This is part two of a five part series sponsored by Under the Radar aimed at helping innovative startups attract the attention of C-level executives. (Previously: Biren Gandhi of Cisco.) Meet Peter and hear how he manages technology at Under the Radar 2013, May 22-23, in San Francisco. Register today: www.utrconf.com.
Debbie Landa is the CEO of Under the Radar.
Debbie Landa: How many times a week do you get pitched by startups to try or buy their product?
Peter Yared: Too many to count. The best way to approach us is through an introduction from someone we know and then to email us directly with your value proposition, screenshots, and a working product link.
Landa: What does every startup want?
Yared: Just 30 to 60 minutes. But the problem is that I don’t have time. Make an effort to clearly communicate what your product does over email and on your website so that we can quickly assess whether or not it is a fit. If it’s a fit, then we’ll request a face-to-face meeting.
Landa: So what’s your vetting process for a new product?
Yared: We will have one of our business units test out the product. If they like it, chances are that our other business units will like it too.
Landa: What is the last company whose product you bought and implemented?
Yared: Livefyre commenting. We were one of their first customers and currently run it almost network-wide. It’s fantastic and they have been great to work with as they grow.
Landa: What are your big pain points in terms of building out your technology stack?
Yared: Mobile infrastructure, private cloud, and ETL backlog.
Landa: What is typical sales cycle from pitch to adoption of a new product?
Yared: Deals take about three to six months to go from initial meeting to trial to legal to deployment.
Landa: What are your challenges in adopting the products of early stage companies?
Yared: Generally speaking, the products and organizations are not mature enough to deal with a company of our scale.
Landa: What’s your advice for startups pitching you to use their products?
Yared: The best way to get a company to use your product is to make it accessible. That is, are we able to go to your website, learn what it does, and try it out? This is a fantastic way to get us as a customer. Atlassian, for example, does this very well. If your website is nondescript and we have to schedule a phone call to learn about what it does, it is pretty painful. For example, I can download Oracle’s and IBM’s infrastructure software – but, for whatever reason, many startups don’t let you do this.
Also, it is extremely helpful for a startup to have a domain expert on staff: someone who has worked in a large IT department, understands how companies like ours work, how we adopt products, and how our decision-making process works.
Landa: And how about the worst pitch you’ve received?
Yared: Unfortunately, many of pitches we get aren’t very good. They universally ask for a 30-minute meeting and, typically, there has been little time spent figuring out how the product fits into our portfolio or why we’d be interested. I once received a pitch that was centered on how Showtime used a certain product and how it could be useful to CBS. Problem is, Showtime is a CBS property!
Peter Yared is the CTO/CIO of CBS Interactive, a top ten Internet destination, and was previously the founder and CEO of four enterprise infrastructure companies that were acquired by Sun, VMware, Webtrends and TigerLogic. Peter regularly writes about technology trends for CNET and has also written for the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, AdWeek — and for VentureBeat.
Top photo: Sarah Ackerman/Flickr