CEO & Founder | Startup Advisor, Coach, Investor, Interim/Fractional CXO | Innovation Consultant
I have strong expertise in product/market fit, working in the business strategy, product strategy, development, and go-to-market realms throughout my career with startups in a variety of industries (mostly software, some hardware) as well as corporate innovation initiatives. I believe in applying design thinking as well as other frameworks and techniques. How do you figure out what customers want? I can help you with this question.
Fundamentally, fundraising is selling, and there is an art and science to investor development just as there is to customer development. I've been on both sides of the table - raising and investing - and specialize in helping early-stage startups with their pitch, storytelling, and fundraising strategies with proven techniques from years of experience to more effectively convince investors to fund your business. Best way to get started? Book a pitch review for real-time feedback and coaching.
Customers come first. Customer success is a company value and mindset, an organizing principle, and a system of people, processes, and tools. All functions including marketing, sales, account management, customer success, and support need to be tightly interlinked. I led a large customer success organization at Brightcove, set up new teams directly, and advised many startups on the topic. I can give you guidance on strategy, onboarding, retention, organization, processes, and KPIs.
A lot of factors influence your mindset, which ultimately manifests itself in your performance and those around you. As a founder, you will have to hustle and you will have to work hard, but you also need to keep harmony of mind, body, and spirit. I found a happy balance after many years of experimenting. Whether you need help finding blindspots, breaking bad - and starting good - habits, figuring out how to prioritize, or looking for a more sustainable approach to your work, I can help.
When starting a business, some mountains will seem impossible to climb, some days will be dark, and some things will inevitably go wrong. When they do, you as the leader, need to continue to show confidence and conviction to everyone around you, including your team and investors. But who can you talk to? As a coach, about half my time is spent with founders listening, being a sounding board, and helping to think through tough issues. I will be there for you when you need it the most.
I set up and used Intercom at two startups. Use was for marketing, customer acquisition, onboarding, and support. One of the better products out there, and the always-on chat has been made better with Operator.
I have used Salesforce off and on since 2003, when I was working on a startup that integrated a variety of SaaS services for SMBs, including Salesforce. It's creaky, convoluted, and expensive, but Lightning has given it at least some kick needed in the face of new competition (e.g., Pipedrive)
Set up and managed campaigns in Drip for two of my companies. This included newsletters, general broadcasts, and content upgrades. Integrated with several other products.
Launchpad is a Boston-based angel investment group that provides funding to early-stage companies. With 150 members collectively investing $10M per year, we are the largest angel investing group in the Northeast and one of the top three most active groups in the United States.
Gamiphy provides e-commerce engagement tools that help businesses acquire and retain more customers through gamification.
The Realplay platform provides every athlete, coach, recruiter, and parent unprecedented access to video and analytics of the player's performance. The digital video is unmatched by competitors from the amateur to professional levels of sports, applying machine learning and vision to provide advanced analytics and the most meaningful VOD clips revealing player mechanics. And the Realplay online recruiting marketplace provides recruiters and pro-scouts real-time data and eases discovery of the next star recruit.
Walnut Ventures is a group of experienced entrepreneurs and executives who invest in and mentor Boston-area seed and early-stage companies with technology-based B2B or B2C products. Our members have: ► Founded and/or been CEOs of over 20 companies ► Invested in over 200 companies ► Sat on boards of over 125 companies We invest individually but collaborate on due diligence, and syndicate deals with other angel groups. As mentors or board members we: ► Introduce entrepreneurs to other investors ► Connect entrepreneurs with associates who can help with business needs ► Provide advice on sales, marketing, strategy, and fundraising
Making personal training convenient, accessible, and social.
Mashlink is a mobile app that allows users to insert personal video commentary into any video on the web, creating unique and engaging content quickly and easily. Share Mashes on popular social media sites to build your brand, voice your opinion, and make people laugh.
LaunchX gives high-school students the skills and mindset to start real companies. The signature program prepares students for real world success through entrepreneurship, by bringing ambitious youth together from around the globe to build a startup on a team of peer founders.
Groovejar helps ecommerce sites increase revenue, email sign ups, and sales. GrooveJar provides a wide range of website optimization widgets, pop ups, and email lead conversion tools that will help turn visitors into customers.
Digital Marketing and Ecommerce Automation MageMail's mission is helping online retailers to increase revenue through stronger customer engagement. Products include Uplift, a comprehensive but easy to install tool set for email marketing campaign automation with major ecommerce platforms such as Magento. Key features include abandoned cart recovery; product up-sells and cross-promotions; win-back campaigns; customer specific personalization; real-time inventory; and analytics. MageMail was founded by Kalen Jordan, a luminary in the Magento community, and is backed by FE International, the leader in SaaS M&A advisory services.
Coaching startups in the accelerator program. My focus is on strategy; product and service design/development/delivery; go-to-market; and operational/organizational scaling.
MassChallenge is the world's largest and most startup-friendly accelerator and the first to support high-impact early stage entrepreneurs through accelerators in Boston, London, Jerusalem, Lausanne, and Mexico City. With a no-equity and not-for-profit position, as well as unrivaled access to corporate partners, MC is obsessed with helping entrepreneurs across any industry. Highest-impact startups are rewarded through a competition to win a portion of several million dollars in equity-free cash awards.
Humanizing Digital I led Mobiquity’s Strategy and Innovation consulting practice. At Mobiquity, we envision, design, create, and commercialize compelling, game-changing digital products and solutions across all channels and devices combining our strengths in strategy, design, data science, and engineering. Data and technology drive what we do and human experience inspires how we do it. We not only advise clients but also love to build and launch products using realistic and pragmatic strategies. We are hunters, nerds, thinkers, tinkerers, and true believers in creating moments that change people’s lives. We are makers, designers, marketers, data scientists, and coders who take pride in what we craft. And we are bright minds who find inspiration in those moments of engagement that we deliver to millions of people every day. We work within a wide variety of industries and have deep expertise sectors including healthcare, consumer, retail, communications, financial services, and the Internet of Things.
Revolutionizing digital video. Professional Services Transformation. Brightcove is a leading provider of cloud/SaaS products and services for digital video management, distribution, monetization (AVOD / SVOD / TVOD), and virtual TV / OTT. It’s a terrific company with really smart, nice people who are passionate about their work. I was hired to 1) transform the unprofitable professional services group that was limited to basic implementation services into a global, high-end consulting team that is a strategic pillar and to 2) head all aspects of the group’s strategy, sales, marketing, operations, and delivery worldwide. After the transformation, the group blended digital agency, consultancy, and SI capabilities and obtained profitability for the first time in 10 years. The new capabilities enabled us to work with major media companies and digital marketers to revolutionize video experiences, monetization, and brand engagement across desktop, mobile, game consoles, smart TVs and other connected platforms. Offerings include the following: ► Advisory: Strategy, design, architecture, and planning services that entail envisioning and defining digital video strategies and roadmaps while designing innovative, market-leading experiences. ► Advanced Platform Solutions: Holistic solutions that extend the power of Brightcove products; speed go-to-market; enable end-user experiences (e.g., Your Brand TV, Rapid vX, OTT Jump Start). ► Custom Development: Design, development, and integration services to create custom experiences, apps, and operational systems. ► Customer Success: Onboarding, implementation, development, and operational support to ensure that clients are successful with Brightcove products.
Global Innovation. frog is a firm with more than 42 years of global product innovation and design history and works with the world’s leading companies, helping clients to create and bring to market meaningful products and services. With an interdisciplinary team of more than 1,600 designers, business and technology strategists, and software engineers, frog delivers connected experiences that span multiple technologies, platforms, and media. frog works across a broad spectrum of industries, including consumer electronics, telecommunications, healthcare, energy, automotive, media, entertainment, education, finance, retail, and fashion. At frog, I worked on a diverse set of projects including: ► Development of a new mobile device platform with AT&T, Samsung and Qualcomm. ► For a consumer products company, design of signature experiences for a branded, omni-channel customer journey across physical and digital retail channels (web, mobile, social, interactive displays). ► Advising GE Energy on a new venture to create disruptive business models, products and services for the Industrial Internet/Internet of Things by applying design-led innovation and emerging technologies. ► Designing and planning Australian telco Telstra's strategy to transform the online shopping and service experience. ► Strategic planning for a telco's emerging businesses including machine-to-machine (M2M), IoT, and Cloud/SaaS. ► Strategy and design for a real-time business analytics and collaboration app for GE Aviation executives (tablet, smartphone and web). ► Design research and strategy to create GE Asset Management’s digital presence.
Account leadership. Led a $20M+, 360+ employee business of strategic, Fortune 50 accounts in banking and financial services in NYC. Virtusa was a public technology consulting and services company with about 4500 employees and strengths in Web 2.0 and 3.0, agile methodologies, mobile, business consulting, and financial services software. I was accountable for account P&L, sales, client relationships, delivery, services development and Go-To-Market strategy and leading a team of client service and program managers. The portfolio grew from $5M to $20M+ in 18 months, which contained clients such as Citi, FIS, Bear Stearns and JP Morgan Chase - one of Virtusa's largest clients - and which spanned retail and business banking; investment banking; treasury services; asset management; and commercial lending.
The flat world. Bangalore tiger. NerveWire was acquired by Wipro as major offshore companies expanded to offer consulting services. The NerveWire team and assets from other consultancy acquisitions formed the basis for Wipro Consulting. I was accountable for client management, sales, and delivery of business and technology consulting services to several F100 clients and also led development of the business transformation and innovation competency, which included business and technology strategy, architecture and innovation; process re-engineering; organizational design; and global capabilities development. Representative Engagements: ► BlueSpark: Member of the client leadership team behind the strategy, development, and launch of a new, multi-year venture for a Fortune 100's innovation arm, establishing a subsidiary offering the first integrated suite of cloud-based (SaaS) business products and services. I led business design and an integrated product & program management function and was responsible for designing and managing the product life-cycle (strategy, definition, planning, and development) and unifying business functional areas (e.g. marketing, sales, and customer care). ► Nationwide Bank: Advisor to the client leadership team of a new retail and online bank. I led the business architecture function, overseeing business design, user and technology requirements and interfaces with bank partners. ► Ofoto.com: Diagnosed and defined improvements to and created the roadmap for Ofoto's product and software development process (eventually KodakGallery.com, Kodak’s online division). ► Credit Suisse: Led consulting services for a $100M+, IT and BPO outsourcing initiative. Engagements spanned software process and quality improvement; managed services transformation; and CoE/outsourcing process design and management methods.
The B2B wave. I joined NerveWire as one of the first four members of the team opening the European office in Amsterdam (see HBS case study at http://bit.ly/ofVf5S). NerveWire was founded by consulting and design industry veterans to create a new type of consultancy and SI firm with the capabilities to help clients with the increasing disruption of their markets and industries, many of which were B2B. With our blended strategy, design and technology disciplines we consulted not only on digital strategy and e-business solutions but also assisted clients with innovating business models, reconstructing value chains and developing new digital products. I carried a wide range of responsibilities and assignments in strategy/business consulting; software project management; and business, practice and competency development. Much of my work revolved around new ventures of larger organizations. Representative Engagements: ► Cartref Science: Led conception and design for an online services business, a new venture of a global publishing and media company. ► EquiLend: Led design and development of a multi-million dollar release of a global securities lending platform, a new venture formed for a consortium of ten of the world’s largest financial services firms. ► Philips Semiconductor: Global supply chain strategy and PMO implementation for the $6B semiconductor manufacturer. ► Venture Capital Firm: Conducted due diligence for a private equity firm for its planned investment in a banking solutions provider. ► FurnishNet: Led the business architecture and design of a new online market in the consumer products industry. ► PTC: Consulted on the design and implementation of program, financial and operational processes for the European professional services business of this $1B engineering software provider. ► Firm development: Key lead and contributor to NerveWire's methodologies (strategy through development) and program management discipline.
The digital media world. The draw of working on the leading edge led me to the fast evolving world of Internet consultancies. NMP was a pioneer in blending the three essential disciplines of design, business strategy, and technology to create innovative web experiences. We worked for companies such as AOL, MCI Worldcom, Eli Lilly and the Weddingchannel.com as well as major non-profits and NGOs such as the World Wildlife Fund, UNICEF, Red Cross and Greenpeace. Shortly after starting at NMP, I joined the company's new office in Amsterdam. Eventually, NMP was one of 12 companies acquired by AppNet, which went public and was then acquired by CommerceOne. NMP became the company's consulting and interactive services arm. My responsibilities included client and project management for European programs; digital strategy consulting; and software design and development activities. Representative Engagements: ► World Wildlife Fund: $3M per year program with the world’s largest environmental organization. The award winning work with WWF was at the leading edge of devising new ways to use the Internet to drive funding, branding, advocacy and connections with constituents. Projects included developing WWF's Internet strategy; designing and developing national Web sites, intranets and related applications (e.g., the precursor to blogging from the field in remote areas!); designing and managing its global hosting service; and architecting a global knowledge management and imaging system. ► Memec: European delivery of a $9M global program with a $6B electronics distributor. Projects included strategy consulting, Web design/development, and systems integration services. ► Other engagements: Developing a business plan for a European ASP; advising on Internet initiatives for a telecommunications company; and leading due diligence for a European VC, including a tech infrastructure assessment for an insurance start-up and a business plan assessment for a European auction site.
The nascent Internet. I decided that I needed corporate experience and joined Bell Atlantic (now Verizon) as a member of a $400M expressTRAK program, a complete redesign of the end-to-end customer and service management life cycle and related BSS/OSS technologies. Responsibilities included business analysis and software engineering activities across the entire development life cycle to create software for media such as CD-ROM, EDI and the emerging Web.
The PC era. My first startup experience. I was the first employee and member of the core team that established this startup as a leading technology product and service provider – including its own line of PCs - to universities, students, and small to mid-size businesses through retail and direct channels, determined to go up against the likes of Apple and Dell. I'm proud of what we were able to accomplish. I learned a tremendous amount from the company's founders and the time there ignited my passion for startups and innovation. I had a wide range of responsibilities in an entrepreneurial environment with a particular focus on establishing operational processes, product development, testing, distribution, and customer service. The company was recognized nationally for its growth and its products and services, including listing in the Inc. 500, Virginia Business Magazine’s Vanguard award (fastest growing, privately held retail company in Virginia (1992-1995), Virginia Technology Fast 50, Blue Chip Enterprise Initiative Award, Virginia Chamber of Commerce awards, and Computer Retail Week's ranking of the 200 largest computer companies in the country. Favorite Memory: There were many. But, man, we were scrappy in the beginning. Our only and very old delivery van starts smoking and breaks down while preparing to deliver PCs to Virginia Tech students. Move all boxes and equipment into my beater Hyundai hatchback (how did all that fit?!?). Make 270 mile trip to Blacksburg to keep our commitments to customers.
A top public university in the U.S.
Studies in innovation strategy and execution.
I loved my first mentee session with Erik. Erik really knows his stuff and gave me some potential solutions for structuring future deals with my (early-stage) startup clients. I also left the session with a handful of resources and a framework that I can use in the future. Overall, the best 30 minutes spent. I would definitely recommend Erik to anyone who iss looking for advice in the areas of angel investing.
The session with Eric helped me get answers and an outside perspective to the questions that were bugging me, that I wouldn't have been able to get from my own network. Eric was super patient and I could feel he wanted to help me solve my challenges. I recommend Eric to anyone who needs help in his area of expertise.
Erik and I connected to discuss my startup's investor pitch deck. He's a veteran in the startup space and so he knows exactly how to craft a great pitch. His feedback was really insightful and will be a huge help as we continue to iterate. He's also just a really great guy, so I highly recommend talking with him. Thanks, Erik!
Erik provided invaluable insight. The business cost to his wisdom, experience, and knowledge is going to help us serve our clients more efficiently and be even more effective. Erik sincerely has the ability to CHANGE YOUR LIFE. What is 1 paradigm shift worth to your family and business?
Erik gave me relevant tips for the very early stage we are with our startup. I could already adapt the way we approach and pitch to companies and we already got better feedback than before. I'll definitely recommend talking to Erik.
Being able to access the insights of Erik's extensive startup experience was a pleasure. GrowthMentor is in a transition period now, and I had a variety of different business related issues I wanted some 3rd party perspective on. Erik delivered, and then some.
Erik Bullen is very good at forming mutual trust and understands the business challenges of being a startup. He conveys well the realities for giving advice as being more of an art than a science. A most worthy candidate to any concern and I’m enthusiastically endorsing him as a mentor for your professional endeavors.