Alex Adams is the founder and CEO of Rodeo Analytics, which provides riders in rodeo and equestrian sports with video analysis software to improve their performance, and a graduate of the University of Nebraska. He is guest posting for SPN.
By Alex Adams
Paul Singh and Dana Duncan at Results Junkies put together a weeklong set of events in Lubbock, TX as one of the numerous stops on their Tech Tour. You’ve (probably) never seen anything like it. They live in each city for about a week in their tricked out Airstream trailer with their dog, Jack, and get to know the locals. Paul and Dana like to bring founders, investors, and community leaders to stops on the Tech Tour to encourage collisions, so I joined in on the Lubbock stop as a Results Junkies Ambassador.
Office Hours w/ Doughnuts
Meeting companies at office hours was my favorite scheduled event for two reasons. First of all, there was ample time to get to know founders. Second, I had the opportunity to look at each company through the eyes of an investor (while eating doughnuts courtesy of Ed Pizzarello). This different mindset made me realize certain mistakes I’d made while pitching my company in the past like spending too much time showing the product and overcomplicating the business model.
During the meetings, I occasionally asked questions as each company presented, but Paul often had the floor. I was astounded by how consistently Paul vetted each company. Even the last company of the day got the same focus and attentiveness as the first. I guess after investing in over 1,600 companies he’s gotten good at asking questions.
Despite having a technical background, Paul didn’t get too far into the nitty-gritty details of each product. He primarily wanted to know if the founders/team could sell their product or service and understand how they intended to sell more through their business model. It’s a very efficient usage of his time because as a VC he is looking for companies who can make money (preferably lots of it). If the founders/team aren’t able to sell (or pre-sell) their product, they won’t make money. If their business model is flawed, they won’t be able to make even more money in the near future.
Paul told his life story at least five times a day at speaking engagements for students, community leaders, investors, and startups. Each time he told his story a new anecdote or insight surfaced, so hearing him speak never became boring. Even the recurring details didn’t get old, they sank in. What stuck with me was how well Paul understands the world of startups, investing, and community building. This knowledge enables him to be a true innovator in these fields. But I won’t try to tell his story because it’s best to hear it directly from the horse’s mouth at one of the Tech Tour stops.
Wining, Dining, and Changing Tires
After each day of the Tech Tour Paul, Dana, myself, and the other Results Junkies Ambassadors had supper with community leaders. We ate at local hotspots (the best was chicken fried elk) and conversed about topics other than work. It quickly became apparent that Paul and Dana are normal people like the rest of us (yes, VCs can be normal people). This really showed when a tire went flat on their trailer. It needed to be changed before the end of the tour. Never in a million years did I imagine I’d help a VC change a tire on their trailer. We eventually got it changed (with the help of a professional). Paul’s insurance should have covered all the costs for the professional help but didn’t (big surprise). Even big-time VCs have to deal with everyday problems like flat tires and insurance companies.
I brought my own product, a Rodeo Analytics camera system, to Lubbock for demoing to potential customers (horse riders). My intention was to meet people with rodeo connections during the tech tour, get warm introductions to these connections, demo the product, and get sales. A simple and “perfect” plan.
The first day of the tour during a 30-minute break one of the other Results Junkies Ambassadors, Jim Bricker, asked me if I wanted to go out and make sales. I paused for a moment to calculate if I could execute my “perfect” plan. I couldn’t. The first networking session wouldn’t happen for a few more hours and I didn’t have any warm leads. This and a few other thoughts on why I couldn’t work on sales at that time popped into my head.
Still paused (it was a long pause), I realized I was only thinking of reasons why I shouldn’t make sales in that timeframe. Then I thought of something Erica Wassinger once told me, “done is better than perfect.” I had to let go of my analytical mindset requiring everything to go as planned.
I told Jim we could focus on sales, I just had to come up with a 30-minute plan. Since we were on the Texas Tech campus, my new plan was to find the Texas Tech rodeo coach. We decided to go to the Department of Animal and Food Sciences and ask people how to find the rodeo coach. After a few minutes, we found someone in the main office who got us the rodeo coach’s number and we were able to schedule a meeting the next day.
I invited Jim to the meeting because he has good sales experience. As a solo founder, my previous sales meetings were one-on-one, which can make it difficult to keep a conversation going without feeling like I was talking at the customer for a good portion of the meeting. Even though Jim had a basic understanding of my company, he was able to enter the conversation and keep it going when I ran out of things to say. It was the first time I enjoyed a sales meeting because I had more time to think through what I wanted to say next.
I closed the deal in a follow-up call the next day and was able to get the rodeo coach set up with the camera system. It was the best-case sales scenario and was the cherry on top to a very productive trip down to Lubbock.