Oct. 4, 2020

How big corporations work with startups and how to get in touch with one? By Anya Cheng.

How big corporations work with startups and how to get in touch with one? By Anya Cheng.

Anya Cheng, who worked as Product Head | Facebook, eBay, Target | eCommerce, Growth and others talks about how big corporations chose partners and how a small startup can partner with smaller teams at large corporations. We also talk about best ways of getting in touch with those and getting the deal closed eventually.

Anya's LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/anyacheng/

Anya's Book: https://magazine.medill.northwestern.edu/2020/if-you-cant-make-your-dream-come-true-then-build-one/

Episode about startup selling merch to big firms: https://www.fundraisingradio.com/Artem-Mashkov/


Transcript

Working at large corporations, and how large corporations choose the corners and how small tiny starts off 5. plus employees can work with such large companies. So, on yet, let's kickoff by giving us some background on yourself and on. 

Your current position Hi, everyone this is on your chance in last year.
Hitting girls and also E, commerce product management rolls as mentioned. 

Yeah, as you guys heard, I have been helping for to launch their Facebook shopping team and also help the E Bay team to build out the emerging markets. So, and I'm a new founder. 

So, I recently started artificial intelligence startups and now also being a mentor and entrepreneur in rest and 500 startups. So, today excited to be here and want to share a little bit of my experience working with the startup in those big companies. 

Perfect yeah, and let's start with the. 

Your personal achievement so you wrote the book unfortunately, I already forgot the title of that book belt. I'll make sure that you include that link to that book end of this group. Francis episode. But 1st question is a lot of founders or big of these accuse who have a lot of experience. 

I've traveled that experience after gathering had experience for years and years. They're like, okay, now it's time for me to write a book. 

Question is, is it really worth the time because I know that, you know, writing a good book takes up to a year. 

Is it worth it? I don't think writing book is relevant to being a founder. 

I am more sows saying the writing book was kind of a closure for my corporate life and then why I was trying to figure out what I want to do next. So, and the reason I think the book was relevant to this, this. 

Is that the hobo was a lot about resilience and persistence and talk about my career in the last 15 years how I achieve my American dreams and maybe I share a story and I think for founders, 

especially founder who are fundraisings,
the resilient persistence are really important factors for them,
I'm looking back for my career in 2008 it was the time similar to now with big receptions.
I was originally from Taiwan and I, and the time I just got my master degree from Northwestern 
University, and he was big reception. So, there was no job anywhere I star by. 
Hey, can I get some interview opportunity and realized with my background, which was a reporter before I had no marketing background, and I graduate from marketing school. I was not able to get into any interview at all. 

So, then what I did was, I went to others schools who have who has a lot more recordings from campus, such as the business school. I went outside whenever the interviewer come out. 

Say, hey, I was a student, I'm student for another campus and I cannot get the interview here, but this is my resume. So I was able to get a lot of talk with them, but no, 1 was really hiring or interested in my backgrounds. 

So, people say, you know, finding a job is about connection, just like fundraising. So, how about we find someone who are who, who can have some connections in the US? I never been in the US before. I know. Nobody. 

The only person I know was school professor, but in the classroom, the professors were only a few of them. Everyone graduated the same time. 

So there's no way for me was able to even get a spa or recommendation from professors, but they have tons of professing school. 

So,
then,
how about I go by other schools professor so I knock on the door for other schools or professors, and each department 1 by 1 and 1 professor talked to me he say,
I am not,
I don't know,
you,
I cannot refer you to anyone,
but tomorrow I have a speech which you can come and they asked 3 panelists. 

Before the ancient panelists, I, when Google search, I found the email contact person for the people who are speaking, and I reach out to the person right afterward. I say, hey, wonderful presentation. Actually, I couldn't understand anything. My English was so bad. 

So, I was like, this wonderful presentation, good job. Can I talk to your team? She's, I am not hiring, but if you on them working, I can introduce someone on my team. So I went there, talked to information interview. Wonderful. 

He was a grey magazine company trying to do marketing. Transformation was perfect for my background. 2 weeks after I follow up with a hey, how are you doing? She said, hey, please, don't call me again. I was lay off. 

So then I, how about let me go to more aloe CD who has bigger CD and probably more people. So I went to New York and went to L. A. 
and I before that I researched and found hundreds of alumni list I Coke holding 1 bar. 
And I, including I found newspapers, and because I was interested in media company, I opened newspaper, New York Times. There's an email you said ads, if you want to put the advertise spear advertiser right? 

Add New Times dot com and then I reach out throughout referral and referring phone calls. Eventually. I actually said our meeting with the CEO of New York Times. 

Everyone say you are so wonderful we are not hiring. In fact, I'm laying of people and my job might be in danger. Do you know someone who can refer me to a job? 

So, after the 2 months, I came back to Chicago say, hey, this seems to there's no more way. But remember the mixing company as I. hey, I learned a lot in those 2 months. So I'm talking to hundreds of people in those, New York and L. A. 

how about that I collect the inside. They either they will be interested in knowing about their competitors. So I wrote down a business plan with the inside. The other I interviewed the client interview, the consumers and readers I put together business plan. 

In the 1st, in the business plan is that if you want to do the execution, you need people with those skill and who has the skill I happen to have the skills. 

So, I asked the CEO say, would you like to have a 15 minute meeting to learn about your competitor? She said, yes, I went there present to her. She told me. 

Would you be interested in being a contractor? I didn't know, for contractor me because of my English. She was so poor I said, yes, I went home. I Google, it shows our, all of the plumbers I thought I wasn't sure why she want me to be a Palmer. 

And how I got my 1st job after 10 years now, I began to have a product in Silicon Valley quick question here 1st, of all this is just an epic story. 

And how you thought you were going to be plumber and you said yes. To that. That's awesome. I love it, but quick question. So he didn't know English too. Well, but you still interviewed a lot of customers based in the United States right? How, how did that happen? How did you use. 

Politicians answer questions. 

They actually never answer the questions right? They write down the narrative. They want to say, listen to keywords whenever it's kind of relevant keywords you direct them to the question the answers that you want to give to them all end of day. 

They have job description. Then you kind of know how your job will be end of day, you know, your resume, you know, how portfolio you view trying to find a connection that's into keywords and directly to the answer that you want to give it to them. 

Listening to the keywords, that's just epic. I cannot imagine myself in that situation, but now let's go on to our major topic of discussion for date, which is, you know, working at big companies and choosing which small startups to work with. 

So, you've also worked at the incubator program, right? And you've reviewed, like, thousands of startups to work with how, what were the major things that you were looking at? But he has, you know, when you're looking, when you have such a huge deal flow, you just have to narrow down somehow. 
What were the main things that you were? Like? Okay. So, let's say. 
If it's a solo founder, it's automatically out if it's less than 5000 dollars revenue, it's automatically out. Where are those key metrics that you were looking at? 1st. 

The truth is actually not that complicated. The only thing you need was get on the spaces, because most of the company cannot even get on the, my spaces of the person. 

And the biggest mix day everybody may want is. 

People try not to be very specific. What do you do? 

Oh, marketing, technology, marketing technology. Oh, we help people make more money. 

Oh, what mail I make more money means. Oh, we help you to make more money by help doing better marketing. And the thing is that in those big company. 

The team was so specific, there's so many different team right? So, the 1st thing before they understand your product is they want to know if it's even relevant to me. 

Right. So so don't be afraid to be very specific because 9 out of 10, the person's role person is not about a person doesn't want to buy implies that she he or she is not even in charge of whatever you are offering. 

And so, as a head of product, for those company, I lead engineer designer analyst, they partner marketing and monetization team. So, 1 of the big part of the, where a lot of vendors technology development shop. 

So, for example, everyone will contact me, we are full stack agencies. 

We do on shore off shore, you can add the website and also be content management system as was data, engineering and data, analytic modeling, analytics and artificial intelligence machine learning. 

They say nothing because every company come to me, say the same thing. So, what you need to do is not to be afraid to be very specific. Like, hey, we are. 

Primary ad, development company would do mostly for insurance company. How we do passes about the content management system because what we have is that about and what we are offering is a high end talent. 

We're only in the US, and they have in the industry for 10 years, and we are quite expensive, but we use a very short period of time. And you do not need to hand holding us at all, or we are actually mostly about offshore resources. We are. 

Above Ray, so then you can each keep there if you don't like it. 

Change it again to view the again because the money that you spend, you can be 10 times more than some other firm can offer to you. Right? 

And the truth is that even though the person may not have that specific project at the time but the person remembered you, 

because it shows up when you are at a point that the person we're hiring,
you happen to reach out to the hiring the person and then you now become a vendor, it's almost impossible. 
So, what you need to do, we're just getting the my space when the person is not meeting the service. Because you are specific now you get on the space. So whenever the person needs. 

Engineering firm need designer need P. R. service. The person will remember hey, this startup seems doing that. Let me find that. 

Ok, now get to a 2nd point the 2nd point is that. How do they find me? 

Because they probably don't remember me yes, you, they won't, but usually between the project is confirmed and the budgets already come down to the point that they need to find the firm and then get the stuff done is like, 1 month's. 

That means that it's unlikely the person will remember to so that you have to keep in touch. So, when you are keeping in touch, when they will remember you is a time when they don't need it, because of when they need it, they will be hundreds of company 9. 

now, there and talking 1 by 1 will be really hard to get you stand out. So and most of industry people, they are in the industry forever right? So then even they do a head of product for these from after 2 years like me now, head of product for nowadays from. Right? 

So, even though I may not always hiring startup, but I am always doing the same thing. 

So, if you keep in touch, when, for example, when I was looking for next role or keeping in touch, when I was non meeting the service, right? You all a person who's going to stand up. So keep in touch and. 

You'll help them when they don't need you and also help me when you don't need them. 

And last things is understand the, it may say master service agreement, which means you only need to do 1 time is a ticket for you to work for a company. 

But once you have the ticket, now you sign the and why is it important to understand that? Is that most of a team they don't want to work with any vendor who does not have why? 

Because which is 1 time thing, why am I have to do this? I'm going to wait until our team do Labs and they said, because you will take me 2 months working with legal team and finance team, etc. I'm not going to be that person doing that. 

So, everyone is waiting for our team in the company to company, and they said, so whenever startup, I, in the pool of it may say ready now, everyone want to work with those startup. 

So your strategy should be you go find a team.
They are interested in your product, but they have no money with them for free. 

Ask him to have started with with you, and then after that find a team that has a lot of budget to sign it. So that statement of work, then you can really close the deals. 

Now, with them say, part, I got pretty confused, but we'll not get into that part. To be honest I wanted to circle back with your experience of cold calling. 

So,
in the beginning of your career, 
when you were just looking for a job, you mentioned that,
you've done,
like, 

numbers of cold calls and from my understanding a lot of founders do the same thing when they're trying to reach out to a big corporation, 

like mcdonald's and they usually do cold emailing, 

so just fine trying to find the Executive's and email them or LinkedIn them or Twitter them whatever those. 

But in your opinion, what's the strategy that works? Most.
What message will actually attract your attention? It has to be specific. It has to be. 

What else it has to contain basically, to catch your attention I think the content is about. Can you refer me someone? Because 9 out of 10, the person is wrong. So, can you refer me someone? I do this specific thing. 

Most of people want to help if they know on top of head. They know if you can be specific they know who is in charge of that team. Now, then you have a chance to, in touch with that team. 

Fair enough yeah, most of stuff goes through referrals and actually 1 of the tools that I know about referrals is a tool called hunters dot. They're doing, like, uh. 

People get paid for referrals so, like, if you have a lot of connections in those big corporations, you can register and startups who need connections in that big corporation. They will pay you decent amount of money. By the way. 

It's like, when I checked the numbers, it's like, 1000 dollars plus. So, at the moment, you can pay a 1000 dollars for that referral. But European does actually work and have you seen similar services? No, I don't think so. 

Because we all signed that confidential agreement with the company. So the reason they were giving you the person's name, or email is actually in a gray area. 

And not to mention that, now you're given money for the in the gray area. So, no, 1 would do that and they may be, but it's quite risky, especially for big brand new. I want to sacrifice their job for the small things. 

Peripheral keep in touch and also remember. 

You can do business with, say, 10 team in the same company, because every team are doing different things and your product may have bounce them out about different angle. And the truth of a 1 team reject you doesn't means anything. Right? 

So most of the biggest mistake I see people may say, oh, I talked to Facebook they say, no. 

Which team right? So and you which contacts? Right? So there are so many use case for your product. So don't be afraid to try different people, right? 
A different angle and listing all the potential use case and ask someone say, hey, it was a find this use 
case which team will make sense.
Perfect that's perfect. And by the way I've interviewed a guy who was. 

Working on a startup that was selling merchandise like custom merchandise. I forgot the tail swag up. So I got that's the perfect title. Even I remember, but basically they were doing, like, the same thing. They were reaching out to multiple different teams on the same Corporation. 

And once, at least 1 of those teams acquired their merch. The other teams were like, wait, where do you get that merge? And that's how we twice like, throughout the whole, uh. 

Those big corporations, so great advice here. So now, let's move on to the 500 startups. Now your mentor. 

Founder in residence and a mantra at 500 startups. Right? So what's going on there? What's your role as a mentor? There? What do you do? 

A mentor there are selected people who provide support for fire and you start our celebrating startups, which means people were applying and got invested by founders startup and becoming to the cohort as well as the alumni. 

Those startups who graduate from those program. They can reach out to me for questions. I am also an entrepreneur in residence so the key difference of a mentor is mental Ross selected people, but they are volunteers. 

So, entrepreneur in residence RP amount amendment or. 

As we start our select you for doing their program with founders, start up, then you become the consistent. 

I said we for months and then provide the direction to them a, to pay opportunities. Got it perfect and. 

I had some other questions. I completely forgot. Oh, right in the beginning of the episode you mentioned that you're doing some angel investment startups as well right? What would you invest in? What fields? What stage to invest in. 

I don't, I'm not an angel investor, but I'm a advisor I'm an advisor for most of the E, commerce companies. I am also advising for other social media related company, given that I help to view Facebook shopping and shopping. 

I also view a lot of go to market and global expansions for the companies and given that was helping E bay to be their incubator business and emerging market business. 

Guidance sorry for me is hearing this stuff. We're just forgetting it. I have really bad memory, but let's talk actually about the go to market strategy. I'm not biggest fan of E, commerce in general. 

So, let's, let's generalize it, but 1 of the major ones, but 1 of the important questions that investors often ask founders is what's your go to market strategy and Pre frequently? Founders. 

Give really weird answers. So, what's your how would your command those early stage startup founders to structure their go to market strategy? Where should they started? 

Yeah, it's actually a pretty structured framework, so I can tell you, at, for example, I help to lead incubator product, which will product 1st I'm going to market so usually called market has 3 segments. 
The 1st 1 is we call inbound pushes. I, hey, you have to understand your persona as your users and pinpoints before you actually build a product or a fire, you are building a product. Right? 

And 2nd part is the 1st time go to market. 

And usually what we do is that you start with our file and alpha is him pick people like, for example, you talked to 5 people, even though you decide to sell a product for consumer for 5M as your goal. 

But you've talked to 5 people build a product constantly working with them until they are satisfied and feel the price perfect for them. 

And you said,
as the criteria,
for example,
the exit criteria will be those people through quantitative, qualitative interview, 

they say,
yes,
I'm interested in continue using the service or they say,
I'm willing to refer a friend whatever criteria you Bill and then from there again, to the beta beta is that you are not peak specific person.
Anyone can.
But you are not telling them, so, for example, maybe is like. 

50% of user why 1% of user or in startup case it just means you launch your product, but you are not doing any marketing. So organically if someone find out, they found out. Right? And then again you build the asset criteria. For example, if I knew. 

With a converging Ray, more than 10% when. 

It's 1% now, I ready to move on to the next phase and starting doing marketing and what's really important. Are 2 things the go to market 1 is about. 

Like, who are you really are give you an example there's a company they sell, like, the. On pass, like the back so when they start the pop killer, like, spread past Brett.
The answer oh, okay. Guy.
So, they ask they sell in spray so then when they started, they were like. 

Months so they must like something that we're pretty. 

Environmental friendly us was pretty healthy and safe for the family for the kids and so they decided to put all of ads around there like that. Oh, this is safe choice. 
People don't buy it. Okay so they get into more detail and realize those mom at home. They actually quite has a lot of inquiries, the kids running around and so loud and a lot of detail and laundry. 

So many things show the mom that you have a lot of happiness sometimes at home. So they decide to position in the product. 

I'll kill you, so when they use the spread, you feel like a release and angry kill you kill you and you sell really well, right so, and it's the same product. 

So, I'm just saying where you position now is really important, and you can use 2 things 1. 

I used to work with Andy and Andy is actually the position in person for Steve Jobs. So I worked with her at Facebook. 

She teaches that 1, you have to decide a company you are and there are only 3 choices. The 1st choice is is a product company. 

Such as Facebook is all about feature, right? You have more feature, you deliver value. 

Functions for people, the 2nd, type of company are customer service company is open like our early stage of Amazon. You can return anything. You always get someone to pick up your phone calls the examples. Right? You are bound of service. 

Not necessarily because of all the features. Although Amazon getting a lot more feature over time right? And the 3rd type of company, which most of them. 

Missionary visionary company for visionary company, as you can imagine Tesla, they have really influential leader, and they sell you a concept, not product, right? 

So most of the company, what is 3, you pick 1 and make sure you are positioning on that. And 2nd thing you do is thinking of your company's personalities. Is that about the personality is about. 

So, for example, is actually more ruler ruler. We're really.
Leader people lessen to to the person, why you think of the same product lift is that caregiver. 

So the, as all about, hey, helping elderly and serve people and be gray, and they are married that mellow in their a**. So, pick the personality. They asked 12 time tough ties to school. 

Boy, you will find a loss of personality tests about brand and make sure you have clear positioning before you go last thing before you do before you go to market is about push out for the campaign, right? 

You view goals, or what? And the key is that is not about channels better. People constantly come to me and say, should we buy Google? Keyword? 

It's about who are your audience and where are them? How do you find them? Right? It's not about which channel is good or bad. It's about which 1 you can reach them. 

Also, what's your goal for? Exam? Hello? Search is about. Do you search something? Right? Is all about social graph. 

Right. So it's that, I don't know, in what context and your motivation to do what, but I do know who is influencing you and who you are. Right? So depends on the context and depends on your audience. 
Now, you use different channel to achieve and reach out to your customer. 
For advice absolutely loved the last part and yeah, I think positioning yourself I'm not the biggest fan of all those theoretical kind of things, but that part is really important. Like, if, you know. 

What your company does in terms of, you know, personality of the company kind of thing it it really helps like, I even can relate to myself right now with the podcast. Like, the personality of the podcast is kind of aggressive. I've been told that numerous times, but people like it. 

So I'm like, okay, I'm just gonna stick to it. Anyways. You were onto a last question if today's episode and yeah, so. 

Was that because it was over what's the 1 thing you want to lose her to do? Like, as soon as the episode is over. 

Cool to tell them a little bit because when you asked me the founders start a question, I think you meant to also ask me about a trend. Right? So should I maybe share a little bit about what's the trend and start? I should be knowing. 

No okay, cool. I think 1 thing to do a B, I think so trying to keep in mind the fundraising is and also getting closing a deal is also about that you are doing. 

A favor, so someone oversight, you are the pausing in a bank, and whenever you need the help, you go to the deposit and you pick some something out. And then how now, that person will help you. 

So do not worry about too much about always think of how I can help you doing the connection even though I'm here to ask you for your help start with that. Hey, what do you do? Is there anything? I can help you. It will be really small, for example. 

Hey, I am talking to this Nike person. I tried to sell the person my startup for the team that and then next day, I see the person make a post and I just buy good job. Wonderful. Congratulations. 

A simple is that small or reach out when a person looks like hey, the person just recently left this company,
but the person I have an updated now,
the company and reach out and say, 

hey, 

is there anyone I can refer to you and make sure you are the passing your bank of your connection and use and when you needed I think there will be something that you don't. 

You don't know how powerful when you when you are using it. That's actually a very, very true. Even I do that like. 

On constant basis, like, with all my speakers, I get back to them, like, once every 2, 3 months and check in with them to see if they need any introduction in the start world, like of any kind. Because lately I'm thinking, way too many. 

That don't like to use per se, but I know that others might need them and that's has been great anyways. Great advice. And by the way, you forgot to self promote yourself at the end. 
So I'll do for you, basically, on your ROI book, as we mentioned, in the beginning of the episodes, I'll include the link to that book and the district and this episode. 

So, if you're curious, if you want to hear on years experience, and those big companies definitely take a look and yeah, my call to action as usual is go to the description of this episode. 

I'll leave the link to his book there to audience and. 

Something else probably, I'll leave a link to another episode that was related to big company. So if you're curious. 

To see, I'll leave a link to that episode with the person from swag up. If you want to see how they sell their merge to those big companies. Definitely take a look and as usually have a good day.