Paul G. Silva

RVI’s New Model 1 year in: 3x the members, 2x the investments, more diversification

Paul G. Silva

One year ago the angel group I have the honor to lead pivoted to a substantially different model. Like all pivots, it wasn’t easy. In fact, it was scary as hell. But thanks to the incredible involvement of our members and our assistant manager Ethan Ferris, 2020 was our best year ever. Membership tripled , pulling in people from a much larger geography than conceivable before.

4 Questions to Find Your Price

Paul G. Silva

This long, detailed, and excellent article is chock full of valuable advice on pricing. One part that particularly stood out for sharing are the four questions to ask a potential customer to help you determine where to price your product. At what point is this way too expensive that you would never consider purchasing it? At what point is this starting to get expensive, but you’d still consider purchasing it? At what point is this a really good deal? You’d buy it right away.)

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RVI, Launch413, Innovation Accelerator – Growing and Thriving

Paul G. Silva

For all my friends who kindly track the progress of my ventures, I have a short update :). Launch413 (the post-accelerator) – We’ve invested in 13 companies in just under 3 years, expanded our team of kick-ass Venture Advisors, and are starting to see some real results from our top companies. It is still early days, but the model seems to be scaling and our ability to deliver impact is growing.

How to Come up With Great Ideas

Paul G. Silva

If your startup/organization/team struggles with ideation (the process of coming up with ideas), you fall into one of two camps: Those who struggle to come up with any ideas. Those who come up with plenty of ideas but struggle to identify which ones are worth pursuing. What follows is a step-by-step guide for solving both problems. The Short Version. Step 1: Get MAD – Remember your M ission, assess your A ssets, document the D emand. Step 2: Ideate – Use your MAD to inspire ideas.

The Best Sales Forecasting Models for Weathering Your Goals

Every sales forecasting model has a different strength and predictability method. It’s recommended to test out which one is best for your team. This way, you’ll be able to further enhance – and optimize – your newly-developed pipeline. Your future sales forecast? Sunny skies (and success) are just ahead!

RVI’s New Model 9 Months in: 2x members, more investments, more diversification

Paul G. Silva

For 14 years I’ve led the River Valley Investors angel investor network. A year ago the group was on death’s door. Membership was down to the lowest levels since I’d taken over leadership from our founder and my mentor, Joseph Steig. And none of us knew that COVID was just around the corner. If RVI failed then our region would have lots its only active angel group – a huge potential blow to local startups. It was time to pivot.

The Quick and Easy Way to Find the Best Applicant From Among Hundreds

Paul G. Silva

One of my favorite jokes goes something like this: Whenever a new position opens up, and I have to sort through a stack of resumes, the first thing I do is take half of them at random and throw them away. I don’t want unlucky people working in this department. As with many good jokes, it’s funny because it has a nugget of truth to it.

The Seven Flavors of Capital (for Startups)

Paul G. Silva

Startups need capital to launch and grow. What many entrepreneurs don’t know is that startup capital comes in many different flavors. Each flavor has its own pros and cons and is appropriate for different situations. To be successful in fundraising an entrepreneur needs to understand what flavor(s) are a fit for them at each stage of their venture’s maturation.

Honored! Sigma Nu Tau

Paul G. Silva

The entrepreneurship faculty of Western New England University kindly inducted me as an honorary member of Sigma Nu Tau , the only academic honor society dedicated to entrepreneurship. My sincere thanks to WNE, and especially Mary Schoonmaker. Innovation Accelerator

A Canvas That Tells a Story: KISS Canvas (v3)

Paul G. Silva

[This is part of a series on the KISS Canvas ]. 30-page business plans are great for established businesses and terrible for startups that need to iterate quickly. 15 years ago the Business Model Canvas (BMC) changed everything by giving us a 1-pager (or 4×3 foot poster) to help you quickly document and test the key hypothesis behind your business model. The BMC was a quantum leap forward. However, my students and I often struggled with the structure of the canvas.

B2B Pocket Playbook: End-to-End Guide to Sales Enablement

Sales enablement is the strategic process of providing sales teams with the content, guidance, and mentorship needed to engage targeted buyers. It’s all about equipping sales professionals with the tools they need to put their best-selling foot forward. And if sales teams want to continuously sell better -- and faster -- their sales enablement process must have a game-winning strategy. It's time for you to start selling smarter - and hitting your sales number - with the best B2B database in the market. Get started today.

Startup Pitching 301

Paul G. Silva

This is the 3rd post in the “Startup Pitching” series. In this post we’ll go over advanced-level (301) techniques. The one (maybe two) number rule. Most people can’t hold multiple numbers in their head. You can put as many numbers on a slide as you like, but people won’t process them. In fact, if you show too many numbers they’ll almost certainly process the numbers incorrectly! Less is more.

A Taxonomy of Customer Pains and Benefits

Paul G. Silva

Your company’s value proposition must provide benefits that perfectly match your customers’ pains. First-time entrepreneurs asked to document their hypotheses about Pains and Benefits often experience “blank canvas” paralysis , the inability to get started because of a lack of a clear starting point. This blog post aims to provide a set of categories and examples to guide an entrepreneur to find the relevant pain hypotheses. Each heading lists a category of Pain/Benefit.

Startup Pitching Checklist

Paul G. Silva

This is the checklist / boil down of the techniques listed in the pior 3 posts in the “Startup Pitching” series. After you complete a draft of your pitch, go over this list to make sure you’ve applied as many of the techniques as possible. Beginner (101). One rehearsed presenter – Pick one person to deliver your presentation, don’t tag team your pitches.

Startup Pitching 201

Paul G. Silva

This is the 2nd post in the “Startup Pitching” series. In this post we’ll go over intermediate-level (201) techniques. Front load credibility. Investors are cynical. They have to be because about half of all angel/VC investments lose every penny invested. Any claim you make is therefore treated with suspicion.

Pressure Points: How to Ensure Your B2B Pipeline Passes Inspection

This eBook highlights best practices for developing a pipeline management process that helps sales leaders and their team C.L.O.S.E (you’ll see what we mean in this eBook) more revenue through data-driven prospecting, stage analysis, and subsequent sales enablement.

Startup Pitching 101

Paul G. Silva

As a mentor once told me… It doesn’t matter if you have the best opportunity in the world, if you can’t communicate it you’re dead. This is obvious. Yet… I’ve seen thousands of presentations and the vast majority of them were confusing as heck. Those presenters almost always failed to get whatever they wanted from the audience. At the regional syndication meetings (think of it as the All-Stars of angel-backed companies), the #1 Mistake Entrepreneurs Make Is….

RVI’s first virtual angel group meeting a success, here is how we did it

Paul G. Silva

The River Valley Investors angel group just ran our first virtual meeting today. In case anything we learned can be valuable, below is a copy of a blog post we just published on our blog showing what we did to make it work. I know several other groups already ran virtual, so I’d love to hear any other best practices people have patched together.

Best Distillation of Exit Strategies I’ve Seen

Paul G. Silva

Marty Zwilling recently published a blog post with the most concise distillation of the possible exit strategies a for-profit startup can take and why an entrepreneur should be thinking about them from very early on. Hat tip to Paul Nicolai for sending me the article! Innovation Accelerator

The Power of the Spa!

Paul G. Silva

Arguably the #1 customer discovery how-to guide is the book Talking To Humans. Here is a jem: One aspiring entrepreneur wanted to target mothers of young children. She had heard stories about talking to people in a coffee shop, but felt like it was too unfocused. So she tried hanging around school pickup zones, but the moms were too busy and refused to speak to her. Next, she tried the playground, where she figured moms would be bored watching their kids play.

Marketing-Led Post-COVID-19 Growth Strategies

Businesses are laying off workers, shutting their doors (some permanently), and struggling to react to the radical destruction that coronavirus (COVID-19) is doing to our society and communities. However, there’s no team better suited to lead that charge than the marketing department.

Selecting the Top Angel Deals in the Northeast… on Google Sheets

Paul G. Silva

I am told that the angel groups of the Northeast have one of the best systems for syndicating deals in the country. There are many parts to making that happen. I have the privilege of running the nomination, application, and selection processes. The process is efficient and fair and might be helpful to other angel groups, or to other groups who see a lot of applications from people seeking money (accelerators, foundations, government agencies, etc).

RVI’s Guide To Running a Virtual Angel Group Meeting

Paul G. Silva

This post contains our up-to-date set of best practices on how the River Valley Investors angel group runs our meetings online. Last updated on: 4/9/2020. Technology of choice: Zoom. Before the event, we ask everyone to log in with a device with a camera so we can see each other. They all have been invited to a google calendar event with the link embedded in it. Created Breakout Rooms (Networking, Startup, and Scheduling) from the get-go.

Rubber Duckies by Gaetanlee

Paul G. Silva

My thanks to Gaetanlee for making this delightful rubber duckie picture (now the header image for this website) available for all to use! Innovation Accelerator

Congrats to a Former Student Making The World A Better Place

Paul G. Silva

So much food goes to waste in our country every year. So many people are hungry. It is literally cheaper to throw food away than to give it away… until now. A few years ago I had the honor of mentoring Maria Rose Belding when she and her partners at Means Database were in the Valley Venture Mentors startup Accelerator. Her social venture is organized and dreams like a high tech silicon valley startup – but all of that energy is directed to doing good, at scale.

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How ZoomInfo Helps Overcome the Top Pain Points of Inside Sales

Recent digital transformation has shifted the B2B landscape by ushering in the era of buyer empowerment. With more access to user reviews, analyst opinion, and industry research, decision-makers are more informed than ever while navigating what is now known as the “buyer’s journey.”

Western Mass Demo Day! Wha who!

Paul G. Silva

Western Mass Demo Day Connects Local Startups to Investors. This is an invite-only event for active & accredited investors to hear pitches from startups with a connection to Western Massachusetts. Startups get an optimized way to meet a room full of different investors, many with a strong interest in companies connected to the region. Investors get a first look at the startups, meet the founders, and network with other investors.

Facilitating AccelVT Energy 2019 Cohort

Paul G. Silva

I often talk about how startups are the ones out there saving the world. This summer I have the delight of facilitating the newest cohort of the AccelVT Accelerator. This accelerator focuses on “ startup and/or seed stage ventures who offer new technologies, or novel applications of existing technologies, aimed at reducing fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions in the heating and/or transportation sector.

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An Engine to Find Product/Market Fit

Paul G. Silva

Previously I shared Brad Feld & Neeraj Agrawal’s descriptions of how hard it is for a startup to achieve product/market fit… and the ramifications of that failure. Recently Jim Stanczak kindly shared an article identifying the solution : a numbers-based, systematic, empirical process for measuring product/market fit and iterating your product towards it. This article is pure gold. Highlights: 0) Anchor on a leading indicator.

Entrepreneurs give me hope when I need it most

Paul G. Silva

When I talk about politics I am filled with sadness and a sense of near powerlessness to make the world a better place. But when I talk to entrepreneurs, I am filled with hope. Where most of us see problems, they imagine solutions… and solutions that scale. Here are just some of the companies blowing me away, all local/ VVM companies making the world a better place! Immigration.

Marketing Ops: The New Revenue Hero

As data continues to play a starring role in today’s B2B organizations, both marketing and sales operations professionals are poised to solidify their place as critical revenue drivers. In particular, the evolution of the Marketing Operations (Ops) role has created a new standard in marketing and has become a vital component of an organization’s success.

How Much Due Diligence Does An Angel Really Need To Do?

Paul G. Silva

Due diligence (AKA “doing your homework” on a startup to see if investing is the right call) should clearly take time… but how much? Marianne Hudson, executive director of the Angel Capital Association (the trade association for angel investors in the US) wrote an article on this topic. Her full article (with her permission) appears further below. One of the biggest debates in the angel industry is how much due diligence investors should do before they invest.

Launch413 Completes Seed Round

Paul G. Silva

My thanks to the many people who put their faith in Rick Plaut and my new venture, Launch413. A special thanks to the many members of River Valley Investors who provided the pre-seed funding to get us started and then played a big part in finishing our seed round. For those that don’t know Launch413, we are an alternative venture fund that takes startups from Launch to their first $10 million in revenue.

Do You Have Product/Market Fit?

Paul G. Silva

Ran across these great blog posts ( The Illusion of Product/Market Fit for SaaS Companies , The SaaS Adventure ) by Brad Feld & Neeraj Agrawal respectively. Product/Market Fit is now, appropriately, a central concept in startups. But when do you have it? If you think you have it, odds are darn good you don’t. Is your data really robust enough for you to know you have it? If you do have it, odds are good you don’t have it good enough to scale!

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KISS Canvas 9. Cost Structure

Paul G. Silva

[This is a part of a series on the KISS Canvas ]. What are the major cost centers of your business? When do you have to pay? Do you have any options to pay differently? What costs can kill you? All of this is covered in the Cost Structure section of the KISS Canvas. Here is each sub-lesson: Intro. Capital costs. Fixed & Variable costs. Example: a family. Summary. Check out more KISS Canvas Content. Innovation Accelerator KISS Canvas

What We Learned From Our Own Data-Driven ABM Strategy

ZoomInfo has created the following eBook to help other B2B organizations gain insights on how to launch their own data-driven ABM strategy. In this eBook, we will reveal the good and the bad from our own campaign and highlight some key takeaways on how to improve your ABM strategies moving forward.

Launch413 Begins Phase 2, Investing in More Companies!

Paul G. Silva

Launch413 is itself a startup, and like all startups has lots of hypothesis to test. I’m proud to share that we just completed Phase 1 and validated all of our core hypothesis: With our help startups accomplish in months what would have taken them years to do on their own. Our Venture Advisors can provide that help in a scalable-way. There are enough startups connected to our region that want our kind of investment.