Thinking outside the box is one thing I have always been really good at. When I owned a web hosting company, I personally came up with new services and ideas that actually changed the way even some of the largest web hosting companies do business.
I am not here to pat myself on the back, well maybe a little… I want to explain how important thinking outside of the box is and how it helped me become successful when I joined Faclconstor Software.
I joined Falconstor in 2005 after I sold my web hosting company to start up a software-as-a-service division. The idea was to take their one-time software sales and turn them into ongoing monthly sales. Why make money on something once, when you can make money on it forever, right?
We built a data center and a hosted platform to provide the software as a service. My idea was not to sell the service to the end-user, but build partnerships with cable providers, hosting companies, managed service providers, data centers, etc… The service we were providing was data backup and recovery services.
I always believe in putting together a deal that works for both sides. Falconstor had the software, but did not have the customer base and did not want to build a huge data center to support the service. So the partnership offering I came up with was to provide the software for free to the partner, lets say Comcast, and then Comcast would market the service to their customer base. Since Falconstor would provide the software upfront at no cost, there would be a revenue share on the back-end. Now that we had everything squared away and the partnership offering in place, how do you contact companies the size of Dell, HP, IBM, Comcast, Cox, etc…
I was sitting at my desk one day and knew I had to work from the top down dealing with the potential partners. There is a big difference when your boss calls you up and says, talk to this person… compared to someone beneath you in the almighty corporate world telling you about a “great idea”. I always got further faster working down from the CEO or as high as you can get.
So how do I contact the CEO of Comcast or even Apple? How I accomplished this is what caused the CEO of Falconstor to call me a genius. The first thing I did was search on the company website to find out who the executive team was and then I saw each persons name and what their position was. I thought to myself, since there is no contact information on the site, how do I reach out these people.
The good thing about corporate America is they like to keep things organized, like how they provide email accounts to their employees. It could be email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com… you understand. So I was thinking, if I could figure out the email structure, I could email all the executives and hopefully one of them thinks the partnership offering is a great idea and points me in the right direction.
I am pretty sure the first company I tried was Cox or Comast, the one with a woman as a CEO. I figured let me try one email to her first . The good part was if I was wrong with the email I would get a bounce back almost instantly. So I tried, but do not remember if I got it right the first time. So as I sat there and sent out the email, I just sat back and waited to see what would happen. Went out to lunch and came back and call me crazy but it worked. I got an email back from the CEO telling one of the VP’s to contact me. I was blown away and I even got an email within minutes from the VP. Love that whole top down approach, huh?
So this started an email blasting campaign targeting every single company I could think of working my way right into the office of all the executives. It worked well because I had company after company lined up to talk about the partnership offering. Of course my ideas with Falconstor and the service offering and partnership offerings I put together were good enough to get a response from these companies. If you have a bad idea, you probably won’t get much of a response.
The moral of the story is, think outside the box… I know it isn’t something everyone can do, but just remember… there is always a way.
Oh yeah, one of the highlights of this email blasting campaign I put together was when I emailed Steve Jobs of Apple. I literally got an email back from him in two minutes saying, “not interested”. I knew Apple would be a long-shot, but had to try… but it was fun getting a response back so fast. I wondered if it was a secretary or someone else, but because of how fast the email came back, it had to be him to make a decision.