Growthink president on the power of real-time BI

Two weeks ago we had the honor of having Growthink president, Dave Lavinsky, in our Los Angeles office for a lunch presentation on the power of business intelligence and real-time dashboards.

Participants from various sectors had the opportunity to interact with Dave and walk through key metrics that should be more effectively tracked to contribute to better company success.

Thank you Dave for your time and look forward to many more of these sessions in the future!

Having big data is important but understanding the data is crucial to success

BIG DATA SUCCESS: the sweet spot between uptime and bottom line

"It's not exactly breaking news that data analytics is a rapidly exploding field within Australian businesses, with different organisations and industries across the country at different stages of maturity. ADMA estimate that around 30% of Australian businesses are currently at some point on the big data continuum between data discovery and data commercialisation.

The potential value of all of the data available to enterprises and SME’s cannot be underestimated; fact is, in our Information Age the competitive advantage will rest with those businesses who are best able to harness their data in order to make real-time decisions that protect their customer base and grow market share. With this in mind, why is it then that only 30% of businesses are taking action with their data?"

For the rest of the article please visit:

Though the article itself centers around the Australian market, the same concerns are readily observed across the globe.

Congratulations to Growthink client DNT Express on their recent approval for financing!

Congratulations DNT Express on being approved for a $2.25 million loan! Excited to see what the future holds and how you'll continue to grow.

DNT Express is a wine distribution company located at the Capital District Regional Market in Menands, NY.  The company was founded in July, 2003 by brothers Dan and Tim Nickels.  Early on, DNT hauled a variety of products, from pharmaceuticals to auto parts. Now the Company provides wine delivery services from Rockland County to the Canadian border.  It currently serves over 100 distributors by transporting their wines to over 3,000 wine retailers and restaurants.

New insights on how to use Twitter for your business

From the Twitter blog

One of the best ways to learn about marketing on Twitter is through real examples from small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Recently, we spoke with a group of these companies about how they use Twitter as a business tool, the results they’ve seen, and their tips for success.

We partnered with research firm DB5 to survey 1100 SMB owners and employees in the U.S. Those surveyed work on their company’s digital marketing strategy, and are active Twitter users and advertisers. helped us create an infographic to detail the full survey results, which revealed that SMBs see Twitter as an effective marketing tool that enables them to accomplish their advertising goals.

Interestingly, two-thirds (66%) of respondents believe that they have not yet fully maximized their Twitter presence.

Stock Offerings and Securities Laws - Broker-Dealer Registration

An emerging business seeking to raise capital by selling stock or other securities often does so without the assistance of an investment banker, relying instead on its own officers, directors and employees to conduct the offering. The “self-distribution” of securities by the issuer and its personnel may be undertaken because an investment banker cannot be attracted or because the issuer desires to avoid paying selling commissions. Whatever the reason for self-distribution, the process raises broker-dealer registration issues.

Broker-dealers must register with the SEC unless they are engaged solely in intrastate business or in the business of trading exempted securities. State securities laws also generally require the registration of broker-dealers.

The failure to register as a broker-dealer if required can result in government enforcement action and monetary penalties. In addition, there is a significant risk that the offering could be subject to rescission by investors whose purchase of the securities was induced by an unregistered broker-dealer.

Federal Law 
“Broker” is defined in the federal Securities Exchange Act to generally mean any person engaged in the business of effecting transactions in securities for the account of others. “Dealer” is defined to generally mean any person engaged in the business of buying and selling securities for such person’s own account, through a broker or otherwise.

With self-distribution, the issuer and its personnel are not likely to fall within the definition of dealer because typically they are not both buying and selling the security. While the issuer would not fall within the definition of broker because it is not effecting transactions for the account of others, the issuer’s personnel are doing so (i.e., they are effecting transactions for the account of the issuer) and might meet the broker definition, subjecting them to broker-dealer registration requirements. The principal question for the issuer’s personnel is whether they are “engaged in the business” of effecting transactions in securities for the account of others.

To avoid uncertainty about whether someone is “engaged in the business” of effecting transactions in securities for the account of others, Exchange Act Rule 3a4–1 was adopted by the SEC as a nonexclusive safe harbor from the definition of broker for personnel of an issuer who assist the issuer in connection with the offer and sale of its securities. Generally, under the rule, an “associated person of an issuer” (a term that includes, among others, any person who is a partner, officer, director, or employee of the issuer) will not be deemed to be a broker by reason of his or her participation in the sale of securities of the issuer if the person:

  • Is not subject to a statutory disqualification under Exchange Act §3(a)(39); 
  • Is not compensated for participation in the sale by the payment of commissions or other remuneration based on transactions in securities; and 
  • Is not at the time of participation an associated person of a broker or dealer.

In addition to the requirements enumerated above, to take advantage of the rule the associated person must meet one of the following conditions:

  • The associated person (1) primarily performs substantial duties for the issuer other than in connection with transactions in securities; (2) was not a broker or a dealer or an associated person of a broker or dealer within the preceding 12 months; and (3) does not participate in selling securities for any issuer more than once every 12 months, with certain exceptions; or
  • The associated person does no more than (1) prepare approved written communications and deliver such communications without oral solicitation of potential purchasers; (2) respond to inquiries initiated by potential purchasers so long as the response is limited to information contained in the registration statement or other offering document; and (3) perform ministerial and clerical work related to the transaction; or
  • The associated person limits participation to transactions enumerated in Rule 3a4–1(a)(4)(i), most of which would not generally be applicable to an offering by an emerging business seeking to raise capital but which include sales of securities that are (1) made to a registered broker or dealer, a registered investment company, an insurance company, a bank or savings and loan association, or certain trust companies and trusts; or (2) made in accordance with a bonus, profit sharing, pension, retirement, thrift, savings, incentive, stock purchase, stock ownership, stock appreciation, stock option, dividend reinvestment, or similar plan for employees of the issuer or one of its subsidiaries.

Visually Will Tell Marketers Whether People Actually Cared About That Infographic

Infographic and “visual content” marketplace Visually is the latest startup trying to take a new approach to measuring the effectiveness of content marketing.

In the past month or so I’ve written about new analytics tools offered by Contently,Chartbeat, and Sharethrough, all based on the idea that content marketers and native advertisers need new sets of data to tell whether their efforts and money are actually paying off.

When I brought up those other companies, co-founder and CEO Stew Langille said Visually is taking a different approach with its new Native Analytics product. It will allow customers to look at how the full campaign or website is doing, but it’s really focused on revealing details about individual pieces of content, regardless of where they get published.

After all, a successful infographic won’t just show up on your website, but will also get published on other blogs and shared on Facebook and Twitter. Visually says it can track that content when it’s embedded on other sites, and also use OCR image tracking to identify other locations where the infographic has been posted. Visually can then tell customers how many times that piece of content has been viewed and shared and use third-party data to break down the people viewing the content into groups like “technophiles,” “movie lovers” and “shutterbugs.”

[Update: I asked Visually for a full list of all the data that it will provide, and this is what I got back — pageviews (on-site and off-site using embed code), social shares (on-site and off-site, no embed code required), top tweeters, press and blog pickups, social media referrals, viewer affinity group, viewer "in-market" intent, viewer demographics, average time spent viewing and total time spent viewing]

The new analytics tools are part of the larger launch of a product called Visually Campaigns. In addition to the company’s previous focus on providing a marketplace and tools for creating infographics, videos, and interactive graphics, Visually Campaigns also allows teams to plan their broader campaigns. Combined with the launch of Native Analytics, Langille said Visually now covers “the whole life cycle” of content marketing — with the exception of distribution, i.e. promoting the content and making sure it gets seen. (And Langille suggested his team will be getting to distribution eventually.)

At the beginning of this year, Visually announced that it had raised $8.1 million in Series A funding.

Turf Signaling Between Investors And Founders

By Semil Shah

This post is intended for founders, and it is a difficult topic for me to write on, so please bear with me. First, this isn’t meant to paint the relationship between founders and investors as antagonistic. Second, this isn’t meant to be a declarative statement, as there are always exceptions — yet, what’s written below comes up in conversation all the time, so I felt compelled to share it more broadly.

This post is about the importance of “turf” in fundraising. In any sales negotiation, turf matters.

Private investors are in the business of sales. They’re selling money, their knowledge, their experience, their partners, their networks, and their signal to the market. Founders seek funding from these investors, and to do so, often try to broker warm introduction to them. They build connections with these investors, and it can take quite some time to schedule a meeting. More often than not, those initial meetings occur at the investor’s offices or at a place of the investor’s choosing. The investors also dictate the time. And, most founders fall in line, patiently waiting for the meeting, the location, and the time, momentarily forgetting that while investors are paid to scout opportunities and meet many people, the founder’s time is also scarce, and even though there’s a very small chance at funding, they continue on. No one can fault them.

When this comes up in conversation with a founder who is frustrated by the process, I try to respond with a version of the following:

“The brutal truth is that some people can just raise money by virtue of who they are or who they know. For the rest of us, the signaling mistakes founders often make can set an irreversible tone in short- or long-term negotiations. For instance, if a founder hunts down an investor, and then agrees to a meeting, shows up at the investor’s office or location of their choice, at a time of their choosing, the founder is sending an implicit signal that they want something the investor has. Yet, the psychology of the investor is to sell their wares — not to be sold to. Therefore, if the founder is able to pull it off, the best entry point to an investor is to be working on something that an investor hears about through multiple channels to the point where they come knock on the founder’s door — where they come to the founder’s turf.”

“Turf” is important. There is so much non-verbal signaling going on when a founder shows up on someone else’s turf.

What are the signs that you have inbound interest from an investor? They’ll meet you at a place of your choosing, at a time what works for you. They’ll likely be on time. They’ll likely be prepared. They’ll be more likely to help you with key intros to kickstart the relationship.

If this is true in many cases, then the job of the founder is to create the atmosphere in which an investor leverages their own network to get in front of you and your company. I realize most folks won’t be able to do this, but it’s a good goal to shoot for. So, what helps? Having a product that people are using, and/or having others espouse the greatness of a product. It’s not all about explosive growth, it can be unusual engagement, a unique design or technology — something that stands out in conversation. It can’t be engineered out of thin air, but it also presents founders with an interesting question — if people aren’t knocking down your door (or email inbox), could that be a signal the offering isn’t differentiated for the investment climate? Again, there will be exceptions, but it’s an intellectually honest question to ask.

Essentially, this type of approach — to create enough of a gravitational effect to attract investors —  takes into account and exploits the motives and business model incentives facing institutional investors. I don’t want to discount the chance for serendipity in these meetings. But, I also want to lay out how I see “turf” factoring into these meetings, the nuanced signaling that happens as a result of who gets to control when and where a meeting occurs. As with anything related to leverage, the best position to be in is fielding inbound requests — by whatever means necessary. In such a competitive environment, it’s the best route to stand out.

Which Venture Capital Firms Have the Strongest Mobile Portfolio?

From CB Insights

Less than 100 VC-backed apps have ranked in the App Store top 1000 'Overall' ranks consistently over the past six months. Here's who's invested in the most.

There are 464 apps in the iTunes App Store that have ranked in the top 1000 every day for the past 6 months.  Of those 464, 91 are investor-backed (VC or other investors).  For reference, being ranked in the top 1000 for 6 months is no easy feat given the average lifespan of an app in the top 1000 is just 23 days.

Given the fickleness of the App Store, it should follow that investing in consistently high-performing mobile apps and their publishers is also extremely challenging.  Below is a breakdown of these consistent top-performers that covers:

  • What categories/genres tend to have the most stickiness in the top 1000?
  • How many of the top 1000 app publishers are VC-backed vs. bootstrapped vs. created by public companies?
  • Which VCs have the strongest mobile publisher portfolio?

Genre / Category Analysis

The chart below breaks down the respective categories of the apps who held a top 1000 overall rank in the App Store consistently over the last six months. As evident, ‘Games’ accounts for the largest share of apps that maintain a top 1000 overall rank over time, representing 28% of the apps. The next highest category by share was ‘Photo & Video’, which made up 11% of the apps and then ‘Lifestyle’ at 9%.


The Publishers

Next, we broke down the consistently high-ranking apps by publisher type, separating them into four categories: 1) VC-backed 2) public company/subsidiary of a public company (eg WhatsApp, YouTube) 3) no known funding/bootstrapped or 4) other (joint venture, non-profit, government, holdings company, etc).

Interestingly, the highest number of consistently high-ranking apps fell under the public company or public company subsidiary category at 38.6% of the apps. Bootstrapped apps were close behind, making up 37.9% of the apps.  

Just under 20% of the top apps were those of venture or investor-backed companies from Uber and Snapchat to Lumosity and Flipboard.

Staying power, of course, doesn’t necessarily mean investor or VC-backable.  Some of the apps that have maintained their top 1000 presence range from iPhone flashlights to photo collage tools to wallpaper makers.


The Mobile Mafia – Top VCs

Which investors are behind the highest number of companies that have apps consistently ranked in the top 1000 overall ranking? Peeling back the top investors in non-exited companies with apps that meet the criteria, Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins top the list of investors with 9 companies each. Sequoia’s companies include Plain Vanilla Games, Houzz, Whisper and Evernote while Kleiner’s include Shazam, Flipboard, Duolingo and MyFitnessPal.

In total, 15 VC investors have 5 or more portfolio cos that have consistently had an app ranked in the top 1000.  Others with strong mobile portfolio companies include Accel Partners, Felicis Ventures, Bessemer Venture Partners and Index Ventures.

Of course, this analysis just looks at the # of publishers each VC has in its portfolio and not the stage of entry or valuation of each. More on that in the future.