Maze X startup accelerator – Week 9 - MAZE - Decoding Impact

Maze X startup accelerator – Week 9

My Polis met PLMJ for a focus group at Maze X the startup accelerator detail

Goals: overcoming the fear of selling, accelerating a corporate pilot and meeting investors.

A friend of mine recently told me that humans are moved by three things: love, loss and desire. In life, there is nothing more fulfilling than connecting to another living being. Connection happens when (1) we are able to understand and facilitate what drives the other person and (2) we are willing to be vulnerable and share that ourselves.

On week 9 of Maze X, we learned from Miguel Arroja from Salesforce, that selling is not something you do at or against someone but something you do for and with someone. Then, the founders participated in the eXtra mile to accelerate the corporate pilot and meet investors, where they received valuable feedback and opened new leads.

Sales workshop with Miguel Arroja (Senior Account Executive at Salesforce)

‘Products and services are created to make your life easier or to make the pain go away’. This is how Miguel Arroja opened his session about sales. The founders and the Maze X team were focused. By minute 2:32, he knew everybody’s name. He walked from one side to the other, and everyone was hooked. We live in times of hyper-connectivity, too many stimuli so being able to get the attention of an audience has never been more challenging. And he was nailing it. Why? Because he knew precisely what the audience needed: valuable tips on how to hack selling. Pure gold for entrepreneurs. Selling is hard and for the most part and often it is not an enjoyable process. But as a startup, you don’t really have a choice. So if there are any shortcuts, the founders wanted to know them. And now so can you.

Miguel Arroja, senior account executive at Salesforce, sharing valuable tips on how to hack selling with the founders at Maze X.

First, we busted two myths about selling:

  • Nobody feels comfortable in selling (at least in the beginning)
  • Selling is not something you do at or against someone. It is something you do for and with someone.

As soon as you start thinking of selling as a skill and not as a talent, the sooner you can improve. Are you with me? Ok, we also learned that the fact that you feel uncomfortable is because (1) you believe what you are offering lacks value or (2) you are biting more than you can chew. If (1) improve your product. If (2) prepare for the meeting on a 3 min prep/1 min presentation ratio.

Now, here are two sales hacking tips:

  • Gemba walk spend time observing your customer, understand their pain points, understand their culture, how they are like;
  • Arrive early to meetings and pay attention to what workers are talking about on their cigarette break.

Second, we learned that selling is a team sport. Everyone in the company should be able to sell. In a sales meeting, you must ensure three profiles:

  • The watcher: the person that checks tone, body language, levels of excitement
  • The devil’s advocate: the person that puts themselves in the shoes of the customer
  • The principle: timekeeper, agenda keeper that is focused on the outcomes we want to take from the meeting

Are you bootstrapped? Great, you are just another entrepreneur. You should be able to wear the three hats.

Third and last, aim for the virtuous cycle: happy employees make happy customers; happy customers mean fewer complaints; fewer complaints generate more profit; more profit implies better results; better results allow for happier employees. See where this is going? Richard Branson is the wizard of the virtuous cycle. If you want to be a wizard too, you need to ensure organisational alignment and seamless customer experience.

Wait, but what does organisational alignment even mean?

  1. Shared company vision
    • Great leadership is about knowing what is non-negotiable
    • People should speak with one voice
  2. Agree to disagree but then agree to disagree and commit
  3. Exceptional stakeholder engagement (board, investors, partners, regulatory entities, etc.)

And the seamless customer experience?

It means that there is no tension point in the customer journey from the moment he becomes aware of your product/service until he recommends it to a friend. How?

  • Collect data. Data is the new oil because it allows you to understand where things are going wrong and where to improve;
  • Define an ideal customer profile, the people you would pay a fortune to acquire;
  • Define a minimum valuable customer, the person you can use to ask questions and practise your approach.

That’s all for selling, peeps. And remember, ‘face time is money time’.

Week 9 was also the moment for the eXtra mile, a two-day event where the startups focused on a sprint to:

  • Accelerate the design of the corporate pilot
  • Meet investors for feedback and open new leads (commercial or investment)

Accelerating the corporate pilot with PLMJ and My Polis

My Polis took the lead on this one and led a two-day focus group with the PLMJ teams. There were post-its, lots of coffee and no filters. The goal: unveil valuable insights about the PLMJ, its identity, vision and pain points in an open, fun and safe environment. What has My Polis learned?

My Polis met PLMJ for a focus group at Maze X the startup accelerator
PLMJ lawyers at Maze X eXtra Mile, where they met My Polis for a focus group.

PLMJ is a mix of superheroes. PLMJ is like ant-man because it can be small and enormous depending on the situation. PLMJ is also superwoman for its relentless efforts to find creative ways to remain relevant and shine on the big league (have you checked their new brand?). PLMJ is also Spiderman for it understands the fragility of the territory it navigates at all times.

My Polis learned that there is a strong will to make impact and local participation something concrete. PLMJ lawyers want to go beyond pro bono and volunteering initiatives. They want to be involved and participate in the local communities they impact every.single.day. That is the opportunity My Polis is tapping into at Maze X.

Investors’ day

The other founders were also busy. The Maze X team invited investors from our network for one-hour meetings with the founders. The goal was to collect valuable feedback and open new leads, commercial or investment. So, what happened?

  • RNTERS had a fruitful meeting with Henry Wigan, co-founder of Mustard Seed VC impact fund;
  • Trigger Systems met with Rui Madeira, non-executive director at MAZE who works in a private equity fund in Angola with significant investments in agriculture. It opened the door for new commercial leads;
  • TUKI met with Fundo Bem Comum and is currently analysing of co-investment with Portugal Inovação Social;
  • Urban Food Box met with Inno Energy, a current investor of Trigger System, to understand which KPIs to monitor and where to source funding at this stage.

You see, connection is the fabric of life. It does not matter if it is the cute person at the bar who will be your next partner-for-life, the investor you met randomly on a demo day or a brief encounter with a kick-ass salesperson. The message remains the same: be present, listen and make something better with the love, loss and desire that lives inside each and every single one of us.

Maze X was conceived and initiated by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations and MAZE, with the law firm PLMJ joining as a founding corporate member and BNP Paribas, Hospital da Luz Learning Health, Casa do Impacto as partners.

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