2K17, Let’s Make it Real

During the holidays, my mornings were less rushed, and I found myself with a few minutes watching CNBC. The boisterous news team spoke excitedly about the march to Dow 20,000.

After graduating in 1998, I headed to NYC. The M&A market was crazy. When I accepted my job, the firm’s name was Salomon Brothers, by the spring it was Salomon Smith Barney and when I started working there in July it was Salomon Smith Barney a member of Citibank.

I was in the midst of the IPO craze in the Media Investment Bank. I lived the NASDAQ peak in March 2000, and then the avalanche. By 24, I experienced a real crash. Then we all saw it again in 2008. At 41, with a very active angel portfolio, these memories contribute to my evolving framework and maturity.

My teens, Sabrina and Hudson, who incidentally say “Happy 2K17!” love to inquire about our portfolio. Everyday after I ask Hudson about his day, he inquires back about my mine and asks, “What’s new at Capital Factory and Techstars?” Sabrina chimes in, “Are they making money yet? Has their product shipped? Who’s using it? What does it do? Why does anyone care?” Turns out cynical Sabrina is pretty smart.

Obviously, I feel good about my portfolio, or I wouldn’t have selected these awesome companies and teams.

I was chatting with my friend Paul Murphy recently and mentioned that so many of the tech predictions for 2K17 say that this is going to be the year for Deep Learning and AI. If you examine my portfolio, I am obviously a BIG believer in these hard technologies.

In 2K17, let’s commit to bringing forth real technologies. Let’s also commit to preventing hype and over-promises. So, “How do I play a part?”

Disciplined and thorough research. There is nothing more important than knowing who to ask for expert advice and following methodical due diligence processes. I am not an engineer or scientist. I have friends…real friends. The kind that take the time to do analysis, dig in, ask questions, and help make informed, methodical decisions. I am also constantly educating myself about why and how the tech works compared to alternatives so that I can better apply that knowledge to market and customer needs. Sabrina is right, the real question we need to answer is, “Why does anyone care and does it work?”

Be a voice for real science. As we all know, many companies with the best tech, may not be the best at marketing themselves. I relish my role as a conduit between innovators and markets. I love nothing more than promoting the the novel, the first, the new, and the powerful. However, caveating the risks and requirements for success are key.

Authentic Customer Conversations. I understand that I am a bit unique in that I often participate on customer calls. I listen for cues on the real customer problem. Only once we understand exactly what the customer is solving for, then we can craft a solutions and apply our tech.

No over promises. Setting realistic expectations with our teams, our customers, and others is a must. We all want to deliver more, better but let’s make 2K17 the year when we deliver what we promise on time. If we can’t deliver what a customer wants, we need to reset expectations, honestly and quickly. Given my years at Dell, I am hopelessly uncool and still believe in waterfall product management. In 2K17, let’s commit ourselves to real end goals satisfying real needs meeting real deadlines.

Just in case you were wondering, this post was written by Andrea Besikof Kalmans and not an AI bot. Let’s make 2K17 real.

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