MIT 100K & Sales Club

Week7: On Thursday (6th March) evening we had a social gathering with students from MIT’s Entrepreneurship & Innovation Program, which is a new offering within their MBA Program. It was interesting to hear about the various motivations of the students doing an entrepreneurial MBA, most of whom seemed to already have PhDs or similarly impressive postgrad qualifications.

Following this event we went to watch the semi-final of MIT’s annual 100K business plan competition. As the world leader among university entrepreneurship competitions, the Competition, which was born in 1990 as a $10K Competition, has facilitated the birth of over 85 companies with aggregate exit values of $2.5 billion captured and a market cap of over $10 billion. These companies have generated over 2,500 jobs and received $600 million dollars in Venture Capital funding.

We were particularly interested in the keynote speech by Jonathan Seelig Co-Founder of Akamai and now Managing Director of Globespan. Seelig gave quite a humorous talk based on the presentation he gave 10 years earlier as Akamai’s 10K competition entry! It was a great event with a few hundred in attendance, showing the calibre of the competition and how popular the hard working volunteer students who run the event have made it.

After this we did some more socialising, this time in MIT’s students’ union bar where I bumped into the eccentric Joost Paul Bonsen. I had a pre-conceived plan to ping Joost on a social entrepreneurship project I’ve become involved in called Practical Small Projects (see previous HBS blog) so I quickly took the opportunity to sit and buy him a few beers. Joost also introduced me to a few of the MIT 100K judges who showed a lot of interest in my eco-homes project (one of these contacts led to comms with an MIT based company also working in residential greenergy), including one lady from the US DOE.

On Friday 7th George, James, Rasmus and I had a meeting with the Presidents of MIT’s Sales club – Nathan Williams and Ishan Bhaumik. Nathan introduced us to Basho Strategies for sales and gave each of us a handbook by M. Jeffrey Hoffman who founded Basho Technologies in 2002. Nathan quickly went through Basho’s techniques for getting a response to a high profile email pitch which included a few simple guidelines:
– Go to the top and work your way down, i.e. exec’s, managers etc…
– make the subject line about them, include the word ‘You’ or ‘Your’
– call them what their world calls them – familiarity
– make the 1st line about them
– make the 2nd line a connection or common goal that connects you to them, but which also intrigues them enough to keep them reading
– in the 3rd line specify the ask/purpose/reason for the email with clarity. Not wasting their time will build trust immediately

Nathan WilliamsIshan BhaumikNathan mentioned an acronym for sales in general whilst stating that hope is not a strategy! AIDA is an acronym used in marketing that describes a common list of events that are very often undergone when a person is selling a product or service:
Attention (Awareness): attract the attention of the customer
Interest: raise customer interest by demonstrating features, advantages, and benefits
Desire: convince customers that they want and desire the product or service and that it will satisfy their needs
Action: lead customers towards taking action and/or purchasing
Nowadays some have added another letter to form AIDA(S):
Satisfaction: satisfy the customer so they become a repeat customer and give referrals to a product


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