, you’ll have a better understanding of a valuable tool – emotional branding – to improve how you communicate with your market. If you sell your products or services based on features, functionality or price, you’re an incredible idiot, and ridiculously stupid. So how dd that make you feel? The words “idiot” and  “stupid” are pretty emotional words that evoke a fairly strong feeling in most people. And how do you physically describe that feeling? It’s pretty tough to describe, isn’t it? You’re actually not stupid, and you’re not an idiot. You can definitely be successful selling based on these foundations, and the majority of products and services on the market are sold in this fashion. When you walk into a pharmacy, which medication will you buy? You’ll compare your symptoms to the products on the shelf and then buy the one that best meets your needs. Very factual. Very easy. But what if the packaging said “We’ll get rid of your stuffy nose, and we’ll also put a smile on your face while improving your relationship with your significant other. We make you happy”.  How cool would that be? An over the counter cold medicine that makes you happy! But, in reality, most cold medicine does usually make you happier. It gets rid of nasal congestion, lets you breathe easier, and helps you get a better night’s sleep. Yes, the alcohol in it might act as a mild depressant, but the good effects tend to outweigh the bad (I’m just putting that...
Disruption, Comfort Zones and Dying

Disruption, Comfort Zones and Dying

Let’s talk about disruption. Newspapers and magazines always felt that when the Internet came around they could continue to survive on print editions. Wrong. Journalism lives, but the printed word on paper continues to decline as more and more periodicals move to an online-only approach. Trickle down? I wouldn’t be buying stock in press, ink and newsprint companies. Local movie rental companies felt that people would still want to go to the store, even when online streaming and movies by mail started out. In April, Washington D.C.’s last video store closed their doors. We’re always going to want to burn our pictures and music to CDs. The recordable media industry is going to grow. How many different MP3 players and cloud photo systems are available now? Nothing can beat going to the local book store to buy the latest hardcover. eBooks now make up 30% of all book sales. The number of independent book stores has halved in the last 20 years, and less than 10% of all books sold are done through the remaining ones.  Barnes & Noble is closing 20 stores a year. The US has the best manufacturing capabilities in the world so there’s no worry about a decline in job availability. Wrong. (Although we are starting to see the return of some jobs to the US due to the rising “cost of doing business” in other countries). Travel agents. Insurance agents. Bank tellers. Taxi drivers. Photo finishers. News stands. In the last 20 years there has been mass disruption of individual jobs and entire industries as people move towards wanting self-service and the creation of...
How do you Reduce Your International Sales Risk to Almost ZERO?

How do you Reduce Your International Sales Risk to Almost ZERO?

Many a USA based small business has received a request to sell their products to a foreign company. Often they are reluctant to do so because they are afraid of not getting paid. To mitigate the risk they invariably ask the buyer to pay up front. But, with a Letter of Credit you can change the rules. There is a better way. Better than getting paid up front? Well in a sense yes. A buyer paying up front is tying up capital and may purchase less or seek a seller offering payment terms (like Net 30). But you can prevent this by offering to sell your goods and allowing the buyer to supply a letter of credit for the transaction. The way it works is thus: The buyer asks their bank to issue a letter of credit (a commitment to pay on their customer’s behalf) with the seller as beneficiary.  The issuing bank issues the letter of credit electronically to the seller’s bank.  The seller then ships the goods to the customer, and sends a copy of the shipping documents to their bank.  The buyer’s bank forwards the shipping docs (which are legal title to the goods) to the buyer’s bank.  Once received, the buyer’s bank notifies the buyer and makes payment on their behalf to the seller’s bank (electronically or by wire) and delivers the documents to the buyer so they can pick up the goods when they arrive.  Most often, the documents arrive well ahead of the product and the seller has been paid before the goods have been received by the buyer. The banks act as...
It’s Time to STOP

It’s Time to STOP

This post is going to be short and simple. One of the most overused quotes on the Internet – maybe in general – is by Albert Einstein. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” There’s a reason it’s overused. It’s because people still constantly do the same thing and expect different results. Here’s my response. “Duh.” There’s another quote. “Fail fast.” I’m not sure who said it first, so I’ll leave it unattributed. My response? “Bravo” And herein lies the problem. People are resistant to change and are usually afraid to pull the plug on something that’s failing. They’ll keep doing it and they’ll expect it to start working at some point. They’ll pump time and money into it without thinking about how that time and money could be better spent. That leads me to my next quote. “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” Now, I don’t fully believe in this one. For example, how do you quantify creativity? But it’s right – so right – on many levels. If you can’t quantify something, it’s near impossible to know whether it’s working. So let me create a new quote that, perhaps, brings all of this together. “If you don’t define success, you’ll never know if you have it. The same goes for failure.” When was the last time you took an “outside looking in” view of everything your company does? How about the ways that you do things? Sales, marketing, websites and social media. Customer service, product and service delivery and support. Human resources, management and hiring. Personnel and leadership....
How to Sell Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to your CEO

How to Sell Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to your CEO

Wow. My last post about search engine optimization from a CEO’s perspective must have struck a chord. I’ve never had such a wonderful response, so I’m guessing that looking at SEO from a CEO perspective must be of interest. With that in mind, I thought I’d focus this post on how to convince a CEO to invest in search engine optimization. There’s a lot of information here that relates to more than just selling SEO to your upper management. I’d recommend reading through the article to gain insight on tasks you should accomplish no matter what when you are looking to invest in SEO. I did some research on this topic before deciding to write it. There are numerous articles on how to convince your boss to invest in SEO, but very few on how to get the CEO to buy in. The few articles I found had some amusing suggestions on approaches to take: “Everyone else is doing it.” “Search engine marketing is the future of marketing and sales.” “SEO won’t add more work for you.” “Show Graphs, Numbers, Charts & Visuals.” In a small businesses, most decisions to spend more than a few hundred dollars are still floated by the CEO. So it’s important to put together your strategy before you walk through their door. How Does a CEO Think? Let’s talk about the CEO of a business that has 15-100 people. A CEO’s day is generally filled with wall to wall meetings, with some time for e-mail responses, telephone calls and impromptu person to person conversations crammed in between them. The more people at the company, the...
Buying Your Own Office – Should I Purchase Real Estate?

Buying Your Own Office – Should I Purchase Real Estate?

As a banker, a great many of the loans I do are for those looking to purchase real estate – their own office building, warehouse or industrial facility for example. The most common question is whether they can afford it, not whether it makes good financial sense to purchase it. Why Purchase Real Estate? One owner may feel a building location is ideal and wants to remain there with no possibility of being evicted. Having a customer base that is familiar with your location is a big plus. Other owners want to modify the building to suit their needs, and they don’t want to make those expensive improvements without owning the property. And of course a building often appreciates in value and allows the owner to build equity. All of which sounds great – but is it? Sometimes it Makes Sense, Sometimes it Doesn’t Well, the short answer is that it depends. If the building is one that is particularly well suited for the company that will occupy it, then it might make sense. I have a customer now who produces granite countertops for kitchens and baths. They need enough space to store the stone slabs, and an overhead crane to move them, an entry for a forklift, and a showroom. Getting all of that in one space is difficult. Once they have it, they don’t want to lose it, hence the desire to purchase. It helps that the mortgage payments, if they stay in budget, will be significantly less than rent. This is a great reason to buy. However, even if mortgage payments are less than rent, other expenses...
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) From A CEO’s Perspective

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) From A CEO’s Perspective

There are a billion articles and blogs on search engine optimization, but most of them target webmasters, digital marketers and technology people. I struggled with whether or not I should write yet another article on SEO – especially since it’s not my specialty – but decided to when I found that most articles explained how to do SEO, and didn’t explain what SEO is, and why a CEO should care. That IS my specialty. There are a lot of terms and parts to SEO today. Each of these has it’s own specific definition, but from a CEO perspective they can all be lumped together. I look at it from a personal computer point of view. A personal computer has a processor, memory, hard drive, graphics engine, keyboard, mouse, screen, etc. – but who cares? All a CEO cares about is that it’s a PC and that it runs the applications he or she needs. SEO is kind of the same. There are a lot of terms thrown about. There’s search engine marketing (SEM), Pay Per Click (PPC), Content Marketing, Link Building, Social Media, Conversion Optimization, Authorship, A/B Testing and more – but they really all are methods and parts of search engine optimization, and they are all focused, eventually, on maximizing what your website does for your company. My First Introduction to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) When I owned my last company I had an awesome marketing manager. A Brit by the name of Gavin Cooper. He’s working at another company in the region now and they are lucky to have him. Anyway, we were a fairly good sized technology company. It was 2008 or...
Are Your Assets Working for You? The Return on Assets Ratio

Are Your Assets Working for You? The Return on Assets Ratio

This Return On assets post is the fifth post in a series of articles about financial ratios. Which Company is Worth More? Let us assume you are interested in purchasing a company that makes bicycles here in the USA. You have narrowed your search to two companies. Remarkably, net profits from both companies are almost identical, varying by only $2,500. Company One has net profits of $235,000 and Company Two has profits of $237,500. Each company is asking $1,000,000 in an asset only sale. You are confused, which should you buy? The Return On Assets Ratio One way of sorting the wheat from the chaff in this example is to look at Return On Assets. Return on Assets determines how efficiently a company is using its assets to produce profits. Often, asset heavy companies such as an airline, produce low profits on large amounts of assets. Their capital intensive nature demands large investment in assets before any profits are seen. Less capital intensive companies, such as a bagel shop, may produce large profits on a small amount of assets. So Let’s Examine the Targets In the case above, let’s assume average assets for 2013 (beginning year total assets + ending year total assets from the balance sheet divided by 2) for Company One is $560,000 and Company Two is $730,000. Return On Assets for Company One is 0.42. Return On Assets for Company Two is 0.33. Company One had a slightly lower net profit but more efficiently used its assets to manufacture those profits. All other factors being equal, and they never are, Company One should be able to expand its manufacturing base more profitably...
Can You Afford That Loan? The Debt Service Coverage Financial Ratio

Can You Afford That Loan? The Debt Service Coverage Financial Ratio

This is the fourth post in a series of articles about financial ratios. In evaluating any borrower for a loan or lease request, one of the financial ratios that lenders run is a Debt Service Coverage Ratio (DSCR or sometimes DSC) to determine if the loan can be repaid. Ideally, the company will have sufficient profits to service the debt completely – with extra left over. How Do You Calculate the DSCR Financial Ratio To calculate the DSC on a proposed loan the formula is as follows: Note that the top of the formula states “Annual Net Profit”.  Once you add back the amortization/depreciation and interest, this is the income or cash flows that are left over after all of the operating expenses have been paid. This is often called earnings before interest, taxes depreciation and amortization – or EBITDA. For “Existing Interest Expense”, make sure to include the interest of any debt that is being refinanced by this loan.  Otherwise, just include the interest expense for any other loans you may have.  Non-cash or discretionary items should include things like management bonuses. On the bottom half of the financial ratio, the principal payments and interest payments are those of the new debt you are looking to take on. The DSCR is also sometimes calculates without adding back in amortization/depreciation, interest expense or non-cash items.  This means you are taking your net profit and dividing it by the loan payment and leases.   Neither method is right or wrong but you get two different numbers, leading to disagreements with or at the bank.  You’ll often find that the person from the bank you’re...
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