Monday, October 19, 2009

Exemplar Vice President and Atty Jessica Manganello Interviewed @ DART Boston

We hate to toot our own horns (actually...hmm... not really), but it seems Boston can't get enough of Exemplarites these days. Click here to watch Exemplar VP Jessica Manganello, Esq. talk about entrepreneurial growth challenges and finding that "secret sauce" that will aid a company on its path to success. Way to go, Jessica! You do Exemplar proud every day.

Here are some of the highlights of the interview **PLEASE NOTE: These are selected quotes and may not be verbatim**:

Webber's comments about Exemplar:

"The Exemplar model is different from the traditional law firm factory."

"Your secret sauce is:

• Your hiring practice;
• Your decisionmaking practice;
• Your billing practice."

[With regard to the hiring process]: "People chosen to work with you must pass a litmus test."

"You [sic] focus on and invent new language – e.g., customer vs. client."

[On Exemplar's Full Service Model]: "You’re not in the law business as it is simply defined. In other words, you are not simply doing legal work for a client. You are also in the consigliore business. You’re adding advice and counsel and strategic business help, which is why all lawyers are educated in business or have business experience. You’re giving organizations that come to you for help more than legal help; you’re giving them ‘counsel’. A ‘trust consigliore’ is what businesses need today. This is a different and a great business."

[On expanding the team]:

Moderator: As concerns human capital, you have a young core team and want to bring in an older generation to work with you. During our discussions Jessica, you mentioned that you were nervous about this process.

Jessica: We have a ‘no asshole’ rule. We have slow growth because we are protective of our model. Yet, we don’t want everyone to be like us. While the young people are excited about the new model, the older people are hesitant about it because it is so different. It is a challenge growing when you bring in someone who is older and more experienced, but is answering to you or other attorneys who have tattoos or high heels. Even when you work collaboratively, older attorneys ask for coffee and we say Whoa! What? It presents a challenge to your culture.

[On Inspiration and Best Ideas of the Firm]:

Where do you get your best ideas from, in terms of firm and future?

Jessica: When we are sitting around drinking we have inspirations concerning our core values and how they can be implemented. We are currently going through a rebranding, have created a new logo and are launching a new website.

Our branding person asked the firm:
• If your firm was a person, what would it look like?
• What music would it listen to?
• If your firm was a politician, what would its platform be?
• If your firm was a food, what would it taste like?

The cornerstone of our company is to keep social ideas running.

Check out the whole interview for more insight not only into Exemplar, but into best practices for building YOUR entrepreneurial venture!

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Mismatch between what science knows and what business does

By: Gerrit Betz

The news is in, and the way we have been incentivizing work for decades has been proven to be harmful to productivity. Carrots and Sticks are on the way out. Worker autonomy is on the way in.

That is the gist of a recent talk by Dan Pink, a former speechwriter to Al Gore, a published author, and a contributing editor to WIRED magazine.

Dan makes a compelling case for reevaluating how we structure incentives for employees and even ourselves. He describes a social science experiment called the "Candle Problem," designed in 1945, where participants are asked to accomplish a simple task. The task has a very simple solution that requires some creativity to discover. So when a modern experimenter revived the experiment and timed two groups to see which could solve it faster, the results were surprising.

When participants are told that fastest participants received a cash reward, they do significantly worse. It takes them, on average, three minutes longer to reach the solution than people who were simply told the average time it should take to find the solution.

Dan explains that traditional rewards work well when there is a "simple set of rules and a clear destination" because "rewards . . . narrow our focus, concentrate the mind. Where you just see the goal right there, zoom ahead straight to it, they work well . . . . But for the real candle problem . . . the solution is on the periphery." In fact, as the cash prize increases, people do even worse.

The implications for modern work of all kinds are staggering. We've seen straight-forward jobs like manufacturing either go overseas or become automated by machines and computers. We're left with nothing but "Candle Problems" with no clear rules and many possible solutions.

The presentation really hits home for me, because my candle problem is often legal research, or crafting arguments, and trust me-rushing in head-first on either of those is a great way to spend a long time going nowhere.

You'll have to watch the rest of the clip (runtime 18:40) for the juicy details and snappy jokes, but in the end Dan suggests that intrinsic, internal rewards (like granting employees greater autonomy) are more effective than extrinsic, carrot-and-stick incentives.

What are your "Candle Problems?" How are you going to approach them from now on?

Gerrit is a legal intern with Exemplar Law Partners, LLC.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Born Like This: New Study Finds Entrepreneurial Drive Could be Genetic

By: Ben Dockendorff

A recent study suggests that prevalent entrepreneurial traits may be heritable. The study, conducted by Scott A. Shane, made preliminary findings that certain common “entrepreneurial” traits are passed through DNA. These traits include the tendency to identify business opportunities and start new businesses, self employment income, and personality traits such as extraversion, openness, and sensation-seeking. According to the study, there are common underlying genetic schemes that support these characteristics.

Well I guess you can’t argue with DNA, and as the famous Ron Bergundy once said, “It’s science…” But doesn’t circumstance count for something? It has to. Entrepreneurs are risk takers, go getters, and pro-active self starters. These are qualities that—if not acquired early through adopting the values of one’s surroundings—aren’t likely to be acquired at all. An individual’s attitude, perception and values toward money and business are heavily influenced by their parents. While there is a strong link between a parent’s education and the likely education of their children, I would argue the same goes for professional values. It follows then, that an entrepreneurial upbringing fosters an entrepreneurial attitude, and this may have very little to do with DNA.

What happens to a child with the “entrepreneurial” DNA that grows up with a nuclear safety technician father and homemaker-mother? Does this affect the child’s chances of squeezing value from their economically adventurous genes? I suppose the question comes down to “Nature vs. Nurture”—and according to “Wedding Crashers”—nature wins every time.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Audissey Guides Gets Props from Forbes! VOTE!

Hi folks! I just love it when our customers achieve success in their businesses and invite us to share in that success. One of our customers, Audissey Guides, has been selected as a semi-finalist in Forbes' Boost Your Business Contest. Can I get a WOOT WOOT?? Audissey Guides is pretty much owns, I won't lie; they works with museums, towns and other places to put together audio tours for your iPod. Each tour is completely unique and has you interacting with the environment; not merely hearing about it. Interactive entertainment, anyone? Kick ass.

So, as entrepreneurs, want do we do for each other? We VOTE. So do it, yo! And a little secret? You can vote once for each email address you have... sneaky...! Have an amazing day, entrepreneurs.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Before Approaching the VC, Know This

Talk to

• Your lawyer or accountant about seeking VC funding, chances are they can refer you to someone in their network that can help you, there’s no need to re-invent the wheel…
• Someone you know who received VC funding and gain from their insight, preferably in your same sector.

Be prepared to

• Submit very sensitive information such as your credit history as well as some proprietary info
• Be grilled by the VC if you’re invited to the interview
• Lose some control over your company as VCs bring in market best practices that you were not aware of, or bring in someone better to do the job than your pal Joe.

Be informed

• Know the legal documents you will be signing as part of the VC process such as the Term Sheet and Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA) among others. Your friendly neighborhood VC attorneys put together templates of model legal documents at National Venture Capital Association .
• Subscribe to internet websites such as,,, or
• Learn more about the VC industry by subscribing to journals such as Reuter’s own Venture Capital Journal (see and Private Equity Week (see or Buyouts News (see
• Check out VC “tweeters” at, which maybe relevant

Research your potential suitors

• Research suitors at Venture Capital associations such as National Venture Capital Association at and the New England Venture Capital Association at ($300 annual dues)

Miscellaneous stuff

• The majority of investments are going to Biotechnology, Medical Devices and Software with the majority going to Silicon Valley followed by New England
• Recent IPOs were mostly of companies that were incubated in 2000 – 2003, a challenging cycle
• The hottest trends are in Cleantech/Energy and the Internet
• Your VC should bring more than money, they can add value in more ways than one.

A final thought, you’ll thank me for this:

Try to combine the famous 10-second elevator sales pitch with your business card and include the following on the back of your card:
• What? What novel idea you hope to offer – the supply side of your pitch
• Why? Why is there a need for your idea – the demand side of your pitch
• How? Is it proprietary – is it feasible
• Who? The people that make it happen
• When? Is it ready for production or still on the drawing board
• Use bullet points and don’t forget to KISS it (Keep it simple smarty)
o This way busy VCs might recall you when the time is ready

Happy Funding!

EZ the VC

Disclaimer: Please note that the info provided is for the sole purpose of educating the reader and does not entail an endorsement in the above mentioned organizations or websites.

Friday, August 21, 2009

So Who are the People Who Can Potentially Invest in Your Company?

There are several interested parties who would like to see your venture succeed and can be categorized into four types:

The first line of investors:

This group typically includes your family, friends, American Express, Mastercard, Visa, oh and your Discover card.

The second line of investors:

Typically, this involves your suppliers (as creditors, they do finance your company) and especially if they are strategic suppliers who share your market interests. More often this group includes Angel Investors who are affluent individuals who organize themselves into Angel groups and can focus on anything from broad community-based investments to narrow geographical or sector-focused investments.

Angel Investors are similar to VCs in that they are as professional but because they invest their own funds (rather than manage the pooled assets of third-parties) and enter at earlier stages typically have a greater risk/reward appetite than a VC.

Another investor is Uncle Sam. The US government’s Small Business Administration (SBA) has the “New Markets Venture Capital” program which primarily focuses on economic development of low-income areas. Another program from Uncle Sam is the Small Business Investment Company (SBIC) program which helped fund companies such as Intel, Staples, Apple, AOL and Sun Microsystems to name a few. Unfortunately, this program was significantly curtailed in 2005.

The third line of investors:

The Venture Capitalists and Private Equity Investors. But who are these nameless benefactors? Anybody with a lot of money, except for your bank, that’s who. They include everybody from Former US Presidents and Vice Presidents (Bush Sr. and Gore, respectively) to university endowments and state agencies such as CalPERS.

Name brand companies such as Intel have their own PE/VC arms; Intel Capital invests in technology worldwide.

Heck, even Communist China is now in on the game via its China Investment Corporation (CIC), China’s sovereign wealth fund set up in 2007 to manage $200 billion of China’s $2 Trillion currency reserves, but already owns 9.9% of Morgan Stanley and also has an interest in Blackstone Group, one of the largest firms that specializes in Private Equity and R.E. investments which also happens to be publicly traded, who knew!!!

The fourth line of investors:

The public at large. Members of the general public become investors via an Initial Public Offering (IPO) where you can offload some equity in your growing company in exchange for some valuable consideration. This is where you and your equity partners can be expected to go your separate ways. But it does not necessarily have to end there as some partners may decide to stay on and cultivate strategic alliances for the venture in the market place.

Investors come in all shapes and sizes from mom and dad to China…

Happy funding,

EZ the VC

Thursday, August 20, 2009

VC Funding Rounds

If your business plan is one of the 1% that actually received funding from the VC, consider yourself lucky, maybe…

Anyway, VCs inject funds intermittently and when benchmarks are met. You will need to know the names of these “rounds” beforehand to know where you stand in the funding cycle and in a “nutshell”:

Seed Money

The initial small-amount investment made by investors other than the VCs (family, friends, and credit cards) to kick-start the venture for little or no collateral.

Start-up Money

Another round of pre-VC small-investments used to fund marketing and product development when you finally have something tangible. Angel Investors (think of them as you fairy god parents) come in and typically throw in a six-digit investment as debt or equity without meddling into the company’s affairs.

First-round or early stage capital

Once your idea is proven viable or worth further investigation, the VCs make their initial investment in exchange for ordinary shares in your company.

Second-stage capital

The venture is ideally breaking even. VCs assesses the venture’s situation and as the venture reaches certain success milestones such as actual market sales, more VC funding follows. If the VCs have second thoughts, they may re-think their investment entirely.

Mezzanine financing or third-stage capital

This follow-on funding that helps to expand the venture’s working capital. Ideally, the venture is starting to turn a profit and only needs more capital to “expand”. Funding is typically via debt or preferred stock. Here the venture is typically benchmarked against the competition, if any.

Bridge financing or fourth-stage capital

The last step in VC funding that sets the stage for the VCs divestment/exit either via IPO or trade sale. This is where both you and the VC get a nice big fat reward for the risks endured and can happen anytime between three to seven years of the VC’s engagement.

But be warned, that at anytime during the investment funding cycle, you or some other manager may be asked to step down from your post, but not as an investor. This is only natural as the venture starts to grow and take a life of its own.
After that, you can take that long planned trip to the Bahamas that you’ve been dreaming about.

Happy funding,

EZ the VC