Ten Suggestions For Pitching Your Product/Service

I was at a recent event where several budding startups pitched to a guest panel. They were mostly looking for feedback. After listening to about 8 pitches, I talked to the presenters and made some suggestions. I started thinking about the event and felt that I should write down a few things about pitching. Please note that these are very subjective. I am writing them to generate a conversation and most of these are just my opinions. Take them with a pinch of salt.

Ten Suggestions for Pitching.

  1. Know why you are pitching
  2. Know your audience
  3. What is your one minute pitch?
  4. Focus on  your business (not just the product or service).
  5. Know your market and show it
  6. Talk about your (potential) customers and their problems
  7. Start with a story. Make sure that the story is relevant to your business.
  8. Tell more stories about your research, your assumptions, your conversations with prospects and your discoveries
  9. Show you understand your business – market, revenues, customer segments and what takes to get the business going
  10. Ask your questions and elicit feedback and help.

I will expand on these points in future posts.  But your pitch may be very different depends on whom you are pitching to and why you are pitching.


The Looming Skill Gap in Tech

From The Modernization of Computer Science Education

Most people, especially in Silicon Valley, are aware that there aren’t enough engineers graduating from college today. By 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor projects that there will be 1.4 million computer science (CS) jobs available, but only enough graduates to fill 30 percent of these jobs. What’s perhaps even more troubling, but frequently overlooked, is that the engineers who are graduating today often don’t have the level of real-world skills in CS they need to meet the requirements of open positions. Why? Put simply, being a CS student is very different from being a real-life software engineer.

This is just US (the estimates are from US Department of Labor). What is the situation in other countries like India and China where the gap between academic institutions and industry are wider? Some possible solutions:

  1. The Education system may be revamped to bring out better and  more skill focused training (as some optional courses or as free training after graduation). This will be taught by very different people, mostly practitioners of the software craft.
  2. Several institutions may spring up to fill these skill gaps (MOOCs are the first iteration). Hopefully MOOC content can be used by others free or for a modest fee to create blended learning programs
  3. As the article suggests students participating in Open Source Communities. This is a great idea. However, open source participation is for people with a lot of initiative and there are knowledge gaps between what they are and how to make students aware of them.
  4. This is kind of meta, but we need to help people learn by doing. We need to teach them not only how to learn but also how to “Learn to Learn”.
  5. This is just not a problem for graduating students. It applies to practitioners who need to continuously reskill themselves in new areas in software  domain.

CS is just one field, facing this problem. There will be others. Not all the training can be done at undergraduate or graduate level in educational institutions.

Idea: Tech Jobs FAQ Group on LinkedIn

I think there should be one easy to use resource page on LinkedIn about Jobs. For example a Tech Jobs page for a particular region can contain:

  1. Job Resources
  2. Emerging technology trends and their impact on Jobs
  3. Jobs and Salaries in different regions and different domains
  4. Tech Jobs in Demand in both Tech and non-tech companies
  5. Tech Job Hotspots in a particular country/region
  6. Hiring Patterns (who hires whom)
  7. Skill Gaps (and opportunities to train and deploy)
  8. Skill Development Opportunities (for both self learners and training institutions)
  9. On Demand Skill Builders (a new generation of consultants who can ramp your teams pretty fast)
  10. Product Sprints as a way to build skills with focus on usable, useful products

Five Ways We Can Help Students

I keep talking to lots of students and have some ideas on how we (at educational institutions and community) can help them. Here are some thoughts.

  1. Encourage curiosity. Curious kids learn a lot more.
  2. Help them explore. Give them broad exposure and have them explore on their own. Exploration helps satisfy their curiosity.
  3. Help them become  self-learners.Teaching them how to learn is more challenging since you need to customize it for different learning styles.
  4. Encourage them to be creative. When they come up with ideas, help them work through ideas .
  5. Help them increase their confidence. I have seen lots of students very capable, but do not venture into trying out new things because they do not have the confidence.

There may be lots of ways we can help. I just picked a few.  Let me know your thoughts.

Edit 1st Aug 2014

Will start collecting articles on the “Purpose of Education” and list them here.

What Is The Purpose Of Education? http://onforb.es/1oWBAoB



Using Twitter Data to Compare the Popularity of 3 Programming Languages

Twitter is a rich source of useful information. It is a great tool for:

  • Researching Needs (for early customer development),
  • Tracking Trends (in your industry),
  • Watching Competition,
  • Finding  Influencers in your industry segment

We have been dabbling in some tools for mining Tweets and I am always on the look out for more.

There are a few kindred spirits who seem to be interested in similar topics. Here is one Scooped by Jose C Gonzalez. An Introduction to Text Mining using Twitter Streaming API and Python  by Adil Moujahid

Twitter data constitutes a rich source that can be used for capturing information about any topic imaginable. This data can be used in different use cases such as finding trends related to a specific keyword, measuring brand sentiment, and gathering feedback about new products and services.

In this tutorial, I will use Twitter data to compare the popularity of 3 programming languages: Python, Javascript and Ruby, and to retrieve links to programming tutorials.

This tutorial teaches you:an approach to mining tweets, analyzing them and visualizing them using simple open source tools. You will learn:

  • How to use a  Twitter Library for Python to find tweets on specific topics (in this case Python, Ruby, Javascript)
  • How to decode JSON, returned by the Twitter searches
  • How to use a Python library called Pandas to analyze Twitter Streams
  • How to use another Python library (matplotlib) to plot the results of analysis












It is How Things Work

I liked this essay and I think it is a must read for every software professional. Here is a small snippet from Matt’s What Have You Tried?

it’s just how things work: you begin with a lack of understanding about a topic, and a need to solve a problem in that topic area. The honest, sustainable means of doing so is to improve your understanding. This is achieved by:

  1. Formulating a question which, when correctly answered, will improve your understanding in some way; then:
  2. Attempting to answer it.

Being active in a few forums, I can relate to the problem Matt is talking about.

Good essays/posts are a pleasure to read. When I find some, there is a strong desire to share. I just realized that I don’t have to always write an entire blog post to provide something of value.


Matt Gemmell – All This Stuff Scares the Hell Out of Me

All of this stuff scares the hell out of me:

  • Software patents, and their use as a financial weapon.
  • The walled garden of the various App Stores, with mysterious and ever-changing rules governing admittance, and the constant threat of capricious rejection.
  • The consequent relative invisibility of non-App Store software.
  • The incredibly crowded market, with imitations and duplicates of popular titles springing up overnight.

I don’t want to sound too negative. But a tweet from Tim O’Reilly got me reading a chain of posts.

Tim Bray · Discouraged Developer http://bit.ly/1py5KM9

Ed Finkler – “I find myself more and more concerned about my future as a developer. ” bit.ly/Ul1Tsg


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