1M/1M Strategy Roundtable: Convert Potential Competitors To Partners

At today’s roundtable we saw three very nice businesses, each with pilot customers, and each working on real problems. At the end of the session, each left with specific action items. 

First up today was Antonio Lucena de Faria with ActionFlow from Portugal. Antonio has a portfolio of web based business process management applications for small businesses with 10-100 employees. Antonio has 100 trial customers at the moment, and is looking to figure out exactly what his company positioning is going to be.  

I asked him to speak with his 100 trial customers and understand at a granular level exactly what problem each of them is trying to solve by using his product. I also asked him to come back and discuss the findings with me, and I will help him position the company. 

I also advised Antonio to defer his investor road show and even customer acquisition programs until this basic positioning exercise is in place. 

Then Cristina Soviany presented IDES Technologies from Belgium. IDES is an analytics enhancement for fraud prevention systems addressing the credit card fraud market. It works well with other fraud detection systems like FICA. Cristina currently has a couple of large customers in pilot mode, and is starting to show metrics on how much improvement IDES can deliver over existing analytics engines.  

I advised her to get one or two reference customers out of her current pilots, and then start charging the follow-on pilot customers. There is no reason why she should do the pilots for free once she has a bit of credibility established. And these pilots will pay for her early bootstrapping phase.  

Then, she can start doing partnerships with fraud management system vendors and use their channels to sell, perhaps. All this, could, potentially, be done without external financing. And along the way, if necessary and appropriate, she can raise financing with a vastly more validated business. At this point, financing discussions are premature and are likely not to yield success. 

Rick Holdren and Rohit Saxena then discussed Medi-Code, an integration solution for small hospitals (up to 150 beds) and small physician practice groups ($5-$20M annual revenue) to connect with Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) as a requirement of the healthcare regulatory changes coming in 2012. Rick is looking at Medi-Code as an investment opportunity from his angel group, and Rohit is the entrepreneur.  

I advised them to do a thorough segmentation and competitive positioning for the healthcare practice management system market. The competitive analysis they showed me was missing the most relevant players like eClinicalworks and Office Ally, both companies that I have profiled in the Entrepreneur Journeys case studies series. Instead, it had Epic, which only sells to large hospitals and practices, and is therefore not even relevant. 

In addition, I took Rohit through a discussion on a possible OEM strategy that could result in a significant revenue ramp relatively quickly. The key take away from that discussion is: convert potential competitors to partners. If possible, of course. 

And finally, I also took them through a discussion on why this is not a business that can be funded, but rather can be a highly lucrative cash business. And a very large one at that. 

I started doing my free Online Strategy Roundtables for entrepreneurs in the fall of 2008. These roundtables are the cornerstone programming of a global initiative that I have started called One Million by One Million (1M/1M). Its mission is to help a million entrepreneurs globally to reach $1 million in revenue and beyond, build $1 trillion in sustainable global GDP, and create 10 million jobs. In 1M/1M, I teach the EJ methodology, which is based on my Entrepreneur Journeys research, and emphasize bootstrapping, idea validation, and crisp positioning as some of the core principles of building strong fundamentals in early stage ventures. In addition, we are offering entrepreneurs access to investors and customers through our 1M/1M Incubation Radar series. You can pitch to be featured on my blog following these instructions.  

You can listen to the recording of this roundtable here. Recordings of previous roundtables are all available here. You can register for the next roundtable here.

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