Roberge of Hubspot: Accelerating sales is about having an always-be-helping mentality

NEW YORK–Instead of having the always selling mentality, Mark Roberge, chief revenue officer of Hubspot, suggests having an always-be-helping mentality.

Roberge’s sales talk last December 17 at Enterprise Sales Meetup in midtown Manhattan was especially meaningful as it’s not too often you hear someone from a programming background lead sales teams.

The topic, Sales Acceleration Formula, was the same title of his book based on his experience taking a job in sales at Hubspot and coming from a programming background.

“My professional world has been viewed through this lens of data technology and science

And it was that lens that I challenge the norms of traditional sales executions,” he said.

Roberge said he got his first deal in when he was 23. “You have to network your way,” he said as he pointed out the significance of hiring the right people for your business.

He offered several tips on how accelerate sales through his mission of predictable, scalable revenue growth:

  1. Hire the same type of successful salespeople
  2. Train the salespeople the same way
  3. Provide each salespeople with the same quality and quantity of leads
  4. Have salespeople work the leads using the same process.

For him, the key to success is finding salespeople who have, in order, coachability, curiosity and work ethic. Curiosity is important, especially those who ask questions, because it indicates their genuine interest.

Not many people have a positive response to the word sales but companies know they need it along with marketing, social media and content development. “Read blogs about prospects, follow their Twitter feed and retweet tweets,” he said.

Hubspot hired a journalist from the New York Times as its 20th hire when other companies wait longer. “Try to get journalist mindset,” he said.

Other sales tips:

  • Make sure things are clear with sales to avoid infighting
  • Have a repeatable playbook
  • Think of what the buyer is going through. Then build a, sales process that supports it
  • Sales contests are effective but make the team the winner
  • Have a unique context to understand inbound marketing

Caring for your cat and skin with a device and app

NEW YORK—It was not your typical meetup in the city. For one, it was scheduled on a Friday night last December 18 (most meetups in the city are from Monday to Thursday). Second, it was held at a store, the new Microsoft Flagship Store on the shopping district of Fifth Avenue. But the crowd trickled in to watch the presentation of devices at the meetup curiously billed “Understanding Live Video Streaming with Periscope and Meerkat.”

Lee Miller presented Kittyo, a Kickstarter-initiated device (priced at $249) and app for viewing, recording, playing with and dispensing treats to pet cats. It is available on iOS and Android .

“Cats love chasing laser (beams),” Miller said, showing how the lasers work to preoccupy the cats, especially when their owners are not around. As soon as he showed the lasers, the audience crowded around the device, impressing many, even the shoppers curious to see what was going on. To keep it from tipping over, Miller said it can be harnessed with a clamp.

If you’re curious how long it took Kittyo to materialize, Miller said 2 years. Someone suggested having a cat to go with Miller’s demo but everyone knows how nonchalant cats can be–and in a crowded space like the Microsoft Store, a challenging proposition.

How would you like a device to be your personal skin coach?

OKU is an iPhone connected anti-aging device and app designed specifically to help you get your skin into its best shape.

How does it work? You connect OKU to your iPhone, download the App, answer a few simple questions about yourself to get started, scan your skin using its device and get real-time, personalized skincare advice.

It reportedly uses a special and safe light source to illuminate the skin’s layers. This visible light penetrates a few millimeters of the skin and its imager reads tissue structure like oil glands, collagen and elastin.

The meetup was hosted by Silicon Alley Council.


German startups Keeeb, Night Advisor come to NY

By Dennis Clemente

German startups in New York to seek funding, gain more exposure and reach

NEW YORK–German startups Keeeb, Favendo and Night Adivsors took turns demonstrating their platforms at the German Accelerator NY last December 15 at Rise NY. 

Conrad Gulla of Keeeb got the most votes for his presentation of his platform. Touted as a personal Google for everyone, it helps you clip anything online, similar to how Evernote’s Skitch and other similar tools work but one that you can even put to good use on MS Word as well.

Gulla said the company has mostly relied on word of mouth to reach 75,000 beta users at the moment, some of them making productive use of their clips at $9 a month with large organizations paying higher for its additional services.

“We started with large organizations in mind. If we can get them into this product category, we (believe we can get the small companies),” he said.

Keeeb is hoping to get a slice of the e-commerce industry which raked in $87 billion dollars in the third quarter with 200,000 etailers enjoying that windfall. Amazon even managed to get 15% of the pie through its constant consumer innovation.

The German startup is seeking Series A funding within 3 to 6 months.

The panelists who took turns asking the presenters some questions were Jessica Peltz-Zatulove, principal of kbs+ ventures; Deepen Parikh, venture partner of Interplay Ventures and Mitchelle Kleinhandler, venture partner of  Scout Ventures.

Would you believe the GPS was invented in 1978? It certainly sparked a revolution in how people interact with the world around them. In the digital age, it has become more than just a navigation application. GPS is on Google Now, Google Maps, Foursquare, Uber and Waze.

With Favendo, David Keil said it has brought GPS indoors using beacons installed at retail stores, for instance. “Retail is just the beginning,” he said. It ultimately seeks to become the search for the physical store, even car finder.

“We are also working with hospitals now,” he said. Eventually, he wants to add airports, museums, train stations and office buildings.

The bulk of sales comes mostly from its software. Keil said Favendo has amassed $2.3 million in revenue  with 50 installations and 30,120 beacons deployed to date. The beacons cost $25 to $30 each. It charges a monthly service fee that depends on the size of the venue. Customers have to download the app.

How much do NYC venues need to earn per night? More than 250 customers but the money earned also goes to the average rental fee of $54,000 a month. That’s New York for you.

Last presenter, Johannes Herzer, CEO of Night Advisor, talked about how his company brings people to venues and how it addresses the limited time for online  marketing. Its Saas tool empowers venues and events to create and manage ad campaigns in minutes.

Since inception a year ago, it has raised $40K from angel investors, including club owners with an average revenue per customer of $165 month.

Big Data or The Force? A Star Wars night at Data Driven night

NEW YORK–Would you rely on Big Data or The Force? It was a Star Wars evening for the Data-Driven meetup last December 14 at Bloomberg, especially for Nick Mehta, CEO of Gainsight who sounded giddy using the epic fantasy flick as reference for his presentation. He was joined by Arcadia Data, MapR and Datameer.

Gainsight offers a platform for teams to coordinate more efficiently, track business outcomes and streamline operations.

Because Methta considers data from four years ago to be entirely useless, he has some suggestions: “Focus on recent data (data quality), analyze by segment (data variance), understand models, track and automate actions and solve for leading metrics (data points),” addding how he focuses on helping customers get the right data.

Everybody was in a light mood at the meetup now with 10,000 members, now one of the biggest tech meetup groups. Even Shant Hovespian of Arcadia Data teased host Matt Turck for his uncanny resemblance to Ryan Seacrest, letting the 400 attendees a good look of the French man’s photo beside that of the TV and radio personality.

Arcadia Data builds Unified Visual Analytics and BI Platform for big data as its way of connecting business users to Hadoop. It unifies visual exploration and back-end data analytics in one integrated enterprise platform that runs natively on your Hadoop cluster.

It also converges the visual, analytics and data layers to provide accelerated access to all data stored within Hadoop, and support net-new analytics on granular datasets.

In creating business value from Big Data, Hovespian pointed out 10 commandments. These included “thou shalt not move Big Data; it’s expensive. It’s big….Push all the computation down close to the data.”

He added, “ODBC/JDBC connectors aren’t always enough but be careful having to extract data out to data marts & cubes.”

Having to extract data out of the system is slow and defeats the purpose of having a specialized architecture. On-cluster BI (business intelligence) is now possible.

The second commandment for him: “Thou shalt not steal or violate big data….“Security is serious. All the serious Big Data from vendors have implemented some form of security, your BI tool should support it,” he said.

A third commandment, “thou shalt not pay for every user or gigabyte,” asks for common sense. “Big data is cost effective if it’s used properly. Be wary of pricing models that penalize you for increased adoption.”

Other commandments for “analyzing thine data,” and “not waiting for results.”  He said, ”Build an OLAP cube. Create temp tables. Take samples of the data.”

Overall, he suggests finding “the right balance if you’re dealing with several pain points.”

M.C. Srivas of MapR had a lot of interesting things to say. “How much data do self-driving cars produce? 1 terabytye per hour,” he said.   

Srivas said it took him to two years to build MapR, which delivers business-critical production success using the MapR Converged Data Platform, 100 percent binary compatible with the Apahe Hadoop distributed file system to ensure plug-and-play compatibility and no vendor lock-in.

“Hire people not like you. Not from the same DNA,” he said.

A core module of the MapR Platform is MapR-GS, a modern, read-write capable, NFS-mountable distributed file system written in C++ that directly accesses storage hardware. It’s built to process both distributed files, database tables, and event streams in one unified layer This enables companies to support operational and analatic apps in one cluster, which can reduce costs as one grows big data deployment.

Stefan Groschupf of Datameer is lowering the barrier to big data analytics. The company aims to make it easy for everyone.

If it sounds intimidating, one can say the company sees big data as a way to end world hunger and solution to complex busness problems.

‘No two people have same understanding of info architecture’-Covert

NEW YORK–“How do you make sense of any mess?” That was the first question information architect Abby Covert threw at the audience last December 10 at the Designers & Geeks meetup at the Spotify offices.

That is the challenge in a world faced with increasing amount of complexities. “No two people have the same understanding of information architecture. That’s how challenging mess is,” she said. The obvious hurdle is also about how Information is not something you can put up or down.


Information architecture, she said, is how we arrange parts to be understandable as a whole. She suggests looking closely at language:

  • How many words are you using in your organization.
  • How many duplicative nouns does your team deal with?
  • How many duplicative verbs are related to those nouns?

For the first bullet point, think about how you want to use, say, edit or modify–and figure out if they are the same thing. Controlled vocabularies (Covert’s term) or what publications call style guides can help a company speak with a voice that is theirs to learn.


Going by nouns or verbs, she cites how “one label per noun or verb is not always the best way to go. Simplifying is not the goal. The goal is to know what you mean when you say what you say.”

Covert said she actually gets hugs when she helps companies control their vocabularies. The trick is to write down the words you don’t use and not to use words used by competitors.

To start a controlled vocabulary, she suggests going through this exercises:.

  • Identify & define nouns first
  • Identify nested nouns
  • Eliminate duplicative nouns
  • Attach verbs to nouns
  • Beware of adjectives

But nothing is going to happen if organizations wait for someone to do this. Covert suggest you “be the one to slay the semantic dragon in your organization.”.


It’s also crucial to know “there is no right way” if you talk to anyone that deals with information architecture.


For someone who likes to organize stuff, Covert said she argued with her partner once about how to organize their vinyl records. She initially argued why it should be by last name but later found out how most music-streaming sites actually use the first names of artists.

“Taxonomy is rhetoric,” she said. “That means what matters is reaching your goals.”

What tools can you use to organize your thoughts? “Card sorting is a good step. This means using Post-Its, for instance. Pictures also give people something in common to point to. Visualize something that is hard to explain. “I use Omnigraffle for word association,” she said.

Other thoughts she tackles, which comes in her book, “How to Make Sense of Any Mess”: “Be careful of reductionism. Acknowledge complexity. With agreement comes momentum.”

Reviewing 2015, Moat looks forward to measuring viewability on YouTube in 2016

NEW YORK–Last Dec 9, Uncubed took the holiday season as an opportunity for startups like Moat to discuss their 2015 accomplishments and future plans at its offices in the Lower East Side. By 2016, Moat, an independent SaaS Marketing analytics firm focused on transforming online brand advertising through trusted measurement and analytics, will reportedly be the first third party to measure viewability on YouTube.

Several leading publishers like Verve, agencies, platforms and social networks have already adopted Moat Analytics as a way for them to maximize digital advertising results through viewability tracking as well user and advertising experiences. Twitter is onboard as well.

Founded in 2010, the company develops technologies and products for brand advertisers and premium publishers. Now it measures in-app mobile viewability, increasing efficiency and transparency across mobile campaigns.

“Advertising has become so complex. We can determine if ad viewing is human or not,” said Ryan Rende of Moat. “Measuring ad effectiveness in most devices is important.”

For those who don’t know what Moat offers, it claims to know how long people watch an ad online and what you can do with that knowledge. “If you watched 4 seconds of ad then perhaps you can just say 4 seconds is an effective ad,” he said.

It does this by injecting snippets of code inside an ad.  The amount of data the company processes every day is now 30 terabytes a day.

Last October, the company was accredited by the MEdia Rating Council (MRC) for mobile viewability for its measurement of viewable ad impressions and relative viewable metrics in both mobile web and mobile in-app.

Moat also provides 100+ real-time attention signals, including in-view impression measurement, exposure time, interaction and other metrics at the campaign, creative, domain and impression levels. It’s been a good year for Moat.

Maurya gives us peek of principles behind upcoming book, Scaling Lean

NEW YORK–“Life’s too short to build something nobody wants,” says Ash Maurya in his talk last December 8 at We Work in Wall Street.

Maurya is the acclaimed author of “Running Lean,” a concise guide that helps you take action in using lean startup and customer development principles. He was at We Work to present his ideas for scaling business–clearly a prelude to his upcoming book, “Scaling Lean.”  

For Maurya, the root cause of a startup’s problem is when solution is perceived as the product. “Your solution is not the product. Your business model is the product.”

“We build needless time building the wrong product,” he stressed. “We need a systematic way for identifying risks– one that doesn’t require guessing.”

Maurya briefly discussed what we can look forward to in his book, Scaling Lean, which he categorized in the following ways: defining progress, seeing waste and achieving breakthrough.

Progress here means traction and how it “matters above everything else, although he also cautioned against gaming it. For him, one has to create and capture value first then you charge and deliver value, knowing “monetizable value is not current revenue but future of revenue.”.

For Maurya, business models cover three things–direct models (one supplier and several customers); multi-sided models (adding value to users first followed by monetization) and the marketplace model, certainly the buzzword this year for the way it has taken AirBnb and Uber to a mainstream audience.

Citing a company that has provided valuable direct-model service and traction, Maurya said Starbucks’ rebranding efforts based on consumer insights made them acknowledge what brings customers to coffeehouses. It certainly works as the third place for home and office. .“They realized the more people spend time (there) the more they are likely to buy,” he said.

Calculating customer lifetime value between $14,000 and $20,000, he points out how the time people spend at the coffeehouse is connected with its revenue and how happy customers drive referral.

Going back to the meta principles of Running Lean, he points out how to document Plan A, identify the riskiest parts of your plan and systematically test plans,

As a proponent of his own business model canvas, does he have anything against a business plan? “I’m not against business plan but its format. But it’s a document that investors want you to write but don’t read.”

Maurya also touched on how to see waste correlates to how we see the customer factory floor. Talking about how every business has a weak link, he reminds us how to avoid premature optimization. It’s important to focus on a single metric.

For more on Ash Maurya and his lean principles, visit


Growing produce at home, managing diabetes everywhere

NEW YORK–Last December 1, Hardware Meetup featured talks from the founders of Grove, OneDrop and Boxee at the Microsoft offices.

Gabe Blanchet, CEO of Grove, showed how food lovers can grow food at home while–get this–fish swims below it. Yes, even it will fit in a cramped New York apartment  .

Imagine an aquarium but with plants growing on top of it. But why fish? The fish process the food they are fed and produce ammonia-rich waste. Beneficial microbes convert the ammonia to nitrates (organic plant fertilizer), simultaneously supplying the plants with nutrients and the fish with clean water. No need for cleaning your tank.

Blanchet recounts how in its early adopter program, he and his team had 50 prototypes before they developed its current iteration,which was made from the startup’s own manufacturing facility, quite an ambitious project and the work shows. Grove even helps you from start to finish the way you it provides you the seeds, fish to add to your tank, and measure the health of your system. You can grow leafy greens, herbs and fruiting crops.

As of last December 1, Grove has already surpassed its targeted $100,000-Kickstarter crowdfunding goal with over $300,000.

Jeff Dachis of OneDrop Today came from the world of digital advertising, the hugely popular Razorfish but switched to designing a USB-like diabetic management device that come in eye-candy colors.    

Dachis said 30 million Americans suffer diabetes and 5 million of them die every year. He hopes to empower 500M people with diabetes with the merging of both software (allowing diabetics to record experiences in restaurants to share with other diabetics) and hardware (giving them an device that makes it easy for them to live their life with the disease).

The default posting feature in its app is public because it wants to foster community-building and allow everyone to share personal behavior-based insights. Dachis is trying to switch mindsets and make managing the disease less intimidating for diabetics. Even the app allows for a personal stream of likes and stickers.

Idan Cohen, cofounder of Boxee before smart TVs were all the rage, talked about how his company got acquired by Samsung. He’s one of the few hardware startup veterans in New York.

Korea’s Samsung reportedly agreed to pay about $30 million for his company. Boxee developed an interface which allows users to record and store content in the Cloud, providing easier access to Internet video content than other applications.

Could he have kept going with Boxee for 7 years that he was running it?  He paused and thought it over before saying yes. It’s hard to give up your baby, after all.

“You have to deal with hardware, retail, distribution and a lot of other things,” he said.

What preoccupies him these days is close to what Grove is doing–growing produce.