There we were tonight, spread out in multiple locations, different continents, all gathered for a conference call. The players were senior management of US based big company XYZ, management of Jerusalem based start-up ABC, and yours truly, Jacob Ner-David, present as the matchmaker and potential investor. To assemble the people took several weeks of planning, juggling everyone’s schedules, time differences, etc. Big company brought SVPs, VPs, Directors, and team members, 6 in all. Start-up had two, CEO and VP, and me.
To spice up the call, and to enable real time presentation of demonstration of the system and service in question, start-up management suggested using one of the many services that allow multi-casting of presentations (we will not disparage the actual provider, but there are many such companies).
Everyone was gathered, mouse at the ready to click on the link provided and start the session...we all clicked and….nothing. Wouldn’t work. ABC management said the usual: “we have used this 20 times, always worked, everyone log out and back in.” We all did, and still nothing. I took it upon myself to fill in the dead space while ABC management muttered about settings and rebooting. Finally I said guys, its not working, I will email out to everyone the powerpoint you wanted to use, but we won’t be able to see the demonstration in real time.
I emailed it out, but by then ABC management were so flustered that they could barely make their way through it. Finally senior XYZ senior person suggested that we stop, because some had already seen the demo working, and going through powerpoint was not productive use of everyone’s time (which I agreed with).
What to learn from all this?
- Never rely completely on technological tools to get your point across. There will be errors/network failures – a good CEO needs to be able to paint a picture even just using their voice.
- If something is not working – move on. Don’t waste time trying to fix it.
- Conference calls are good, but only for moving forward projects – not so good for real time demonstrations. Need to be prepared to just get out there physically – with all of our virtuality, nothing like seeing it in person.
Business development remains an in-person sport, played right. That of course doesn’t match up with very limited start-up travel budgets, but I believe there is no substitute—sometimes you need to just jump on a plane.
Of course, the true breakthrough will come for all of us when we can just say: “Beam me up Scotty.” And pray that there are no bugs in the system!