DURHAM – Amrit Dhir of Google is in Durham for a series of events from Google for Startups at American Underground designed to help entrepreneurs avoid mistakes and miss opportunities to grow their businesses.
WRAL TechWire’s Chantal Allam caught up with Google’s Head of Startup Connections to talk shop in an exclusive Q&A.
- You’re going to be giving a workshop on best practices for startups looking to partner with larger corporations. What are some of the dos and don’ts of outreach?
I aim to keep the workshop balanced between general advice (e.g. Do: Put yourself in my shoes), and very practical, specific tips (e.g. Don’t: Email me on a Friday afternoon). But I also like for it to be flexible and responsive, feeding off the specific challenges and opportunities of the startups in attendance.
- What are some of the best and some of the worst pitches that you’ve heard at Google?
The best pitches are clear, direct, and solve a problem I and/or my team have and want solved (which usually means that the pitcher has put him/herself in my/our shoes).
The worst pitches I’ve gotten in a business development capacity at Google are the ones where the company just sends me their investor pitch deck: it’s usually quite interesting (I love seeing their financials), but it tells me they haven’t put in the care or effort that I would want and expect from a partner.
- If a pitch is going bad, what’s the best way to rescue it?
I always find that the best, and kindest, thing to do is to give honest and constructive feedback. The pitch-gone-bad is likely not the last pitch the entrepreneur is going to give, so it becomes an opportunity to help him/her improve for the future.
- You’ve also got your own startup story, FTSY. Tell us about that, and what you learned along the way.
FTSY was a fantasy soccer app with a different approach, focused on simplicity and a market-based point value system. My cofounder was a super impressive veteran entrepreneur, and someone I learned a lot from. I learned a ton with FTSY. Most of all, I learned that the startup is likely to become all-consuming. If you don’t make enough room for it, and if you’re not ready to sacrifice for it, it’s likely not going to survive.
- Finally, what take-home advice do your have for entrepreneurs starting out?
Talk to people. When you’re starting out, it’s natural to be self-conscious, to be inclined to be vague, or, in some cases, to think that you need to be secretive. Very infrequently that’s the right answer.
Most of the time, it’s not. Be bold. Be vulnerable. Be brave. Talk to people. You’ll learn about your user, about your competition, about your assumptions. And you’ll learn what will make you better.