Sales Start Up

Creating a Sales Team

A CEO and I recently discussed a sales commission plan for his company. I thought that sharing some of the aspects would also be useful to CEOs who are looking to hire sales people

  1. Should I hire a sales person? – It is often advised that CEOs need to sell as long and as much as possible until they can’t keep up. While this is reasonable advice, it should be thought through. Not all CEOs have the sales attitude and aptitude. They may be doing a disservice to their own company by not having effective sales techniques.
  2. Should I hire a VP of Sales first? – If you are lucky to have a sales person as your co-founder, then this is not a problem. For others, you should think of hiring a VP of Sales, after your 3rd or 4th sales hire.  By that time, you have got some traction and the VP of Sales would be a great addition to put together a scalable sales process and also help in closing deals.
  3. Should I create the incentive structure myself? – If it is possible, have the sales person work with you for a month or so, while you mutually create the incentive structure.
  4. What should Commissions look like? – Yes, this is the bread and butter for sales folks and is the big motivator. You should have a ladder structure for incentives and take into account the following results a) Email with interest from Decision Maker(s) b) Face to Face meetings with Decision Maker(s) c) Signed Deal (of various revenue levels)
  5. When should I pay my sales folks? – You would pay sales folks only when revenues are realized, never before that. If the sales person has succeeded in selling a multiyear deal, his/her commissions need to be calculated only on Year 1 revenues. If the customer is paying a monthly subscription, sales people are expecting their commissions upon the first revenue from customer.
  6. What if the customer cancels? – The customer may cancel for a variety of reasons. Therefore it is not good practice to penalize your sales person for that unfortunate situation. However, if the reason for customer cancellation is due to misrepresentation by your sales person, you should be able to reverse commissions (or withhold some future ones).  When you draw up your sales contract, remember to have a term that addresses customer cancellation scenario.
  7. Should I pay my sales person in company stock? Depends.  Stocks have vesting schedules, voting rights, and risks. While a VP of Sales may agree to be paid in stock for some of their work, it is unlikely that you would find a full time sales person working for equity. So, if you don’t have to, then don’t.

Of course, there are a lot of other details to hash through, but this provides a good framework to think about your sales hire and sales commissions.

Catalyst Conference Start Up

Indoor maps – here we come! is the most recent company that I am advising.’s CEO Will strikes me as a passionate, hard-working and genuine CEO. His mission – Help people find things indoors. Indoors can be anything – your house, whether you are in a conference, an event or in a mall.  Will seeks to transform static indoor maps into searchable, dynamically updatable objects that can be used for many different purposes.

Already, the app is in Google Play and receiving great ratings and lots of downloads.

I can’t wait to see how far this will go.




MIRO Exhibit at SAM

Last night, we had the pleasure of attending an event at Seattle Art Museum. The Alliance of Angels organized a social, followed by a docent led tour of the MIRO exhibit.

Miro was a contemporary of Picasso and was a painter and sculptor. I liked the sculptures very much as they were unique, detailed, and the use of everyday things to make them gave them an interesting twist.

My wife Jayashree had some good observations as we headed back. She compared Picasso’s evolutionary style to Miro’s consistent style. The evolution of an artist vs an artist who stuck to a consistent theme for a large body of work is a topic, I must assume for art Historians.

It was good to catch up with colleagues and their other halves in an informal setting.

Our director’s comparison of Art work and the work of an entrepreneur was spot on. I had heard a similar comparison in the TiECon keynote by Romesh Wadhwani, where he said “Entrepreneurs are every bit as creative as artists.  They just have a bigger canvas”.

Happy Memorial Day! Through the history of our planet, the powers that be have sent so many people to the battlefield and many never came back. We can just take a moment to remember them.


Conference Entrepreneurship Start Up TieCon

TiECon 2014

I spent 2 days in San Jose taking in my first TiECon. It was certainly impressive from content and networking point of view.

The tracks were Big Data, IoT, Cloud &Infrastructure, Healthcare, Entrepreneurship, Nexgen Tech Services.

There was a big Exhibition Hall with about 100 venodors.

In general, the attendees were very friendly, very informal and embraced interactions. It was clear that Networking IS a primary purpose of this conference.

Tracks were stellar. I attended IoT, Cloud, Entrepreneurship mostly. I also participated in the MentorConnect session. There was only one session in which a panelist swore 🙂

Keynotes were particularly good.  Rakeysh Om Mehra, Romesh Wadhwani, Shahid Khan connected with the audience quite well. 

With lots of business cards in hand, I am now armed. With some key learnings, it is back to the task of how to guide my partners effectively.

Did get to try Uber twice. I have to agree it is disruptive. Saved me 20% on two trips. Taxi Cab companies need to respond with better technology and competitive prices and not by pressing the regulatory panic button.


Fund Raising HomeGuruz

Glad to be helping HomeGuruz out

I got introduced to Patrick from HomeGuruz recently. After a few conversations, I felt that I could really help him achieve his business aspirations.

We are mapping the next steps from a technology perspective on how to move from a manual business process to an automated scalable business process.

The traction is palpable. Patrick is on the phone a lot with customers and service professionals. Over the next several months, my goal is to get him spend less time on the phone and more time  planning for the growth of the business. Meanwhile, we need to convince investors to fund the company. The journey begins…