Getting Started in Biz Dev in a New Industry
I was recently hired (on a paid trial basis) by Lovely, a consumer facing apartment search application, that I absolutely love.
My role is defined under the general umbrella of business development, but basically over the past two weeks I have been focused on generating new supply (apartment listings) and findings ways to monetize (revenue).
I could write several blog posts about how to land a non-technical gig at a startup, but since it seems everyone has already done that, I’ll summarize:
- craft a story and platform: turn your resume into one clear story or tagline that summarizes you, and then support that with twitter, blog, linkedin, angellist, etc.
- find an entry point: to jump into tech, you’re probably not going to land a hot startup gig without some experience in tech. the year+ I spent at Citrusbyte was immensely valuable. find your Citrusbyte and work there first, to learn the industry and concepts.
- find your company, or three: spraying resumes around will never work. find a couple companies you are legitimately crazy about, and throw yourself at them. do whatever it takes (free trials, product/biz ideas, attend conferences they are at).
- get an intro: finagle a way into a company by using your network, your network’s network, your network’s network’s network, or create a new network by reaching out to any and everyone at the company and their investors (use twitter, linkedin, meetups, etc.)
Anyhow, finding yourself in charge of biz dev in a new industry can be daunting. The key is to be prepared and be relentless.
Be Prepared (Research): before ever starting into the apartment industry, I talked to everyone I knew about real estate, looked up every company I heard of and followed them on twitter, looked up related startups on angellist, went down the rabbit hole on quora, and signed up for every meetup on the topic in SF.
Be Relentless (Hustle): day 1 and 2 involved, at a minimum, shooting emails out to every property management group in SF, every national property manager, every other internet listing service, and every related individual I could find. when that didn’t work, phone calls followed. when that didn’t work, I made office pop-ins. at one point, I discovered a conference and flew there on a few hours notice and shook every hand I could find. when I made a meaningful connection, I followed up, went deeper, learned more, and got intros from that.
It may sound like a shotgun approach, but really you are building a base. Most importantly, a base of knowledge, because there is no substitute for having an understanding of the industry ecosystem that comes from having walked in it. But also, a base of contacts, so that you can reach out to them for advice and introductions.
I should say also, that the only real contacts are the ones you legitimately become friends with - so engage sincerely and openly.
The last two weeks have been a whirlwind, but I’ve loved every minute of it.