MindShare 2013 Kick Off Is A Succe$$

04 Apr MindShare 2013 Kick Off Is A Succe$$

Tuesday night marked the beginning of MindShare’s 17th year, and we held the annual kickoff meeting at the Verizon Center, with a special pre-Wizards game reception with Ted Leonsis. I felt honored as a newly inducted board member, and I’m excited to be involved.



Ok, before I get started…here is the press release on new members, also highlighting the board members that support the program each year.

And, just because we love the media..thank you Allyson Jacob of ElevationDC, for showing up, leaving your kids with your husband, so you could file this article….and to Tania Anderson of Bisnow for also highlighting the evening in thisarticle. As I met with some of the incoming class, there was a lot of buzz as to what this “MindShare” concept is all about. I heard some folks compare it to a super-secret-handshake club, and some felt like they were “rushing” a fraternity or sorority as they worked the room. One CEO likened it to “CEO school,” and he was excited about that, actually, a humble statement for a man, but one who recognizes the value in the learning experience.

So, I asked co-chair and co-founder of the organization April Young, what the organization looks for…

“We look people whose dreams are close enough to reality that they might become companies, and who have something that is loosely called a ‘product’ rather than a service. I love the ‘CEO school’ comment – I usually describe it as a kind of YPO, except you don’t have to be young, and you do not have to be CEO or founder.”

She adds that you need to be a CEO of a company with proprietary technology or be internet focused.

Since I run a services business, I’ve never been a candidate for MindShare, so I’ve always kinda watched from the outside. This year I’ll be able to participate on the organizing committee, and be able to see even more what it’s all about. I can’t wait…

I heard many people say what an honor it was to be not only nominated for inclusion, but then accepted and invited into the incoming class.

Everyone was hand-picked to be there, and yet the criteria for being involved is really no more than “be a first-time CEO for an emerging product company who wants to build a scalable company, and will take advantage of the powerful ecosystem that MindShare has to offer.” There are (of course), hundreds of CEOs who fit that description in this region, and yet only 60 get in each year.

The intent of MindShare was never to be exclusive, per se, and it has operated in relative stealth mode since it was founded in 1997 by a group of industry visionaries. But it’s become exclusive, and that’s what makes it powerful. The members there last night saw the value in so many CEOs being together in the same place, with often times, similar issues that might keep them up at night: how to patent-protect your technology, how to raise money, how to build a strong management team, how to scale, how to build a business model that is ahead of its time, etc.

Members also got to rub shoulders with the some key “players” in this market. Gaining access to some of the most influential people in this ecosystem–Mike Lincoln, April Young, Harry Glazer, Gene Reichers, Steve Balisteri (the co-chairs, founders and executive committee members)–can often time take years without a channel like MindShare.



(Photo Courtesy of Anne Lord Photography): Pictured: Board Members Mark Esposito, April Young, Ted Leonsis, Mike Lincoln and Steve Balistreri)

Here’s how the model works: CEOs are nominated by other CEO groups, past alumni, board members, and the like. Some self-nominate. The board meets several times to research and identify who will be a part of the incoming class. Invitations are extended and members accept or decline. The expectation is that each year, the class members will show up, engage, and then hopefully “graduate” at year’s end.

MindShare holds 8-10 “classes” each year which deal with topics such as the ones outlined above. Experts are brought in to teach and educate in an informal manner, and the members are able to network with their peers before and after. The camaraderie that is developed is invaluable.

Assuming a member’s attendance record is strong (they keep track!), he or she will “graduate.” Then they become a part of the powerful alumni organization, where it all comes together: they are now part of a 660+ strong group of some of the most powerful leaders and technology CEOs in the region. To make my case, past graduates of MindShare include some household names in this region’s technology sector:

– Joe Payne of Eloqua (2012 IPO and acquired by Oracle for $871M);

– Tim O’Shaughnessy of LivingSocial (raised over $180M in 2010);

– Reggie Aggarwal of Cvent (raised $136M in one of the largest Series A rounds on record in 2011);

– Rick Rudman of Vocus (2005 IPO);

– Hemant Kanakia of Torrent Networking Technologies (acquired by Ericsson for $450M);

– Phillip Merrick of webMethods (the most successful first day software IPO ever).

I know I speak for the other committee and board members when I say that MindShare just gets better every year. I’ve already had the chance to hear Ted Leonsis speak in a private setting, and that sets the bar. I have my pencil sharpened and I’m ready to go to class…here’s to the 17th year of MindShare!

— Elizabeth Shea @eliz2shea

Elizabeth Shea
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